Monday, August 24, 2020

SNOW FOLKS by Crafty Crusader ~ Deanne Crim

 "Snow Folk" Diorama Jars

Paper-mâché  Up-cycled Bottles

If you are like me, you hate to throw anything away that might serve as craft supplies for a future, as of yet, unrealized project. I cannot tell you how many bottles and jars I have stashed away (hoarded) simply because their shape was just too inspiring to dump into the trash can or recycle bin. 

There are many things that can be made with jars and bottles, most of which you can conjure in your mind...a vase...a lantern...a stash jar, etc. But what happens when you want to create something of 'heirloom' quality...a piece of heARTwork that can be appreciated for many years to come? 

That is where my Snow Folk Families my Sweet Spot!! I can't remember what inspired me to make them, originally. I think it might have been a Snow Globe craft for kids, creating small dioramas inside of canning jars. Whatever it was, I am grateful for the notion, because these have become one of my favorite crafts of all time, especially for gifting my beloveds! 

My original blog post on this craft was thorough and hit all the main points needed to make your own...but POOF! it disappeared. Well, it didn't really 'poof' disappear, I had to change my blog location several years ago, and somehow, that particular post didn't make it over here to the new location. {{Insert whining and moaning here!}}

So here we go with a re-do that will hopefully get us all where we need to be, right?!! 

Note: I am searching high and low for the photos that accompany this far, POOF?!! So I may have to reshoot the photo tutorial...Gahhh! But I will post these instructions in the meantime, so you can get your holiday crafting started. I will upload photos as soon as I find them, or take new ones.


• Juice Bottles, Glass Jars, Tabasco® Sauce Mini Bottles, Glass Receptacles, & Spice Jars, with openings large enough to fit diorama elements, faux pearls, acrylic snowflakes, etc.
• E6000 Adhesive (my favorite for all things!) for embellishments
• Tacky Craft Glue - for various attachments
• Paper Mache Clay (the same stuff you used as a kid) - shredded gray paper particles that you add water to, for a thick goopy medium. I purchase mine from Michael's craft store (with a coupon, of course!) 
• Aluminum Foil (wadded ball) - core of head to reduce cracking of paper mache clay, and to speed up drying time.  
• Acrylic Paint (cream or off-white) - to paint Snow Folk heads
• Acrylic Paint (orange) - to paint nose, if necessary
• Muslin Cloth - for wrapping upper body and/or neck scarf
• Acrylic 'Texture Medium' - to coat muslin cloth with texture and also act as adhesive for glitter dust 'snow' particles.
 Metal Paper Brads (black) - for 'mouth' 
• Large (flat-backed) Rhinestones OR Buttons - for eyes
• Various Frilly Yarns, Trims, Tinsel Cord, Lace, Jute, etc. for wrapping neck, bottle base, or anywhere you want extra flash.
Embellishments: Small Ornaments, Crystal Beads, Flowers, Perfume Bottle Caps, Charms, Small Toys, Jewelry, Old Brooches, Kitchen tools, and ANYTHING that looks unique and interesting to create visual intrigue and curiosity to your Snow Folks. 
Diorama Elements: Acrylic Snowflakes, Faux Pearls, Miniature Forest Animals, Santa figures, Tiny Figurines, Toys, Mini Bristle Brush Trees, Toys, Holiday Figures, etc.
• (Optional) Floral Sprays or Elegant Crystal Sprays - for 'arms'
• (Optional) Faux Pearl Beads, Snowflake Shapes, Vase Filler, etc.
• (Optional) Miniature Figurines - Children, Deer, Trees, Toys, etc.
• (Optional) Small piece of polymer clay (orange) - nose 
• (Optional) Small pieces of polymer clay (black) - mouth 'coal' bits


• Paintbrushes - for applying Paint & Texture Medium. (no need for detail painting, a cheap brush is good)
• Scissors, as needed for fabric/neck scarf/muslin 
• Wire Cutters, as needed to trim floral spray wires
• Long Tweezers - to insert and adjust diorama elements
• Large craft OR disposable bowl - for mixing paper mache
• Protective Gloves - for hands mixing paper mache, and sculpting.


1. Choose your glass bottle or jar. Canning Jars are excellent choices for detailed dioramas. Wide mouth opening makes it easy to assemble. Small neck bottles are good for filling with faux pearls, glitter, snowflakes, acrylic 'ice cubes', etc. If using a bottle/jar with a label, soak first in soapy hot water to clean the interior and remove any odors, plus it will assist in peeling off the labels. The longer you soak, the easier it is to remove the label. A blow dryer can also be of assistance when removing old labels.

2. Head: If making a large Snow Folk, first create a wadded ball of aluminum foil for the core of the head, because if you use too big of a ball of paper mache material, it will take forever to dry, and most likely it will crack and make you want to cry. So be sure to use an aluminum ball core for the large heads. Snow Folk heads 2 inches in diameter or less, do not need an aluminum foil core.

3. Mix paper mache clay according to package directions. Note: Using warm water will yield the best results for a uniform mixture. You don't want it too wet and 'soupy', you want a good thick sticky mass that will shape into a nice round ball.

4. Cover your aluminum foil core with at least 3/4" to 1-inch thick layer of paper mache clay, shaping it into a nice round shape. For my large Snow Folk, I sculpt a small round mound, (which is later painted orange) to indicate the idea of a 'carrot' without being too literal. I have also used polymer clay 'carrot' shapes for the big guys, but they can easily break off if they are bumped the wrong way, so I opt for a shaped nose in paper mache for the big ones. 

5. If you are choosing Metal Paper Brads for the mouth (and eyes on smaller heads), insert them while the paper mache clay is still wet, for best adhesion. *If you plan to use polymer clay for the mouth 'coal' pieces or eyes, shape them in a size complimentary to the size of your head...roll irregular shape 'coal' pieces and cure in your home oven according to package directions. 

When the polymer clay pieces are cured and cooled, press them into the paper mache head to make an indentation while the paper mache is still moist and pliable, then set aside to glue them onto the head after the head is fully dried. The paper mache is not sticky enough to ensure that the pieces will adhere without glue, so this step will protect your finished artwork. 

6. I like to use large black faux rhinestones or buttons for the eyes, on the bigger Snow Folks. (I use black metal paper brads for the smaller ones). Be sure to make a slight impression onto the wet paper mache head for your eyes then remove and set aside until the head dries, so they are 'set in' when you attach them later, and don't look like they are bugging out. 

7. When your Snow Folk's head is equipped with its mouth pieces, nose (mound or space to glue a polymer clay 'carrot' later), and eye indentations for larger heads are in place, prop head very carefully on something that will allow as much of the surface area to dry in open air as possible without disturbing the facial features. A glass or jar works great as a prop, making sure it doesn't create indentations in the head while its drying.

8. After the head is dry, paint off-white with acrylic paint, carefully avoiding the eyes and mouth, if already in place. Allow to dry.

9. Glue rhinestone or button eyes using E6000 or tacky craft glue. If using polymer clay 'coal' for mouth, fit small pieces back into the indentations you made, securing with adhesive. Allow to cure.

Diorama Contents:

1. There are many things you can fill your jars and bottles with. Each has its own style, and you get to choose which, or all of them! 
    • Acrylic 'Ice Blocks' (found at craft stores)
    • Faux Gingerbread 'Cookies' & Candies  
    • Glitter Dust & Faux snow create a winter wonderland.
    • Faux pearls look like snow balls inside their belly. 
    • Best of all, is a miniature scene created with tiny plastic 
    figures of children playing, forest animals frolicking, tiny bristle 
    brush trees, and holiday decor. 

2. Use your imagination and your long tweezers and wood skewers to arrange placement carefully, with E6000 on the bottom of each carefully placed item to secure it to the base of the jar. Allow time for adhesive to cure completely before filling with additional glitter and 'snowflake' accents. 


1. Make sure you have everything you want inside your jar, carefully placed and securely attached. Once the head is on, you won't be able to get back inside there without a struggle, so now's the time to make sure you didn't forget your pet dog!

Note: To personalize your Snow Folk, you can use plastic animal toys covered in sparkly glitter (in the color of your pet), to honor your favorite dog, cat, turtle, etc. Just raid your kiddos (or grand kiddos) toy box and find those random animals they never play with, or go to Party City or the craft store, and buy the particular animal you want. Cover the plastic toy with tacky glue, then pour glitter dust over the top, and allow to dry.

2. Play around with your Snow Folk 'head', decided which way it looks best when placed on top of your jar/bottle. Tilting to one side gives it a cute quizzical look, whereas a straight-on approach looks more serious and stiff. Once you have decided the positioning you prefer, place a heavy line of E6000 along the top rim of bottle/jar. (*Tacky Craft Glue is NOT my preference for this step, as it is more liquified and can drip down the inside of the jar...yes, I learned this from personal experience...gah!). Allow head to dry in place completely.

3. To cover the top of jar seam attachment of head, take a strip of muslin, or any other fabric you like, (the width and length will depend upon the size of the bottle/jar you are using); Dip fabric strip into a small bowl of watered down tacky glue, then wipe off excess glue liquid similar to doing paper mache strips; then attach end at top back of head and wrap around 'neck' of bottle/jar, winding down as far as you like to create either a 'neck scarf', or wrap further down the torso to create an illusion of an upper body. You can cut the end off, or tie a strip of muslin to create scarf ends. Allow to dry completely.

NOTE: If you plan to create 'arms' using floral sprays or garden twigs, etc., secure the ends into position as 'arms' while you are wrapping the fabric strip around the upper body, holding them in place securely as you wrap over multiple times.


1. Here is where the fun really begins for me...digging into my stash of collected bits and bobs, laces, trimmings, frills and fibers! Go wild with your imagination, creating a hat, which can be made with everything from a salt shaker cap with sprigs stuck inside the holes, to an old perfume bottle cap. Wrap the base with frilly tinsel trimmings, extravagant yarns, etc. GO CRAZY! The wilder the better! Things do not have to match, and often look best when they don't!

Check your local craft store or online resources for miniature wrapped gift packages, faux mistletoe, mini pinecones, tiny holiday toys, jingle bells...which all looks SPECTACULAR when put together in a whimsical winter way! 

There is no limit to the places you can go, in embellishing your Snow Folks. You can create adorable hats, necklaces, crowns, head stacked holiday totem poles, toy sacks, anything your creative juices can conjure, just let your imagination loose! Look in the hardware store, the Dollar Store, check flea markets and thrift stores for things that other people might regard as trash, and turn them into TREASURES!! 
I even made a glow in the dark 'alien' Snow Folk for my nephew, so there are no boundaries to limit you! Think outside the box and you might be surprised what you can create!

2. Tie frilly tinsel cording and various sparkling accents to neck, around base of hat, and anywhere else you can find a place to tuck it in. Use alphabet beads to create a personalized 'name' accent dangles, or messages of holiday cheer.

3. Once you have decked your Snow Folk Jar with all kinds of random wonderfulness, it is time to MAKE IT SNOW!! What's a respectable Snow Folk without SNOW?!! 

4. Take your cheap wood 1" wide paintbrush (sold in packs at hardware stores and craft stores for cheap!), and dip it into the Acrylic Texture Medium (one of my favorite-not-so-well-known crafting techniques) and thickly paint it over all the areas you want to have a dusting of 'Snow' Glitter. I typically cover the head and most of the embellishments. Then working outside in your garage, or over a big box to catch the excess, generously sprinkle the glitter dust or snowflakes all over the wet texture medium. Allow to dry completely.

Voila! There you have it. A roadmap to creating your own family of Snow Folk, to grace your home or to shower your beloveds with an heirloom worthy gift of heARTwork!

Be sure to leave your comments and questions below, I would love to hear from you, and see what your own imagination brings!

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Happy Crafting!!


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