Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
Printer-friendly version Share:  Share this page on FacebookShare this page on TwitterShare this page by emailShare this page with other services

REPURPOSE | Trash into Treasures

Turn old jars into wintry wonderlands

Text by Wendy Becktold

Photo by Lori Eanes

At the start of the holiday season, I tend to get a little grandiose. "This year," I tell myself, "instead of buying stuff to give away, I'll sew, can, bake, and craft all of my gifts, just like the pioneers did!"

Then reality sets in, and I have to give myself a pep talk: "Nice idea, but since you're not Martha Stewart, how about scaling it down a bit? Pick one thing that looks fun to make—something that won't be too time-consuming and won't stress you out. Something that, hopefully, people will enjoy receiving."

Snow globes, which I've always loved, fit the bill perfectly. All I needed for this project were jars (I have lots of jars!), glitter, and some trinkets I had lying around my house; now, instead of worrying about their end life, I could suspend them in a wintry wonderland for someone else to contemplate.

I glued figurines to lids and added distilled water, a bit of glycerin for viscosity, and a spoonful of glitter—and created a homemade blizzard.

These tchotchkes aren't going to save the world, but they didn't travel thousands of miles from a warehouse to a store, they aren't wrapped in wasteful packaging, and, most important, rather than thinking big and doing nothing, I started small and had fun thinking globe-ally.
—Wendy Becktold


No special skills are required.

What You'll Need
  • Glass jar with water-tight lid
  • Figurine
  • Sandpaper
  • Waterproof glue (such as E6000*)
  • Distilled water
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Glitter or aluminum foil

* Author's note: E6000 is toxic. It contains perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene, an ingredient used in dry cleaning. Read the EPA fact sheet about perchloroethylene. You can avoid personal ill-effects by using it in a well-ventilated room and preventing skin contact. The challenge with the snow globes is to find a glue that is truly waterproof enough to bind the plastic object to the lid once permanently submerged in water. In fact, I tried several kinds of glue before E6000, but none held. One reader suggests using Liquid Fusion clear urethane glue, a nontoxic brand that claims to be waterproof, and I am very curious to know if it really does the trick.


Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2015 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.