I’m not sure when I started making ice lanterns. I don’t remember doing this as a child, but I don’t think I waited until we moved to Maine either, and I’m sure I couldn’t have accomplished this in Oklahoma. In any case, it’s fun and easy if you live somewhere cold enough that the temperatures stay around or below freezing for days at a time so you can admire your handiwork. These are fun to make for lighting your walk or deck for winter parties as well.
Ruth from Knitting on Impulse asked about winter traditions involving the celebration of light a while back on her blog. I was reminded that I hadn’t made these in a few years. I think the girl and I did build a tiny igloo with a candle in it two winters ago but I think it snowed again before I could get a good picture. When a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound if no-one is there to take a picture of it? (See? random.)
Anyway, I happened to have some smaller ice lanterns in the freezer waiting for the outside temperatures to cooperate at the time. These round ones were made outside in a 5 gallon bucket. Ice will form first on the surface of the water and the sides of the bucket. Once these edges get thick enough you will be able to carefully turn the bucket over, let the ice slide out and the unfrozen inside can simply be poured out. The top will be the thickest part and becomes the base of the lantern. I’m not a good scientist so I can’t give you any data on times or temperatures, etc. The temperature of the water to begin with, the size of the vessel and the temperature outside or in your freezer will all contribute to how clear or not clear the ice is. I don’t think it matters. One of these froze enough overnight I think, the other one was out all day and night. The smaller milk carton size will freeze in several hours. In fact, I have an unfortunate habit of forgetting to check on them and ending up with a solid block of ice instead. You can use those as candle bases in the bigger lanterns. A tea light will burn for several hours protected from the wind. The ice magnifies and fractures the tiny light in an earnestly wistful way. A nice warmth to come home to when the dark descends so quickly on winter days.
Too bad these are now buried under in a foot of new snow! I wonder if I should dig them out or just make new ones?