Good day to you all and welcome back to another installment of the Bantamarium saga. As we continue on with this series, I’d like to move into a slightly more complex build with the mini rocky cliff terrarium.
Our last living diorama (the mini desert terrarium) was a relatively simple design that yielded the same level of detail. This time we will be incorporating a few more steps while aiming to achieve the same level of photo-realism.
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!
Nautical Nights In Norway
Knowing that I like to cultivate inspiration from real-world locations, the “Nautical Nights In Norway” terrain pulls influence directly from elevated regions of the Norway mountains. While crafting this scape, I couldn’t help but envision Vikings navigating through the narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs… Finding fortune with the brightly lit night sky to illuminate their path.
Making The Mini Rocky Cliff terrarium
If you were someone who felt like the mini desert bantamarium was way too easy, you’re going to like this one. We will be working with resin so that automatically makes this a two-day project due to curing. Like any of the living dioramas, we will be developing over the next couple of weeks, the focus will be longevity and model scale accuracy.
- Bantamarium Case Kit (or any 6in x 6in square enclosure)
- Barbula Moss (or any pleurocarpous moss)
- RO Water (or rain water)
- ‘Nautical Nights In Norway’ Terrain
- White Acrylic Paint
- Resin & Dye
- Packing Tape
Rocky Cliff Terrarium Construction:
Taking a closer look at the terrain I’m working with today, we will notice a few things worth keeping in mind as we go. It measures just under six inches for the width and length. This will make it suitable for a 6×6 enclosure. The base thickness is about 1/2 an inch so we want to make sure it has at least that amount in tank depth for holding excess water.
Our Bantamarium case crown and divider tray will work perfectly for this. A three-inch tall glass case will cover the crown once this living diorama is assembled making this bantamarium a closed terrarium.
It is totally possible to build your own enclosure for this terrain if you’d like to make things even more personal.
Once the terrain and enclosure are assembled, we can move on to modifying the terrain. Use the packaging tape to seal off the sides of the terrain before pouring the resin. This is a quick and simple way to keep the resin specifically where we want it and create a smooth casting on the sides.
Once the tape is securely wrapped around the terrain, we can move on to the resin pouring phase. Mix equal parts resin in a mixing cup along with a few drops of dye. The color and amount of dye are totally up to your preference. You should only need a few ounces of resin to achieve the false water feature we are aiming for.
With the terrain resting flush on a flat surface, pour the resin slowly from one end of the lowest depth and gradually work your way across the terrain. Stop pouring once the resin reaches the desired height. It will need a genuine 24 hours before you can remove the tape and proceed to the next steps.
The next day, with the resin, cured we can remove the tape and proceed to add some snow to the mountain top. Using a small paintbrush and white acrylic paint I dry rubbed paint across the highest peaks of the terrain. My technique for dry rubbing includes rubbing one side of the paint off the brush and using that side to paint the texture.
You really don’t need much paint for this step and once cured it will be safe for use around the plants. I was able to move on to planting within an hour after I painted.
Mini Rocky Cliff terrarium Plants
I will be using small amounts of barbula moss I’ve been collecting and growing for a while now. You can use any shallow growing, carpeting moss to achieve the look we are going for. I’m going to show you two methods for applying moss and cover the pros & cons of each.
The first method will be traditional to the way moss is usually applied to the concrete. Mashup the moss and mix it with water and buttermilk. Blend until you get a greenish/white paste with the consistency of thick paint. Use a paintbrush to apply the paste on the lower unpainted areas of the terrain.
This method will take longer to see results as most moss will not survive the beating required to get an even paste. However, with patience, once the moss does start to acclimate, it will grow more uniform and dense giving an absolute phenomenal look in the long run.
The second method is simple but will require a steady hand during application. Dice the moss up into tiny bits. Sprinkle the chopped moss across the unpainted areas of the terrain. Misting the terrain prior to applying moss will help keep the moss in desired areas.
This method yields much faster results than the first because the plants aren’t being totally destroyed. They will also become established noticeably faster and should continue growing within a week. The downside to this way of applying moss is the patchy look in the initial growth phase as well as the difficulty with keeping moss in one place when misting.
Mini terrarium Animals
I wouldn’t recommend many livestock in a bantamarium this small. I prefer the low maintenance and easy upkeep in something like this. That’s not to say you couldn’t make this living diorama habitable though.
If I did stock some type of animal, I’d go with a microfauna. A few isopods or springtails would not only add movement to the terrarium, but they would also do well keeping it clean and mold-free.
Mini Rocky Cliff Terrarium Care
This mini rocky cliff terrarium will only need watering every once in a while and that’s it. This low-maintenance setup shouldn’t grow fast and doesn’t produce waste. Depending on the type of enclosure you set the terrain in, the frequency between watering is going to be slightly different.
For example, the Bantamarium case I’m using doesn’t require misting as long as I keep the glass on. Once I fill the bottom tray with water, the evaporation cycle circulates within the case for weeks. The terrain will absorb stagnant water as well helping with the humidity regulation.
If you are using a self-built enclosure and it’s a closed terrarium, make sure any stagnant water is low enough to not reach the moss. Open top containers will need misting as moss becomes noticeably dry.
Lastly, remove lids daily on closed terrariums for a few minutes to provide proper air circulation and avoid mold.
I think we can put this one in the books for now. A photo-realistic mini rocky cliff terrarium. Now we wait a few weeks and keep an eye on things. We should start to notice growth within the next 14 days if all conditions are maintained.
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 terrains yourself, check them out in our shop.