The Art of Darkness

The Wonder Room

July 3rd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Stonehenge TerrariumIntrepid commenter Sisifo pointed me to this Etsy shop full of “terrarium-style” dioramas.

As a child, artist Tony Larson was heavily influenced by the special effects of Industrial Light and Magic, Ray Harryhausen, and similar movie magicians, and grew up to create miniature “worlds of wonder” to display. His miniature vignettes are lovely little glimpses into fantasy worlds, depicting ancient ruined statues, fairy landscapes, and lost worlds.

The materials he uses are all either artificial or dried, so the landscape won’t change, but it might also be fun to do something similar with real plants. If you’re handy with polymer clay you could sculpt your own ruined towers, gravestones, ancient idols, or other interesting features. If not, pre-made miniatures abound; take a look at model train hobby sites as well as dollhouse miniature suppliers for various scales.

You can either make the miniature the focus of the piece–perhaps a temple slowly being reclaimed by the jungle–or tuck them away in the foliage to be stumbled upon; something like a dinosaur skull weathering out of the ground or a fairy staircase hidden behind a fern could suggest a much larger story that the detail only hints at.

This kind of desktop ornament would make a splendid gift, particularly if customized to the recipient’s interests. This is also a gift that can be made well in advance, since it’ll give the plants time to settle in and look more cohesive.

(Thanks, Sisifo!)

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