Get crafty: TBR Jar

I finally feel like I’ve settled into this house, and a good part of that was organizing my craft supplies. Through the moves and the college dorm-living, they’ve been constricted to plastic bins & have been jostled and thrown all around, and have been sitting in a closet ever since we got to this house. We have a teeny tiny second bedroom here that we’ve turned into an office, and I bought a simple desk from the Container Store and some organizational drawers on sale from Michael’s for my side of the room. It’s been a stupidly long process, but last week I actually put everything in its proper place, and did a fair bit of combing through the supplies and tossed/donated things I know I won’t be using.

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I’m one of those people who can deal with a messy space, but for my creativity and happiness to be flowing, I need a good organizing marathon every now and then.

So with everything in order, and with a few days off in a row, I felt like it was a good time to work on a quick little project that my sister suggested to me back around Christmas. She’s studying to be a librarian, so needless to say, books are a huge part of her life. She (and my dad) fly through books faster than anyone else I know, and they’re always searching for the next great book to dig into. She found a project online called a TBR jar – a “to be read” jar – that we started together when we were both home for the holidays. We have TONS of leftover craft supplies that built up over the years of Girl Scouts, birthday parties, & mom-encouraged creativity, and put it to good use. I made another one back here with all of the beads I’ve accumulated when I had my Etsy store, which reminded me of how much I’ve missed crafting on the reg.

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All you really need for this craft project is a mason jar, string, beads, paper, a pen, scissors, and a list of books you want to read.

You can use any size of a mason jar, depending on how many books you have on your list. You could use smaller size jars for a month-by-month system, or for kids!

For my TBR jar, I wanted to decorate it by wrapping it in a random array of beads I had lying around. If you don’t want to use string and beads, you could use paint pens to adorn the jar, washi tape, or glitter and glue. There are so many ways you can make this kind of project your own! For my jar, I wanted to use up the craft supplies I have sitting around. I used waxed Irish linen for the bracelets in my Etsy shop, so I’ve got tons of colors and lengths of it already in my drawers. To find the right length, I wrapped it around the jar as many times as I wanted – you could you one, two, or three. More times than that might get too bulky or heavy. The waxed linen has no stretch, but you could use an elastic string to give yourself a little more wiggle room on the length. For the standard 16oz size mason jar I used, I measured about 18 inches of string for 2 wraps around, and 32 inches for 3 wraps. It’s always good to err on the cautious side and add more length, because you can always trim it off, but it’s much harder to add more string on. I chose to do three wraps, and after I cut the string, I tied a knot on the end and started beading.

You could use a pattern if you’ve got the energy and the right number of beads, but I used such a random conglomeration of beads that I didn’t feel like putting the energy into that! I tried to do a bit of an intentionally random pattern, using colorful beads every now and then. If you use bigger beads, it can get pretty heavy, which will affect how the wrap sits on the jar, if that matters to you.

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When I was about halfway through the string, I added the letter beads. For the letters beads I found, I needed to use jump rings (teeny tiny little wire rings that you can bend open and closed with pliers) to make sure the letters were facing out and not sideways. I’m sure you could find beads that were a little more simple to put on, but I’m just trying to use up what I have.

After you’ve strung on enough beads to wrap your string around the jar as many times as you’d like, tie a knot on the end. I’d recommend doing that before you tie it all together just in case you have a clumsy moment (like I often do) so you don’t lose all of your work! Beads tumbling to the ground is a very very sad sound. When it’s all set, just wrap it around your jar, and tie a few knots for good measure. Trim whatever you have left, and you’re set to go!

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I decorated my jar lid with some Mod Podge and strips of tissue paper I tore up, just to give it a little extra color, and to cover up my lazy failed attempt at taking the price tag off the top. I only did a few layers, so you can still see through when you look closely (or turn the flash on to take pictures…) but I might go back in for more later if it bothers me too much. You could use colorful paper, stickers, paint pens, or just leave it plain if you’d like.

All you have left to do is to fill your jar up with your wonderful list of books! I just filled up a page of off-white cardstock with all of the books I’d like to read (or at least what I could remember) and cut them out into little strips. I’ve seen people curl up the pieces into tiny scrolls and tie them off, which would be awesome if you had the time and patience, unlike me. I folded them once to make sure they really filled up the whole jar.

One of the things I like most about this project is that it’s something that you can add to, and can make good use out of over time. I’ve already got a few books checked out from the library that are at the top of my to-read list right now, but whenever I want inspiration, or whenever I’m on my way to the library next with no books waiting on my shelf at home, I’ll just pull a little piece of paper out of the jar to determine what book I’ll be reading next! I might also make a jar to hold all of the books that I’ve read, both from the jar and otherwise. I always say I want to read more books each year, and this will be a fun way to help me get there and not get bored along the way.


What are some books you’d like to read? Have you read any good books lately? Here’s a peek at just a few of the books in my TBR jar:

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret