Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Basic Concept of Ice Lantern Creation

The universe of ice lantern creation can be divided into two distinct techniques­—the Crust Method and the Freeze Solid Method. The Freeze Solid Method requires fussy containers and tape or weights and I will not be discussing it on my blog.

I prefer the Crust Method!

Even though the ice cannot be colored or capture flowers and some experimentation is helpful to master the process, the Crust Method relies on the magic of science to do the work. Thus, once the basics of timing is learned, one can easily create beautiful natural ice lanterns.

Here’s basically how it’s done . . . a form or mold is filled with water and put in freezing temperatures until an ice crust has formed, but not allowed to freeze solid. Imagine a tray of ice cubes taken out too soon. What do you find? Crusts of ice with water inside. Release the water and, voila, miniature ice lanterns. An ice lantern is the same thing, but on a much larger scale.

In the posts to follow, I will be offering more information about making ice lanterns of all shapes, but especially Globe Ice Lanterns. If I have not posted the information you want or need, you want to make large globes and/or you bought a kit and need more information, please email me at or call me at 612.964.3023. I am happy to help!

How to Make Ice Lanterns? Let's Begin . . .

In order to have a successful and comfortable ice lantern building experience, it is best to know what tools you will need to have on hand to help you make beautiful GLOBE ICE LANTERNS.



When you are dealing with water in freezing temperatures, DRESS WISELY. Put on clothing you normally wear for physical exertion in the winter--dress in layers and remember, “cotton is rotten.” BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THE GLOVES! You will be much more comfortable if you wear globes that are waterproof and insulated to keep your hands warm and DRY. I wear rubber gloves (heavy-duty, large-sized diswashing gloves) over wool liners.

The Basic 7 Easy Steps from the kit:

1. FILL the balloon with tap water.

2. CLIP to seal and place filled balloon on base.

3. FREEZE outside on the ground in a shaded area (best if below 20° F).

4. CHECK after 12-16 hours by pushing firmly on the balloon. If more thickness is desired, continue freezing and re-check in 4 hours. Ice wall thickness varies with freezing time, volume of water and temperature. Do not allow the water to freeze solid.

5. CUT the balloon from the ice globe outside or in a sink where excess water can run out. Separate the ice globe from the base.

6. DRILL* a hole (chimney) into the top of the ice globe using a cordless drill and the largest drill bit on hand. It is recommended that this step be completed by an adult wearing safety glasses – be aware that ice is slippery, start slowly until the bit grabs the ice.
(*With an Ice Globe Lantern, it is possible to skip the drilling step. If you allow for a lot of air flow from underneath, you can put a candle under an ice lantern and it should create its own chimney without drilling.)

7. LIGHT the candle and place globe over the candle with chimney at top. Adjust the bottom of the globe to allow for effective air flow.

In the posts to follow, I will be offering more information about making ice lanterns of all shapes, but especially Globe Ice Lanterns. If I have not posted the information you want or need, you want to make large globes and/or you bought a kit and need more information, please email me at or call me at 612.964.3023. I am happy to help!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New - Globe Ice Lantern Kits

The elves at Globe Ice Lantern Kits just wrapped up a show at the Minneapolis Midwest Mountaineering Winter EXPO--a winter sports extravaganza--showcasing everything from sled dog racers to nordic ski suppliers and snow fort makers. EXPO vendors and attendees alike seemed to be looking forward to winter, so it seemed a perfect way to introduce our new Globe Ice Lantern Kits and replacement supplies. We had huge ice globes sitting in nests of winter greens and a small globe nestled in winter white roses and pepperberry plants to demonstrate a possible wedding or holiday party centerpiece.

Given the time of year we had to make the globes in our deep freezer, so they did not display the beautiful pincushion effect that tends to happen when made outside. Therefore, we decided to thermal shock the globes so that rivers of cracks developed to refract the light--they looked beautiful!

I LOVE to make ice lanterns for events, so I am thrilled to mention a wonderful new EXPO connection with Linda Nervick of the John Beargrease Dog Sled Race. I get goosebumps (of excitement) when I think of how much fun it could be to help make the Beargrease Gala Dinner and Silent Auction on the January 29th and the race's finish line something to behold! I hope we can work out the details to make it happen . . .

So, the EXPO was a success for many reasons, but most importantly – people loved the kits! We SOLD OUT! It was delightful to talk about ice lanterns all day for 3 days. It's the beginning of the season, so I am getting excited about all the ways to light up the cold winter days ahead. Globe Ice Lanterns--great and small--are, as one happy customer said, "an exciting new way to celebrate winter!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Enjoy the glow,

Jennifer Shea Hedberg

P.S. My long-time hobby site, will soon be transformed into a new site for purchasing Globe Ice Lantern Kits and supplies--not today, and probably not tomorrow, but soon. In the meantime, just email me at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What is an ice lantern?

Many cold-weather cultures claim the invention of the ice lantern--Finland, Norway, Russia, Germany, China and Japan. The truth is, given their latitudes, they all naturally have traditions surrounding ice as a tool and an art form. The most basic example of this is the boat lantern. To light the way on ancient vessels, ice lanterns were easily created and placed on decks -- to see and be seen. As with most tools that hold symbolic meaning, a broom, a scythe, or a wheel, the ice lantern was
assimilated into the holidays that dealt with the rebirth of the sun. The Winter Solstice is still the center point of joy in a cold climate winter. Great happiness is brought to all by the simplest thing -- a dark winter’s night illuminated by a flame as it plays within a shell of ice.

“A shell of ice” is the simplest definition of an ice lantern. It protects a flame from the elements and then can act as a light source and/or decoration. But if you were to ask a scientist, he or she would say that an ice lantern is a single source of combusting gas in an ascending stream protected by an enclosure of water which has been frozen or reduced to the solid state by cold temperature.

The definition is apt because an ice lantern is all about science. Their creation is based on the chemical properties of water, which is the only chemical substance that humans use in each of its three phases—water, ice and steam.

For our purposes, it is the process of water turning into ice that is the most important. In any given container of water that is put in freezing temperatures, the water begins to freeze when it reaches 32oF. For most ice lantern molds, the outside is in contact with the freezing temperatures, so the water will freeze from the outside in.

Another property of water becoming ice is that pure water freezes first and pushes away impurities. In most molds, that would push the impurities toward the center, away from the cold. Very low temperatures make for a more dramatic effect, because the ice freezes faster, capturing the natural gases as they are dragged by the impurities toward the center.

Simple, yes, but these three properties of water are why we can make a lantern out of water and why they are breathe-takingly beautiful.