Entertaining

The Storm Glass: An Obsolete Sailing Instrument Becomes Great Decor

This Storm Glass from Kikkerland Helps
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* Real storm glass with changing crystals
* High quality sealed glass cylinder
* Markings describe the original use 

Famous for its use by Admiral Robert FitzRoy on the HMS Beagle, the storm glass remains one of the most picturesque of meteorological devices, even if it’s no longer used to predict weather systems as in the old days. This five-inch tabletop version from Kikkerland makes for an aesthetic and interesting piece of decor. It sits in a sturdy wood base and has markings that describe the instrument’s original use. The crystals within its small, high quality glass cylinder change according to temperature, making the liquid go from clear to cloudy and even forming interesting patterns.

According to the original lore of the storm glass, dots within the liquid signaled a coming fog, while stars and crystalline formations meant that a thunderstorm was near. If the liquid on the bottom of the glass gave way to a structured crystal form, then it would snow, or a frost was on its way.

The formulation, a mixture of potassium nitrate, ammonium chloride, ethanol, camphor and distilled water, is temperature sensitive, and to get the most striking decorative effects from a storm glass, place it in a cool part of the house or near a windowsill where it will be warmed by the sun’s rays or exposed to cool air from the outside at night.

Usually the storm glass appears clear at room temperature, and in the winter, a chill breeze is often enough to get some of the crystals to solidify. Once known as FitzRoy’s “storm barometers,” storm glasses were in time replaced with pressure-sensitive mechanical barometers in weather stations and on board ships, but the storm glass remains a unique and interesting piece of decor, both mysterious and nostalgic. As a paperweight it makes a great conversation starter, as well.

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