written by:
October 19, 2010

Browsing through the San Francisco shop General Store recently, I noticed some highly covetable, bulbous glass globes filled with tiny succulents: terrariums by the local designer Katie Goldman Macdonald, of Botany Factory. Macdonald works with Evan Kolker, an Oakland-based glass artist, to create organically shaped glass forms, which she fills with mini-gardens that are nearly self-sufficient, requiring only sunlight and occasional spritzing. My kind of gardening!

Here's an Armadillo in front of a Manatee.
Here's an Armadillo in front of a Manatee.
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The view inside an Armadillo.
The view inside an Armadillo.
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Because each glass form is hand-blown, no two terrariums are alike. Here are two Manatees.
Because each glass form is hand-blown, no two terrariums are alike. Here are two Manatees.
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Here's an Armadillo in front of a Manatee.
Here's an Armadillo in front of a Manatee.

I wrote to Macdonald, curious to hear a bit more about her inspirations, her design approach, and how she came to the terrarium trade. Here's what she had to say:

"I began my early days accompanying my botanist father on wildflower classification walks through the woods in Half Moon Bay. Ever after, I've wanted to work with plants. A clothing designer by day, working with something more natural, organic and alive is really fulfilling. I started making terrariums when I moved to the city a few years ago after college. The one tragedy about living in an apartment is not having a yard. Tending tiny indoor gardens is a great way to remedy that."

The view inside an Armadillo.
The view inside an Armadillo.
"Much like creating a ship in a bottle, terrarium building takes a small, dexterous hand, a collection of minute tools, and a keen interest in petite plant life and clever composition. When designing a terrarium, I think about color, texture and composition while considering which plants will thrive and how they will mingle and grow together. My glass forms are modeled after animal shapes: Kiwi, Manatee, Armadillo.  I'm designing a new one that will be called Sloth, a bulbous, wall mounted form."

Because each glass form is hand-blown, no two terrariums are alike. Here are two Manatees.
Because each glass form is hand-blown, no two terrariums are alike. Here are two Manatees.
They're available at General Store, Paxton Gate, and the Curiosity Shoppe. Macdonald also welcomes custom commissions, if you've got an unrealized terrarium fantasy you'd like to come true.

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