Making a Sonnenglas keepsake capsule

Are you someone who delights in collecting little mementos from vacations and special events? Instead of letting those meaningful knick-knacks gather dust in your attic, you can light up your treasured trinkets with Sonnenglas! For a stylish and contemporary twist on the classic shadow box, transform your souvenirs into artistic home decor by turning your Sonnenglas into a keepsake capsule.

A glowing vignette of cherished souvenirs serves as a heartwarming and decorative daily reminder of memories that make you smile – and you can easily make one yourself! First you need to come up with a theme and then it's time to get creative. There's no limit to where your imagination can take your project, but a simple formula that can be applied to any genre of keepsake is to lay down a base layer of weighted filler that matches your theme and use that to secure 1-3 of your favorite trinkets in the center of the jar.

The base layer should complement the focus of your capsule. Ideally, it would be directly related (like sand from your beach vacation anchoring down some interesting shells you found on the same trip) but it could also be thematic, simply matching the color or style of the main item (such as a layer of red and gold beads under a bright Russian Matryoshka doll). Some other common materials you could use for this layer include buttons, sea glass, shells, gemstones, glass marbles, crystals, rice, dried lentils, or any type of non-perishable hard candy (like sprinkles, peppermints, jellybeans, or candy hearts).

Here are a few possible themes for your capsule to get your imagination whirling!

Travel & vacation

Gather up your favorite souvenirs from your travels and arrange them into fun little tableaus! Pick the items that best represent your trip and display them in an arrangement that's as kitschy or as chic as you like. You could commemorate a wild tropical vacation in Hawaii with sand, pineapple cocktail picks, and a dashboard hula doll (sand is the perfect base layer choice for any beach vacation – bonus points for black or pink sand!), while a more romantic trip to Japan could be remembered with a golden maneki-neko surrounded by origami stars and silk cherry blossoms. Displaying the finished capsules in your home is sure to pique the interest of your guests so get ready to share your best vacation stories!

Be sure to stop by the souvenir shop before you catch your flight home


Of all the ways to commemorate your wedding, a Sonnenglas keepsake capsule is certainly one of the most unique and eco-friendly. Instead of throwing away the decorations after your reception, you can creatively repurpose some of them into a beautiful and lasting homage to your special day! There are lots of leftover decor items that could be used to make the base layer for your capsule, but confetti or rice from the exit toss would be particularly romantic. Another sentimental idea is to make potpourri from your bridal bouquet and use that as the base. For the main focus of the jar, pick an item that is personally meaningful to you and your partner – something like a cake topper would work nicely. If you already used Sonnenglas lanterns to decorate your wedding venue or nuptial tablescape, that's even better! Creating your vignette in one of the lanterns you had at your wedding will add an extra layer of meaning to the capsule.

Repurpose your wedding decorations to commemorate your special day

Magical moments

Not every memorable occasion is as traditional or momentous as a wedding. Why not commemorate the simple moments that are uniquely meaningful to you? A sunny afternoon at the park with your kids, the opening of your favorite art exhibit, your first date with that special someone... Make a creative tableau in honor of a special day you'd like to remember forever, like a cheerful trip to the amusement park with your daughter commemorated by a little funfair prize arranged over a colorful pile of peppermints and jellybeans. Capture your favorite moments in a Sonnenglas and you'll feel a burst of joy every time you switch it on!

Hard candies make a quirky base layer for a keepsake capsule

Homage to a hero

Pay tribute to your icons with a (literally) glowing homage! This type of keepsake capsule is very touching and also makes for strikingly eclectic decor. Imagine a tribute to Frida Kahlo featuring one of her exotic mini self-portraits on a bed of vividly colored tissue paper flowers and sparkly gold sequins – how amazing would that look adorning a vibrant bohemian patio? For a less flamboyant space, a copper buddha on a layer of white sand would look lovely lighting up a minimalist zen porch. There's no need to limit yourself to famous gurus and celebrities though - your heroes and mentors may well be your loved ones! An homage to your mother, father, child, grandparent, or cherished friend would be just as charming and even more personal.

Get crafty when putting together a creative tribute to an idol or loved one

When you're finished making your keepsake capsule, send us a photo or tag us in your pictures on Instagram! We love seeing all the creative ways people are decorating their Sonnenglas.

Author: Vanessa Reid