Monday, January 25, 2010

Brass Light Fixture Terrarium

After finishing my picture frame terrarium I was still on a terrarium kick and began to wonder what other items could be turned into little glass houses for plants and whatnots. I was rummaging through the shelves at the local Goodwill, one of my weekly past times, when I came across a fugly, outdoor brass light fixture. It was shiny brass, very 1980s, but I really liked the shape of the bell on it, it also had a little handle at the top. I instantly thought it would make a great terrarium. I paid $6 for it and carted it home.

It took about 20 minutes to cut all the wires off of it and remove the backplate that would have held it to the side of the house. Light fixtures can be a little tricky to take apart. It helps to have those short, fat screwdrivers, when working from inside the bell. Basically though if you cut all the wires and pull them through, and then remove the screws and bolts that hold on the parts you don't want to remain, what you end up with is the shape above.

As I said this was originally brass so I painted it very roughly with some white acrylic paint. I didn't bother to tape off the glass, I like to leave the paint rough. When it dried I took a razor blade and scraped most of the paint off of the glass, leaving some to add texture. I also didn't wipe it down after scraping, which leaves little flecks of paint in the corners, almost as if they have chipped off over time.

Another trick to get these to look older than the 1980's is to fog up the glass some. I like to use foaming soap for this. If you have one of those anti-bacterial soap foamers in the bathroom you are all set, but you could just lather up a bar of Ivory as well. If you are using the foaming soap just take some in your hand and smear it on the outside of the glass, you are trying to create a film. Let it dry and it will haze up. Then you can take a rag and remove as much or as little as you want. To give it a spotted up look use a spray bottle with some water in it and spray where you soaped. I know what you are thinking, this will just rub off when I dust, but it actually takes a little scrubbing to get it off, like soap scum.

Well there you have it, an easy alternative to my picture frame terrarium. No cutting, screwing, etc... Below are some examples that I pulled off of Ebay of light fixtures that would make good terrariums, some of these were expensive, most were under $30 though. Visit your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or Habitat for Humanity home store to find your own!


  1. Thanks for all of the tricks of the trade! I'm planning a trip to our Goodwill As Is store tomorrow and will be looking for one of these. I love the top pic with the picture in it. ~ Theresa

  2. Sure thing. If you have a Habitat Home Store the normally have several of these. Our Habitat Home Store in Franklin, Tn is a little pricey for me, but hey, it's for a good cause.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. You are a genius!!! I absolutely love this idea, and now I'm wondering how fixtures (potential terrariums) I have disposed of or passed by over the years. I love that you're "upcycling" too. Kudos to you!!

  5. LOVE your terrariums and my visit here.

    So glad i found you.


    barbara jean


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.