CONCORD, N.H. | There’s something so simple and sweet about shaking a snow globe and watching the glittery flakes swirl around a tiny winter scene. But it’s not so simple to create a custom snow globe featuring your own family, as I discovered when I tested three DIY techniques.
The first challenge is shrinking your kin down to size. Photographs are the obvious choice, and one method I found used photos printed onto shrink plastic instead. But how to protect the images from the liquid? Laminating the photos, either professionally or via packing tape, are popular options.
Most tutorials featured glitter as the “snow,” but I found some variation in the liquid used to fill the globes. Some called for just water, while others added glycerin to make the glitter fall more slowly. Another technique used a mixture of corn syrup and water.
Sadly, none of the techniques produced stellar results. In the end, I concluded that it might be fun to make one of these globes as a one-time table decoration for Christmas dinner, but I wouldn’t count on any of these techniques to produce family heirlooms.
Here’s what I found, with each method rated from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the least expensive, easiest and best results:
1. LAMINATED PHOTOS
I spotted a detailed tutorial on making personalized snow globes using laminated photos on a blog called “Our Best Bites” (https://bit.ly/1XCP7iF). Unlike the author, I don’t own my own laminating machine, so I had to have my photo laminated at Staples. It was not expensive, but added an extra shopping trip to the project.
Once laminated, the photo is then trimmed to fit inside a jar, and glued to the jar lid along with any bits of greenery or other decorations. I used a tiny bottle brush tree, and soon realized I should’ve heeded the instructions to put it in water for a few hours to make sure it wouldn’t break down or leach dye into the water. My first attempt resulted in muddy, grayish green water, presumably from the tree.
Once the photo and any decorative items are glued in place, water, glycerin and glitter are added, and the lid is screwed on.
1. PACKING TAPE PHOTOS
The Photojojo.com blog (https://bit.ly/2hK3V2E ) promises “Make Your Own in 15 Minutes (or Your Money Back!)”. I didn’t have my stopwatch handy, but I think I came in under that time.
This was the simplest technique. Cut two photos to fit inside a jar or bottle, cover them with clear packing tape, and pop them in the container with a mixture of water, corn syrup and glitter. While I used the same size jar for all three tutorials, this method would allow for using a wide bottle with a narrow neck. The container isn’t turned upside down, so the photo is just rolled and inserted, rather than attached to a jar lid.
While this technique was quick and easy, my photo was wider than the packing tape, so there is a slightly-visible seam where two pieces of tape overlap. I also have doubts about whether the tape is really waterproof.
1. SHRINK PLASTIC, SORT OF
The “Family Portrait Snow Globe” featured on the blog “A Kailo Chic Life” (https://bit.ly/2hgUnLp ) is adorable. Unfortunately, I was not able to replicate it and ended up coming up with my own take on this idea. The original tutorial calls for printing a photo on inkjet shrink film to make a tiny, 3-D form that is glued to a wooden base, surrounded by bottle brush trees and salt, and covered with a glass globe.
I accidentally ordered translucent shrink film instead of white, and my local craft store did not carry the necessary product. I also could not find the globe and wooden base used in the tutorial, and found the suggested online purchase options too expensive for a DIY craft project.
Instead, I stuck with the same jars I had used for the other versions. And because this technique involves no liquid, there was no reason to worry about water-proofing the photo. I simply printed my photo, glued it to a piece of cardboard to make it a bit more sturdy, and cut around the image.
While this proved easy, and less messy than the glitter-and-liquid options, it also isn’t really a snow globe. It’s more like a terrarium.