As I’ve mentioned before in a previous post I had started to play around with Terrariums. Not one to start from the bottom I chose to build one in a lightglobe. Easy?? NO. Challenging?? Definitely!
I saw a video on Facebook showing someone creating a terrarium inside a lightglobe, so I thought “I have to have a go at that”.
So after doing a little research on the subject I set about it. First I had to decide on the globe to use. The video I watched showed a regular globe which I thought would be a little small for what I had in mind. So off to Bunning’s(hardware) to browse the range of lightglobes in stock. There is a huge variety of globes available so choice is not a problem. The globe I chose is based on a classic style of globe and is larger than your standard sized globe.
Now to get it apart. I had to watch a lot of videos and do a lot of surfing on Google to find info on getting my globe apart. There’s a few videos showing how to take the filament out but I wanted to go one step further by removing the screw base. There is a lot of different names for that part of the globe but screw base sounds pretty good, right? The limited information on removing the screw base involved some nasty sounding chemicals so I had to find my own way to remove it. First, removing the filament requires removing the solder spot on the base which is easily done with a pair of side-cutters and you can use the side-cutters to break the black glass in the base…..carefully. Once you’ve removed all the black glass you can insert a screwdriver into the globe and with a little twist, break the filament inside. You should hear a little pop when it breaks. NOW…..before I go any further, safety is paramount. When you try something like this I recommend thick gloves for handling the globe, just in case. The glass is not that thick and we don’t need any trips to the hospital now, do we?? Also safety glasses are a must. As you are breaking glass there will be fine fragments of glass coming out of the globe. It’s common sense really.
Anyhow. The filament in my globe was larger than the hole left by the broken black glass which meant it had to stay in there until I got the base off. I found an old Kimchi glass jar and filled it with paint thinners. A baby food jar would work just as well. I sat the base of the globe in the jar of thinners for a couple of days to try and soften the glue so I could remove the base. A couple of days had little effect on the glue so I left it for just over a week. Thinners won’t touch the glue! Time to think of something else. I ended up buying a bottle of nail polish remover to try. It’s something all model builder should keep on hand for removing super glue. The nail polish remover MUST be Acetone based or it won’t work. It’s the Acetone that does all the work. After a couple of day of the globe sitting in the nail polish remover I noticed the glue was starting to soften up. I used a little jewellers screwdriver to dig out some of the softened glue and then sat the globe back in the jar. After a week of soaking and the occasional scraping of the softened glue it worked! Whoo hoo!
My globe had a manufacturer’s logo which I wanted to remove. Easy done with a little thinners on a rag. After a thorough rinsing and drying I was ready to start my build. Stick on feet available from most hardware stores will keep your globe steady and the beauty is you can have the globe on any angle you like. Sticking those feet on should be easy, right? Not so lol. It took quite a while to position them just right so I had the angle I wanted without it rocking about. Having done that it was time to put in my ingredients. First I started with a few small stones in the bottom to aid in drainage, then I used a little potting mix adding enough that I was happy with the level. The plant I used is a miniature African Violet and I also added some moss that I found in the garden. Inserting the plant roots first is the safest way as to not destroy the plant. How do you plant it in the soil? I had to make a variety of little tools to help me with this. Disposable chopsticks work well as well as numerous tools made from heavy cardboard for digging a hole and raking the soil. After gently planting my African Violet I inserted the moss in a couple of different spots, getting the position just right. I’ve got some crushed rock/pebbles down the side of he house so I took a couple of scoops into an old icecream container and washed it thoroughly. It took a while to work out how to get the gravel into my globe without disturbing everything inside too much so in the end I grabbed a small funnel and placed a bit of old heatshrink tube over the end and carefully, spoonful by spoonful got my gravel inside. Once done I used my tools to rake and pack down my gravel around the plant and moss. A few small white pebbles finished off the planting.
Not content with just plants I wanted to add something else to liven it up a little. I made up a little signpost out of “Plastruct” sheet and tube plastic. Plastruct plastic is a scratchbuilding material available in most good hobby stores and comes in a huge range of sheet, tube and other assorted shapes of plastic. Varying thickness’s and sizes of plastic available and very easy to work with makes it popular with model builders. Once I constructed my little signpost I gave it a coat of paint and wrote on it using a thin paint marker before gently wrangling it inside my globe. Long tweezers made it easier to place it where I wanted it and to push it into the soil. Following that I made myself a little picket fence using the sheet plastic again, painting it bright yellow so it stood out inside my globe. There is miniature figurines and fences available online on sites like Ebay or Aliexpress by the dozen but I wanted to do it myself, a sense of achievement I suppose lol.
Once that was all done I was able to glue the base back onto the globe and I made up a little plug out of and old branch. I didn’t paint or stain the plug as I wanted that old rustic look. Also I haven’t glued the plug into the globe as i wanted to be able to remove it if I wanted to, to let it breathe occasionally or to add some extra water. I wanted it to be self sustaining if possible but I keep an eye it just in case. I wasn’t sure weather the African Violet would enjoy it in the globe but to date, it’s loving it and when it flowers again it should look awesome!
This was a project that took some months to complete in my spare time so while it was at a stage where I couldn’t do anything I had a go at another, much simpler terrarium. I’ve got a little bit of a bug for this Terrarium thing now and I’m already planning my next one using an old fish tank that’s sitting in the garage. A bigger project that’ll involve some modified railroad lighting(think railroad lighting mixed with a solar panel similar to your garden lights that switch on at night).
All in all I’m very happy with the results, especially for a first timer like me hehe. Don’t be frightened to do something like this. With a little ingenuity, time and a LOT of patience you can do it.
Till next time….