How to Light a Globe Ice Lantern - BASICS

Jennifer Shea Hedberg | 25 December, 2014 | 2 Comments

Wintercraft Globe Ice Lantern lit with colorful LED lights

(ABOVE: Globe Ice Lantern lit with LED lights, see below for info)

The true joy of creating a Globe Ice Lantern is to watch it begin to glow with light - whether it is with the radiance of the sun during the day, the gentle magical glow of a candle at twilight, or the show-stopping brilliance of LED lights.


Wintercraft Globe Ice Lantern lit by sun

As you can see, there are many ways to light up an ice luminary, so lets start with theSUN. When people wake up to a "winter wonderland" it is often after a hoar frost - where every bush and limb of trees are coated with tiny ice crystals. When the sun comes out, those crystals shine like diamonds. It is a sight to behold. Likewise, when traveling along the shores of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, the waves will throw up huge slabs of ice and they freeze into jagged beautiful shapes. When the sun shines through them, they look like ephemeral firelight bursting from the frozen earth. These wintertime events have inspired me to play with ice and place them in the sun to light up. The sun finds the weaknesses in the ice and deepens them so that the ice takes on a cut crystal look. So, at night, the same ice can be lit up again with a candle and the night's light plays in the cracks created by the sun. Mesmerizing . . .

Natural Ice Glass on Lake Superior - Jennifer Shea Hedberg WintercraftOld Sunkissed Globe Ice Lantern lit with candle - photo by Rob Nopola 


An ice luminary of any form that is lit with a CANDLE touches something very deep inside all of us. It strikes a chord in almost every culture with the symbolic light coming from darkness. To add to it the unbelievable concept that fire can exist, for a time, in ice, adds to the marvel. The ability to light up a Globe Ice Lantern with a candle relies on the underlying concept that a Globe Ice Lantern is a hollow sphere. And, that is where the Wintercraft system for making Globe Ice Lanterns really shines.

Candlelit Wintercraft Globe Ice Lantern - photo by Terry McDaniel


How? Basically, the Wintercraft (WC) Balloon is set to freeze in a WC Freezing Base that is sitting on snow, frozen ground outside, or on a form of insulation when put in a freezer. By placing the WC Balloon to freeze on one of these insulating surfaces, the bottom of the balloon will stay unfrozen. When the WC Balloon is peeled off and the unfrozen water removed through the opening, a cavity is exposed that can be lit with a candle or LED lights.

There are two basic techniques for lighting a Globe Ice Lantern with a candle:

1. Quick Flip - Take a finished Globe Ice Lantern and position it in the snow, a WC Freezing Base or another round container so that it sits straight with the opening up. Place a candle inside so that it sits on the bottom of the Globe Ice Lantern and light it. Hopefully, it the cavity is deep enough and there is not too much wind, it will stay lit and look stunning. This is also the way to use a Globe Ice Lantern in a macrame plant hanger.


2. Chimney - To alleviate the worry of wind and to take advantage of the most beautiful part of a Globe Ice Lantern - the top - I like to advise people to take a few more minutes and create a chimney. With this method, the Globe Ice Lantern's natural opening goes over a candle that is placed on the snow. Because the candle requires air to burn and the heat of the candle must escape, a chimney will need to be created through the top of the Globe Ice Lantern. There are two ways to make a chimney:

Wintercraft Chimney Perspectives


A. Drill a Chimney - When using a drill with ice, it is wise to remember that ice is slippery and a drill can be dangerous to use without proper care. I use a 1" Spade Bit with a cordless drill to quickly drill straight down in the top of the the Globe Ice Lantern. (Any drill bit can be used as all you really need is a pin hole for the heat to start to come through, then the chimney will grow with use.) Once the chimney is created, place a candle in the snow, cement or other fire resistant surface and place the Globe Ice Lantern over the candle, BUT make sure there is a small gap around the bottom to let in some air to feed the candle. A tiny tunnel in the snow, a used match stick or twig will work nicely.

B. Let the Candle Drill the Chimney - If a Globe Ice Lantern is put over a candle and the candle has plenty of airflow, the candle will drill its own chimney. It helps if the candle is below the globe and a pan is put beneath to catch melting ice. Examples of what can be used to raise up the globe: a few children's blocks, 2 bricks with a candle in between, the warming stand from a fondue set, etc. We make so many Globe Ice Lanterns at Wintercraft that we only drill our chimneys, but when we want to set out a Globe Ice Lantern while we are on vacation and do not have our drill, we have become creative with what we can find. Below is how we let the candle drill a chimney in the Globe Ice Lantern we created in our Mazatlan condo freezer using some small mugs in a dish rack. 


Now last, but certainly not least is how to light a Globe Ice Lantern with LED LIGHTS.

Using LED lights offers the true convenience and the possibility of vibrant color without the mess of dyes and exercise drink potions. Forget about drilling a chimney. Forget about airflow. All you need is to find LED lights that strike your fancy, stuff them into the cavity of a globe ice lantern and put it down wherever you like. (If displayed in temps below freezing, put a bowl or container underneath to catch the melting water.)


Battery operated LED lights are the easiest to set up, but generally do not last more than 8-10 hours (depending on lights), so they are best for a short-term use like for a centerpiece. If a more permanent set up for outside is desired, a string of lights that plug in might be a better idea.


The first image in this blog is lit with LED lights on the ice glass and a candle in the globe and was created for an installation done for REI's flagship store in Bloomington, MN - Facebook Photo Album of the event.

That's how easy it is - once you learn the basics, it gets really fun - Enjoy the Glow!

Please look for other blog entries or FAQ's to learn more about lighting Globe Ice Lanterns made with the Wintercraft system. 


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Comments (2 Responses)

27 December, 2014

Tom Hedberg

Jane, Thanks for the correction. Lake Superior has always felt like an ocean to Minnesotans, hence likely the slip-up.. Good catch. It’s been corrected and changed to “waves” (although maybe should have said “crashing waves”)…

26 December, 2014


It’s all good, except the part that says " when traveling along the shores of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, the tide will throw up huge slabs of ice and they freeze into jagged beautiful shapes." Lake Superior does not ebb & flow with tides….

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