Playing in Frigid Times: Ice Lanterns and Globes

Massive blasts of arctic air across the US have people staying in or scurrying through their day bundled up and rushing to warmth. As I do the same, I’ve been wondering what I can MAKE out of the bitterly cold temperature. Can it become a sort of art material?

Somewhere, ice lanterns came into my field of vision. They are, simply, water that’s been frozen in molds to make a form into which you can insert a votive candle. When lit, it casts a dreamy light.

Every year the town of Paakki in Finland festoons the roads with thousands of ice lanterns


They make their ice lanterns by filling buckets of water and placing a smaller weighted container in the center; when frozen and removed…

…they have icy vessels or placing a candle.

On a whim, I tried a couple of quick experiments on my freezing terrace. At left below, an old plastic container filled with water; a smaller plastic container weighted with a rock will create a hole for the candle. At right, balloons filled with water. The trick is to let them freeze only until ice forms around the perimeter of the balloon, so that when you cut the balloon off and pour the water out of the center…


Sally Schneider

…you’ll have an ice globe in which to insert a candle…

I accidentally let my balloons freeze solid so that they made beautiful luminous balls. Could I use them for… ice bocce? Or ice “crystal balls”. Why not embed something in them before freezing, like tiny toys or flowers?

Sally Schneider

But when I ran the big tub under hot water to release the ice…

Sally Schneider

I got a lovely form. (In fact ALL the forms are lovely, and made me realize the vast possibilities for molding and forming ice. Could I use exotic cake, chocolate and candy molds?

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

Stockholm-based blog Willowday has an excellent tutorial for making beautiful lanterns using balloons.

If you want to get fancy, you can drop sprigs of herbs or berries into the slushy ice…

4 Responses to Playing in Frigid Times: Ice Lanterns and Globes

  1. Cynthia A. 01.05.2018 at 9:40am #

    Love this!

  2. Jan 01.05.2018 at 10:25am #

    I did these one Christmas when it was cold and snowy. Beautiful, fun and created a unique glow along the walkway. Also added to the conversation at the party! I used old gallon ice cream buckets.

  3. Daniel Stark 01.12.2019 at 6:40pm #

    Led lights are not hot, and don’t melt the ice. I usually make them at -10 C overnight or two..

  4. Sally Schneider 01.15.2019 at 10:10am #

    Really good idea. Thanks!

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