The first big snowfall across the Twin Cities on Friday was the signal I needed. It was finally time to make an ice globe lantern.
A past Midwest Home story inspired me to seek out Jennifer and Tom Hedberg’s Wintercraft kit to test the process and create this step-by-step guide. For beginners, this affordable $20 starter kit is definitely the way to go with its easy instructions to make six globes. I started the process about 6 p.m. on Friday night and had my first ice globe lantern on display in my front yard by noon the next day atop my snow-covered bird bath. While the kit comes with six balloons, you can use regular balloons and a bowl to shape your own.
Fill a balloon by stretching the top over a tap. Our kitchen sink faucet is a wide retractable handle, so I had to use the sink in our bathroom to make it fit. Fill to the appropriate size; mine was about the size of a soccer ball. Tie the top or use the kit’s fastener.
Place filled balloon in kit’s plastic tray or a bowl to shape the bottom and create a sturdy base. The kit also comes with an insulating sheet, basically a piece of Styrofoam, that I placed under the tray. I think this was key in having the balloon freeze on the top but not fully on the bottom, which is what you want.
Freeze the balloon for 12-24 hours based on size. I put mine in my freezer because, despite the heavy snowfall outside, the temperatures were still in the upper 20s and 30s and I wanted my sample to freeze quickly and not get weighed down by snow. You may need to clear some room in your freezer or lower it gently into a chest freezer.
Feel the balloon’s top and bottom for rigidity. After about 18 hours in my freezer, my sample felt firm all around the top three-quarters but slushy at the base. Don’t leave the balloon in the freezer or outside too long or the entire globe will freeze over and you won’t be able to access the center to illuminate.
Cut away the balloon over a sink or outside so the water can drain from the center. I did mine over my kitchen sink and scored it at the mushy bottom so that I wouldn’t cut into the top globe or accidentally crack it. Be prepared for the water to come gushing out—and it is cold! I used a dish towel to work with it after removing the balloon.
Display your ice globe! I placed a battery-powered tea candle in the base of my ice globe to accentuate the ice, which is approximately 2 inches thick all around. The kit comes with regular tea candles, but I prefer battery-powered over live candles for safety (even surrounded by water and ice).
I placed mine open-side down on a bird bath, but you can also place them round-side down with the candle wick exposed at the top opening. With temperatures topping 40 degrees Fahrenheit soon, I’ll need to keep an eye on my ice globe lantern and possibly put it back in the freezer to stay solid. I also plan to make some more with my kit, of various sizes with different balloons. Until then, I will continue to enjoy this unique, simple craft that adds some sparkle to my outdoor décor.