Weekly Crafty: Making Vacation Keepsake Globes

The last few weeks have been deliciously random and so productive for us! I think we should bounce around from room to room all the time like this… at least until we dive into a big renovation that demands all of our attention. So far this week we’ve painted raindrops & a pink door in Clara’s room, had some fun with Shannon’s design dilemma, finally finished our big sunroom floor project, and we’re actually starting to work on something in the kitchen for Monday (ahhh! that room needs more help than I did in Calculus class).

And this week’s little crafty project didn’t bomb, which is a huge relief because there were definitely a few moments of doubt. I decided to tackle something I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, about two years: displaying our vacation keepsakes in a charming and easy-to-see way. So here’s where I ended up…

It’s sort of like a vacation-memory-jar-meets-snowglobe-or-cloche, and it was actually really easy and only ran me $2.79 to make each one.

But let’s grab a ride in the Delorean and go back in time for a second. Once upon a time (back in 2008) I made six vacation time capsules here… but I haven’t been displaying them for the last few years because I just don’t love them anymore. Which is sad because I love the keepsakes – I just didn’t like the containers as much anymore.

I certainly think canning jars are crazy charming (and they’re probably more “in” now than ever) but I didn’t like that when you looked down at them on surfaces like console tables or desks or dressers, almost all that you saw was the lid instead of whatever was inside (see above).

And I also didn’t love that when you lowered your gaze to stare at them head-on (or placed them in high places like up on a bookcase) the glass was wavy, so it blurred the items inside. Here’s a comparison of how the canning jars obscured the contents compared to a regular stemless wine glass. See how much clearer the objects in the glass on the right are?

I also thought the scotch tape labels that I had added so many years ago were hard to read, especially depending on what’s behind it (you can see one in the picture above). So I wanted to come up with a way to accomplish three things:

  • more clearly label the contents of each jar
  • display our keepsakes behind non-wavy glass
  • make them visible from above and the side instead of just from the side if at all possible

At first it felt like a tall order, but I was inspired after coming across this project, which made me realize that there might be a way to use inexpensive stemless wine glasses or vases from the craft store along with little slices of wood and some type of adhesive or caulk to connect them. It definitely could have bombed (uh… sand everywhere) but I had a few lucky breaks along the way.

For one, I couldn’t find any tree branches of the right thickness to slice in our yard or at a local firewood spot (they were all triangular or too narrow, and free of bark) and I couldn’t even locate any pre-made wood slices in the craft store (other than some too-large birch ones for $15 a pop online). But when I walked around JoAnn I did notice these little 4 x 4″ round wood plaques for 79 cents each (in their wooden box/birdhouse/plaque area). They also sold stemless wine glasses (in their party/glassware area) for $1.99.

It was nice to find both potential items at the same store because I could flip the glass over on top of the wood plaque to see how they’d work together. It kind of felt like a miracle when they lined up so well.

So as soon as I got home, I jumped right into painting the wood plaques. I debated everything from a bold color to white or charcoal or even a whitewash or a stain, but in the end I liked the idea of a timeless neutral taupe-y color the best so the items in each jar could be the focus – and I already had leftover Revere Pewter from the bathroom project upstairs. Two coats did the trick without any bleed-through from the wood (which is nice because I didn’t use primer, so it was sort of a gamble).

After they dried I used a sharpie to write each of the places we’d been on the side of each one, along with the year that we traveled there. It’s so much clearer and easier to read than tape on a wavy glass jar!

Next I decided that clear silicone caulk would be a good way to seal the glass to the wood. Here’s why: some types of adhesives/glues are thinner/runnier and I worried the seal wouldn’t be as tight as it would with a more thick/dense line of something to stick them together. The other reason that I went with clear caulk is that it can easily be sliced with an exacto knife and peeled back to free up the contents of these jars. So I don’t have to Hulk-smash them like an old school piggy bank to access things (which definitely could have been the case with crazy glue). Instead, I can just score and peel the silicone caulk to open these up again whenever I’d like. But in the meantime they’ll be nice and secure – even with things like sand floating around inside.

I just ran a thin line of it around the top of the glass like this (I used GE Premium Waterproof Silicone II Caulk in the clear color). Tip: try not to make the opening in your caulk tube too wide or caulk will pour out a lot faster/thicker and you’ll end up with a drippy ol’ mess (this is universally true for practically every caulking project, so it’s a good skill to master).

Update: I’m a paranoid prego, so I wore a ventilator and worked the caulk gun like Darth Vader (since caulk can get fumey sometimes), but I later learned that this type of caulk is on the green list. Hurrah!

After getting a thin ring of caulk around the top of the glass, I pressed the wood round onto the cup while it was still in the upright position (didn’t want things to spill all over the floor, which I was certain would happen if I flipped it over before joining it to the wooden plaque).

Once they were joined, I could easily turn it over without anything spilling. So I placed it on the table and made sure the glass dome was centered. Then I pressed the glass down with one hand (to keep it centered, since it can slide around a little before things start to set) and used the other hand to wipe the edge down with a paper towel to remove any extra caulk that was oozing out.

It only took them three hours to dry, and they were sealed up and pretty dang seamless looking. Here’s the sand, all nice and contained (you can sort of make out the clear shiny line around the base, which is the caulk doing its job). I shook that thing like a snow globe and there wasn’t a sand explosion or anything. So glad.

Right now they’re chilling on various surfaces in the office and living room, but my dream is for them to eventually end up all together in our bedroom (we’d love to add a wall of built-in cabinetry in there to make our bed feel like it’s tucked into a nook – and I can just picture them all lined up on one of the shelves). Sigh. Can’t you see it?

I’d love to keep making more over time as we travel to new places, so the paranoid collector in me is tempted to buy at least ten more wood plaques and glasses just to keep around for future vacations so they all match. Is that crazy? What do you think?

Is anyone else out there displaying vacation keepsakes? How do you do it? In shadow boxes? Scrapbooks? With framed photos? I read somewhere once that “experiential purchases” bring you the most happiness. So instead of buying a new car, if you spend money on an amazing vacation, the effects can last longer and you won’t take the purchase for granted like you might if you upgraded something that you’d use everyday and would soon become accustomed to (I found an article here about it, although I’m not sure this is the same one). Certainly makes me want to make the most of our little vacations and memorialize them when we’re back home – even though they’re usually just road trips as opposed to exotic foreign locales. Maybe someday I’ll have a vacation jar for Morocco or Australia. A girl can dream…


    • says

      Yup, I just shook them and tapped them on the tabletop and the sand settled to the bottom and things popped up at the top like coral and shells. I also tried to place those things in the cup first (with sand dumped over them) so when I flipped it over they were already near the top.


  1. says

    My husband keeps his “goodies” in treasure boxes. Some of the treasure boxes come from the travels and others are thrift store finds.

    When we moved, we had an entire box labeled “treasure boxes.” He even asked, “have you seen my treasure boxes box?” as we were unpacking. He has them in his office, and one day they’ll be in the living room.

    In fact, in order to honor her Dad’s love of treasure hunting, I’m making our little girl a treasure bag for her first birthday. She already has a treasure box (I made it for her birth), but now she’ll be able to collect treasures as she explores with her Dad and Mom.

  2. says

    This is one of the best DIYS you guys have done in a while- I love this!! Oh- and I am TOTALLY on team “buy a bunch of glasses and plaques now before they stop selling them or something” so you for sure have them for future trips! I made my sister and her husband these snowflake ornaments from wooden ones at Michaels and bought a few extra so I could give them another for each kiddo they had (since they already had plans to have 2!) so each of my nieces has a matching ornament- so glad i bought them all together because i cant find the same ones anywhere now!

  3. Sheri says

    Those look fantastic!

    I don’t think going to buy a few more glasses and plaques is crazy at all! In fact, I’d go after a couple dozen if I were you :)

    • Allen says

      I came to say the exact same thing! It would torture me if I had a collection that wasn’t matched. Unless that was the point, but for this I think it would be both prudent and wise to stock up!

    • Ann says

      I agree–this is such a good idea… so you might as well have extra :) they would probably make good gifts too.

    • Bren says

      I agree! Those are too cute to not stock up on (and perfect). You’d kick yourself later if you didn’t have more on hand, new ones would never match. And…if for some reason you change your display, you bought wine glasses. Awww yeaaahhh!

    • Renee says

      I agree, buy lots more (the price is great too)!
      At least the plaques as I’m sure you’ll be able to find glasses.
      Actually as I started reading I was already thinking ‘hope they got spares for future holiday globes!’

  4. MOnique Kadnar says

    This is an absolutely adorable idea! My Bethany Beach shells are going into a similar globe this weekend. Definitely go buy the glasses and wood pieces so you match up and can preserve memories for years to come!

  5. Ashley A. says

    I’m a long time reader of the blog, and the original project (mason jars) is one of my all-time favorites. I made vacation keepsakes myself after reading that post, but I spray painted the lids of the mason jars with chalkboard paint so I could write the location/place right on the lid.

    But now I’m loving this wine glass idea SO MUCH MORE! I see a craft project in my future…

    • says

      Ooh chalkboard paint on the lids sounds really fun!! You could do chalkboard paint on the plaques too and write on them with chalk markers! Love that too!


    • Maddie says

      I’m totally the same – I was inspired by the first project and have a bunch of vacation jars too! Love your chalk paint idea though, wish I had thought of that :)

      Sherry, this is totally awesome and I totally want to switch to this method now too!! So fun and lovely.

  6. Reagen says

    This is just ridonculously awesome! And yes, you should totally go grab more plaques and glasses for the future. I also love the idea of a giant “art” project on a wall. They could each have their own tiny shelf displayed in a grid pattern (that’d be cool over a bed!) or randomly amongst one of your art gallery walls which I know will be coming down the line. Once again you guys amaze with all your craftiness =)

    • Jennifer says

      Yep, what she said! ;-) This might be my favorite craft you have done in a while. I wish I had read/seen this years ago because I have so many adventures that weren’t captured. Makes me kinda sad. (I’m a long time reader, but the jars didn’t grab me like these did) Oh well, here’s to future adventures that will be snowglobed (ha, that’s a thing now)! Going to buy supplies now! We should all stock up!

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