Youthful Terrarium Quest
My first experience with terrariums was back in college in Columbus Ohio, during the seventies. It was summer break and a gaggle of students were hunting for ways to earn extra money without resorting to fast food work and those funny hats they used to make you wear. I don’t remember all of the details on how I became involved with this bunch but I do remember them walking by my porch and admiring the stained glass panel that sat above the front door of my student rental. The obvious leader of this gaggle, a pretty female Brazilian student, asked me if I would be interested in building terrariums for fun and profit (this is a true story, I swear!) and I was definitely game.
Our first plan was to find really cool terrarium worthy glass containers. We visited several second hand stores and a flea market and “scored” five or six pretty neat containers. We also picked the trash of several local fast food establishments including BBF, a horrible yucky hamburger franchise owned by Borden. The trash bins yielded some of those one gallon glass jars that pickles and peppers come in. Our best terrarium containers came from Lancaster, Ohio. Lancaster was about an hour drive south for us.
At that time Lancaster was known for glass, the largest company there being Anchor Hocking Glass Company. As is many times the case, smaller custom glass shops had sprung up in this small town. We checked the trash of several smaller glass companies but we hit pay dirt when we were caught and the workers invited inside and scrounged up some rejected glass vessels worthy of being a terrarium. Some of these had too many bubbles or just didn’t conform to the custom size they were trying to achieve.
Glass guys often use a percentage of old glass mixed in with the new materials to help form a good consistency and they were happy to see someone make better use of their trash. They were also very interested in the glass terrarium concept. Of course our Brazilian really knew how to smile.
Our next order of business was to find terrarium plants. We traveled to Hocking Hills, a beautiful area in the Logan, Ohio area that is filled with gorges and damp quiet areas. We dug up moss and interesting looking small plants. We also collected rich earth, awesome small rocks and pebbles plus chunks of rotted wood and debris. If you have the opportunity, Hocking Hills is a must see.
We built the terrariums back on my porch. Some of the terrariums came out looking great. Even the one gallon pickle jar terrariums were looking good. Over the week that we worked on this project, our merry band dwindled down to just a few of us. We had no clue where to sell our terrarium creations so we split them up among us. Turns out that the pretty Brazilian had a big boyfriend show up to help here tote her share of the booty home.
Oh well, who would have thought that years later we would be in the terrarium business?