Published on January 16th, 2010 | by Julie Finn4
Tutorial: Outdoor Ice Ornaments
You might think that this is a Christmas project–they are ornaments, after all–but for one thing, my girls and I were waaaay too busy before Christmas making presents and the really uber-Christmassy projects (made-from-scratch gingerbread house, anyone?) to have time for something festive but not necessarily thematic. And for another thing, our part of the midwest doesn’t start to get really cold, like weeks at a time below freezing cold, until after the new year, and for this project, you want a consistent few days under freezing to enjoy your work.
So for us, this is a nice winter project to do anytime it’s cold enough. It adds some decoration into a yard bare of flowers and most of its greenery, and depending on what you use, will become a handy natural dispenser for either birdseed or self-sown wildflower seeds. Here’s how to make it:
You will need:
- molds or muffin tins–just as with the melt-and-pour vegetable glycerin soap that I make, I use my collection of silicon molds. They’re decorative and versatile, used in my house for everything from muffins to cold-process soap. However, any muffin tins can be used to make lovely circles here, and a Bundt pan is a wreath-in-the-making!
- food coloring–we have some cheap stuff that we use for play dough, but if you don’t mind potentially getting a little sticky, you could also color these with a bit of orange or kale or beet juice.
- natural decorations–we used lavendar and calendula flowers for this particular batch, but just because I was too lazy to dig into the spring supplies for the wildflower seeds and birdseed that we normally use. It was, thus, a random way to waste my fancy herbs.
- yarn or string, scissors for cutting it, and a chopstick or fondue fork or pencil for poking at it
1. You can start this project inside, especially if you put all your trays on a large baking sheet that you can later carry them outside on. If you do this outside, however, especially if you’re using liquid food coloring, it is possible to get some interesting color effects by, for instance, squeezing just one drop of color into one of the molds full of water so that it freezes before it can completely disperse.
2. Fill each mold about three-quarters full of water.
3. Add any colorants, knowing that seeing them outside frozen in ice will make them look brighter–an extremely dark purple can look quite nice, for instance, but some pale colors will become almost too pale.
4. It’s nice to mix in something that can have an effect after the ornament has melted. I like to add birdseed, for instance, or wildflower seeds that can self-sow over my garden area and surprise me in the springtime. But anything that will look pretty and then easily decompose on the ground will work–berries, grains, sprinkles, etc.
5. Cut off a length of yarn for each of your molds, tie the yarn into a loop (or leave it long enough to tie into a loop later when you hang it), and poke a bit down into the water. The yarn won’t want to sink, but it really doesn’t have to be that far down–the ice will stick it quite well.
6. Take the molds outside to freeze for several hours or overnight. When they’re frozen, you can unmold them and hang them up.
Beauteous, aren’t they?