In this week's So Many Fairies story, “The Source of Snow,” we learn that snow has a particular and powerful magic in the fairy world. More than anything else, snow is abuzz with fairies, causing children and grown-ups alike to feel delighted, and even a bit silly, when snow falls.
But more than that, snowflakes — with their no-two-are-alike crystals — have a wondrous connection to the wishes and dreams of children. You'll have to listen to the story to fully understand, but, to summarize, all of those unique crystalline shapes are inspired by you.
As captivating as they are, though, snow crystals can be hard to study up close. Their diminutive size and delicate temperature sensitivity, makes even holding one on your hand to really look at it almost impossible.
While they're not quite as abuzz with fairies as snow, if you want to really study crystals, one way to do it is to grow your own.
The project below uses a borax and hot water suspension to turn flowers into crystal covered specimens. Because hot water is capable of holding more dissolved borax than cold water, as the water cools, the borax will settle out of the water and begin to bond with itself and to anything else in the container holding the borax/water suspension. As more and more borax collects, crystals will begin to grow.
While crystals would grow on just about any object, I've chosen to use flowers here for two reasons.
First, I believe that any excuse is a good excuse to bring a bunch of fresh flowers into my house in the depths of winter!
But, second, flowers are fun to experiment with because a simple mixed bouquet contains several shapes and sizes worth of variables to observe. Which type of flower made the most beautiful crystals? What shapes are the crystals? Are they all the same? Or are they unique? Why do you think the crystals adhered to some flowers better than others?
It's science, but with just a little flurry of fairy magic, too.
“Snow” Crystal Covered Flowers
Very hot water
A few fresh flowers
Pencils (or chopsticks)
1 glass jar (or other similarly sized, heat-proof container) per flower
In a large pitcher or bowl, dissolve the borax into the hot water until no more borax will dissolve. (The exact amount of water and borax you'll need will depend on how many flowers you want to make and the size of your containers, but you can generally shoot for a ratio of three tablespoons borax to one cup water.) Pour the water into your jars until they're almost full, but leave yourself a little extra room for displacement.
While the water cools just slightly, trim up the stems of the flowers, then use the string to tie a slip knot around each stem. Tie the other end of the string to a pencil, and roll the string around the pencil until the string is the right length for the flower to be suspended in its designated jar.
Gently lower the flower into the jar, using the pencil to keep it from falling to the bottom. If your flower wants to float, you can either allow it to do so or brace the stem against a jar lid to keep the flower submerged.
--- If you liked this craft project, here are others you might enjoy:
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.