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Brighten Up Winter with Ice Luminaries

January 24, 2014

Christmas has passed and all the glittering decorations have been stored away for another year. We’re now entering that dull, unrelenting phase of deep winter when serious cabin fever sets in and Spring (or a long vacation to Hawaii) can’t come too soon. How can we Alaskans brighten up our dark nights without resorting to tired and trite holiday décor? Try your hand at making some elegant Globe Ice Lanterns!


Ice lanterns are surprisingly easy to make and are a great winter activity for both kids and adults. Simply fill a balloon with water and place outside in freezing weather or in your freezer. Check the balloon every 4 hours after the first 12 hours or so. The water will freeze from the outside first. Once it starts to feel hard, check to see if the base is still frozen. If it feels wide open and unfrozen you may want to give it more time to harden. If the base feels slushy and more narrow it is time to cut off the balloon and pour out the excess water. If you freeze the globe a little too long and there is no hole on the bottom you can drill a hole to release the inner water.


Place a candle or battery operated light in the inner hollow, then situate the ice lantern where you can admire it best and you’re done!


The type and quality of water used can create very different visual effects. Distilled water makes ice globes that are brilliantly clear. Tap water and well water have tiny impurities that create interesting streaks inside the globe. Softened water will create a cloudy, frosted looking globe. Combine these effects with food coloring, pieces of greenery and berries, or different types of lights and candles for a truly unique display.


Ice globes usually last anywhere from 5-12 hours inside, and can last all winter outside as long as temperatures stay mostly below freezing. (Someone needs to remind Anchorage that it is not supposed to be this warm in January!)


For globes that are more evenly round and even easier to make, consider trying some of the ice globe kits from Wintercraft. The Wintercraft website is also a great source for more information and creative display ideas. You can buy products from their website, or avoid paying shipping by getting them at Green Connection. We carry a good selection of Wintercraft and winter lighting supplies, so stop by today to get inspiration for a gorgeous display of ice and lights!

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