By Jamie Chan and Katy Kristin
We love terrariums! The idea of crafting tiny living landscapes has attracted hobbyists for over 100 years. But we’ll be the first to say that not all of us were born with a green thumb, nor do we want to have the hassle of working with soil, gravel, and live specimens when crafting with kids. We will show you how to make a whimsical and woolly terrarium using vintage German charms, wool felt, and roving. It’s a perfect craft project for kids to do on a rainy fall afternoon. Most of these supplies can be found at a local craft store or online. The tools are easy to collect from around the house. Encourage your kids to pick a few of their favorite small toys and incorporate them into their tiny world! These zero-maintenance terrariums also make great gifts or can add extra charm to your bookshelf or window ledge!
Small glass jar Encourage your kids to recycle and use empty food jars from the pantry. Make sure to thoroughly clean your jar before use.
0.25 oz green rovinglarge enough to cover the bottom circumference of your jar
0.25 oz dark brown or black roving
1 square green wool felt
Size 38 felting needle and optional Clover Needle Felting Tool*
Foam surface We used a corn foam felting pad.
Scissors We used a vintage German gnome and squirrel.
Tube of E-6000 glue or low-temp hot glue gun*
Various plastic charms
Spun cotton and plaster mushrooms of various sizesto thread through the beads
Glass beads and jump rings of appropriate size
*Safety Disclaimer: We believe most children ages 8 and above can use these tools independently. If you have younger crafters, please provide them assistance when using these tools. We recommend adult supervision at all times. Directions
Step 1: Place the bottom of the jar on the felt. Trace the jar bottom onto the wool felt with a ballpoint pen.
Step 2: Cut the circle out of the wool felt with your scissors.
Step 3: Take a strip of the brown roving and begin rolling it into a spiral. Hold it in place. It should look like a woolly cinnamon roll.
Step 4: Place the green wool felt circle on the foam pad, with the pen-marked side up. Place the rolled-up roving onto the wool felt. Take your felting needle and begin needling the edges of the brown felt first. You only need to push the wool through the wool felt. You do not need to push the needle all the way down into the foam pad. Then start to needle the center of the wool spiral. It is helpful to use the Clover Needle Felting Tool if you have one. The retractable sheath is ideal for kids, so they know when to stop applying pressure, and it protects little fingers from getting too close to the needles. Continue to felt the entire surface until it is secure.
Step 5: The finished piece should have tiny wisps of brown sticking out of the back and the front surface should be flat and even, as shown above.
Step 6: Take a strip of green roving (don’t use it all, reserve some for later). Make the same spiral shape as in Step 3 and start to needle the green down at the edges, pulling and punching the wool as you go. Make sure to cover all the wool felt on this side, as it will be visible in your terrarium. On this side, you can make your roving more fluffy and bumpy like grassy hillsides. Set aside finished when done.
Step 7: Now you want to prepare any ornaments. For this project, the gnome will hold “dewdrops” of glass beads. Hold your jump ring with one hand, and use pliers to slightly twist open the ring. String the bead onto the ring. Do this twice — once for each of the gnome’s hands.
Step 8: Slip the beads onto the gnome’s circular hoops. Then place some E6000 glue all over the bottom of the gnome. Put the gnome on your wool hillside and lightly apply pressure to the gnome for about 10 seconds. Do the same for any larger plastic toys, such as our squirrel. If you prefer, you may use hot glue, but we have found that E6000 works best for securing large objects to fiber surfaces.
Step 9: Take some thinner wisps of the green roving and begin building up your terrain by needling little lumps and bumps. We wrapped some of the wool around the base of our gnome and needled it around the edges. This gave the toy a more natural look in its woodland landscape.
Step 10: Prepare your mushrooms by cutting off the stems, leaving 1/8″. Take your glue gun or E-6000, apply some glue to the bottom of the mushroom, and stick it onto the green wool grass.
Step 11: Place the entire scene in to your jar and voila! You have a fun, customized, everlasting terrarium! Keep it on the shelf with some other woodland friends. No watering needed.
Jamie and Katy are giving away a free Everlasting Woodland Terrarium kit on the Urban Fauna Studio blog! Visit the site for your chance to win. If you’re in Bay Area consider taking the Terrarium Class at Urban Fauna Studio, which provides all the materials and instruction to make one of 4 different styles of Everlasting Woodland Terrariums!
About the Authors:
Jamie Chan has a black thumb when it comes to plants and prefers to craft her gardens with colorful wool instead. She co-owns Urban Fauna Studio (San Francisco’s only green certified fiber art workshop and supply store) and co-produces the popular indie craft festival Bazaar Bizarre San Francisco.
Katy Kristin lives at the coast near San Francisco, and her hero is Pippi Longstocking. Even though she collects too much stuff for her own good, she is inspired to create more stuff: whimsical dolls and plushies, art, jewelry, clothes, and more. Someday Katy hopes to live in a treehouse, a BIG treehouse. Visit her at www.katykristin.com.