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Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds Paperback – May 11, 2011
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“Terrariums are back, but in much more stylish forms than their aquarium-type predecessors.” —Akron Beacon Journal
“This how-to book is delightful [and] inspirational.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Beautiful photographs, creative designs and thorough instructions.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Provide[s] examples of how to turn a common houseplant into a striking showpiece.” —Washington Gardener
“Terrarium Craft earned our admiration not only because of the elegance of design by Aiello and photos by Kate Baldwin, but also for the clarity brought to step-by-step instructions…a bevy of beautiful designs. The trouble will be choosing just one. The solution: Do several.” —The Oregonian
“Original and fun [with] tons of “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas.” —Fresh Home
“Simple growing tips and chic design know-how in an easy-to-follow, lovely-to-read format. Creating your own terrarium will definitely be next on your crafty to-do list.” —Dwell Magazine
“Stunning projects.” —West Coast Crafty
“Spark[s] your creativity and inspire[s] you to make your own magical little glass world.” —SharingNaturesGarden.com
“Terrarium projects perfect for next fall/winter when I can’t get outside to play in the garden!” —Danger Garden Blog
From the Back Cover
Making a terrarium is shockingly easy. For starters, you’ll learn how to choose the right container, soil, plants, and decorative objects, and how to keep your terrarium looking its best. Need inspiration? Just turn to the 50 easy-to-follow, step-by-step terrarium projects. You’ll find lush rainforests, windswept seascapes, sun-drenched deserts, and wildly inventive fantasy scenes—all on a scale to grace your table top or windowsill.
Terrarium Craft gives you the practical advice and imaginative ideas you need to fashion your own miniature masterpiece.
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After having faithfully read through the entire thing, I have...mixed feelings about this book. Where do I start? Well, let's start with the good stuff. I did, indeed, find that the author's works were very creative and artistically done, and this has inspired me to up my game, so to speak, in my own terrarium designs (which, frankly, have been rather plain and traditional). Also, I do appreciate the fact that many of these terrariums would be relatively easy to care for (at least until they died, but more on that later). I also like the fact that she has ideas for "faux" terrariums (which contain pretty, but non-living items) for anyone who wants the look of a terrarium without the maintenance. Lastly, I like the way that every one of her projects has a detailed list of items used and instructions on assembly, because even if you don't fancy that particular design, if one of the items caught your eye and you wondered what it was, now you can know.
Now, with the good stuff out of the way, I have to talk about the problems with this book. First off, very few of the items included here are actually terrariums in the true sense (i.e. with a closed top). I'm no fussy traditionalist who demands that only closed terrariums be called terrariums as I recognize that the modern craft has expanded to include open terrariums and even dish gardens in their definition, and I'm fine with that. My problem is that the author doesn't actually seem to know much about terrariums, and thus has included very few of any "real" terrariums in addition to these non-traditional ones. This can be evidenced in her plant choices, which lean heavily in favor of succulents, air plants and mosses/lichens. There are very few references to any other plants, and only one fern terrarium (the other fern is technically in a vase) in the whole book, which is madness because ferns are pretty much a staple of terrariums! Outside of the rare peperomia/carnivorous plant, she sticks to succulents, mosses, and airplants, which I suspect is because these are plants that look good for a long time before they finally die. I say that because many of these so-called terrariums are not well-designed for the plants they contain. For example, succulents really hate humid conditions and the lack of drainage like those found in terrariums. Her solution is to just water them sparsely, but honestly, this really isn't the ideal conditions for succulents, and I suspect that they will die eventually. Then again, the author frequently makes statements about how lovely moss looks when it's all dried out, so I get the impression that actually keeping these plants alive isn't her first priority. She doesn't even have very many plants actually planted in soil as she tends to rely overmuch on planting things in sand – once again, because there are barely any plants in the book outside of succulents, airplants, and mosses. Additionally, she recommends fertilizing everything, which is really counterproductive in a terrarium since your goal is to keep plants small – not to mention, fertilizer salts can build up over time in a closed system and poison plants. In addition, one of her designs ("The Tor") features Selenite crystals – one of the few types of crystals that actually DISSOLVE in water! Plus, it's paired with moss and she recommends regularly misting it. Yeah...that's some bad planning on her part. If you do attempt to recreate that design, just try to pick up some quartz crystal or some other white crystal instead. Either way, I think I've said enough – there are a lot of problems with this book.
However, after having said all that, I still can't be too upset with this book. If you already know enough about terrariums to know what is wrong in this book, then the creative designs can be useful for inspirational/artistic purposes. It could also be useful for anyone who wants to treat terrarium-making as a simple, transient art form – if you don't mind that your succulents will die eventually, then you could enjoy some of these designs for awhile (that's certainly a valid way to enjoy terrariums – especially if you like changing up your 'scenery' frequently). I wouldn't recommend this book for the beginner though, because a beginner might not recognize all the flaws contained herein and be able to make an informed decision about what they want/don't want to do with their terrariums. Still, I've found some usefulness in this book (at least from an artistic standpoint), and have been inspired to make some more creative terrariums of my own, using actual terrarium plants, and thus I will keep this book on my shelf for reference. Plus, all in all, this book still provides some lovely eye candy and would make a great coffee table book!