It is funny how trends come and go and then come around again. When I started learning traditional stained glass techniques (over 30 years ago!) one of the first projects I was given was to make a glass terrarium. Once I’d mastered the basics of cutting glass and copper foiling it, my O-level in Technical Drawing suddenly came into its own, as I used my experience in geometry to work out the angles on patterns for new terrarium shapes and designs.
Back then, coloured glass was very popular so I made a lot of terraria with coloured panels. One of my most popular designs was a small, wall terrarium with random pointy front, that had come about almost by accident as I was using up a pretty piece of glass that had an odd shape.
Over time, the popularity of terrariums waned and my stained glass focus moved to windows and other interiors pieces.
Then a few years ago I was approached by two different interior design companies that wanted me to supply them with terrariums. This time the demand was for simple shapes in clear glass – coloured glass was definitely not what the new market wanted. The fiddly-style finials that graced terrariums 30 years ago were also a thing of the past. Simple shapes – or no finial at all – had become the preference.
One thing that hasn’t changed with terrariums is their versatility. While many in the shops today are not sealed, so no good for real plants, mine are always sealed to allow planting up. That said, not everyone is ‘green-fingered’ and some prefer ‘no maintenance’ options like fake plants, fairy lights, or brightly coloured baubles. Some people just like the geometric shapes and buy them as minimalist sculptures; some go in the opposite direction and create full fairy gardens or miniature worlds.
While terrariums originated with the Victorians to show off their plants, today they can be used to display anything. The only limit is your imagination.
The terrariums shown here have been planted up with white gravel and fake (but very realistic) plants. In fact, when I take them to shows everyone thinks the plants are real. What would you put in yours?