Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Potion of Peace - aka World's Coolest Calm Jar

I'm sure that you've come across many pins and blog posts about "calming jars:" the basic idea is to hand an over-excited child a bottle filled with water, glue, and glitter and have him watch it until the glitter settles and the child is magically calm. To be honest, I haven't had stellar results with this strategy in our home, but the jars are undeniably cool to play with.
While browsing Instructables a couple of months ago, I came across these instructions for making Rheoscopic Fluid, which is immediately appealed to me as a "calm down jar on steroids." My son's upcoming birthday party gave me the excuse I needed to try it out, and I must say that it is even cooler than it looks in the photos.
Here's a little video so you can see the colors swirling...

Aside from obtaining the necessary mica powder, this is about as easy as it gets. Here's what I did

1. Colored mica powder. I got this set from eBay. Admittedly it's pretty steep. Feel free to order the smallest amount possible: you don't need much at all!
2. Empty, clear, smooth sided bottles (I used sizes between 8 oz and 24 or more)
3. (Optional) Scraps of fabric and yarn
4. Glue for lids

* Wash your jars or bottles and remove the labels. (I like Goo Gone for this task!)

* Add about 1/2 gram of mica powder to your bottle.
The stuff is both light weight and clingy, and there are inevitable losses to whatever it is packaged in.
I used a make-shift paper funnel to channel it in: wax paper might work even better since you could pour water in after it to reclaim a little more.
Whatever else you do, start with a small amount of powder and add more if necessary: it goes a long way!

* Glue your lid on tightly. I used Gorilla Glue, which is better than most glues (which, as a class, I hate!), but I am still not sure I really trust it against a determined child.

* If desired, cut a square of fabric to cover the lid - I did this while the glue was wet! - and then tie some pretty yarn or ribbon around it.

* I was making these as party favors, so I added a label with text as follows

Potion of Peace
Directions: Shake. Relax. Take a deep breath. Watch the swirling colors, perhaps while repeating a favorite Bible verse or prayer. Repeat.
Now... was there something you were upset about?

And that's it. We've had quite a bit of fun playing with these jars - and if Mommy finds it more calming than the kids, well, we need a little help becoming peaceful too, right? :)

Oh, one more note: Compared to the common glue/water/glitter calm jar, the mica flakes stop spinning more quickly - even much more quickly - but take longer to settle all the way to the bottom.  I have not experimented with mica in a glue/water mixture - I'd love to hear from anyone who has! In any case, you may need to encourage your wound up child to shake it up a couple of times.

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