Someone inquired recently about our Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces, and how they are made. The short answer is, very carefully! Joking aside, they’re the product of a lot of intricate work, and I appreciate the question. For artists who handmake work for sale, the process is often ignored in favor of the appearance of the finished product. If you’ve ever hand-made anything, you know that the process, the work, materials, skill, and effort that went into it is 80% of the finished product’s significance. And those of us who hand-make for a living really love it when someone appreciates the work we do! So here’s a bit on the process of making these pieces.
I love terrariums; the idea of an entire ecosystem existing under glass, green things growing and thriving, bits of nature you can keep close-by on a table or desk. We make contemporary terrariums at Hieropice, but only sell them at shows, due to the risk of damage during shipping. I wanted to make a version of our terrariums available to customers who can’t make it to shows in New England; a small, portable version of them that could be worn.
I began with a variety of miniature glass vessels. In went the elements of our full-size terraria; colorful sands and bits of fragrant reindeer moss. I wanted to add something extra-cool; living mushrooms can’t really be cultivated in a terrarium (or at least, to my knowledge) though I’d love to give it a go, but I thought of a way to incorporate adorable little mushrooms into the necklace version, by creating them out of polymer clay.
So, I mixed a few colors of polymer clay to resemble the natural tones of a live mushroom, and rolled the clay around a wire, topped with a clay mushroom cap carefully shaped with a manicure-tool, and with the point of a pin, applied clay polka dots to the cap. Likewise, I created mini succulent plants with the green tones of the clay, rolling out and slicing tendrils and pressing them together to form a miniature aloe/agave.
I trimmed the wires and the pieces went into the oven, and afterwards, I strategically placed them in the vessels with a narrow pair of tweezers. Adding additional Spanish moss or sand, and sealing with waterproof adhesive and a decorative stopper finishes them off, and they’re hung on meticulously-selected chain. Each one is unique, incorporating some elements and not others, created with color, contrast, and balance in mind. That’s the process, in a nut-shell, and thanks to the fan who inquired!