Stress relief with a sparkle

Mason jars have become such a staple item in the crafting community. And why not? They are adorable, versatile, and inexpensive. As I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinet, I found a lone Mason jar and instantly knew the craft project I wanted to try.

Ever heard of a Calm Down Jar? They are basically jars of glitter, glue, and water designed for kids to shake. Watching the glitter swirl and twinkle is supposed to have a calming effect on children. Turns out they’re great for Ph.D. students too!

You only need a few materials to make your own Calm Down Jar:

  • Regular and fine glitter in the colors of your choice
  • Iridescent glitter (optional)
  • 1 part clear, water soluble glue
  • 2 parts tap water
  • Mason jar or water bottle with leak-proof lid

The trickiest part of this craft was finding clear, water soluble glue. Regular white glue will not work as it makes the liquid in your jar milky looking. I headed to my local superstore to pick up some Elmer’s Washable Clear School Glue for this project, but it wasn’t in stock. Lesson learned: always check if the store has your item in stock before you drive there! Luckily, the superstore in the next town over had some.

I suggest buying glitter in small portions since you don’t need very much per jar. I found an assorted rainbow pack of 16 different colors in small pouches in the craft section of my superstore, and picked up some other small tubes of glitter at the dollar store. I choose two pink glitters, one light and one dark, for my own jar. My sister’s boyfriend Joshua was more adventurous and chose a mixture of blue and red. Pick any color combo you’d like! In total, I put about 1oz. of glitter in my 16oz. Mason jar.

Let me warn you, be very careful handling the glitter. We all know that once you spill glitter, it sticks around forever. My first attempt was kind of a mess: the glue-water mixture made my hands sticky and the glitter was stuck in the seal of the jar so it leaked. None of the blogs I read told me about this! Then I discovered the key to making a successful Calm Down Jar was to be more strategic in the preparation. Here’s the secret: you have to assemble the jar in the right order.

First, add equal parts fine, regular, and iridescent (optional) glitter to the bottom of the jar. Next, create a layer of glue on top of the glitter by slowly pouring it in. Avoid mixing. Lastly, slowly pour water on top of the glue until you have reached the brim of the Mason jar. Using a measuring cup makes it much easier to control your pouring speed and avoid disrupting the glue layer. Screw on the lid and shake. Voila! A mess free assembly.

The jars have a satisfyingly heavy weight, which also means they can double as the perfect paperweight for your desk. They are great for when you just need a small mental break or to work out some excess energy. Paige likes to swirl hers when she is on conference calls at work! I hope your Calm Down Jar brings you as much peace as mine does for me. Who knows you might even make an important life decision as you watch the glitter swirl!

- Hannah