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Glass Jar Terrariums

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Terrariums have once again taken off--just like Indie Mart founder Kelly Malone's San Francisco craft space Workshop. Malone opened Workshop in September 2009 and has since been selling out classes on screen printing, sewing, cake decorating, mixology, and more. My colleague Jordan Kushins and I were bitten by the terrarium bug a few months ago, so we signed up for Malone's glass jar terrarium class with our colleague Dakota Keck and our friend Tara.   

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  Terrariums, which have recently regained popularity, are quick to put together and addictive once you've done so. (Jordan, Dakota, Tara, and I all walked into the class with dreams of terrariums filling our home and left with plans and dates to go purchased plants.) Fortunately, since these glass-jar landscapes are rather small and the quantities in which their ingredients come in are quite large, once you have your supplies in hand, the possibilities are endless--especially since you can easily appropriate wine glasses into terrariums, too, if you run low on containers.
    Terrariums, which have recently regained popularity, are quick to put together and addictive once you've done so. (Jordan, Dakota, Tara, and I all walked into the class with dreams of terrariums filling our home and left with plans and dates to go purchased plants.) Fortunately, since these glass-jar landscapes are rather small and the quantities in which their ingredients come in are quite large, once you have your supplies in hand, the possibilities are endless--especially since you can easily appropriate wine glasses into terrariums, too, if you run low on containers.
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  Despite its inconspicuous exterior at the corner of McAllister and Baker streets in San Francisco, Workshop is a playground inside for crafters and DIY-ers. In addition to the glass jar terrarium classes, Malone offers sessions in screen printing, sewing, cake decorating, mixology, and more.
    Despite its inconspicuous exterior at the corner of McAllister and Baker streets in San Francisco, Workshop is a playground inside for crafters and DIY-ers. In addition to the glass jar terrarium classes, Malone offers sessions in screen printing, sewing, cake decorating, mixology, and more.
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  Shortly after 7 pm on Thursday, Malone, in an apron and cowboy boots with a flower stuck behind one ear, kicked off the class. Our first step: Pick a glass container then wipe down the inside to avoid terrarium contamination.
    Shortly after 7 pm on Thursday, Malone, in an apron and cowboy boots with a flower stuck behind one ear, kicked off the class. Our first step: Pick a glass container then wipe down the inside to avoid terrarium contamination.
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  Next, building the base. The bottom of a terrarium should be filled three components: rocks, charcoal and soil. An inch or two of small pebbles create a space for drainage, a light layer of charcoal helps keep the smell of the terrarium at bay, and the topping of soil lets the plants live strong. Here, Malone adds rocks to her sample terrarium.
    Next, building the base. The bottom of a terrarium should be filled three components: rocks, charcoal and soil. An inch or two of small pebbles create a space for drainage, a light layer of charcoal helps keep the smell of the terrarium at bay, and the topping of soil lets the plants live strong. Here, Malone adds rocks to her sample terrarium.
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  The amount of charcoal you add varies depending on the type of glass jar you use. I opted for a wide-mouth container so added a light sprinkling of charcoal. If you have a small-mouth or sealed jar, you want to add more.
    The amount of charcoal you add varies depending on the type of glass jar you use. I opted for a wide-mouth container so added a light sprinkling of charcoal. If you have a small-mouth or sealed jar, you want to add more.
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  If your container is wide and shallow, like mine, you can add a layer of dry moss between the rocks and the charcoal and soil to keep the water from draining into the base too quickly and drying out the roots. We used the moss again later to cover the exposed soil after we planted our succulents.
    If your container is wide and shallow, like mine, you can add a layer of dry moss between the rocks and the charcoal and soil to keep the water from draining into the base too quickly and drying out the roots. We used the moss again later to cover the exposed soil after we planted our succulents.
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  After the rocks, moss (if needed), and charcoal are added, the layers are topped with soil. The base for an enclosed jar should fill one-quarter to one-third of the container.
    After the rocks, moss (if needed), and charcoal are added, the layers are topped with soil. The base for an enclosed jar should fill one-quarter to one-third of the container.
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  Once the base layer is completed, it's time for the plants. "What makes terrariums fun is mixing and matching different textures," Malone says. At our class she had a table full of succulents, sedums, and ground coverings for our use. Malone's favorite plant: a leafy green called babies' tears.
    Once the base layer is completed, it's time for the plants. "What makes terrariums fun is mixing and matching different textures," Malone says. At our class she had a table full of succulents, sedums, and ground coverings for our use. Malone's favorite plant: a leafy green called babies' tears.
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  Malone suggests choosing a variety of plants with which to fill a terrarium. She starts with a centerpiece, often a tall succulent, and complements it with smaller plants of different colors and textures.
    Malone suggests choosing a variety of plants with which to fill a terrarium. She starts with a centerpiece, often a tall succulent, and complements it with smaller plants of different colors and textures.
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  Once you pick a plant, remove the excess soil from around the roots and squeeze what's remaining in the palm of your hand to create a new, smaller root ball. Then, with the aid of a pencil, create a small hole in the soil with a pencil and plant the root ball.
    Once you pick a plant, remove the excess soil from around the roots and squeeze what's remaining in the palm of your hand to create a new, smaller root ball. Then, with the aid of a pencil, create a small hole in the soil with a pencil and plant the root ball.
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  Many plants can be easily split, which is often necessary as a terrarium does not require very large plants and you want to leave room for the ones you chose to grow. Here is my terrarium with two plants planted.
    Many plants can be easily split, which is often necessary as a terrarium does not require very large plants and you want to leave room for the ones you chose to grow. Here is my terrarium with two plants planted.
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  "The addiction of terrariums is in how you arrange the plants and add the little toppers," Malone says. Tara chose a deer and two doves for her terrariums, though as you'll see, added a few more friends before she finished her pieces.
    "The addiction of terrariums is in how you arrange the plants and add the little toppers," Malone says. Tara chose a deer and two doves for her terrariums, though as you'll see, added a few more friends before she finished her pieces.
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  By the time the clock hit 8:30 pm, we had learned how to make a terrarium and completed some ourselves. Here are my two creations. Since the terrariums I planted are very open to the air, I will need to water them about twice a week with a water bottle set to a mist spray.
    By the time the clock hit 8:30 pm, we had learned how to make a terrarium and completed some ourselves. Here are my two creations. Since the terrariums I planted are very open to the air, I will need to water them about twice a week with a water bottle set to a mist spray.
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  Jordan outfitted her jar with a gnome and a glass bottle filled with a fortune-cookie message.
    Jordan outfitted her jar with a gnome and a glass bottle filled with a fortune-cookie message.
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  Tara's terrariums are more enclosed so will require watering once a week. Sealed jars only need to be opened and watered once a month and are the simplest to maintain.
    Tara's terrariums are more enclosed so will require watering once a week. Sealed jars only need to be opened and watered once a month and are the simplest to maintain.
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  Dakota filled her glass jars with arrangements of succulents and a bear figurine, gnome, and dice among other toppers. The best place to keep terrariums is in indirect sunlight, though artificial light will do, too. To learn more, visit workshopsf.org.
    Dakota filled her glass jars with arrangements of succulents and a bear figurine, gnome, and dice among other toppers. The best place to keep terrariums is in indirect sunlight, though artificial light will do, too. To learn more, visit workshopsf.org.

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