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No snow? Make your own frost-free versions for home decor

December 19, 2017

In this Dec. 18, 2017 photo, a trio of faux snowballs rest on branches covered in real snow in Hopkinton, N.H. All three are made with Styrofoam balls. The one on the left is covered in flocking made with soap and starch, the middle version features collage clay and the one on the right is covered in cotton batting. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Living in a state where it can snow anytime between October and April, I don’t often wish snow would stick around even longer. But I can’t deny that it can be pretty, so I decided to test a few ways of making long-lasting faux snowballs to decorate my home for the holidays and beyond.

Surprisingly, it was hard to narrow my options down to three. While every method I found seemed to start with Styrofoam and end with glitter, the ingredients in between varied widely. I settled on techniques that involved cotton, clay and soap. Each method was messy in its own way, but once completed, these snowballs will last a long time, without leaving any puddles behind.

Here’s what I found, with each method rated from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the least expensive, easiest and best results:

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COTTON:

The first technique I tried (http://bit.ly/2CZJyss ) was part of a tutorial for making a Christmas tree ornament, but I opted not to add the additional decoration and hanger. The technique involved wrapping a Styrofoam ball with cotton quilt batting, using watered-down glue to adhere it, and then covering the ball with a coat of the glue. Once dry, the ball is then painted white and sprinkled with glitter.

I found it a bit difficult to smoothly cover the ball with the batting, though I reminded myself that real snowballs are not perfectly round either. Because this method involved using a foam paint brush, it was less messy than the other techniques, but it also had the most steps and required waiting for the glue to dry before proceeding. The result was more rustic than the others, but still pretty.

I had the cotton batting on hand, but if I hadn’t, this would’ve fallen in the middle of the pack in terms of cost.

COST: 6

EASE: 6

RESULTS: 6

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CLAY:

The second technique (http://bit.ly/2BFWQwo ) gave me a chance to try a product I hadn’t seen before: Collage Clay. Described as “whipped clay,” it appears to be used mostly to make little trinkets and miniature faux food. It comes in a squeezable bag with an assortment of tips, like frosting, and has the consistency of icing or toothpaste.

This method was messy but pretty straightforward: Squeeze the clay onto the ball, smear it around and then roll the ball in glitter. My results weren’t as smooth as the examples shown in the tutorial, but overall, I achieved the effect.

This method was the most expensive, however. The clay cost almost $10, and would not have been enough to cover more than a few balls.

COST: 4

EASE: 8

RESULTS: 8

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SOAP:

The final technique (http://bit.ly/2oEChem ) was both messy and clean at the same time, because it involved soap!

This method was the most complicated, but produced my favorite result. It calls for grating a bar of Ivory soap, mixing it with liquid starch, and then whipping it with a bit of hot water to make a fluffy concoction that is then smeared onto the Styrofoam balls. Once the balls have dried a bit, they are then dusted with glitter.

I found it easier to just sprinkle the glitter on rather than rub it on with my hands as the tutorial instructs. The resulting snowballs have more texture than the real thing, but I found I liked that. This version does seem to be the most delicate, however, as some of the flocking flaked off when I picked up the snowballs.

COST: 7

EASE: 7

RESULTS: 9

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