Light Bulb Terrariums

So this past weekend I had a potty emergency and stopped at a gas station off of the highway.  While in the bathroom, I happened to notice that there were a lot of burnt-out lightbulbs above the vanity.  They were the big round kind (giggity) and I instantly recalled a DIY terrarium idea I’d been wanting to try.  So I’m sure I only looked *slightly* insane standing on the countertop in a Thornton’s bathroom removing dead lightbulbs at almost midnight.  Slightly.

Anyway!  Apartment Therapy and Hipster Home both have great tutorials on how to make your own recycled lightbulb terrarium.  I would recommend reading both sets of instructions before you attempt to make one, because they contain different tips and tricks.

I had a lot of fun making these yesterday, but it was also a lot of work!  After creating eight light bulb terrariums, here’s a few tips I’d add to the two aforementioned tutorials:

  • Michael’s has a section of “floral decorating accessories” that is a vast selection of basically everything you need for this project.  Skip The Home Depot and Hobby Lobby and just go here.
  • Contrary to what the Hipster Home says, I could not find air plants (tillandsia) anywhere in stores.  I ordered mine from  Their site is straight out of 1997, but I was completely satisfied with their service.
  • I like dark brown sand better than light brown sand, looks more like soil.  I think the blonde sand looks too beach-y.
  • Get the variety pack of preserved moss, it gives you more options while only buying one bag.  You don’t need a whole lot of materials for terrariums.  Seriously.
  • When breaking the dark glass at the base of the bulb, use gloves with thick rubber padding.  Tiny glass shards can sneak through the pores in fibrous gloves, even if they’re super thick.  It’s like rubbing yourself against fiberglass insulation while only wearing a sweatshirt.  Uhh, yeah.
  • Additionally, because of the abundant glass-shard-dust that will be everywhere during the base-breaking process, you should wear a face mask and goggles at all times, and DO THIS PART OUTSIDE.  Over a box, obviously, so that you’re not leaving broken glass where it could potentially hurt someone.  But after hollowing out several bulb bases in a small indoor space, I realized that glass dust basically goes everywhere, and a well-ventilated outdoor space is probably the safest option for your lungs.
  • USE VERY LITTLE WATER IN YOUR TERRARIUM.  Many terrarium pictures online show a lightbulb with a veritable lake pooled at the bottom.  But if you’re following the tutorials closely, you shouldn’t be using any plants that need a lot of water.  Tillandsia only need a SPRAY or two of H2O per week!  Too much water makes air plants soggy, and your terrarium moldy!  You shouldn’t be able to see standing water in the bulb.
  • Don’t use sand from outside.  Even if you rinse and dry it like Hipster Home says, you still risk introducing tiny life forms and other crap from the outdoors into your terrarium.  It is two dollars for a pound of clean sand from the store.  Come on, kids.
  • And just to reiterate, because two repetitions in two walkthroughs are not enough, DON’T USE SOIL, LIVE MOSS, OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT HOLDS MOISTURE.  You’ll have a big, sloppy, moldy mess in a week.  Sand, pebbles and preserved moss are your best friends!!

Here are some photos of a few of the terrariums I made yesterday:

What a perfect way to end Earth Day weekend, huh?  I felt like I was creating my own little nature microcosms.  So fun!

If you’d like a light bulb terrarium of your own, contact me!  I may start selling these, they were such a blast to make.  :)

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