I was visiting a friend yesterday, and on her fireplace mantle, I noticed the most intriguing snow globe. Inside the perfectly shaped glass dome, was a replica of New York City. I could see the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. I could even see Central Park with tiny horse drawn carriages roaming the streets and paths.
I was entirely captivated by the little world held within this water-filled globe. I had to shake it. And when I did, sparkly snow swirled around the city and eventually settled again on the streets.
Snow globes! Who thought of this quirky idea? And where was the first snow globe made. I realized I had just found another MUSE! After dinner, I went home to my writer’s studio and did some research. Here is what I found:
It was the turn of the 20th century in Vienna, Austria. A surgeon asked Mr. Erwin Perzy, a medical instrument specialist, to make the Edison light bulb brighter. The surgeon wanted a brighter light for his operating room.
Perzy knew that shoemakers often placed a globe of water in front of a candle to make brighter light. He figured he would use the same strategy with the light bulb. He would sprinkle the water with white grit for even more light magnification.
Since the white grit simply fell to the bottom, Perzy scrapped the idea for making a brighter light. But he was intrigued with how the white grit floated to the dome’s floor. It reminded Perzy of snow. This fascination led Perzy to create the first snow globe.
In fact, Perzy patented the idea and began mass manufacturing this new toy. By 1908, the snow globe had become so popular that Austrian Emperor Franz Josef gave him a special award for his toy making skills.
And the company is still thriving today. Erwin Perzy’s grandson, Erwin Perzy III, runs the business, and has made special snow globes for President Clinton and President Obama’s youngest daughter.
Today, snow globes are made by many other manufacturers. And some are much more fancier than Perzy’s Original Snowglobes – which still come on a simple black base with minimal subject matter inside the globe.
With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these “what if” questions will help you get started:
WHAT IF your main character got trapped inside a snow globe? How did it happen, and what did she/he have to do to get free?
WHAT IF New York City was really inside a snow globe. Is there a larger world outside of the snow globe. Who does this snow globe belong to? What happens when they shake it?
WHAT IF your main character had kept something secret inside a snow globe? What is it, and what would happen if somebody or something found out about it or wanted to steal it?
The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own “what if” question in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.
So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us!
The word of the day is “Austria”. Here is the definition: a country in central Europe. Vienna is the capitol city.