Geometric Crystal Terrarium Out of CD Cases





Introduction: Geometric Crystal Terrarium Out of CD Cases

In this instructable I'll show you how we made a geometric crystal terrarium using some CD cases, hot glue and some self adhesive copper foil. We used it for cactuses and it looks pretty cool. We also made a video with the whole process.

Step 1: Shaping the Terrarium in SketchUp

This particular design was inspired by a Pinterest terrarium photo. I made the shape in SketchUp and then exported each face in a vector format. For the SketchUp file I drew 3 octagons with different sizes at different heights. You can't make this shape using push/pull. Then I connected the corners. That automatically drew the faces. Then made a flat rectangle surface and used it to make three cuts at the top of the shape at different angles to make the tip. Now about exporting the faces. I drew three lines one on each axis starting in zero so I had a corner. Then I took each face and placed it in zero, then rotate it using rotation tool and the three lines (the corner I drew earlyer) untill it was flat on the ground. You must do this with all the faces, not only the top angles. You will get errors if not. Use paralel projection and standard views so you can rotate it acurately. Then, again using paralel projection and Top View I exported each face in a vector format, eps I think (I have the 60 days trial on the new SketchUp so I can export vectors). There are some addons for exporting but not sure if they are free. If you can't export it you can make it black and the background white and use print screen, then paste in Corel and trace it. It's pretty accurate when you only have two colors. Then using Corel I arranged them in four rectangles (CD cases dimensions) and placed them on two A4 sheets so I don't mess the dimensions when printing. I made another layout of all the pieces in another A4 sheet that would serve as guide when gluing the pieces together. I uploaded a zip file with all the patterns, jpeg and dxf vector format for those of you that use laser cutter.

Step 2: Cutting the Pieces

All you need for this geometric crystal terrarium is a hot glue gun, a cutter, clippers, two CD cases and some self adhesive copper foil.

Start by chopping off the tall edges of your cd cases so you're left with four transparent flat surfaces. Print the patterns A and B you found at Step 1 and glue the four transparent pieces on top of the patterns. Don't use too much glue because you'll need to separate them later. Start cutting the cases using a cutter and a ruler. You'll need to go several times over each cut until you can be sure it will break in the right place (trust me, I used more then two CD cases for this project)

Step 3: Glue Everything Together

For this step you will need the A4 sheet that contains all the patterns. For the base of your terrarium you will use the small octagon printed there. You will start by gluing two of the 8 small trapezes and place them on the small octagon pattern so you get the correct angle. When you finish simply glue the small transparent octagon piece on the base. For the upper part you will need to place all the pieces on the A4 sheet before gluing so you make sure they are in the correct position with the right neighboring parts. Then start gluing one by one on top of the big octagon this time. The last three pieces should be very easy to fit in the final shape. Please check the video for further reference on this step

Step 4: Adding the Copper Foil

In this step you will place the copper foil at the joint of every two surfaces. You will also place copper foil on the edge folding it to the inside. I used 6 mm self adhesive copper foil and sliced it in two 3 mm sheets, except the edges where I folded the 6 mm piece.

Step 5: Adding Life

I used a layer of small stones, a layer of soil mixed with sand and a layer of sand. I adjusted the position of my cactuses with each layer so in the end they were perfectly stable. I hope you like the result. If you have any tips regarding aging the copper foil please let me know in the comment section below. Thank you



  • Science of Cooking

    Science of Cooking
  • Pocket-Sized Contest

    Pocket-Sized Contest
  • Microcontroller Contest

    Microcontroller Contest

We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.




This looks amazing! I just have one question on the downloadable files, there is a large format and I was wondering if it can be built bigger with that or do I have to modify it on a program?

Would be possible to upload a pattern of hexagon instead octagon? My Sketchup skills are 0 :( hehe thanks!

No, sorry, that would be another project entirely

Thanks for tutorial and patterns, really nice project.. :)

What is the music in your video? It's driving me nuts. So familiar. Is it Beethoven's 6th symphony 4th movement? Is it from Fantasia?

Great project by the way :)

Thanks! It's William Tell Overture (by Rossini)

Thank you. Great music. Should have known if I went all the way to the end of the video.

This is great! I now seriously regret throwing out all my cd's cases :-(

Thanks. I'll work on something with flash drives and mp3 players :)))