Tag Archives: terrarium

Thrifty Living: How To Make A Terrarium Ornament

30 Jan

As you may remember, some friends and I decided to make this year a Handmade Christmas. What gifts I gave were either thrifted or handmade.  While browsing my local craft store for Halloween decorations in September I found a bin filled with these empty plastic ornaments and immediately I knew I’d be turning them into terrariums come December.

If you’ve never made a terrarium before I have a beginner’s tutorial as well as an assortment of terrarium inspiration and information. Terrarium ornaments are simple to make and it was fun to give my friends the gift of something green and growing during the cold winter months. The medium-sized ornaments were a $1.50 at my local craft store, which meant that even I could afford a bunch to give as presents.

Materials:

  • garden soil, preferably damp, hold the gravel
  • plastic ornaments from a craft store, medium-sized
  • paint brush or chopstick
  • tweezers
  • weeds, moss, or other small plants
  • a funnel (or a piece of paper cut to size and rolled to make a funnel)
  • a small shovel

If making tags like mine you’ll also need:

  • decorative paper
  • glue or rubber cement
  • scissors
  • pencil

Instructions:

1. Take your soil and mix in drops of water (or use a spray bottle) until you have damp–but not soggy–soil.  Soil with good drainage works well, so look for the kind that has bits of Styrofoam mixed in or that is specially made for succulents and cactus. Valley soil is perfect because it’s so sandy, but you probably don’t live near me, so look into your local soil first to see if you can use it straight from the ground like I did.

2. Remove the wire topping of your ornament and fill the it a third of the way full of soil using your trowel and funnel. Make sure any rocks or gravel pieces aren’t going in. While they are useful for drainage they also add weight, which we don’t want.

3. Gently pluck some weeds from the ground (or from the fancy container you purchased your plants in) leaving the roots intact. Gently use your tweezers and the stick end of your paintbrush or chopstick to poke your plant through the hole and arrange so the root side is in the dirt. This is the trickiest part, but also why weeds are a good choice: they are used to growing in challenging circumstances and bouncing back even after they’ve been shoved in a jar.

4. Add a few (very few) more drops of water, replace the top, and there you have it–and awesome handmade terrarium ornament that took you all of fifteen minutes to make.

Let’s say you are giving these as a present and want to make a gift tag like I did. No problem, it’s easy! I used the tags that were already attached to the ornaments because they were simple and sturdy.

1. Leaving the tag on the ornament, trace its shape onto a decorative piece of paper using a very sharp pencil. Include a mark for the center hole.

2. Cut out and use that tracing to make two tags for each ornament you are making.  Cut them out.

3. In each tag, cut a slit and a hole for the plastic ring to go through. This is difficult for me to explain, so if you need a visual, click here.

4. Glue the decorative paper to each side of the tag. I used rubber cement and then set a book on top of each tag to prevent warping.

5. Finally, add the person’s name or a holiday message with a pen. A really good idea would be to include simple care instructions on one side of the tag as terrarium maintenance isn’t exactly a common skill. I did not do this because I only just thought of it, but I wish I would have.

I tried making these with both the larger ornaments and the medium-sized ones and it turns out that the medium-sized ones are far better. I wanted the large ones to work because they could hold more plants and maybe even some plastic toys, but the thin wire ornament tops wouldn’t support all that weight and the whole thing kept falling apart. Not a good sign. The medium size worked perfectly.

You can decorate these with plastic toys as long as they are small, lightweight, and will fit through the opening. You can adjust them with your tweezers and paintbrush once they are in. Ribbon would be a lovely way to accentuate and hang these ornaments, too, if you don’t like the look of the plastic ring or the tag. The fact that these ornaments are so simple is what lends them great potential and versatility.

This project was extra thrifty since I had all the materials on hand except the ornaments. If you try this, please let me know! I’d love to hear how it worked for you.

Advertisements

Scrapbook: Zorro Photobomb

5 Jun

Will I ever, ever be able to take a photo of a terrarium without Zorro not sticking his head into the frame to inspect it? No. No I will not.

Terrarium Inspiration

4 Nov

Yesterday I posted a tutorial on how to create terrariums, but something weird happened and it posted in the past. By the time I noticed and fixed the back-dating issue it was nearly today. I know that sentence barely makes any sense, but that’s what I get for fucking with the space-time continuum. If you haven’t read the tutorial, it’s very very easy. If you have read it and can’t wait to get started, here’s some container, plant, and figurine inspiration. If you found my blog by searching for “how to build wet terrariums”, seek help immediately. Possibly in the form of a dictionary.

If you’re lucky enough to find a vintage terrarium container while thrifting, scoop it up and never look back. They aren’t that easy to find. I’ve been lucky enough to find three: an acrylic egg-shaped one, a glass mushroom, and a glass apple. I’m keeping my eye out for more and you can bet that if I find one it’s going up immediately in my store.

Before I ever found those, however, I made countless terrariums out of inexpensive thrifted glass containers. That’s the beauty of terrariums—they are adaptable and can be made from all sorts of things.

My first terrariums were created in thrifted fish bowls and storage jars from Ikea. The more I kept my eye out for interesting jars and things while thrifting the more I became inspired. I found all sorts of lovely glass bowls. I especially loved making them in tiny containers. Especially if they said something weird like, “Bishop’s Awards Dinner.”

I once bought a glass jar from either Crate and Barrel or CB2. I may have registered for it, actually. I don’t remember but I’ve had it for awhile. It was just sitting somewhere taking up space when I thought I know! I’ll make it into a terrarium! I get the most compliments from this terrarium.

One of my favorite terrarium bowls was a vintage thrifted find that was hand-blown with little bubbles embedded in the glass. Gorgeous.

I like to liven up the simpler terrariums by adding extras: toys. Historically some terrariums featured little figurines, especially mushrooms, as a decorative touch. The egg terrarium I bought came with a vintage mushroom and swan. I’ve seen some terrariums add dinosaurs for a whimsical prehistoric touch and it made me want to add more toys to mine.

Anthony and I collected the totally strange and inexplicably rave-themed Buddha Buddies from a vending machine in an old grocery store. Why they were ever created is a mystery but I love adding them to my terrariums. I purchased plastic sea creatures from the craft store and made one that resembled octopus in a bed of kelp. The terrarium I keep at work has a roaring hippo.

My sister bought me this good-luck cat and it was very happy in the terrarium I kept by the sink.

I used to keep all my terrariums on the counter near the fruits and vegetables. They looked really lovely and unfortunately I never took any pictures of them, so enjoy my cat amongst produce and a dismembered pomegranate along with your terrariums.

When I want to create a new terrarium I troll the Terrarium group that I moderate on Flickr for inspiration and it never lets me down. Really, any glass container has terrarium potential.