Terraria (in Miniature)

Candy jar terrarium with mushroom

Candy jar terrarium with mushroom

I posted a while back about Hieropice’s Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces, and how they’re madeI love hearing about how artists come up with their concepts, and wanted to share what the inspiration behind the Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces was.

I’ve been fascinated with plants and flowers (and sometimes, bugs!) for many years; when I was 5, I discovered a compelling flower in the woods during a class trip, plucked it and presented it to my teacher, whose eyes welled-up as she explained it was an endangered ladyslipper orchid.

pink ladyslipper orchid

Pink ladyslipper orchid

Which I’d just killed, by picking it.  Woops!  I found fascinating plants irresistible even then, and over the years, I studied a lot of biology, medicinal plants, did a lot of foraging, lots of reading and research, in my quest to learn all there was to know about plants.

    A couple of years ago, a friend forwarded me a NY Times slideshow called The Art and Craft of Terrariums.  It was full of whimsical images of terraria, many with miniatures figures and vignettes inside, in a vibrant array of colors.  I was instantly captivated.  At the time, I worked in a dreary, gray office, with no windows.  The possibility of bringing a shot of life and color into my cavern-like space was really exciting.  I had to try to make one!

Dara's first terrarium

My first terrarium!

My first attempts ended somewhat abyssmally.  I didn’t fully understand the complexities of semi-closed ecosystems, and had trouble creating a good balance. Those terraria have long dried-out, rotted, molded, been tossed in the wastebin.  I did more research, read what experts had to say about maintaining the health of plants, and experimented.  I scoured thrift shops for unusual glass vessels, and greenhouses for plants in complementary colors.  My apartment filled up quickly, with all manor of candy-jar, water pitcher and reclaimed-glass-lantern terraria.  I battled with condensation, bugs, and die-off, but in time, created some beautiful things, that brought charm and light into my home.  I began offering classes on how to make terraria for adults at schools around Boston, and brought the terraria I could carry to craft shows to sell.

Lantern Terrarium

More recent terrarium, made from a converted glass lantern

Then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if you could actually WEAR one?  And I had a dilemma… How to create something that captured the charm of the life-size terraria, but took the fact that we all have lives into consideration.  I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to water, dead-head, re-plant, and monitor the health of their jewelry; the pieces would have to require no maintenance, but still contain life.

  Again, I started experimenting, scouting miniature glass vessels, putting little bits of the materials I used for the life-size terraria inside, working with contrasting textures and colors.  Custom Lost World Necklace for Sabine close-up

I added a bit of whimsy, creating itty-bitty mushrooms and succulent plants out of polymer clay, and “planting” them in the mini vials, tucking bits of moss around them.  I began offering the necklaces on Etsy.  When Spring approached, I thought it’d be wonderful to incorporate some flowers, which turned out to be a major challenge to make!  I changed elements of the necklaces over time, striving to make them weather the bumps and jolts of the shipping process better.   Etsy customers began to engage in the making process, requesting fantastic custom creations, featuring shades of green, or even mini-cacti and a leather cord (to make it more masculine!).  Their participation has made the process even more fun!  I love making these pieces, and look forward to the many incarnations they’ll develop into over time.  Thanks for being a part of the process!

Love,

Dara (Hieropice)

Lost World mini terrarium necklace red flower red mushroom close-up2


  

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