Sound Jars

Sound Jars

A collection of unique glass jars, each containing a sound encapsulating the ambience of a specific word, designed to enrich and provoke directions of thought.


The Sound Jar provides a vessel for a captured sound to be held and stored within a glass jar. The sound is preserved and will stay locked up inside the boundaries of the jar walls until the stopper is unplugged, releasing it into the atmosphere. Inhabiting the seemingly empty space within each jar is a unique sound designed to encapsulate the ambience of a word. Unplug the stopper of the jar of ‘Anticipation’ or release a measure of ‘Calm’. Opening a Sound Jar is like opening and spilling a vibrant tin of paint, let the contents of the chosen jar flow, enriching and provoking specific directions of thought and idea generation. Collect favourite jars and store them somewhere safe within easy reach for when inspiration is called upon.

Lauren Robertson and Tanya Marshall, DJCAD, The University of Dundee.


Calm and Anticipation

…A good two words to sum up today i think. The studio was surprisingly chilled for the day before the hand in! Does this mean we are becoming better designers?

The Finishing Touches


The Jars in Action

A video of the final working jars:


A busy day in the studio on friday saw us creating and finalising the electronics and aesthetics of our Sound Jar.


Having discovered the ‘cheats way’ to power the jars we have decided to make two final prototypes for demoing. One will be powered through the breadboard using the picaxe chip and the other will be fed from the computer, perfect for increasing the interactivity of our jars and allowing different sounds to be played with.

We gathered together quite an eclectic jar collection and spent some time focusing on the aesthetics of the final models. As we envisage the jars sitting on some ones shelves somewhere, gathering dust. We decided to give the jars’ aesthetic a homemade rustic quality. Almost as though the collector has taken it upon themselves to recycle an old jar and capture something within it, to be treasured and displayed for their own personal enjoyment.

Sound Effects

Originally, our concept of capturing and storing a sound led us to thinking of places and environments where moments in time could be captured. The Sound Jar would provide a vessel for the sound to be preserved, labeled and stored indefinitely or until the collector’s decision to release it. Perhaps to share with another or to transfer into a multitude of similar Sound Jars.

However, deciding upon the type of sound you would want to keep in a jar on your shelf proved to be quite difficult.

So, as mentioned earlier, we started thinking of places and environments to capture. With this in mind we decided to combine another of our 20 ideas and incorporated gossip into our concept. We were quite fond of the idea of having a collection of little gossiping jars. So we headed to a local coffee shop and started recording…

Playing on the idea of entrapment, (as another option) we then thought of things people naturally trap in glass jars. Bugs and insects being high on the list of things captured in household jars…

Back to wires and code again

After the quick fix of using the speaker jack and the switch it was time to get stuck back into picaxe (purely for the fun of becoming a sound technician for the day and annoying everyone with beeping sounds… and for the much needed marks!!)

Mastering our soldering skills, we assembled all the pieces to create the amplifier.

After much trial and error of incorrect wiring, i think it is now safe to say i am a soldering and wire stripping expert! All those mistakes also helped me to understand better the ins and outs of exactly how the circuit works. After successfully connecting the amp, it was clear a potentiometer switch would be needed to reduce the volume. Although our design will not make use of the volume control, without it no one will want to be within a mile’s radius of our design, especially with our talent for creating picaxe sounds.