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Glam Glass

Terrarium DIY

A terrarium can make a light and elegant focal point in a room, while creating the perfect, controlled environment for a plant that enjoys higher levels of humidity. For an exciting alternative, make a lamp stand that doubles as a terrarium – the light will also help the plant to flourish. Follow our easy steps to make these two designs, using Topline’s quality tools.

Shopping List for Your Terrarium

  • 3 mm beveled glass, cut into pieces, according to the shape templates provided opposite, top right.
  • Ask your glass merchant to cut the glass into these shapes:
  • Terrarium: 7 x inverse trapeziums and 7 x isosceles triangles (marked in black on the templates).
  • Lamp stand: 5 x pentagons (equilateral) and 5 x ‘kites’ (marked in red on the templates).
  • 1 roll of 4.8 mm copper foil tape.
  • 1 roll of S8 solder (3.15 gauge), available from craft shops only.
  • 1 bottle of flux.
  • 1 bottle of patina.
  • Can of furniture polish.
  • 1 standard plastic light fitting, a 5 W Energysaver golf ball globe, electrical rip cord and a 3-prong plug (for the lamp stand).

Top Tools

100 W soldering iron, insulation tape, glass cutter, pliers, steel wool, a soft cloth and a small paintbrush.

Glossary of Soldering Terms

  • Tinning – coating the copper foil tape with solder.
  • Tacking – joining two glass components with a dot of solder, to hold them in place before you bead them.
  • Beading – using melted solder to join two pieces of glass, in a continuous strip.
  • Flux – a clear liquid medium that allows the solder to stick to the copper foil.
  • Patina – a tarnish that makes the solder turn black, for a more appealing finish.

Steps

1. You have the design components to make a simple terrarium, plus one that doubles as a lamp stand. To make the lamp stand, first cut off the tip of each ‘kite’ shape, using a steel ruler as a guide for your glass cutter, as shown in the diagram opposite. Then snap off the excess triangles with breaker-grozier pliers (normal pliers should be fine for this tiny job too).

terrarium DIY

2. Fold the sticky copper foil tape evenly around the edges of each piece of glass. This is to create a soldering framework. Remove the backing of the tape as you stick it down. As you return the tape to the point at which you started sticking it, overlap it by just a few millimeters, and cut off the excess. Pinch and burnish (press) the foil firmly to the glass, using your fingers.

3. Once all the pieces are encased in foil, plug in your soldering iron and let it heat up in its stand. Then hold the first piece of glass of the terrarium you have elected to make first, and use the small brush to paint flux over the copper foil, completely covering it.

terrarium DIY

4. Use the heated soldering iron to ‘tin’ (see glossary) the copper foil, coating it sparingly with S8 solder, to a smooth finish. The repeat steps 3 and 4 for each piece of glass. It is important to tin each piece so that it bonds when joined together. Make sure there are no lumps of excess solder on the copper. There should also be no exposed copper – it should be completely covered with the silver-coloured solder. Once all your pieces are ‘tinned’, wash them in warm soapy water to remove excess flux, and dry.

Terrarium DIY soldering