ISSUE 9  |  High/Low Design

Tiny, Perfect Worlds

February 29, 2012 7:30 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

The appeal of a terrarium is obvious: it's a tiny, perfect world that is totally under your control. No one has kicked off smelly sneakers and left them by the door for you to trip over.

I believe this is why I love almost any terrarium and have even gone to extraordinary lengths (once I bought special tweezers and a bag of miniature rocks) to make my own. But my imagination is nowhere near as vivid as Paula Hayes'; to gaze through the glass at one of her amazing miniature landscapes is to see a place where one most certainly would want to live after drinking "Shrink Me" potion.

Above: Some day, when I am wealthy, I will have a Hayes terrarium in every room. Prices range from $4,000 to $26,000 for what the New York Times describes as "fantastical herbaceous art pieces." The delicate, hand-blown glass spheres are available through the Paula Hayes studio and require devotion: purchasers sign a "Living Artwork" agreement, promising to "maintain the life of the artwork." There is a less labor-intensive way to enjoy them, as well; next month, Hayes will publish a monograph on her work. Photograph by Eva Heyd.

Above: Made from recycled glass, each Roost Recycled Glass Bubble Terrarium is free-blown without a mold, creating giant glass bubbles that are then flattened and curved into shape. Prices start at $150 for a small (9 inches high) and go up to $215 for the extra large size (19.25 inches high); plants are not included (we'd fill them with miniature plants from the Violet Barn).

Above: Add a layer of Stones to evoke the forest, or the sea, available for $8 to $10 from Terrain.

Above: Tools that enable one to achieve a surgical precision when placing delicate plants and small objects inside the terrarium include Long-Armed Tweezers ($12), narrow-bladed Okubo Shears ($38), and a double-sided Terrarium Rake ($18), all from Terrain.