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How Are Snow Globes Made?

The Invention of the Snow Globe

Snow globes were first introduced at the Paris Exposition fair in 1889. Water globes were introduced in a far smaller size than the modern version of the popular holiday item. The first snow globe featured powdery white flakes flowing around a scaled version of the Eiffel Tower. Snow globes became a fashionable item to own throughout Europe, and featured wedding bouquets, miniature dolls and military medals.

Snow Globes Travel to America

A German company developed snow globes depicting American city names, and introduced the novelties to the United States. Pennsylvania resident Joseph Garaja received a snow globe patent in 1929, and began mass-producing a myriad of snow globe styles. The introduction of plastic into the marketplace allowed inexpensive snow globes production and wider use as tourist attraction souvenirs. During the 1970s snow globes and technology merged, allowing the creation of music and moving figures inside the globe domes.

Snow Globe Liquid

The exact recipe of liquid inside snow globes is tightly guarded as a trade secret. Multiple recipes exist for a low cost home craft version of the snow globe. The water-like mixture allows snow particles to float around the globe when it is shaken. Homemade snow globes are often plagued by murky water after a short period of use. Liquid used inside the snow globe is comprised of light oil and a mixture of water and antifreeze. Components found in the mixture also include glycerin and glycol, which prevent the “snowflakes” from falling to the bottom of the globe too quickly after being shaken.

Snow Globes "Snowflakes"

Soap flakes are used in homemade versions of snow globes, and were the original material used to create an illusion of a falling snow. Modern and mass produced snow globes feature minuscule white plastic particles. The lightweight plastic flows inside the globe and eventually settles at the base when movement of the globe ceases. Snow globes, which possess moving figurines, stir the plastic particles, increasing the time the “snow” floats around the globe.

Filling the Glass Globe

The glass globe is produced in the same manner as typical glass bowls. A rubber cap with a threaded ring is added to the lip of the globe, to prevent liquid from leaking. The snow globe figurine is mounted with water resistant glue to the center of the rubber ring. If the snow globe features moving parts, the figurine is screwed onto the rubber ring and attached to a small crank mechanism housed beneath the ring.

Attaching the Snow Globe Base

A wooden or plastic base in then screwed onto the threaded rubber ring, securing the globe in place while holding the entire project upside down, preventing the plastic snowflakes and liquid from spilling. Crank boxes are mounted into the globe base for models, which play music or possess moving figurines. A lever, which turns by hand, or a slot for battery-powered movement, is connected to the globe base. Snow globes are created both by hand and through the use of assembly machines.

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