May 13, 2010


The little beauty on the left is my thrifty find of the week. I picked it up at Goodwill for $3 and when I find a a way to make an equally thrifty base I'm going to fill it with mini terracotta pots, terrarium plants, and moss.

Terrariums can be made from just about anything....even light bulbs! The image on the right is a terrarium made out of picture frames from Country Living. I thought it was a fun project for this week since we've been talking about spring and spring colors; and there's no better color to add to a room then some greenery!

You can find the step-by-step instructions for this project below...

Picture Frame Terrarium
Supplies & Tools:
* Picture frames: four 5" x 7", two 8" x 10", and two 11" x 14"
* Drill with a 3/32" bit
* Fine weight sandpaper
* Plywood or plexi glass scraps and a means to cut into triangles
* #6 x ½" wood screws
* Four 2" mending plates
* Two corner brackets
* Two 1” utility hinges
* Paint & brush

Step 1: Remove the backs and glass from eight frames (four 5" x 7", two 8" x 10", and two 11" x 14"). Lightly sand each frame's surface.
Note: You can find used picture frames at any thrift store, yard sale or second hand store for not a lot of money. Since you need specific sizes for this project you may have to shop around a little bit. Make sure they are solid wood with a simple narrow frame. Don’t worry if they match because you’re going to paint them later.

Step 2: Align an 11" x 14" with an 8" x 10" frame as shown. Drill one hole near the top and one near the bottom, through the larger frame and halfway into the smaller; screw together. (The screws you use should correspond with your drill bit. We suggest a 3/32" bit and #6 x ½" wood screws.) Repeat with other 11" x 14" and 8" x 10" frames.

Step 3: Arrange the two L's you've created as shown. Attach them to each other using the same method described in Step 2 to form the terrarium's base.

Step 4: Place two 5" x 7" frames facedown. Align a 2" mending plate at each end of the frames, as shown. Drill pilot holes and secure with screws. Repeat with the two remaining frames.

Step 5: Align the two sets of 5" x 7" frames as shown. Attach a corner bracket inside each end of the eave, using the method described in Step 4.

Step 6: Line the resulting roof up with the base, as shown. Place two 1" utility hinges, spaced evenly apart, over the joint where the pieces meet. Drill holes and screw together.

Step 7: Trace the inside of an eave on paper. Cut out, and trace the resulting triangle onto a piece of ½"-thick plywood. Repeat; then cut the wood.

Step 8: Fit the cut wood into each end of the roof. Attach by pre-drilling holes from the outside of the roof into the triangles and securing with screws.

Step 9: Wearing gloves for safety, smooth wood filler over the terrarium's exterior, filling in the joints and covering the screw holes. Let dry for several hours; then lightly sand.

Step 10: Paint the piece white (or turquoise, or red, or any color you choose!). For a distressed finish, apply a dark furniture polish over the paint after it dries. Let sit for a few minutes; then buff off.

Step 11: Replace the glass from the bottom up. Place hot glue in the corners of each frame, pop the pane in, and run glue around each frame's inside edge.

Place in the terrarium your favorite plants and enjoy! For a list of terrarium appropriate plants suitable for low, moderate or bright light visit The Garden Helper.

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