Adventures in Crafting

First, a confession: I am not a crafter. Not in any sense of the word. If you need help with technologya website built, or something really neat printed on our 3D printer, I’m your librarian. But crafting? Allow me to introduce you to literally anyone else.

However, every month our library holds a craft program called Craft Cafe at our Fairmount branch, and this month it was my turn.  And I do not do things halfway. The first craft idea – a DIY hanging notepad – was ruled out due to it being far too complicated. So, what next? After to some intense Pinterest and craft blog research, I found what seemed to be an easy, cute craft: mason jar snow globes.  Glue some little trees on the lid, fill the jar with water, glycerin (to make the water thicker) and glitter, screw the lid on, and ta-da! Instant winter craft success!

Eh, not so much.

First, the supplies. Glycerin apparently comes in many forms – you’ve got your blocks of solid glycerin for soap making, tiny bottles for icing, vegetable glycerin, glycerin that’s sold in drugstores, and on and on. I settled on the icing glycerin because that was the only one I could find.  Then, on to glue. Did you know there’s a lot of glue out there? Well, there is. Walls and walls of glue. You say you just want crazy glue? Ha! Here are 147 varieties! Choose wisely, young crafter.

Then glitter, which I was not surprised to find that there were so many different choices. “But glitter is glitter, right?”  I thought, not hearing the faint but haunting laughter of all the crafters that had come before me.

One of the craft blogs I had read suggested that the trees be treated with Mod Podge before putting them in water to hold their color. No problem there, I already had some of that.

Now, with all my supplies, I sat down to make my first snow globe. Everything went smoothly. Pasting the trees with Mod Podge was tricky and weird, but I always follow the directions. I had two types of glitter, and after taking a vote from other librarians present, I settled on a mix of silver and iridescent glitter. None of the blogs gave an exact amount of glycerin to add, so I guessed, which made me very nervous as an always-follow-the-directions person.  The glue held strongly and it turned out well. Crafting success!

Happy little trees!

Until the next day.

Not so happy little trees

What once was a happy green pine tree in crystal clear water had become a sickly yellow. And the water looked like, well, use your imagination. I also detected a small leak.

I was panicked. There was no way I could do this craft, and time was running out! After even more research, I found that 1) I had used the the wrong kind of Mod Podge (there’s an aerosol, apparently) and 2) this is a common problem as the mini trees are often not colorfast. As for the leak, it turned out the thin iridescent glitter had worked its way into the seal of the jar lid.

Back to the craft store! I picked up a can of the correct sealant and found a kind of tree that was plastic and, in theory, would not lose color. I also found another kind of glitter that would hopefully not break the jar’s seal.

My second attempt did not go as smoothly as the first. Because the trees were plastic, they did not adhere to the jar lid as quickly as the first trees, which had a wooden base.  So, as soon as I turned the jar over, the trees floated freely. But, at least they didn’t loose any color.

Zero-g trees?

I tried a different glue, which seemed to work, but smelled horribly and needed 20 minutes to cure. Thinking that I would have to use the trees with the wooden bases, I sprayed them all with the aerosol Mod Podge a little too enthusiastically, causing great concern about the odor.  The smell did not dissipate from the trees, so I became worried about using them at all.

I mentioned that I am not a crafter, right?

At this point my eternally patient coworker, Ann, concerned for my sanity, suggested another, much easier craft (she’s a very talented artist, by the way.) But I am a very, very stubborn person and I had invested too much time in this craft to just give up. After recounting my tale to my brother, he suggested a kind of glue that is both water activated and water resistant. Could something like that actually exist?!

So I settled in for one more try.  Plastic trees, water activated glue, glycerin, chunky glitter and water.  You could cut the tension with an X-ACTO knife.


As they say on Pinterest, NAILED IT!

It is with great relief that I can say that December’s Craft Cafe was a success, and I emerged mostly unscathed and a little wiser to the ways of the crafter. If you’d like to make your own mason jar snow globe, check below for how we did ours! And if you like to join us for our next Craft Cafe in January, click here to register. They’re doing pinecone flowers – I hear they are far more relaxing!


Mason Jar Snow Globes

What You’ll Need:

  • An 8 or 16 oz mason jar meant for canning.  My final snow globe was made in an 8 oz jar.
  • Some plastic trees or other small plastic decorative items that will fit on the jar lid. Pick something that appears to be water-resistant.
  • Water activated/water resistant glue – we used clear Gorilla Glue.
  • Liquid glycerin – we used glycerin meant to be used in icing, so look in the cake decorating section. It comes in small 2 oz bottles.
  • Glitter – find one that’s a mix of small and medium sized glitter
  • Twine or ribbon

What To Do:

  • Disassemble the mason jar.
  • Glue the trees to the underside of the lid.
  • Sprinkle a small amount of water onto the surface to activate the glue. Set it aside for about 5 minutes.
  • Fill the mason jar with water almost to the top.
  • For an 8 oz jar, add 4 caps of glycerin. Double that for a 16 oz jar.
  • Add as much glitter as you want, stirring periodically to mix. If the glitter is falling too quickly, add more glycerin.
  • Check on your trees. If the glue is tacky, slowly place the lid on to the jar and screw the collar on tightly.
  • Flip the jar over slowly. If your trees stay put, hooray! If they come loose, turn the jar back over and take the lid off. Add more glue to the trees and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Make sure the seal on the lid is clear of glitter before putting it back on.
  • Tie some twine or ribbon around the lid for a “I know exactly what I’m doing” look!

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