The Everyday Lore Project

3 July 2020 – Barometer

3 July 2020 – Barometer

Given there is so much weather about this month, today I made good on my promise to make a barometer. Two actually. It’s said that the first Friday in July is always wet. Well, I’m not too sure about that as it’s been decidedly dry today but if I did miss a drizzle in the wee hours, it could have only been a smattering. Regardless, I thought it was about time I try some weather predicting of my own. And DIY barometers are very quick and easy, hence having time to make two. 

The first was made out of an empty coke bottle, the contents of which I used for experimenting with cold remedies back in January (I hoard, it’s a prop thing, don’t judge me), an empty glass, some food colouring, water, a ruler, a hair band, and a pen. First I marked up the bottle at 1cm intervals. For some reason, I chose a side with writing on in when there was a perfectly good empty side. I thought about redoing it, but I’m a little apathetic today, so after staring at it for a while, I moved on. 

Next came the food colouring. I chose green as yellow looks like urine and blue water will never not be an advert for sanitary towels. The trick is to pour the water into the bottle first, invert the glass over it, then turn both upside down. Because the bottle’s nozzle needed to be off the bottom of the glass, I wrapped a hair band round the middle of the bottle to wedge it accordingly. Next I wiggled the bottle to release any trapped air and dribbled in a little more water. And hey presto, that was it. It’s now in the spare room by the window with a first reading of just above 11. 

The second had more components but was just as speedy. For this one I used the message in a bottle jar, a balloon, a leftover Halloween straw, sticky tape, a tooth pick, some card, glue, another hair band, a pencil, and some scissors. I felt very Blue Peter. Then I cut the top off the balloon and dragged it over the neck of the jar. It made a very pleasing drumming sound when tapped. To secure it, I wrapped a hair band round it, but the band felt too loose, so I subbed in a lacky band instead. Then cutting one end of the straw at an angle, I dipped the tooth pick in glue and stuck it in the notch before taping the other end to the balloon. And Bob’s your lobster, another barometer! All that was left was to tape a piece of card to the back of the jar and mark where the tooth pick came to with a little drawing of today’s weather. This prototype Dalek is now sat in my bedroom in amongst a lot of dried lavender. 

So here comes the science bit (otherwise known as the magic). With both barometers, the higher the water or the straw, the warmer/drier the weather, and the lower, the cooler/wetter. I don’t pretend to understand it at all, there are videos below to help with that, but I reckon it’ll be fun to find out if they work. And if I can throw in some flower petal behaviour, a few red skies at night, and the odd ring around the moon, this month could get interesting.


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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