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How to Make a Snow Globe
- But this isn't your little sisters Snow Globe!
Ok, almost everybody knows how to make a snow globe. Its an easy and a fun project. And there are lots of people who collect them. They are quite enchanting. But, they always seem to be about beautiful little scenes of poignancy and beauty, snowmen, cute little cottages etc....
Well, all I am saying is that the world inside that little glass globe is totally open to what you want to make it. So, go right ahead and make anything at all in there! I am sure the ideas will fly.
I wen't ahead and made a few snow globes that cover some of the stuff I love!
I will show you those globes and I will show you the easy basics of making a snow globe out of materials you can find around the house - like a jar and water !
I also have a video at the bottom of this page.
Here are three snow globes.
From Left to right:
1. Battle on the top of a mountain. A sole warrior has made his stand on the top of a mountain. He has been pursued by skeletons and he clearly has battle scars. No telling how this will end.
2. A dark castle on the top of a mountain.
3. Gandalf on the bridge - This is a scene from Lord of the Rings where gandalf battles the Balrog. You can see the balrog's tail just about to whip up and grab him.
Tips on making the Snow Globe
About the Liquid - You can use water. It works very well. And this is your easiest/safest choice if small children are making the snow globe. If you want the snow to swirl around slower and more realistically you can use baby oil, vegetable oil, or water with a small amount of glycerin in it. (see my note at the bottom of he page about Glycerin)These are thicker than water and will give a nicer effect.
About the Snow - I use glitter. There are all kinds of glitter including a nice bright white that is perfect for attractive looking snow.
About the container - You can use just about any glass or plastic jar that is made to hold some kind of a liquid. Baby food jars are great for this. They make a really good seal. And look for interesting jar shapes. I like the shape of these Salsa jars.
Some thoughts - The globe is going to get shaken! So that means you have to be sure everything is secured nice and tight inside. Glue it all down very well with some kind of glue that isn't water soluble. For the most part I used a glue gun. If you want to insure a really good seal around the lid of the container then you can always hot glue all the way around the edge of the lid.
Think of it as a diorama - The big thing about a diorama is that it is a scene frozen in time. And the same applies to a snow globe. It is a little scene frozen in time. And because of the snow it is literally "frozen" in time! LOL
Helping the Snow effect - You can add one drop of low sudsing detergent. This will break the water tension and allow the snow to float and fall more freely.
Finding materials to go inside the Snow Globe
The great thing about this is that it can be anything you like and anything you want. I love little medieval miniatures and figures and I have lots of them so it makes sense for me to paint them up and use them.
Cleaning the bottle or jar can be a little bit of a challenge and and hot soapy water works pretty good. I just soaked the bottles in a sink of hot soapy water and the labels just fell right off. Then I used a steel wool pad to remove the little bits of glue. Lighter fluid will clean it quick and easy. Also a product called Goop off also works great. It is made to break down and remove glues.
Building the Structure inside the Globe
One of the best things you can use to build the various things inside the globe is polymer clay. It is waterproof and it is even used by some people to make fishing lures. You have a lot of choices when it comes to polymer clay like Sculpey polymer clay, Premo and Fimo.
This picture also shows the basic concept for how to assemble the snow globe. You build your object and glue it to the inside of the lid. Then you can just insert it right into the water filled jar.
Let's take one more look at the liquids inside the container. I ran an experiment so I could see how the fluids reacted. These are the four bottles from the left.
1. Water with a single drop of clear dishwashing soap - This worked pretty good. It changed the water a little bit and the glitter floated longer.
2. Just Water - Pretty standard stuff. Easy and safe. But not the best in terms of floating glitter. But still quite ok.
3.Water with 5 drops of clear dishwashing liquid. This was too many drops. The water turned soapy and cloudy.
4. Baby oil - Kind of nice. The glitter swirls around pretty slowly. I like it.
Building the Scene
There are a lot of different materials you can use to build the thing inside the globe and one of the best things is polymer clay. You shape it then heat it in the oven or toaster oven to harden it. It holds up well in the water. And painting the objects can be a challenge. You should use an enamel paint. Or test your paints in water to see if they will run. If you use some kind of acrylic or water paint you can seal it after it dries with some kind of artist sealant.
The picture here shows polymer clay being sculpted into a castle.
Scene Ideas - There is an unlimited number of things you can do. Think about it being a miniature diorama. Are there things that you like in particular? A scene from your favorite video game? Or maybe a scene from a book or movie? Or you could just create something totally new.
Here is the Video Tutorial
About using Glycerin in the snowglobe. I bought a jar of it at Rite aid for five dollars and thought I would give it a try. Everybody says use glycerin in a snowglobe but I really don't see it. I ran a bunch of tests. First 1 drop, then 5 drops, 2 tablespoons and even more. Technically it makes the liquid thicker but all I saw was clumping of the glitter. It didn't give a better "snowglobe" effect.
Eventually I just put a bunch of glitter right into the glycerin bottle! Yup, it's thick like gel and after shaking it the glitter is nicely suspended.
But it stays that way. Theoretically you are thickening up the water with glycerin but it really doesn't seem to work so I say just skip the glycerin. Plain old water is just better!
This water globe is fun and easy to assemble. Just create a design of your own out of any water resistant material (polymer clay is a perfect material for this purpose), then glue it to the rubber gasket provided. Fill the globe with pure water, add the floating bits and one drop of low-sudsing detergent to break the surface tension of the water so the bits will float properly. Work the rubber gasket into the neck of the globe and seal around the edge with silicone glue. Apply the base and you are finished. This globe makes a terrific personalized gift or a special way of making a statement. The globe measures 6 inches in diameter and the neck opening is 3-13/16 inches. When fully assembled to its base it stands 7-1/4 inches tall.