HOW TO REPAIR SNOW GLOBES
How to repair a snow globe. It’s not easy but with care, love and patience your damaged snow globes can look as good as new. Here I tell you step by step.
In How to care for a snow globe I told you how to delay the almost inevitable appearance of a bubble in a snow globe and how to keep them in good condition. This time we are going to dive deeper.
Removing bubbles from a snow globe
Removing the bubbles in a snow globe is not easy, but you can always try. It depends on the type of snow globe in question.
In the case of the “dome” snow globes made of plastic and in the shape of a dome, it is somewhat easier. These snow globes usually have a small plastic plug at the bottom, as shown in the picture below, which can be easily removed, albeit carefully.. Once the stopper has been removed, distilled water can be added with the help of a small syringe. It’s important:
- to make sure that there is no air in the syringe, just squeeze the plunger until you see some liquid coming out.
- depress the plunger of the syringe a little at a time and never empty the syringe completely. If we press the plunger hard and all the way down, we will get the opposite effect to the one we want: adding more air, bubbles, to our snow globe.
When it comes to removing bubbles from a glass snow globe, the process is a little more complicated. The first thing is to make sure that you can handle the snow globe safely without breaking the glass. To do this, I suggest that in a bowl or similar that is in proportion to the size of the sphere, place a cloth, a tea towel… and place the snow globe in an upside down position on top of it. There are several possibilities:
- Most snow globes nowadays have a plastic cap at the base that needs to be removed. This lid may be recessed, in which case there are usually three or four notches. Simply insert a small screwdriver or similar into one of the notches and carefully press upwards to unlatch the cover.
- If there are no notches, the cover is glued. In this case it is easy to peel it off with a hot air gun (you can find them in large online shops for a fairly affordable price, around fifteen euros). An adhesive remover can also be applied. You’ll find many brands in specialised drugstores or craft shops.
- If the base does not have a lid, the glass sphere will be glued to the base at the top. There are two systems you can use:
- Again, a hot air gun will help us to detach the glass from the wood or resin, which are common materials for the bases of snow globes. I usually protect the glass sphere with a cloth or similar while applying heat.
- Place the snow globe in a bowl or similar container. Fill the container with boiling water up to the height where the glass meets the base of the snow globe. After a few seconds, hold the base with one hand and the glass sphere with the other hand. Turn both hands in opposite direction. The heat of the water will have softened the glue and the pieces will separate easily.
You will finally see the rubber part that seals the glass dial, which is usually also sealed with some kind of silicone or wax.
- With the help of the hot air gun (a cutter is also useful), remove this seal in one area of the sphere (it is not necessary that the silicone or wax is completely removed).
- Get a container large enough for you to put the ball in and manipulate it. Fill it with the same water you use for the snow globe. The height of the water must completely cover the snow globe.
- With the glass globe covered with water, slightly separate the stopper from the glass. With the help of a syringe, add distilled water, little by little and without pressing the plunger all the way to the end.
- When you check that there are no bubbles left, reseal the cap with some kind of silicone sealant.
This video shows the steps outlined above. In this case, it is a musical snow globe, the cover of which is removed by applying a glue remover. Otherwise, the process is the same. The video is in German but the images are sufficient to understand the whole process.
Changing the water in a snow globe
If the water in a globe has become cloudy over time, it may be worth changing it. Since we run the risk of breaking the glass, we should approach the process very calmly and work slowly.
- Leave the rubber part that closes the globe visible, as we have already explained in case you want to remove bubbles. Completely remove the silicone or glue used for sealing, using a cutter or heat gun.
- Remove the plug. I recommend that you do it with your hands and little by little. If you try to help yourself with a small tool: tweezers, tongs or similar, be very careful to pull upwards without pressing on the edge of the sphere as it can easily break.
- Pour the dirty water into a sieve or similar to preserve the snow or glitter. If you want to take the opportunity to add more snow, see How to make a snow globe in eight steps for the preparation process.
- Add the water, always distilled, together with a few drops of glycerine and take the opportunity to add a water clarifier (see How to care for a globe).
- Replace the sealing cap and seal the edge with some glue or, this is my choice, some silicone sealant. I usually use Total Tech by Ceys, which is affordable and easy to get.
- Allow a few days to pass to ensure that no unwanted bubbles appear. If any do appear, remove some of the silicone sealant and add distilled water as above.
- Reattach the glass sphere to the base by reversing the process you followed to detach it.
TIP: It is important that the process of adding distilled water is done in a container, such as a small bucket, which is also filled with distilled water. Manipulating the snow globe in the water greatly minimises the risk of new air bubbles being drawn in or trapped when the glass globe is closed again.
If you want to try to repair your snow globes yourself, you can find Snow Globe Rescue on Youtube, a channel with more than 200 episodes showing you how to repair all kinds of snow globes. It’s great.
Where to repair a snow globe.
There are specialised shops in repairing snow globes. Unfortunately, since this is a much more popular object in the Anglo-Saxon sphere, all the ones I have found are in the USA. For those of us who live in Europe, this complicates things a lot, as in addition to the cost of the repair, which is usually not excessively expensive, we have to add the shipping costs and it may also happen that once in Spain, the package is held up at customs. In any case, here are two shops you can go to: Snowgloberepair and Snowglobecenter.
In this video you will meet Dick Heibel who has been repairing snow globes for decades simply because he likes them and whose only reason for continuing to do so is the gratitude he receives from his customers. If you like snow globes, you’ll love this video.