Plant Homes Made in Detroit

by | Oct 22, 2017 | 6 comments

Yesterday, I went to the grand opening of Post in Detroit. A former post office built in 1940, Post is full of hand crafted gifts including jewelry, soap, cards, frames, and of course, terrariums. The space is also home to four art studios. I not only wanted to see the new store, I wanted to meet and talk to, Derek and Chad from Lead Head Glass and watch them demonstrate the construction of their beautiful terrariums in their studio space. They love the large area they have now to work in, as their garage in Ferndale was their art studio.

The terrarium below is Chad and Derek’s first terrarium, created for Chad’s pet turtle. The usual fish tanks used for turtle homes weren’t nice enough. What turtle wouldn’t want to live in a house like this one?

The first large piece they made to house a pet turtle

The side of the terrarium/turtle domain

The cool part of this is the glass used for these terrariums is taken from reclaimed windows from homes in Detroit. Derek and Chad work with large window companies who contact them when they are taking out old windows. How awesome is it  they don’t end up in landfills?! If there are pieces of the windows left, such as pieces of the wooden frame or hardware, they are passed on to other artists who may be able to use them. Artists are such sharing, generous people!

Derek demonstrates the type of window used below.

Reclaimed wood from Detroit homes

A glass cutter used to cut windows into the correct size pieces.

Cutting the glass

The glass below is cut and ready to be edged with copper.

Cut glass pieces waiting for copper tape

After cutting the glass, they edge each piece with copper tape and then roll it with a special tool to make the tape stick to the glass and smooth it out.

Wrapping the glass pieces with copper

The glass is wrapped with copper and stacked according to size. They are then ready to be constructed into terrariums; ready for plants to live in.

Then, they start assembling the pieces.

Derek assembling the terrarium

Below, Derek demonstrates the pieces they use for the top of the gazebo terrarium. After the pieces are wrapped in copper, they are placed in a form so they can be fused together with the lead wire. The gazebo terrarium is shown in the last picture upside down in the form.

Putting the terrariums together below.

Putting the pieces together

Using the lead wire and the tool that melts it

Derek uses plumbers flux (not sure what that is, but it is a liquid) which is brushed on the edges and it helps the lead adhere to the copper. He then used the lead “wire” and a heated tool to melt the lead along the seams (above). Because of the fumes and residue left by the flux, the glass has to be cleaned with a heavy duty cleaner. To make the lead not shiny any longer, they use a solution containing vinegar which changes the shiny silver to a flat, dark, gunmetal color.

The wooden bottoms are then assembled and stained. The bottoms have plastic liners inserted so the wood is protected and nothing happens to the furniture it is placed on.

These terrariums are awesome and so unique. You won’t find anything like them. I love seeing common objects being recycled into beautiful, useful pieces of art. Because,  these are pieces of art. A stunning piece of art to house natural works of art-plants!

Go to their website to purchase one, or better yet, head down to Post in Detroit and pick up a terrarium and some other great items, as well. I’ve got one on my Christmas list!

Finished terrariums ready to be taken home.

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  1. Julia Hofley

    Wonderful blogpost about a fascinating, cool new place to visit while in Detroit! LOVE!

  2. Jaime Haney

    These terrariums are beautiful and it’s fascinating to see how they’re made. What plant lover wouldn’t want one or 5?


      Hi Jamie! I would love a couple, too. They are beautiful and I saw how much WORK goes into them! Crazy! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Beth

    What beautiful terrariums — I always wondered how those were made before modern factories made them. Thanks for the informative post! -Beth


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