Often, they arrive in battered cardboard boxes with handwritten notes.
“My grandmother gave this to me when I was a child – it would mean everything to have it restored.”
“I broke this snow globe when we were moving three years ago, but I saved all the pieces. I’ll be my wife’s hero if you can fix this and I can surprise her on her birthday.”
“Was housesitting at my future in-laws. Bad dog with over-enthusiastic tail put ME in the doghouse when he knocked a water globe off the coffee table. Help me!”
Yes, we do repair glass snow globes, at least MOST glass snow globes. Here are some of the most common questions we receive:
1.) Why does it cost so much? I paid less for the original snow globe than for you to fix it?
Answer. Believe me: We know. It would be a LOT cheaper in many cases for you to go out and simply buy a new one. We won’t hold it against you if you want to start fresh. Promise.
But, if you want a particular snow globe restored after a breakage, it takes a considerable amount of time and knowledge to do it right. You’re going to have to trust us, but many snow globes are made overseas in an assembly line with many multiples of the same design. They are not put together with great care, because if one is a little “off” there are another hundred just like it in the line.
When we receive a broken snow globe, as far as we know, we consider it one of a kind. It is probably important to someone if they are taking the effort to have it repaired. We have to carefully break out the remaining glass and remove all shards, clean the glue and sealant out of the base, recover any remaining glitter or attempt to closely match with some of the 50 or so types we keep available, locate a glass globe (and sometimes a new plug) that is the correct replacement size and rebuild the globe by hand. If there are simple broken parts (figurine with head knocked off, as example), we try to reconnect the pieces of the interior, if they are all there.
So you have handwork, parts, replacement materials, knowledge and experience. You might save a few bucks if you just search out a similar snow globe and start fresh. We understand. But if you want a particular, rare or sentimental snow globe repaired and re-made, then you might need an expert to assist.
2.) Okay, okay … I’ll pay for the repair, but shipping it back to me is VERY expensive. Why don’t you just ship my snow globe back via Priority Mail and save me some money?
Answer: The US Postal service has banned liquid-filled items from the U.S. Mail. It doesn’t matter if it’s a snow globe, or a bottle of shampoo, or aged whiskey. Shipping liquids in the mail is a no-no. If your broken globe has no liquid, you can send the pieces to us via mail, but we have to return the repaired globe by UPS.
3.) I’m pretty handy, why can’t you just tell me how to fix my own snow globe?
Answer: There are many websites out there with instructions on how to fix a broken snow globe, or replace cloudy water, and crafty people can follow instructions. You can find new replacement globes on line, as well.
What we see is that many repairs are “special cases” and over the years we recognize variances in different snow globe makers and how to best fix their unique parts. There are different glues, and plugs and sizes of glass. A few vintage snow globes arrive every year that have a size of glass globe no longer available and can't be fixed. We know these things from trial and error and experience. We know what kind of glitter or flakes typically are used in various snow globes from hundreds of small water globe companies no longer in business.
There’s no way to tell you everything you need to know in less time than it would take to actually repair the snow globe IF we had everything ready to go. With the number of requests we get, we simply don’t have time to educate or train someone to repair a snow globe a single time.
4.) My snow globe has a motor, a fan and a music box. Can you make these work again?
Answer: no, we can’t. Snow Globe Central is really good about replacing glass, cleaning cloudy water, making small repairs to figurines, etc. We do not have the expertise to fix either motor fans or music boxes. We don’t want to disappoint anybody by trying. Sorry!
5.) I sent you a broken snow globe over a month ago, and I haven’t heard anything. Why?
There are several common problems we see more often than you’d think.
First, if you have special concerns about whether your snow globe CAN be fixed, or want to confirm the range of repair pricing, feel free to call before you send to us. In fact, we prefer you call us first to be sure we CAN fix your snow globe.
Second, be SURE you have included a good email and/or phone number so we can contact you if there are questions.
Third, we cannot start repair work until you authorize payment.
PLEASE be sure you have included information about how to contact you, inside the box when you send to us (both email and phone, if possible, including best time of day to reach you). We often have questions, or need you to make a decision before repairs can begin. If we can’t reach you, we can’t start the work.
Sadly, there are always one or two broken snow globes, still waiting in their shipping boxes, with no contact information for us to reach the owners. If you think you might have sent one, please call us and describe your broken snow globe to see if we have received it.
6.) I want to inspect my repaired snow globe before I pay, so I can be sure you did a good job. Why should I pay in advance?
Good question. All we can say is that our business model requires we get paid before we do the work, otherwise we’d be out of business. If you aren’t sure about needing the snow globe repaired, you may want to check around for other folks who can repair on speculation. Due to our volume, we are not able to do begin any repairs before payment, although we can quote you a price (and the cost of shipping) before the work starts.
7.) Do you fix plastic snow domes that are cracked or have cloudy water?
Answer: No, we do not. We work strictly with glass globes or water globes. No plastic domes.
8.) I'm not in the United States, can you still fix my snow globe?
Answer: internationally shipping costs are very expensive. Contact us before you send your broken globe so we can tell you what it will cost before you send any broken pieces to us.
9.) I was willing to pay for a super-fast rush repair before my parents get home from a trip, but you said you could not turn it around in two days! Why?
No matter how talented, no snow globe repairman or snow globe artist can ignore certain laws of physics. Very simply, even if we had NOTHING else to do (rarely the case), after the work is done to repair any damage, all snow globes sit for at least two days before shipping to “cure” the glue and be sure there is no immediate leakage. If we ship a globe before the sealant has dried, the jostling in shipping will certainly loosen things up, and it will need to be repaired again.
So the short answer is: we cannot safely ship a snow globe until we are certain the glue and sealants are ready.
10.) Are there any other snow globe repair businesses out there?
First, our primary business is MAKING custom snow globes, the repairs is a sideline that evolved because we were repairing snow globes made by Snow Globe Central and one thing led to another.
There may be a local snow globe repairman or repairwoman in your community. Check for toy repair, as an example, as snow globes may not be their primary business. There are not many out there, but you might find someone nearby. There are several other businesses we know of, who do snow globe repairs. We have no business relationship with them, but offer their contact information as a service. Feel free to shop around.
Here are some places you can try:
Dick Heibel, Heibel Craftworks, Northfield, MN. If you search his name, you should come up with a phone and street address. We don’t believe there is an active website or email for Heibel, but he is fairly easy to locate.
Ferrara Studios - http://snowgloberepair.com/
Herb Rabbin’s Snow dome service http://home.earthlink.net/~hrabbin/
We make no guarantees or recommendations, but haven’t heard anything to turn you away from these places, either.
Good luck, and happy shaking!
Snow Globe Central
December 20, 2012