Catherine Winter-Hébert

DIY Gift Idea: How to Make Photo Snow Globes from Recycled Jars

filed under: DIY, Recycled Materials

Photo snow globe, DIY snow globe, DIY picture snow globe, The Manzanita Blog snow globe

It’s likely that we all had a snow globe or seven when we were kids, and we took great glee in shaking them up to see the little flakes dance around every time we shook them. It’s easy to make your own glittery globes with a few simple materials, but if you’d like to go one step beyond glueing a miniature animal to the inside of a mason jar, you can make unique photo globes instead! These can be put together in less than an hour, and are delightfully quirky gifts for anyone and everyone to receive.


What You’ll Need:

  • Clean, empty glass jars of all shapes and sizes, with matching lids (check first that the lids match the jars, as it’s really annoying to find out mid-craft that they don’t
  • Printed photos of your choice (or printed poetry, or interesting newspaper clippings, etc.)
  • Clear packing tape (unless you have access to a laminator)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue gun sticks
  • Glitter in the color(s) of your choice
  • Water
  • Glycerine OR olive oil

Once you have a selection of photos that you’re fond of, match them up to your empty glass jars to determine which you’d like to place where. Some trimming may be necessary, as you should try to keep the entire image to one side of the jar without it curling inwards too much.

Photo snow globe, DIY snow globe, DIY picture snow globe, The Manzanita Blog snow globe

After you’ve trimmed it to size, it’s time to laminate it. If you’re fortunate enough to work at a place where you have access to a laminator and can abuse your privileges there, go ahead and laminate your photos. For the schmoes who don’t have a fancypants machine at hand, that’s where the packing tape comes in: just lay strips across the photo, overlapping ever-so-slightly for full coverage, until the entire picture is covered in tape—front and back. Use your scissors to trim away any excess tape/laminate, and set the photos aside.

Photo snow globe, DIY snow globe, DIY picture snow globe, The Manzanita Blog snow globe

When you’re ready to start assembling, slide the photos in upside down, and set their backs firmly against the inside of the glass jar. If you like, you can even place a drop of hot glue on the back of the photo to keep it in place so it doesn’t slosh around when you add the liquid. (The reason you’ll put the photos in upside down is because the globes are usually stood upon their lids. If you’d prefer to make them with the lids upright, go for it!)

Once the photos are in place, it’s time to add your liquid of choice. Now, you can go two routes here: you can either fill the jars with olive oil (which will end up being very expensive, but also gorgeous in a vintage sort of way, and also looks best with black-and-white images), or you can go with a 75:25 water:glycerin ratio. The latter option is both cost-effective and better for color photos.

Pour at least a teaspoon of glitter into the jar, and follow it with the liquid of choice, as mentioned above. You’ll want to fill the jar until there’s only about 1/4 inch of headspace: this will fill the jar enough to make it look good, but also leave that vital little air bubble for when you slosh the thing around and make the glitter fly everywhere. If you choose to exclude the glitter and just have a vintage, oil-hued black and white photo, feel free to fill ‘er up even more.

Photo snow globe, DIY snow globe, DIY picture snow globe, The Manzanita Blog snow globe

You could even go one step beyond the photo-only project and incorporate some 3D element as well. For example, if you have a picture of one of your kids playing in the snow as a backdrop, you can create a miniature snowman out of styrofoam balls and glue that in to create a merry little diorama sort of thing.

Now, if your lids are the two-piece kind that normally come with mason jars, it’s vital that you use your hot glue gun to glue them together. When used for canning, the vacuum seal that’s formed will keep the lids nice and tight, but since you’re not going to be boiling/pressurizing them, you have to use glue instead. Be generous with it, and let it dry completely before popping the lids onto your mini winter wonderlands.

Once the lids are on, be sure to seal them quite tightly. I usually glue the final lid on as well (run a ring of hot glue around the inside edge of the ring) to add a second layer of leak protection, and voila! Adorable, glittery, photographic keepsakes that can be shaken gleefully every time you feel festive.

All photos via The Manzanita Blog

An avid permaculture gardener, locavore, and novice (but enthusiastic!) canner, Lana Winter-Hébert joins Inhabitat after spending the last decade working as a writer and event guru for non-profit/eco organisations. She has contributed to both print and web-based media for clients across North America and Europe, and is slowly plodding her way through her first novel-writing attempt. Born and raised in Toronto, she has given up city life and moved to the wilds of rural Quebec with her husband, where they collaborate on graphic design projects for their company, Winter-Hébert. Their new, rustic lifestyle is chronicled in her two personal blogs: 33 Leagues from Mount Royal, and The Green Pigeon, where she delves into the ins and outs of homesteading and self sufficiency in the Great White North. When she isn’t writing or delving into artstuffs, Lana can be found reading, wrestling with various knitting projects, or tending her garden.  

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