Introduction: Light Bulb Snow Globes

Picture of Light Bulb Snow Globes

If you are looking for another project to do with an old incandescent light bulb here is a snow globe you can make.

I made a couple of versions; one, I made with the light bulb lying on it's side, the second style is standing upright with an led candle as a stand.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

  • incandescent light bulbs
  • small toys/figurines that can fit in light bulbs
  • glitter and/or crushed egg shells*
  • glycerine
  • distilled water/ or just boiled and cooled tap water
  • led candle
  • cork
  • bottle cap that can fit the neck of the light bulb
  • clear silicone (aquarium) sealant, or waterproof glue (see step 8 with regards to glue)

  • pliers
  • screwdriver or knife
  • tweezers
  • steel wool or a kitchen scrubby
  • old sock (to protect hands when dismantling light bulb)
  • egg carton -this makes a great stand while you are working on the light bulb

For snow I used egg shells. Just hard boil an egg. Remove shell (peel off that thin membrane and discard, it will stick to the glass, not good), and crush into small pieces with a spoon.

Step 2: Preparing Light Bulb

Picture of Preparing Light Bulb
Warning: taking apart a light bulb can be messy, dangerous, and can even explode, please take care while doing this, use safety glasses and gloves. Light bulb glass breaks quite easily so be careful when dismantling the bulb and when assembling the snow globes.

The following instructable gives great instructions on how to hollow out a light bulb if you find mine confusing: How to hollow out a lightbulb
*Also the idea of using a sock to protect your hands are from:

  • Using pliers, remove the shiny bit (contact point) on the end of the light bulb.
  • With a knife or screwdriver break up the brown/black glass.
  • Cover the bulb with a sock*, hold it in one hand (don't hold from the bottom), with pliers or a screw driver put pressure on the filament inside the bulb to break it up.
  • Remove broken filament bits still attached to the bulb with pliers.
  • Work a knife under the edge of the metal base and it should come off fairly easily.
  • Wash out the inner frosted coating of the light bulb with water, if it doesn't wash out easily try adding some sand or salt and swirl it around.
  • With steel wool or a kitchen scrubby remove the label on top of the bulb.

Step 3: Snowman -the Upright Lightbulb

Picture of Snowman -the Upright Lightbulb
I used a smaller light bulb for this snow globe, the ones used in refrigerators. I was lucky to find a blue led candle at a dollar store, which I thought would look nice in a snowy scene.

Prepare the led candle

  • Remove the flame from the candle, you can use a knife to pry off some of the glue holding it in place.

Prepare bottle cap

  • Centre bottle cap over led and mark where to make a hole.
  • Using an awl make a hole in the bottle cap and enlarge with pliers, so that it can fit over the leds on the candle.

Cork and snowman

  • cut a piece off the end of the cork, just smaller than the height of the bottle cap and make a hole in the centre so it can fit around the leds.
  • Use waterproof glue to glue the bottle cap to the candle, with the silicone sealant seal the hole around the leds and the bottle cap so that no water can get into the inside of the led candle.
  • Then glue the cork into the bottle cap. Make sure that the neck of the light bulb still fits into the cap.
  • Still using the waterproof glue, glue the snowman to the cork, make sure he is not blocking the light from the leds.

Step 4: Snowman -the Upright Lightbulb Continued

Picture of Snowman -the Upright Lightbulb Continued

  • Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon egg shells (snow).
  • Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon glitter.
  • Add distilled or boiled then cooled water, about 3/4 full.
  • Add a couple of drops glycerine (I tried adding the glycerine first, but it made the glitter clump together.)
  • Top up with the water, as full as you can.

Putting it together

  • Apply silicone sealant to the inside of the cap.
  • Place cap on light bulb neck and apply sealant to outer rim of bottle cap.
  • Leave upside down until sealant cures (see instructions on package, mine required 48 hrs.) I suggest waiting longer than the recommended time, to make sure it's fully cured before you turn it right side up.

Step 5: Santa and Reindeer -Lightbulb on Side

Picture of Santa and Reindeer -Lightbulb on Side

Adding figurines and snowy ground

  • Using the silicone sealant (or waterproof glue) attach the reindeer and Santa to the inside of the light bulb on the side.
  • Spread some of the sealant/glue on the glass around the figurines.
  • Sprinkle some of the snow on the sealant/glue and press in place, to make the snowy ground around figurines.
  • Allow the required amount of time to for the sealant/glue to cure before preceding to the next step.

Step 6: Santa and Reindeer -Lightbulb on Side Continued

Picture of Santa and Reindeer -Lightbulb on Side Continued

After the sealant/glue has cured: (yes, this is the same as step 4, but with different pictures.)

  • Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon egg shells (snow).
  • Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon glitter.
  • Add distilled or boiled then cooled water, about 3/4 full.
  • Add a couple of drops glycerine (I tried adding the glycerine first but it made the glitter clump together.)
  • Top up with the water, as full as you can.

Putting it together

  • Apply silicone sealant to the inside of the cap.
  • Place cap on light bulb and apply sealant to outer edge of bottle cap.
  • Leave upside down until sealant cures (see instructions on package, mine required 48 hrs.) I suggest waiting longer than the recommended time, to make sure it's fully cured before you turn it right side up.

Step 7: Little Angel Snow Globe

Picture of Little Angel Snow Globe

I won't go into detail about how I took apart this microscope bulb, since it came from a really old (1970's) Zeiss microscope, I'm sure not a lot of people have a bulb like this. But if you have a smaller size light bulb that you want to use, I'll show you how I made the angel snow globe.

  • Make sure your little figurine can fit through the neck (mine barely fit, it nearly broke off the angel wing trying to get it in).
  • Cut a piece of cork to glue onto the bottom of the angel. This is so that it can stand high enough in the light bulb that all of it can be seen. I made sure that it did not fit too snugly, so that I could still add water when the angel was in place.
  • Add about a teaspoon of glitter (I did not use eggshells for this globe).
  • Add a few drops of glycerine.
  • Glue angel with cork in place using the silicone sealant, making sure there is room to add water. Alternatively you can add the water first then glue angel in place. Wait several days to allow the sealant to cure before you add water (see instructions of package, mine needed 48hrs) (I glued the angel first, because it was hard to get her in, and I would have spilled the water and glitter everywhere if I had added the water first)
  • Use distilled water or boiled and cooled water and fill globe as high as you can.
  • Wipe off any excess water, seal the hole with the sealant.
  • Add sealant to the inside of the metal base of the bulb and fit over the neck of the light bulb.
  • Add sealant around the outside rim of the metal base where it contacts the glass.
  • Let sit upside down for several days, for the sealant to cure, I suggest waiting longer than the recommended time, to make sure it's fully cured before you turn it over.

Step 8: A Few Notes

Picture of A Few Notes

I had several failed attempts with this light bulb snow globe project. Mostly involving the glue. My first attempt was using a hot glue gun to attach the figurines and then seal the caps on the light bulb. I thought it worked, until I found Santa floating belly up a few days later.

-I have a low temperature glue gun, which may be the problem, also I don't think it glues well to smooth surfaces like glass.

-After the failure with the glue gun, I tried some silicone sealant, it works great for sealing the caps onto the light bulb, just make sure you leave enough time for it to cure.

-I also tried a "waterproof glue" I found in a department store, for attaching the figurines to the glass and cork. It works well (no floaters). A marine glue would probably do the job too.

Dismantling light bulb
Ideally, I wanted to use the base of the light bulb instead of the bottle caps, so that there was no doubt that the snow globes were made from light bulbs. Unfortunatly, I did not get a clean break when I took the light bulbs apart, so the neck would have gaps when I tried to put it back on the metal base. I know it can be done, the light bulb you see in step 2 worked nicely but then I had troubles with the glue (see previous note). I hope you have better luck than me.

I added the glycerine to the water so that the snow would fall more slowly. Another option could be to use mineral oil instead, but I wasn't sure if it would effect the glue.


janey.deweasenewcomer (author)2014-08-30

I am not sure how old this is, I am seeing comments from 4-5 years ago, but now they have light bulbs in craft stores, plastic and glass. the ends are like lids. will be easier than taking ends off real light bulbs

Thanks for posting, that is helpful to know. Taking apart a light bulb is not a particularly fun task.

andrew.spencer.2 made it! (author)2015-12-25

I made this xmas tree by threading a bunch of pieces of soda bottle onto a woodscrew. Although it's much bigger than the hole, I was able to cram it inside!

ChrysN (author)andrew.spencer.22015-12-25

Cool, that turned out really nice.

djhusi (author)2010-12-21

Nice one. I'm building one as a present.
I also had some issues with taking apart the lightbulb. Apparently they are a built for eternity around here. After removing the metal parts I got a fully enclosed odd shaped glass blob.
I managed to cut off the end with the string and nailpolish method. Worked like charm.

ChrysN (author)djhusi2010-12-21

Wow, that's a cool trick.

BlindLove (author)2010-04-28

why do we add glycerine?

ChrysN (author)BlindLove2010-04-28

Adding glycerin make the snow/glitter fall slower.

kcls (author)2009-12-22

Tee hee... I made a light bulb inside a light bulb :)

salyza (author)kcls2010-02-13

hi there it looks amazing can i have its instructions plz?


kcls (author)salyza2010-02-14

I hollowed out the lightbulb like they did in here, and to make the lightbulb inside, I used silver and yellow polymer clay, which when you bake becomes waterproof. For the base, we had some other snowglobe bases and rubber stoppers lying around from fixing someone elses snow globe so i used those and I attached the clay lightbulb up there by putting it on top of a screw. Any questions?

ChrysN (author)kcls2009-12-22

That looks really cool!

kcls (author)kcls2009-12-22

Btw, since I live on a boat, this is a smaller lightbulb from one of our lamps. The base is leftover from some make your own snowglobe kits, and the light on the inside is made of polymer clay.

Squash (author)2009-12-11

This is a cool project.  I'm going to have to go to instructables ANON because I have about 60 projects I want to do now...yikes.  Thanks for the ideas!

ChrysN (author)Squash2009-12-11

Thanks, I know what you mean, there are a lot of projects I want to do too!

Squash (author)2009-12-11

d.  I saw someone use salt once to remove the white coating.  :-)

Don Cattaree (author)2009-12-07

Is it necessary to take off the metal base?

ChrysN (author)Don Cattaree2009-12-07

You could try just removing the black glass and contact point and breaking the filament leaving the base on.  But the opening will be smaller for fitting stuff inside.

Don Cattaree (author)ChrysN2009-12-08


Patented (author)2009-11-27

wow very creative !! well done!

ChrysN (author)Patented2009-11-27


ChrysN (author)2009-05-02

Yeah, you have to be very liberal with the glue to prevent leakage, sorry to hear, that you had so much trouble.

Pyrotechnic-Robot (author)2009-01-10

THis is so sweet. it is green and it is snow! ingenious

ChrysN (author)Pyrotechnic-Robot2009-01-10

Ya, rather then tossing a light bulb when it burns out, why not make something from it. Thanks.

comodore (author)2009-01-08

That is so beautiful! I love it! :')

ChrysN (author)comodore2009-01-08


comodore (author)ChrysN2009-01-09

The best part is, that you put a light in in, that is what I love most! :)

me_myselfandi (author)2009-01-06

Try using baby oil instead of water. It is clear, but thicker so the glitter/snow won't setting as quickly!

ChrysN (author)me_myselfandi2009-01-06

I was thinking about that, but wasn't sure how the oil would work with the glue. The snow would definitely fall more gently.

me_myselfandi (author)ChrysN2009-01-06

That's true... The snow globes i had made were in mason jars...

ChrysN (author)me_myselfandi2009-01-08

Mason jars, that sound really cool.

F-zero (author)2009-01-06

Wow that's really neat! Now put a little ship in there >:)

ChrysN (author)F-zero2009-01-06

Ya, the ship in a little bulb is really cool!
Recycle Old Light Bulb

Gjdj3 (author)2009-01-06

Congrats on winning! Nice job.

ChrysN (author)Gjdj32009-01-06


Sandisk1duo (author)2009-01-04

Well I know one Instructable that is going to get the author a dremel...

ChrysN (author)Sandisk1duo2009-01-04


stalledaction (author)2009-01-02

This is so cute! And it also gives me something to do with all of the little plexiglass bits that are all over the floor from my latest project. Go recycling!

ChrysN (author)stalledaction2009-01-02


chinchymork (author)2009-01-02

Good idea but I would be worried about the glass breaking :o

ChrysN (author)chinchymork2009-01-02

Yes, light bulb glass is quite delicate, I went through a few light bulbs when making these.

chinchymork (author)ChrysN2009-01-02

Oh well Good Idea though!

Gjdj3 (author)2009-01-01

I can't believe I never noticed this Instructable before. It must have been posted when my computer went down. Anyway, nice job! This is really cool.

ChrysN (author)Gjdj32009-01-01


Miss World (author)2009-01-01

fantastic! :D I love snow globes.. I wish I saw this yearlier

SmartSkinnyKid (author)2008-12-23

where did you get the bottle cap from?

ChrysN (author)SmartSkinnyKid2008-12-23

The bottle cap for the snow man snow globe is from a bottle of San Pellegrino mineral water(750ml), the other bottle cap for the Santa snow globe is from a bottle of olive oil.

SmartSkinnyKid (author)ChrysN2008-12-31

OLIVE OIL! NICE! (im not weird)

duck-lemon (author)2008-12-28

Aaah i only have frosted, OH NOSE! Great instructable 5/5 -Duck

icewolf (author)2008-12-28

nice instructable 5 * kinder surprise toys would work great. they are small, colorful and cheap.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and ... More »
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