Introduction: Stained Glass Terrarium: a Weekend Project

About: I like to make things more simple with easily available resources. My favorite quote: A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a…

Browsing through an old book, I came across a 'Stained Glass Terrarium' and thought that I could make this as a weekend project. The Terrarium presented in the book was made of many pieces of glass, edges wrapped with copper foil and then soldered together. I planned to use adhesive to join all the pieces instead of soldered copper foil.

This instructable will take you through the steps involved in making your own Stained Glass Terrarium.

Step 1: Back to Basics

Before starting the actual project, I wanted to finalize the dimensions of each piece required and to make templates for marking on the glass. So, it is back to basics with the drawing board.

Starting with the base, I have divided the entire terrarium into four section:

  • Bottom section: will be of 5 mm thick mirrored glass, so that the potting mix will not be visible from outside. This section will consist of Piece "A" one number cut into octagonal shape. The dimensions will be 60 mm for all the octagonal sides with 80 mm radius. Piece "B" will be of trapezoidal shape with top 80 mm, bottom 60 mm and height 60 mm. 8 numbers of this shape are required in 5 mm mirrored glass.
  • Middle Section: The Body, (Piece "C") will consist 8 numbers of rectangular shaped 2 mm thick transparent glass. The dimensions are 120 mm x 80 mm.
  • Neck Section: The neck section will have two shapes - 8 numbers of shape and dimensions same as Piece "B" but the glass will be of 2 mm thick transparent. 8 numbers of Piece "D" in 2 mm transparent glass, rectangular in shape with dimensions 60 mm x 20 mm.
  • Top Section: Top section will be of two shapes - again Piece "D" 8 numbers, dimensions and shape same. Piece "E" will be of triangular shape. 8 numbers of these pieces are required in 2 mm transparent glass, The dimensions are 60 mm base and 120 mm height.

I have drawn all the pieces required, cut them to size and made a cardboard model of the terrarium. Based on this model I have made templates to be used for marking on the glass before cutting. I have also marked the dimensions and number of pieces required on the layout so that anybody can make this easily.

Step 2: Tools and Materials Required

Tools and accessories:

  • A steel ruler
  • Crafting knife
  • A tool for applying oil. Here I have wrapped a small piece of cloth over one end of an old pen.
  • Glass Cutter
  • Glass Marker
  • Tweezers (for planting in the terrarium)
  • Pliers
  • Sanding stone
  • Little amount of kerosene oil to be applied over glass before cutting


  • A roll of Duct tape
  • Araldite Epoxy adhesive
  • Fevicol Easyflow Adhesive
  • Gorilla Super glue.


  • 5 mm thick mirrored glass about 1-1/2 square foot
  • 2 mm thick transparent glass about 3 square feet

Step 3: Marking and Cutting the Glass

Using the templates, mark everything on the glass using Glass Marker Pen. For cutting the glass apply any thin oil, like kerosene, over the marked line. Then using a steel ruler or wooden ruler score over the line with the glass cutter and cut all the shapes marked on the glass. It is advisable to have one or two pieces extra in case of any breakage or misshape during cutting. Any sharp glass piece left over the cut line can be removed with pliers. Sharp edges can be sanded using a sanding stone or sand paper.

This is the first time I tried my hands on cutting glass and spoiled about a square foot of 2 mm glass in the process. Further,  I could not cut the 5 mm thick mirrored glass properly and got some professional help for this. If you do not have any experience or tools, you can opt for professional help in cutting the glass.

During cutting, you may have many smaller pieces of glass, which can be reused. Store them separately for future use. Dispose off broken glass pieces safely.

Step 4: Assembling: the Top Section

I have started with assembling the top section first. here all the required pieces for the top section were laid out on the work surface and glued together with duct tape. Then the glued section was lifted, folded and brought in to shape. using a template as a guide. Once you are satisfied that everything is in order, you can apply little amount of any instant glue at exposed portions (portions without the duct tape) to keep them in shape.

Then mix small quantities of resin and hardener of Araldite epoxy adhesive in a small container. Remove duct tape from any joint and apply the epoxy adhesive using a tooth-pick or a match stick. Continue to apply the adhesive on all joints uniformly.  Keep this section separately for curing. Araldite epoxy adhesive makes the joints very strong and water proof. It is very difficult to undo after the adhesive has cured. So, apply only when you are fully satisfied with the assembly.

Gorilla Superglue is very good in bonding glass instantly, but I have applied excess glue which spread over the entire surface of the glass and made them cloudy. I had to use some cleaning agent to clean out the assembled section latter. May be I should be more careful working with glass.

Step 5: Assembling the Neck Section

Use the same method as above for assembling the neck section also. Apply the Araldite epoxy adhesive mix to all joints when you are satisfied with the final assembly. Keep this section separately for curing.

Step 6: Assembling: the Middle Section

Use the same method for assembling the middle section also as did with the neck portion. However, here I have glued the glass pieces with Fevicol Easy Flow. The joints made with Fevicol Easy Flow are somewhat flexible and the shape can be adjusted latter on during final assembly.

Step 7: The Bottom Section

The bottom section is of 5 mm thick mirrored glass. While assembling, keep the darker side out. After gluing the trapezoidal shaped pieces, you can glue down the bottom piece and leave the section for curing.

Step 8: Final Assembly

As all the sections are glued together and ready, we can start final assembly of the entire terrarium.

  • Clean the work area and place bottom section on a card board.
  • Place the middle section over the bottom section and temporarily join these two pieces with duct tape.
  • Then apply Araldite Epoxy adhesive mix over all the joints by removing duct tape one by one.
  • Place the neck portion over the middle section and glue the joints with Araldite Epoxy adhesive.

Now the terrarium is ready.

Step 9:

Remove duct tape from all joints and apply Araldite epoxy adhesive. Clean the entire assembly with some cleaning agent. Place the Top section. The Terrarium is ready for planting.

Step 10: Filling With Potting Mix

I have prepared the potting mix with equal amounts of garden soil, sand and composted goat's manure. Remove top section and fill the potting mix at the bottom up to the top level of the bottom section.

Step 11: Selection of Plants

Here I have selected few Purple heart plant (Tradescantia pallida), Oyster Plant (Tradescantia spathacea), succulents like Echeveria and a dwarf variety of cactus.

Step 12: Plant the Terrarium

Using a tweezers or with your hands, you can place each and every plant individually inside the terrarium and press their root zone down into the potting soil. Avoid the temptation of over-planting the terrarium. The plants inside need space to grow. Sprinkle some water with your hands and close the terrarium with the top section.

Step 13: Conclusion

You can keep your terrarium indoors or outdoors in a shaded area. Do not place the terrarium in direct sun light. The terrarium does not require frequent watering. You can sprinkle little amount of water whenever the plants seems to be in need of water. The top section needs to be opened from time to time. So, use some duct tape or transparent tape to hold down the top section with the rest of the terrarium.

Some safety notes:

While cutting glass pieces, there are chances of fragmented glass pieces flying away at great speed. Always wear safety goggles while working with glass. Use of hand gloves is recommended but I found them very uncomfortable while working with glass. However, take care not to cut yourself with glass.

Happy Terrarium...!!! 

I Could Make That Contest

Runner Up in the
I Could Make That Contest

Weekend Projects Contest

Participated in the
Weekend Projects Contest