Ever since I made my first felt terrarium I have searching my local thrift stores for the perfect glass containers so I can make some more. This week scroungers luck was with me and I now have 4 glass terrariums waiting to be turned into special little microcosms! It is snowing outside and I am thinking of summer, so I decided to make my terrarium out of felted versions of sun-loving succulents. I love the colours and shapes and I wish I had a patio where I could expand my collection - have you seen Geninne's? I am so jealous.
Succulents really lend themselves to being made from felt because their leaves have a natural "plush" look to them and the wool seems to take on their soft palette of greens and blues easily.
Because the beautiful colours of these plants was such a big part of my inspiration, I have to admit to being really fussy about colour with this project. I hand-dyed the sheets of wool felt, starting with either cream or white, to get different grades of blue-greens. To achieve the yellow-green of the tiny filler plants in the front of the terrarium I over-dyed very light blue-green felt with natural turmeric (handy tutorial from Lion Brand for dying wool with turmeric). For the jade plant, I layered wisps of wool roving in white, light green, bright magenta and soft lavender, in order to get the leaves just right.
I knew I would have to make some tall succulent plants in order to make my terrarium look full. I decided that I would start with a jade plant, as I had a real plant in my living room to study. After searching the internet, I think I may actually be the first person crazy enough to needle-felt a jade plant. Trust me to make an everlasting version of a plant that already is drought resistant and impossible to kill! It is made with a pipe cleaner armature. I needle-felted a smooth stalk and smaller side branch around the pipe cleaner in light green wool. The leaves were attached to the stalk, alternating directions with each pair. Oh, did I mention, I also stabbed myself about a hundred times? I need to figure out a better way to felt the edges of thin leaves that doesn't involve sandwiching my barbed needle between my fingers.
The "Hens and Chicks" type succulents were made almost the way you would make a rose. I started with a small cone of needle felted wool, and then built the plant around this, starting with the smallest leaves and adding larger and larger leaves. The outermost layers are not only double felt, but stuffed with wool roving. I also made a second tall succulent with many cone-shaped leaves, some tiny filler plants, as well as some large curling leaves that I used for the background. Everything was arranged and sewn down to a terracotta-coloured needle felted base.
I also discovered a new (probably only new to me) stitch for sewing together two layers of felt; I am going to call it "Shoelace" stitch, because that is how I sew it.
**Update: I have moved the description for the Shoelace stitch to its own mini-tutorial here.