Lately at his office he's been all about decorating for the holidays. I stopped by to get a step by step tutorial from him on how to make your own mason jar snow globes.
Russell's notes about the globes:
These mason jar "Faux Globes" may just be the simplest craft project ever: you can really do no wrong, so experiment to your heart's content. The beauty of this project is that it rises to the level of your own creativity, patience, and Christmas cheer, and all levels are successful. And like most of the other crafts I enjoy, it requires no actual artistic ability or learned technical skill!
My sweetie Mark generously agreed to indulge my insane longtime Christmas fanaticism and transform our Thanksgiving holiday from quiet-woodsy-retreat into a full-blown holiday-craft snow-globe-production sweatshop. Our different "artistic" styles become instantly evident and really speak to the versatility of the project: I prefer a traditional/cheery Christmas winterscape (Tim Burton-esque glittery balls, snowmen, candy canes) whereas Mark fashioned the more cerebral/conceptual creations (he used the word "specimen" more times than I personally recall from my childhood holiday carols).
Wine bottle corks or styrofoam balls cut in half
Ornaments or toys
*The only thing to really keep in mind is that if you choose to use real branches, leaves, or pine cones, you get the added bonus of condensation from the last exhalations of Oxygen of the plants, which will either annoyingly cloud the jar with dampness or delightfully mist the jar with Yuletide dew, depending on your innate level of optimism.
For the purposes of instruction, I'll give you some basic steps for building, but consider this a skeleton description from which you should build up. (To say Mark is horrified by the simplicity and inelegance of this design is not an understatement. He adorably approached each globe as a comprehensive pronouncement of his relative emotional state, as concise and evocative as Elizabeth Kubler Ross's "Five Stages of Grief.")
You will be using the inside of the mason jar lid as the base for your globe, and even then only the center portion of the lid by virtue of the nature of the bottleneck. Because of the metal sealing ring, you will need to prop up the contents of your globe at least an inch so that it will be visible. We did this a couple ways: we glue gunned a halved styrofoam ball to the base and then just poked the branches into the ball; we glued the items to wine bottle corks and glued those to the base; and we used modeling clay on the base which props the items up and affixes them. (In the photos shown below, we used clay.) Fake snow will be added to the bottom of the jar that will cover whichever of these you use, so don't worry if it ain't pretty.
Pick your supplies and trim the length so that they will fit in the jar. Wrapping the base of the branches in clay, you make a little bunch and affix the bunch anywhere on the lid, allowing a bit from the edges.
Miniature trees are a great way to instantly evoke Christmas; hence I loved them and Mark found them tacky, at best. I became very fond of adhesive spray and glitter for much of this project, perhaps imagining the Three Wisemen were counting on the tacky shimmer of my trees to guide their way through the desert.
Resist the urge to cram your jar full of brush and snow. We found the negative-spaced, clear jars to be just as delicately beautiful and somber as our overly-ambitious, high density ones.
Pour a little bit of fake snow into your jar that will act as the ground cover for your winterscape. You'll need significantly less than you think, depending on how high you've propped up your pieces.
When ready, delicately fit your handywork into its jar. It is at this stage that you will probably realize you have tried to jam way too much in. Trim accordingly. Seal the lid and flip it over. Most of the fake snow will like be caught in the branches and leaves so slap it and shake it til it settles.
Frosting the outside of the jars with a spray icicles or flocking gave a pretty effect to some of the jars and made others look insanely cluttered and/or toxic. Also, you can find online techniques for tinting the jars that aquamarine color that vintage mason jars had as a result of the canning process by baking the jar in the oven with a food color and glue glaze.
Experiment and have fun! Even the "bad" ones end up looking good! Thanks Mark and Happy Holidays everyone!
(Images: Bethany Nauert)