Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Picture Frame Terrarium - Mini Conservatory
About a year or so ago Target had this awesome little metal terrarium for about a week. That's how Target is, if you don't get it when you see it, it won't be there next time. I had planned on buying Mrs. Hughes one but didn't get to it in time. Since then I had been thinking on how to build one for her and one day it occurred to me that it would be much easier to make if I didn't have to cut glass or figure out a way on how to get the glass to fit and stay within the frame. Basically, I wanted a lazy man's terrarium.
It took me some thinking but I finally realized that picture frames would be perfect, if, there was a configuration of them that would work without having to alter their shape. I got messing with the numbers and realized that if I used an 11"x14" frame for the sides, that an 8 1/2"x11" document frame would work for the ends. Then I guessed that I could use 4, 5"x7" frames for the top. My only real concern was how to get them all to fit together and be a solid structure.
I took a trip to Goodwill but had trouble finding the 11"x14" frames or the document frames. But I did manage to find two 10"x13" frames, which meant I could use the more common 8"x10" frames for the sides. I searched and found 4, 5"x7" frames pretty easily. For this terrarium I used all wood frames with a similar style, but I would guess you could use all metal ones if you could find them.
Through some trial and error I figured out it was hard to nail the frames together with my nail gun due to the angle that was on the back of them. I wound up just kind of tacking them together with the nail gun and then I used clear silicon to adhere them. I made an L shape out of one of the big frames and one of the side frames, did the same thing again and then attached the two Ls together. Then I put a tonne of silicon on the small frames and leaned them to create the top, I used a square dowel at the peak to even everything out. The glass was removed on all frames to make putting it together easier.
Once the silicon dried I filled in all of the cracks and spaces between the frames with wood filler, I used a lot of wood filler. Especially between the roof and the walls. I then gave it several coats of white paint with a large brush and let it sit for a few days. The handles were attached before I painted, they are just dresser drawer handles. I painted over them as well. Once everything was dry I put the glass back in from the opening on the bottom. This took a little work and I was just lucky that the way everything went together didn't block where the panes went back in. I used silicon around the edge before putting the glass in, and then I used silicon on the other side of the glass as well. I used a caulk gun for all but the last large pane, my gun wouldn't fit in the box anymore so I had to just use my finger for the last one.
Once the paint dried I went over it with a coat of dark furniture wax. I rubbed most of that back off using Goo Gone until I got it to the color I wanted.
I plan on building a crown molding base for this, I just haven't gotten to it yet. Once I get them written out I will post full instructions for making this on www.theupcycler.com
More soon! ~ The Upcycler