This holiday season, my family came to visit, and I wanted to surprise them with something special. I also liked the idea of getting photos of us in coordinated outfits. Enter the snow globes. I saw a snow globe sweatshirt in a fast-fashion shop where you could personalize it with your own photo, and I thought, “Hey, I can do that!” (This is usually the start of most of my adventures.)

Behold! – A t-shirt snow globe prototype.

What I *didn’t* like about it is that is a goofy sweatshirt that would only be trotted out once a year, and languish in the dark corner of a closet the rest of the year. This led me to thinking… What if the snow globe was removable? You could wear it on any article of clothing.

Challenge accepted. The next puzzle to solve was materials. I wanted it to be made of easily-accessible craft supplies. I settled on page protectors like the ones used in 3 ring binders. They’re clear, the right size, and easy to work with. I selected a few choice family photos and had them printed as 5×7’s. I printed two more than the number of family members coming to visit so everyone could choose their favorite.

I went back and forth on the “snow” for the globe. In the end, I picked up beads, fake snow, crumpled some styrofoam, and varying weights of glitter. I was also interested in building a “blower” mechanism into the globe base to push the snow around because one can’t turn a cartwheel every time you want to shake up the snow, and a woman shimmying her chest attracts the wrong type of attention.

Green plastic frog with a straw in its throat
The Tracheotomy Frog — all for naught because he couldn’t provide enough air pressure to move the snow around.

My ladies came over for craft night, and we devoted the evening to prototyping and troubleshooting the design. I didn’t have true air pumps to put in the base, and our attempts to build them from bubble packing envelopes was unsuccessful. Not enough air was coming out of the pouch. We also tried little frog squeaky toys. The air hole was on the bottom of the frog, which meant it would not lay in the right way to squeeze it and get air out of it. I closed off the air hole and gave the frog a tracheotomy with a paper straw, and that didn’t work either. Given that I only had a couple of days before my family would arrive, the snow blower idea was abandoned for a future refinement of the design.

Prototype Globes

These are the first ones I created. My attempt to create my own airbags was unsuccessful.

Snow has been added!

The pictures were sewn into the globes with the beads and snow. After a bit of trial and error, I found that there only needed to be a little bit for snow.  Too much snow and you can’t see the pictures. The backing was fabric interfacing and felt, then I used upholstery fabric samples for the snow globe base. I sewed safety pins to the back to facilitate easy on and off of the snow globes.

Before we left on our family trip, I asked everyone to bring a plain shirt for a photo, promising them they would get the shirts back intact.

I was true to my word, and quite pleased that I got the family photo I was hoping for.