Lichen, moss, and making things

lichen in handI am still as obsessed as ever with all things botanical.  I took the most truncated vacation ever, and, as it was me on vacation, spent a significant portion hunting for lichen to use in future terraria.
I have also had this long-term plan/goal, to make lighting around my terraria, and I’ve been playing around with a bunch of different concepts.  I’ve built some pieces, created elements, but haven’t quite created anything I feel represents what I see in my head.
BUT I had a thought while I was on vacation, and when I returned, started working on it.  I just completed it, after a bunch of experimenting.  Lots of cutting glass, applying chemicals, applying more chemicals, changing techniques, and I quite like what I’ve made now.  Here it is!IMG_4902 My phone is pretty abysmal and ancient, so photos are not great, but I’m pleased with how the lantern came out.  It’s a bit hard to see the reflective nature of the floral pattern on the glass in the photos, I’ll take others somewhere down the line.  I’m looking forward to playing with the techniques more to create more pieces.  Yay for being in a creative period!


The Power of Purple

Some time ago, I asked my friends, what color jewelry could you use more of in your jewelry box?  Almost all of the responses were “purple!”  And rightly so, because purple’s a great color.  So I’ve made a terrarium necklace that’s all about it, and just listed it today, on Etsy!  Check it out, here.

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!


Dara (Hieropice)

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


Celebrating Spring!

Lost World Mini Terrarium NecklaceToday was the first day of Spring!

I live in New England.  Usually, around this time of year, it’s an average of 40 – 50 degrees out, and we have the occasionally April snowstorm.  For whatever reason (ahem..climate change..ahem) it’s been in the 60s-70s here for the past week, and who knows how long it’ll last!  Our first day of Spring was warm and sunny, and I was inspired!

Crocuses and snowdrops are peeking out everywhere, and the sparks are life are refreshing, after months of grey-brown landscape.  So I thought it’d be wonderful to create a version of our Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces that would celebrate Spring; contain the elements of Spring that the wearer could keep with them regardless of the weather outside.Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklace  So I created a few tiny versions of the blooms I’m starting to scope in nooks and crannies around town, and set them in miniature verdant, mossy landscapes with little green sprouts.  Several different styles are available, with mini daffodils, crocuses, tulips and periwinkle, in heartdrop, bulb, cognac and teardrop -shaped vials.  I’m excited about these new creations, and hope you all enjoy them!  I have to say, for all we know, it could be snowing here next week, so at least I’ll have a miniature, encapsulated version of the most florid season to enjoy!   If we have to revert back to snowboots and down coats, I may pretend I’m living inside one of the Lost World Mini Terrariums, enjoying the sun and smelling the flowers… Instead of, you know, shoveling my car out of a snowdrift!  Happy Spring!Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklace

How’s It Done?

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!

Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces

terrarium necklace by HieropiceJoy!  We’re so excited to introduce our brand new Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces!  We love everything terrarium.  Moss.  Plants of all shapes and sizes. Mushrooms.  And they look super-cool in jewelry form!

You should own one.   And wear it to work.  When things get dull you can stare into the terrarium pendant and imagine yourself amidst the elves and fairies of the forest.  Wouldn’t you rather be there, anyway?terrarium necklace

  The pendant comes in all kinds of wonderful, colorful variations, and you get to add the elements of whimsy of your choice.  Buy one here.

Hieropice on WordPress!

Hieropice is now blogging on WordPress. Yay!  We’ll make sure all our cool, new, stuff makes it on here as soon as it’s listed (maybe even before!).

Beyond all the cool, international jewelry we hand-make at Hieropice, we have a great love of terrariums.  Little, mini ecosystems, incased in glass, that go on your coffee table, in your window, on your desk at work..  What’s not to love?  Add to that the minimal maintenance and we’re sold.  So we were thinking, how cool would it be to make terrariums into jewelry?  But then, we’re not likely to take a mini watering can to our necklaces or earrings, or bust out the mini pruning shears to do some light trimming on a pendant, so we needed to create pieces that are maintenance-free…  Think we found a solution? You bet we did!  Introducing, Lost World Terrarium Necklaces, by Hieropice.terrarium necklace

We’ll be posting a link to Etsy, where you can buy your very own Lost World necklace.  They’re limited edition, so once they sell out, that’s all she wrote!