a peek inside the fishbowl

15 Dec, 2006

DIY gifts part two: marble magnets

Posted by andrea tomkins in: File under crafty

Gah! Talk about an easy craft. E.A.S.Y. Even for people like me. I see these magnets for sale at local stores for 3/$10 and it makes me cringe. They’re.So.Easy. And addictive too. I think I have about 40 of these stuck on the fridge and various other metal surfaces around the house. I could easily make more. Hmmm. Perhaps I will!

Some pics below (am recycling old pics – forgive me!), and a link to instructions follows.

The superhero series. Oh, and there’s Emma with Santa:


And some cute lil’ animals:

More marble magnets

Okay, this one is more recent… it’s the magnet board near our desks in the office:


I got the inspiration for these at this site. Her instructions are right on the nose. Follow them to the tee, including the part about the silicone glue, this is very important. Get the glue, otherwise you’ll regret it. The glue is thick and forms a squishy cushion for the magnet. It’s the professional-looking choice, and you want these to look professional, don’t you?

Michael’s sells packs of 50 magnets. (Don’t roll your eyes, 50 will go fast!) You can also get the “marbles” there, but I’ve seen them at the dollar store too. Just make sure they’re big enough to cover your magnet base. 

Where to get teeny pictures: scour your magazines. Some mags are better than others. Cottage Life is better than Canadian Living, for example. Do you know anyone who subscribes to art/graphic design publications? These are the best.

Don’t limit yourself to pictures, patterns are cool too (think zebra or leopard) or bright colours.

You don’t even need to use clear round marbles either. These are my favourite, because they give you a slightly distorted effect which I like, but I’ve also made magnets with pink heart-shaped marbles instead. Underneath I pasted words like “love” and “joy” and “play.” Yeah yeah. I’m a softie. I know it.

These are great… am I right or am I right? Has anyone out there made these? (ETA: millions of magnets on Flickr!]

Coming up next, an easy peasy wrapping solution for gifts that are too small for regular gift bags.

21 Responses to "DIY gifts part two: marble magnets"

1 | Zhenia

December 15th, 2006 at 11:04 am


I should get addicted to making these instead of drawing poppies. Much more practical, me thinks.

2 | Marla

December 15th, 2006 at 11:28 am


I LOVE these. They make me have craftgasms. I’m afraid if I started them, I couldn’t stop.

3 | Lala

December 15th, 2006 at 11:34 am


I made a bunch and sent them off to friends. I bought shape cutters and used scrapbooking paper to make national colours for some and little baby feet for others. I don’t have photos though.

4 | Sarakastic

December 15th, 2006 at 12:17 pm


I’ve made these & it’s become a compulsion. I just used words but I like the idea of using pictures & yours are adorable.

5 | Lex

December 15th, 2006 at 2:29 pm


I love these! I’ve heard they are easy to make, but I haven’t yet gone for the supplies. (though I already have the silicon glue – don’t ask.) You’ve inspired me again. Let’s just see if it happens this time.

6 | DaniGirl

December 15th, 2006 at 3:53 pm


Oh Andrea, I so heart you… you are a goddess! I’ve been itching for a craft project – I think this will do the trick!

7 | karrie

December 16th, 2006 at 8:12 am


Yup. Even I can make those and I am severely craft-challenged.

8 | BeachMama

December 16th, 2006 at 8:48 am


Andrea, I have often wondered how easy these were to make, thank you for posting the diy. I may make a few this holiday season.

9 | nancy

December 16th, 2006 at 9:47 am


I’ve done these!! GREAT gift ideas.

10 | kerflop

December 16th, 2006 at 8:54 pm


On my list of things to do! Now where did you get that fun magnet board with the ruler on top?

11 | andrea

December 16th, 2006 at 11:18 pm


The magnet board is from Ikea. The ruler is a treasure. I bought it awhile ago (for 10 cents!) at a garage sale hosted by nuns at the neighborhood convent. (It used to be a school.) It’s a wooden ruler with a metal edge. Made in Canada by ACME… before the metric system was introduced. ;)

I would love to have a dozen of these. I’d tuck them into a shallow shadow box and hang them on the wall.

12 | Myra

December 18th, 2006 at 11:11 am


I make these whenever my craftinesss needs a little scratch and I don’t have time or space for a big project. I also bought a paper punch same size as the magnet which makes it really clean and easy. Ditto on the silicone glue. Tried it with Mosaic glue to no avail. Wouldn’t it be great to make an alphabet with various fonts? Gorgeous gift for some precocious child!

13 | Lex

December 19th, 2006 at 7:26 pm


Somebody PLEASE tell me where I can get these clear flat bottomed marble things in Toronto!

I’ve found coloured ones at Active Surplus and pearlized ones at Canadian Tire and my art store moved.

Help me.

14 | Claudette

December 20th, 2006 at 4:42 pm


Lex, you can get these marbles at Michaels. Not sure exactly where in Toronto you live, we’re in south-west Etobicoke and it’s just a 10 min drive to Dixie Value Mall which has one. Apparently some dollar stores have them too, although I haven’t frequented them much lately, given the Xmas rush and all….Hope you find them.

15 | melissa

December 20th, 2006 at 7:51 pm


I made these too! I made them with pictures of Sam to give to my parents. They were so much fun. And I stocked up on flat bottomed marbles at Michaels. I’m glad you posted this – it’s been a few years and I keep meaning to get back into them! Maybe I’ll do some with the kids over the holidays…

16 | Lex

December 22nd, 2006 at 12:22 pm


Claudette & Andrea – thanks for the suggestions, sadly downtown apartment and lack of car combine to make Dixie = FAR!

I did however find wonky shaped marbles at Dollarama (and at Tap Phong on Spadina).

I only found 1 package of magnets at the Dollarama, but my Dial-a-Bottle fridge magnets and an exacto knife are creating a suitable substitute.

I also find that a 11mm socket wrench fitting is approximately the right diameter for the images & magnets… so I’m all set.

thanks everyone!!

17 | Claudette

December 22nd, 2006 at 3:27 pm


Again with the marble magnets…I will be looking for larger marbles maybe after the holidays and hope that the dollar stores around Mimico, New Toronto and Long Branch carry them. Thanks Lex for mentioning Dollerama. If I have time and remember, I will post my creations on my blog (http://nutty-notes.blogspot.com/). Got some other ideas too…Merry Christmas everyone!

18 | knitnut.net » A do-it-yourself project for absolute beginners

January 29th, 2007 at 10:56 pm


[…] In my basement, I’ve being accruing a nice little collection of useful little things. There’s a pegboard down there, and I hang the useful little things on it. Little tools and hardware and screws and hooks and things. I went down there and looked. I found a package of assorted hardware that I got for a buck from the Dollar-It store that replaced Big Bud’s. I bought it because I needed one little thing in the package. I found a little flat triangular hook in that package. Then I found a tube of silicon sealer that I bought at Michaels for this cool photo magnet marble project from A Peek Inside the Fishbowl. (Andrea said this project was easy, and it was, but sadly my results were not as charming as hers). […]

19 | genny

December 17th, 2008 at 2:52 pm


my goodness.
i’ve looked everywhere for the flat-backed marbles…
i found the 1/2″ ones at michaels up in markham.
but i really want at least 3/4″ ones (or 1″ ones).

i know a lot of people are saying the dollaramas. any specific locations? i’ve checked at yonge/college and dufferin mall…

any suggestions?

20 | exotik

January 11th, 2009 at 10:22 pm


i found the 3/4 flat backed marbles at Dollerama At Queen W. ….close to Parkdale library…but its hit or miss to get the clear non-iridized ones… I’ve had good luck on http://www.etsy.com …type in “clear glass marbles” and you’ll get the bubbly flat backed gems, and also molded or poured glass circles…they are flatter but distort the images less. You can also use glass circles to make pendants (glue an Aanraku bail on the gem) and tree ornaments.
If you find flat-backed glass marbles that are 1 inch or bigger,please let me know! Oh, “A Buck or Two” at Bridlewood Mall” in scarborough has 1/2 inch marbles.
For glue, Diamond Glaze and E6000 work great. Im gonna try Judikins DG3 or 3-D Crystal laquer as they are said to have less bubbles than the diamond glaze. Have fun making magnets!
Oh, to prevent ink from running, lightly spray a sealant on the photo/image to protect it…u can get it at an art supply or scrapbooking store. I oversprayed my images one time and the sealant looked like white spraypaint over the images when it dried…i ruined the perfect images…so go easy on the spray)
And for a lightweight, more consistant magnet, you can get acrylic cabochons from Tap Plastics or on Etsy (“Crafty Dragonfly” sells them) and they magnify the image more than glass.
I love rare earth magnets…wouldent recommend any other kind.
its worth it to invest in a circle paper punch ,maybe the 1/2 or 3/4 inch size to make magnets….it makes it look professional. And after you glue the magnet to the back of the glass,seal the whole back with diamond glaze,it looks neater. Package the magnets in a mint tin and you’ve got a nice gift.
Diamond glaze and images glued to a tin looks great! You can put diamond glaze over the image too and the whole things will be shiny….i even affix beads and stuff to tins…you can have fun personalizing the tin and magnet…i’m craft impaired, and if i can do a great job, you can too!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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