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Memory Medals

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A row of hand crafted Memory Medals inspired by Iris Eichenberg

Memory Medals

A row of hand crafted Memory Medals inspired by Iris Eichenberg


Recommended for ages 5 and up with adult supervision.


Iris Eichenberg: Where Words Fail (6/25 – 10/30) explores the jewelry artist’s relationship with self, time, and place. As for all of us, the start of the pandemic meant a new chapter for Iris Eichenberg and led her to create The Year 2020 – a vast collection of medals, forty of which are on display at the museum.

During the first year of the pandemic, Eichenberg found that medals held particular significance. While commemorating those who survive each day, hers also recall the black ribbons worn by immediate family mourning the recent passing of loved ones. The rows of blank ovals also bring to mind the faceless hundreds of thousands of victims of Covid.

With this project, participants are invited to honor loved ones, acquaintances, strangers, or themselves– whether in mourning, celebration, acknowledgement, or congratulations.

What memory will your medal hold?


Ribbon (Width: 1.5”)

Safetypin (Width: 2.25”)


Aluminum foil




  • Think of a recipient and intention.
  • To make your own medal:
    • Use the scissors to cut out a cardstock circle or oval.
    • Place the cardstock circle in the center of a piece of aluminum foil.
    • Wrap the sides of the aluminum foil around the cardstock circle, covering the front of the medal with a smooth layer of aluminum foil.
  • Position the medal at the base of the ribbon.
  • Staple the medal to the bottom of the ribbon. Staple vertically and from front to back to ensure staple clasps connect at the back of the medal.
  • Attach the top of the ribbon to the safety pin:
    • Option 1: Staple
      • Fold top of the ribbon over the fixed side of the safety pin. (The side where the clasp is attached, not the pointy side.)
      • Staple loop in place. Staple horizontally and from front to back.
    • Option 2: Coilless Safety Pin
      • Accordion pinch the top edge of the ribbon.
      • Poke the pointy side of the pin through the pinched ribbon.
      • Slide ribbon around the bend of the safety pin.
      • Flatten ribbon out and close clasp.


  • Eichenberg’s medals are of all different ribbon lengths and medal tag sizes. What size medal and ribbon did you select? What does this represent to you?
  • The black ribbons of Eichenberg’s work denote mourning the loss of thousands during 2020. Other ribbon colors may represent different feelings. What does your ribbon color mean to you?
  • Personalize your medal! Use a pencil to gently etch a design onto the medal’s aluminum surface.
  • Add texture with staples! In her series Time Present/Time Past, Iris Eichenberg created a linen necklace entirely covered in rose gold metal staples. What design choices can you make by repeatedly using staples?


  • Iris Eichenberg won the 2021 Susan Beech Mid-Career Artist Grant. Read Art Jewelry Forum’s interview with Eichenberg and learn more about the jewelry-maker, her creative process, and the artwork discussed in this MCD@Home.
  • Iris Eichenberg is the Artist in Residence and Head of the Metalsmithing Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Watch Iris’s opening lecture and dive deeply into the story behind some of the objects currently on display in our exhibition Iris Eichenberg: Where Words Fail.


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