Adventures in Terrarium Construction

What started as a fun way to make Christmas presents has grown into something more interesting; over the past couple months I’ve been making lots and lots of very small terrariums inside of lightbulbs. I’ve experimented with different types of lightbulbs (some are easier to open and empty than others); different positioning angles (the metal part of the bulb needs to be relatively high to preserve balance); different substrates (small rocks are easier to work with than sand); different mosses (too much sheet moss leads to mold); and different types of tillandsia (they’re all working well).

To learn more about what I’m talking about, see this blog post, “How to Make a Tiny Terrarium in a Light Bulb,” that I wrote for the fantastic blog The Hipster Home. It describes how to get started with basic terrarium/light bulb endeavors.

In the past week my terrariums have started moving in a new direction because of a cat. While eating dinner with friends at their house, we kept leaping up to move their terrarium (I gave them this one) away from the inquisitive paws of their highly active teenager cat. I realized that building terrariums with a loose substrate, like what I wrote about in the Hipster Home post, was pretty risky. They are just too fragile.

So I started experimenting with ways to retain the organic feel of a terrarium while constructing it in a way that would be more stable. Many failed experiments with polyester resin later, I figured it out.

What looks like water in the terrariums above is actually resin. You can pick these up and shake them and they’ll stay intact. The tillandsia that I “rooted” in the resin is still doing well.

I realized that terrariums that are essentially all one piece can be safely shipped. I started an Etsy store thinking that maybe I could start funding this kind of weird hobby.

My next experiments will focus on resin; what is the right temperature for it to cure properly? How long should I wait after pouring the resin before I can water the plants? Will the tillandsia continue to grow happily despite being stuck in plastic?

I’m sure you’re waiting with baited breath for my findings, so I’ll be sure to report back. Also, I’ll be tracking my terrarium project over at Tiny Terra.

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