Monday, January 5, 2009

DIY: Crystal Snowflake Ornaments

Here is a fun mid-January craft project you can do with your family, friends or kids! If you are lucky enough to live somewhere where the temperature drops below freezing at night, or if you have freezer room to spare, you can turn simple paper cut-outs into (ice) crystal ornaments!

When I was little, I would cut paper snowflakes with my mom during the winter, place them in a bowl of water, and wake up the next morning to find beautiful iced snowflakes that we could hang around the porch. Since I am spending the holiday season in a place with snow, I thought this was a good chance to make a fun evening and revive a bit of my childhood.

In this blog post, I will show you how to make these simple, inexpensive, and ephemeral ornaments, the same way I made them when I was a kid.

Materials you'll need:
  • Paper (white or colored—we used mostly white here)
  • Scissors
  • String (scrap pieces of yarn or ribbon—about 4 or 5 inches each is enough)
  • Tupperware or bowls (needs to withstand water freezing in it—I recommend plastic ones)
  • Water
  • Cold weather! (or freezer space)

Step 1—
Cut your paper into squares or circles roughly the diameter of the bowls you'll be using.

Step 2—
Fold the pieces symmetrically about the center.
  • To make a four-pointed snowflake, fold the paper in half one way, then in half again the other way (so you end up with a square).
  • To make a six-pointed snowflake, first fold it in half, then fold it in thirds.
  • In the picture below, I folded the paper in sixths, then in half again in order to cut symmetrically on each side. When you open it up, it will look like a pie with 12 slices.

Step 3—
Cut a design! Keep in mind how the paper connects where the folds are. I recommend something pointy at the top, and a few arbitrary triangle holes.

As you open it up, you will be able to see the symmetry unfold!

Experiment a little! Your first snowflake will not be perfect, so don't worry if it doesn't come out the way you wanted it to! Remember that each snowflake is beautiful and unique.

Step 4—
  • Grab a couple of plastic bowls and fill them with about 1/2 to 1 inch of water.
  • Submerge your unfolded snowflake. It will want to sink, but that won't make much of a difference in the end product.
  • Dip the ends of your piece of string such that it forms a loop in the water. In the image below, I tied a short piece of ribbon in a loop and submerged the knot in the bowl, leaving the loop out.

Step 5—
Place them outside! (If you live in California or other temperate climates, try your freezer space.) Check to see that your string has not shifted during the migration.

In the morning, you will (hopefully!) find frozen ornaments that you can hang around outside if the temperature stays cold enough.

To our readers: Liked this project? Tried this project? Let us know! We would love to see your finished products. Leave us a comment and be sure to link your photos too!

Don't be surprised if your neighbor's cat finds them tasty... it happened to us!


  1. Neat trick. I'd love to do it with my pre-k but there's no way we have enough fridge space. ...I can also see the water just going everywhere or someone cutting off a finger [Probably mine. Again.]

  2. Haha, you can try stacking the tuppers, if you don't put too much water in each. I did this when I was about 5 y.o. so it's definitely worth a shot if you can figure out the freezer situation. =)

  3. great idea! I've added this link to Paper Snowflakes for Children

  4. Thanks! There are so many other cool snowflake projects on your site too =)