Welcome back everyone, I hope you got your comfy sweater on and a good cup of something warm and sweet because we are going to set a Bantamarium mood today. Autumn is amongst us and with all the vibrant colors outside my cozy Jacksonville home, I felt compelled to figure out a way to bring it inside. So let’s make the most photo-realistic DIY autumn terrarium anyone has ever seen!
If you aren’t familiar with what a bantamarium is, I strongly recommend you take a look at this deep dive I put together. In a nutshell, it’s a concept I’ve been working on where we bring a diorama to life. The goal is ultimately to make photo-realistic vivariums anyone, no matter the skill level, can make!
An Autumn Themed terrarium
Making a real autumn terrarium proved to be a challenge at first. Finding micro foilage that fit this theme put me through the ultimate test to see how well diverse my plant knowledge has become. Nonetheless, it wasn’t impossible and some aspects were improvised to meet the criteria I set out for me. I hope you all enjoy this week’s video.
Making a DIY Autumn Terrarium
Once I figured out exactly what I wanted to use to build this terrarium, putting it together was relatively simple. The part that took the longest was waiting for supplies to arrive. At the time of making this post, transit is delayed with almost everything… even amazon. So keep that in mind when placing an order for any of the supplies below.
- 6in Glass Cylinder Vase
- Cozy Cabin Set
- Barbula Moss (or similar type of pleurocarpous moss)
- Eco-Complete Aquarium Gravel
- Fine Grit Sand
- Coco Coir Soil
- Reindeer Moss (red, green, mango)
- Birch Twigs
- Matte Acrylic Paint
- Loctite Extreme Glue
- Clear Sealant
Cozy Cabin Decor Construction:
Starting with the Cozy Cabin Set, we will need to assemble and paint it before it can go into the terrarium. We will have to take a slightly different approach with this model compared to some of the others. This set comes with some bonus extras so it will be up to you how complex you want your Cabin to be. This tutorial will demonstrate the most detailed and complex Cabin you can make with this set.
The first thing I will do is separate all of the pieces from the support frame with a xacto knife. We will come back to the fences later so just leave those at the side for the moment.
Once all the pieces are separated, I’m going to actually paint everything first prior to assembling. I’m keeping things simple as far as color and will use dark brown as a base for everything on the cabin except for the roof and chimney. I went with a base color of red/brown for the roof. The chimney will get a base color of medium brown.
My secondary color for the entire cabin will be beige. As always, I dry brush the secondary colors on faintly to not cover the base color completely. Finally, I dry brush the chimney with a dark grey making sure to only touch some of the bricks.
Before I assemble everything together, I always spray a clear sealant over the models. This keeps my paint locked in and avoids leaching later.
Forest Fence decor Construction:
With the cabin awaiting assembly, I cut out the fences making sure to leave a small piece of the support frame attached to the bottom. This will make it easy to stake the fences into the ground later.
I apply the same dark brown base color to the fences on both sides. Once dry, my secondary color of beige is followed to make the fences match the aged look of the cabin. These are ready for sealant so repeat the process as you did with the cabin if you haven’t decided to spray it all together.
Our Cozy Cabin Set terrarium decor is now complete and ready for placement within the mini terrarium.
An Autumn Terrarium Construction:
Now that the decor is prepared and ready for use, let’s build our little autumn-themed terrarium. I will use a six-inch cylinder vase and create a triple-layered setup that will effectively maintain itself. I explain why this is practical and important to do in my intensive terrarium guide.
Start by pouring aquarium gravel into the vase. You should be aiming for a layer of about 2 and a half inches deep. This is where all of our excess water will go after each watering or mist. I’m using red aquarium gravel to keep the autumn theme going in my enclosure.
I recommend using some type of screen mesh to separate this layer from the substrate layer. This helps keep the soil out of the stagnant water. I’m using a small piece of garden liner for this.
Next, we can add in our soil. I typically like to slope most of my setups to give depth to the scape. For this bantamarium, I won’t need to make the substrate staggered. For one, the model will need to sit on a leveled area somewhere around the middle. Another thing to consider is the height and depth the trees will create in the background.
Before proceeding to set up the trees, I test fit the cabin to make sure it can sit level. The soil is a little uneven and to further enhance the scene, I add small bits of black aquarium gravel to the area the cabin is going.
To further tie in the scape, I add black Lava rocks and black aquarium gravel to the front area as well. This part is totally optional but I think it’s a really nice touch of detail that gives the terrarium more value.
Once I’m satisfied with the first two layers, it’s time to add a wooded area. I’ll start by adding small broken pieces of twigs.
The more sticks added the better. I’m aiming to create a semi-dense forest and these sticks will act as the base for tree trunks.
Autumn Terrarium Plants
With the sticks in place, we can start adding the plants. I have a couple of different plant options in mind for this autumn terrarium, carpeting moss, and reindeer moss. Reindeer Moss is a type of lichen that doesn’t root or grow really fast. I’m using a mix of living as well as preserved lichen because I can get the preserved lichen in a number of colors.
I sprinkle small fragments of carpeting moss mostly around the front of the autumn terrarium. If well maintained, this moss will spread fast and create a nice barrier of moisture for the tank. For now, I love the shrub forest floor look it gives our scape.
Now we can begin to set our scene with little pieces of the living lichen towards the midground and front area. Follow that with the colorful lichen, carefully placing it on the sticks. I want the majority of the reindeer moss to be orange as it helps captivate the fall look.
It took a bit of time to rearrange the colorful lichen until I got the aesthetic I was looking for. To finish the terrascape off, I line the front with a small amount of fine sand forming a path right up to the cabin.
If all looks up to par, you should have an Autumn terrarium ready for display!
Autumn Terrarium Animals
A number of micro critters could do well in this type of terrarium. I’m a huge fan of animals that help maintain the terrarium. Springtails, isopods, or even a small colony of ants would fit this enclosure nicely.
Mini Mossarium Care
As with most of my miniature terrariums, this tank should do well on its own. As things grow in, the natural take over will only further enhance the scenery. If you haven’t already, mist down the scape and seal it with a little plastic wrap. Open it every once in a while so that the lichen can get fresh air. Lichen receives its nutrients from the air so it’s vital it gets a nice breather from time to time.
We have completed another head-turning bantamarium. This autumn-themed terrarium is a rare type of terrain I predict will inspire many more to come. I hope you all enjoyed this one. I think this will make a really nice gift for someone special and hopefully, this tutorial did a pretty good job explaining how to make it.
If you’re interested in seeing updates on how this as well as other enclosures progress follow me on social media. If you’d like to get your tall tweezers on one of these limited edition vivarium decors yourself, check them out in our shop.