DIY Christmas Craft: Make your Own Mason Jar Snow Globes

It’s really easy to make your own mason jar snow globes, just like those in my Etsy shop.  I’ve seen these featured everywhere from Southern Living to the aisles of Target, but there’s no need to splurge for these when you can easily make your own! These mason jar snow globes are a fun Christmas craft and can be made fairly quickly in a large batch, and make great decorations and gifts.

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Supplies:

  • Old tablecloth, newspaper, etc. to cover your workspace
  • Mason jars of various sizes
  • Snow-Tex (available at most crafts stores)
  • Silver glitter craft paint (with a clear base)
  • Water jar and stiff paint brushes
  • Miniature Christmas trees of various sizes
  • Bag of fake snow (fine, powdery snow works better than larger plastic flakes)

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Make your Snow Globes

First, cover your workspace. This could get messy!

Remove the tops of your mason jars and separate the lids and the rims. Use a stiff paintbrush to glob Snow-Tex around the outside of the metal rim from each of your lids, so that they are completely covered. Set these aside.

Use your paintbrush to cover the base of your miniature trees with Snow-Tex as well, and dab a little Snow-Tex into the trees so that they appear to be filled with snow. Don’t overdo this – a little is better than too much.

Next, take your mason jar lids, and liberally glob Snow-Tex onto the inside of each one (the side which will be facing the inside of the jar), leaving a clear ring around the edge which will sit against the rim of the jar. Press the bases of your miniature trees down into the Snow-Tex, arranging them in groups or singly, however you like. Just be careful not to allow any of the tree bases to enter the clear ring of the lid.

Allow the Snow-Tex to dry for a couple of days before moving forward. When the Snow-Tex is dry, it will harden and secure the trees to the lids.

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Once your Snow-Tex is dry, use your glitter paint and paintbrush to add glitter over your Snow-Tex on the lids, lid rims, and trees. Again, err on the side of caution with this step, as it’s better to use only a little than to overdo it.

Next, pour about 1/2 inch of your fake snow into the bottom of each of your mason jars. Top each jar with a lid, turning your trees upside down and guiding them into the jars. Secure each lid with a rim.

Turn your jars over, and watch the snow settle over your winter forest scene!

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Looking for more fun DIY tutorials? Try the tutorial section of my blog.

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DIY Dollmaking Tutorial: Sculpt Your Own Paperclay Mini Doll

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Due to the popularity of my post on sculpting a full-size Paperclay doll, I decided I’d post more dollmaking tutorials. These 5-6 inch mini dolls are fun to make and require only a moderate amount of skill with Paperclay. Thanks to their small size, they also don’t require a large work space or long time commitment, unlike my larger dolls. Don’t let the length of the tutorial intimidate you; you can easily sculpt the body in an hour, and complete each additional step whenever you have a few minutes of free time!

Dollmaking Supplies:

  • Wax paper or plastic tablecloth
  • Water jar
  • Small package of Paperclay (available at most craft stores)
  • Simple sculpting tools (available at most craft stores) or ice pick
  • Soft cloth
  • Sheet of sandpaper
  • Small round paintbrush for details, larger flat paintbrush for sanding and sealing
  • Watercolors and/or watercolor pencils
  • Matte ModgePodge
  • Needle and thread
  • Four small round beads (with holes large enough for your needle to pass through)
  • Low-temp glue gun
  • Scissors
  • A few strands of yarn, roving, or wool locks (I buy my roving and wool locks on Etsy from stores selling spinning supplies)
  • Fabric scraps and trimmings

Step 1: Sculpt the Paperclay Doll Body

First, set up your work space by covering it with your plastic tablecloth or a couple of sheets of wax paper, and laying out your Paperclay, water jar, and sculpting tools. Remove any rings and bracelets before beginning to sculpt, to avoid covering them in Paperclay!

Pinch off a ball of Paperclay about large enough to sit in your palm, and knead it to the correct consistency, adding water a little at a time from your water jar, if necessary. You want your Paperclay to be pliant and slightly “bouncy,” but not so wet that it smears easily.

Half your ball. Roll one half into a log shape about 2 1/2 inches long. Add or remove clay if necessary. Pinch the log about 1/3 of the way from the top, using your fingers or your sculpting tools, so that you have a torso and a round head separated by a neck. Be sure not to make your neck too thin, or it will break. Use your hands or sculpting tools to mold your head into an egg shape with a pointed chin, and to give your torso a more human shape. Use your thumbs to give your face indentions where you want your eyes to be (imagine the eye sockets of a skull). This should also give you a slight ridge in between, which will serve as the bridge of your nose.

Use your sculpting tools or ice pick to poke holes through your body, running from shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. (Refer to the picture below if you are unsure where these should go.) Make these holes large enough for your needle to easily pass through.

Complete your face. Make four tiny balls with Paperclay, each about the size of the head of a pin. Gently set one ball each where you want your eyes, the ball of your nose, and your mouth. Use your thin round metal sculpting tool or your ice pick to press eyelid lines across each of your eyes, poke two nostrils in your nose, and press a smile line through the middle of your mouth. If desired, use a similar process to create ears.

Set your finished torso and head aside, and roll the remainder of your clay into a thin “snake” the width that you want your arms and legs. Pinch off pieces to serve as arms and legs, measuring them against your torso if needed to determine the correct length. Arms should generally be about 2 1/2 inches long, and legs (which need to be long enough to include a foot) 3 – 3 1/2 inches. Create a bump to serve as elbows and knees in each of your arms and legs by slightly folding them in the middle. Flatten one end of each of your arms to create hands. Use your thin metal sculpting tool or ice pick to draw lines to suggest fingers. Bend about 1/4 – 1/2 an inch of each of your legs up to create feet, pinching your “ankle” thinner if needed. Finish your arms and legs by poking holes through the front of your arms at the shoulder, and the sides of your legs at the hip, large enough to pass your needle through. Again, refer to the photo below if you are unsure of the direction to poke the holes.

Allow your finished body to air dry for about two days. Don’t worry if it looks a little rough, as the next step will help with this!

Your finished sculpted body should look something like this.
Your finished sculpted body should look something like this.

Step 2: Sand, Paint, and Seal your Paperclay Doll Body

When your body is dry, cover your work space again and set out your water jar, larger paintbrush, sandpaper, and soft cloth. Use your sandpaper to gently sand the body, being careful not to press too hard (which could snap the limbs) or sand away your facial features. The sanded Paperclay should have the appearance of white stone. When sanded, use your dry paintbrush to brush the excess clay dust from the body, and then dampen your soft cloth and use it to gently burnish and smooth the body. Allow any parts of the body that became wet to thoroughly dry before moving on.

Tip: If any part of your body breaks during this process, a hot glue gun or superglue can be easily used for repairs.

When you’re ready to paint your body, cover your work space and grab your water jar, small paintbrush, and watercolors. First cover your body with the appropriate flesh tint. It’s generally a good idea to make this a much lighter tone than you think you’ll need to. Then, use a darker tone of your flesh tint to create highlights around your eyelids, mouth, cheeks and chin, elbows and knees, hands, and feet. To paint your eyes, first paint the entire eye white, then, when dry, add a colored iris, and then, once dry, a smaller black pupil. To finish, dot your pupil with a tiny white highlight. Add thin lines for eyebrows, and darken your lips to the desired shade. Finally, paint shoes onto the feet of your doll. Some might find it easier to use watercolor pencils for these details.

Allow your doll to thoroughly dry before bringing out your matte ModgePodge and larger paintbrush. Gently cover your doll in a thin layer of ModgePodge, being careful not to let the ModgePodge collect in the creases of your doll’s face and fingers. Unless you water down your ModgePodge or use a wet brush, this should not smear your paint.

Allow the doll to dry again before moving on.

Painted and sealed doll body with beads for stringing and mohair for hair.
Painted and sealed doll body with beads for stringing and mohair for hair.

Step 3: String your Doll’s Body

When you’re ready to string your doll’s body, you’ll need the doll, a needle and thread in a color to match the doll’s skin tone, and your four beads. To attach the doll’s arms, first string one of the beads onto your needle and thread, and knot your thread around the bead to keep it from slipping. String your first arm onto the thread, and push it down against the bead. Then, pass your needle and thread through the doll’s body, pulling the arm tight against the shoulder. On the other side, string on the second arm, pushing it down tight against the shoulder, and then the second bead, pushing it down against the arm. Pass your needle back through the second arm, the body, the first arm, and the first bead, repeating as many times as necessary for you to feel that the limbs are secure, before knotting off your thread. If your limbs are a little loose, this is fine, as it will give them more freedom of movement. Repeat the same steps to string your doll’s legs.

Step 4: Dress your Doll

Gather up your doll, the materials you’re using for your doll’s hair and clothing, scissors, needle and thread (if desired) and your glue gun. Plug in your glue gun and allow it to warm up. While you’re waiting, plan out how you’ll arrange your doll’s hair, and trim it to a uniform length. Dolls of this size generally need only a few strands of yarn or mohair. Use your glue gun to attach the hair, folding the strands in half and attaching the fold to the doll’s scalp for a more natural look.

Use your cloth scraps and trimmings to dress your doll. This can be done entirely with your glue gun, gluing the clothing directly to the doll, or you can use a needle and thread to sew the outfit first if you like.

To create a dress similar to what’s shown in the picture below, you will need: fabric scraps, about a quarter yard of thin lace, a short length of ribbon, and a few tiny seed beads. Cut a piece of cloth the correct size to sew a skirt, and cut a length of lace the width of the skirt. Sew your lace to the bottom of the skirt, then fold the skirt over with the outside showing, and sew up the open side to form a tube. Turn your skirt inside out and put it on your doll, using hot glue to secure it at the doll’s waist. Create gathers by folding at the waist if desired. Cut another length of fabric twice the length of your doll’s upper torso and the right length to wrap around it. Fold the cloth in half, and using hot glue to secure it to the doll, wrap it around the doll’s torso, creating the dress’s bodice. For sleeves, cut two more pieces of cloth the correct length and width to wrap around your doll’s arms, and secure with hot glue. Add lace at the bottom for cuffs. Cut a length of ribbon the right length to wrap around your doll’s torso, and secure it with hot glue, using it to hide the join between the skirt and bodice. Finish the dress by gluing a line of seed beads down the front for buttons.

A finished mini doll: Sculpted, painted, sealed, strung, and dressed!
A finished mini doll: Sculpted, painted, sealed, strung, and dressed!

For more dollmaking and crafting tutorials, visit the tutorial section of my blog.

DIY Craft Tutorial: How to Make Miniature Spell Bottles

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I had so much fun making these miniature magic spell bottles for my own project, that I thought I would share with all of you! This DIY tutorial is extremely simple, and these cute spell bottles would make a great Halloween addition to your doll house.

Supplies:

  • miniature glass bottles with corks (found in most craft stores)
  • loose glitter and/or glitter craft paint
  • white printer paper
  • scissors
  • pen
  • small paintbrush and water jar
  • tacky glue
  • items for filling your bottles – get creative! I used loose glitter for fairy dust, a fluffy white feather for dreams, miniature watch parts for time, red thread for desire, wishbone pendants for wishes, and fake craft snow for Christmas snow

Steps:

You’ll probably want to first cover your workplace – as I’m sure you know, glitter goes everywhere!

Fill your bottles however you like, then use your small paintbrush to paint around the rims of the bottles with tacky glue. Replace the corks. When the glue dries, the bottles will be sealed.

Create tiny labels on printer paper to paste on your bottles. I wrote on the paper with a gel pen first, before cutting out the labels. You could also type the labels up on the computer in small decorative font, if you don’t trust your handwriting. I also outlined some of my labels in gold paint or black pen.

Use the paintbrush and tacky glue to paste the labels to the bottles. I also painted over some of them with “magic” glitter craft paint, or you could paint over them with more tacky glue and sprinkle on some loose glitter.

Once your handmade spell bottles are dry, they’re ready for use in making a miniature scene or as an addition to your doll house.

Looking for more fun craft tutorials? Try the tutorial section of my blog.

Sculpting a Paperclay Doll

Over my Christmas break, I decided to try a brand new project – sculpting a jointed doll from Paperclay.

Even though I don’t have much experience sculpting, I’ve always wanted to try this. I decided to make the doll for myself, unsure of how my first attempt at sculpting would turn out. I based my doll on the heroine of Cathrynne M. Valente’s Fairyland books, September, a brave girl from the 1930’s in a homespun cotton dress and the Green Wind’s fantastic coat. As I made my plans before sculpting, I took inspiration from antique French Bru dolls and the Paperclay art dolls of Holli, an artist I admire.

When I began sculpting, I immediately fell in love! I love the way Paperclay feels, and how easy it is to use. In the past, I’d had a hard time with clay and Sculpy, but Paperclay was soft and flexible, and much easier. I loved the feeling of literally forming something with my hands, something that would carry my fingerprints. I spent over a week sculpting and re-working every part of my doll, which, with Paperclay, which softens with water, was easy to do! 

After September was dry, it was time for sanding and carving, the most tedious and labor-intensive part of the process. But then it’s time for the really fun part – painting.

 

Painting September
Painting September

Before getting started, I spent time with my watercolors mixing colors and testing them on a sheet of paper to make sure I got them right. I’d originally wanted to give September hazel eyes to match the brown hair I’d bought for her and the green coat she would wear, but as I played with colors, I decided to go with a purple -grey instead.

The painting stage was when September really came alive for me. Another doll artist I know has said that she doesn’t feel like her dolls are alive until she’s painted their eyes, and this is true for me as well.

Painting September's head
Painting September’s head
September's face
September’s face

After September dries from being painted, I’ll be stringing her and creating her wig. I decided to give her a cloth body that her head and limbs will be sewn to. Before painting her, I quickly arranged her together and snapped a photograph to see what she’ll look like.

jointed doll body
September’s body before sanding and painting

DIY Summer Craft: Making Mason Jar Beach Terrariums

inside of a mason jar beach terrarium with shells and moss

These mason jar beach terrariums are a super fun summer craft idea, and their tutorial is even easier to follow than that for my moss terrariums. These beach terrariums would make beautiful summer decor or gifts. In one sitting, you can make enough to decorate your own home and to give to your friends!

Beach Terrarium Materials:

  • mason jar with a lid- I love using blue mason jars for these, because it’s like looking into the ocean!
  • small bag of white decorative sand – available at craft stores
  • shells, driftwood, brown moss, or anything else you want to go into your terrarium
  • modge podge or other clear drying glue
  • paintbrush with long handle
  • newspaper or old tablecloth to cover your work surface
  • ribbon, raffia – optional
  • glue gun – optional

Instructions:

1. Cover your work surface! The sand and glue can make this a messy project.

2. Unscrew the lid of your glass jar. Use your paintbrush to coat the bottom and about 1/4 of the sides of the jar with modge podge.

3. Pour sand up to the glue line. The glue will help keep the sand from moving around too much in the jar.

4. Add shells, moss, driftwood, etc, and arrange to make a pretty beach scene. Replace jar lid.

5. If desired, decorate the outside of the jar with ribbon, raffia, or larger shells using a low temp glue gun.

6. Allow glue to dry. Avoid tipping the terrarium or turning it upside down, to keep the sand from burying the shells. No other care needed!

Looking for more DIY mason jar craft posts? Try the tutorial section of my blog.

Terrarium Christmas Ornaments DIY Crafting Tutorial

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I made these terrarium Christmas ornaments last week, and was so pleased with the way they turned out, I thought I’d post a DIY tutorial for them! This will be an easier craft for those with a moderate amount of crafting experience, though I’ve tried to make the tutorial as easy to follow as possible.

Terrarium Ornament Supplies:

  • Large or medium sized clear plastic craft ornaments (Glass ornaments could also be used, but be cautious, as they will break if too much force is applied.)
  • Real moss
  • Fake greenery, tiny pinecones, acorns, etc. – anything you want to use that will fit through the mouth of the ornament!
  • Fake snow
  • Thin ribbon
  • Tacky glue
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Dowel rod, unsharpened pencil, etc.
  • Plastic funnel
  • Small flat paint brush
  • Water jar and rag to clean brush

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Make Your Terrarium Ornaments:

First of all, you may want to protect your work surface – the tacky glue and snow can get a little messy!

Remove the silver cap of the ornament, and use your paint brush to coat the inside bottom of the ornament with a thick layer of tacky glue.

Next, stuff moss into the ornament’s mouth, and use the dowel rod or pencil to press a layer of moss into the bottom of the ornament.

While the tacky glue dries a bit, plug in your glue gun and begin heating it up, and decide what you want to use inside the ornament. You could also use this chance to clean the glue out of your brush.

When your glue gun is ready, coat the bottom of your chosen objects with a few drops of hot glue, and carefully guide them through the ornament’s mouth to press them into place in the moss, using the dowel rod.

When you’re finished, use your funnel to pour a layer of fake snow into the ornament. Replace the silver cap.

The tacky glue will look white in the bottom of the ornament until it’s dry. When your glue is dry, you should be able to shake your ornament like a snow globe and see the snow drift while everything else stays in place.

When your ornament is finished, cut a length of ribbon to hang the ornament with. You could also use your hot glue gun to decorate the outside of the ornament with more fake greenery, like I did.

If you’re interesting in trying more Christmas craft ideas, you can also try my mason jar snow globe tutorial.