While there are some folks out there who are die-hard snow globe/snow dome collectors (more on them later), a very high percentage of snow globes are given as gifts. So these water globes pack a double whammy – they are beloved gifts, but they also represent the ties between the gifter and the recipient.
So when a glass globe breaks, it can get really emotional. It doesn’t matter whether it slips out of someone’s hands, or the cat knocked it off the fireplace, or whether the seals begin to give way over time, people tend to want a snow globe to last forever.
According to snow globe lore, the first snow globe was invented in Vienna, Austria in containing a small pagoda and snow made from ground rice. Is that one still around? If it is, then either the liquid has seeped out or partially evaporated over time, or it’s been repaired and resealed several times. Early adhesives weren’t able to last for many years and the seal allowed the moisture to either leak or evaporate in many cases.
Solely because we hate to say no, we do offer snow globe repair services, both for snow globes and water globes made by Snow globe Central and by other makers. We review each glass globe to determine whether or not it is reparable – some are made in such a way that the glass cannot be replaced, others are fairly easy to repair and we can replace the liquid and any floating sparkles or snow as it is described to us.
Usually a request for snow globe repair takes several back-and-forth emails before we understand whether it’s possible for the particular globe and what it will entail. We quote repair costs (based on the materials needed and the amount of handwork involved) and then confirm (or adjust) the price once we received the broken pieces and can determine how much work is required.
However, a few times, we have just received a box of broken pieces at our plant, and a note that says “Please fix this.” One recent snow globe we were able to fix included a small holiday scene, and the broken glass globe was originally a 4-inch glass globe. Since that is the most common size of snow globe, and we always have it on hand, the repair involved cleaning out the broken glass, replacing the glass globe, refilling with liquid and agreeing on the type of sparkle (white snow bits) that would be in the liquid. Fairly simple. Since the owner had received the holiday snow globe as a small child from her grandmother, it was very important to her to restore it as she brought it out each Christmas in her memory.
But another broken water ball that arrived contained a globe that once held a ceramic carousel horse and had an ornate ceramic. The story goes that a young man was house-sitting and had been cautioned that the snow globe was a very important possession, but his exuberant dog had wagged his tail and knocked it off the coffee table. To compound the problem, he had promised he would not bring the dog over to the house, so he needed it fixed before they returned, or he would have a lot of explaining to do.
The globe itself was an usually large size, but we set to work with our contacts until we found a glass globe that was nearly 6” in diameter. The carousel horse had to have one leg glued back on (and after years of trial and error on our own globes, we know which glues will hold up in liquid over time), and restored.
Luckily, the young man had wiped up some of the liquid and glitter on a white paper towel and had the foresight to send it along with the globe, once it dried. We could see what the glitter looked like originally (iridescent opal colored flecks) and were able to match it closely with some we had on hand. The final repaired snow globe was indistinguishable from the original snow globe.
In the end, he told us he confessed to the homeowners what had happened, and they had a hard time believing him because they could not see anything different in the repaired snow globe. He gave them our information so they could check it out themselves. So I guess all is well that ends well, as the homeowners contacted us and not only learned about the snow globe repair, but had some family pictures made into custom snow globes.
We’ll take those leads any way they come.