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Crafts that combine your love of books and plants

by Timber Press on January 26, 2017

in Craft, Gardening

All photos by Kate Bryant.

There is no shortage of Pinterest-worthy inspiration for decorating with plants or books, but what about innovative ways to spotlight plants and books? Enter the magical, miniature worlds of Terrarium Craft. With two crafts combining plants and books together, our home décor can flourish with life and literature.

Grow a Book

Inspired by the famously cranky Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle, Amy Bryant Aiello and Kate Bryant combined an old book of Carlyle’s essays, a carnivorous plant known as the “angry bunny,” and a grouchy-looking porcelain rabbit in a playful terrarium display.

Draw from the setting and symbolism of your favorite novel or work with books like Purple Hibiscus by Chimanda Ngozi Adiche, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.


  • 1 large glass bowl
  • crushed lava rock
  • river rocks
  • 1 old book
  • 1 thematic object
  • 1 indoor plant
  • sprinkling of accents (like pebbles or beads)


  1. Clean terrarium glass inside and out.
  2. Pour a layer of crushed lava rock into the bowl’s base.
  3. Place river rocks over the center of sand (not touching the sides of the container), edges up.
  4. Open the book and set it, spine-down on the rocks toward the terrarium front so some words can be seen.
  5. Place whatever object you have chosen at the back of the bowl on the book.
  6. Onto the open book, pour another layer of crushed lava rock.
  7. Unpot the plant and transfer with soil onto the heap of crushed lava rock.
  8. Drop additional accents near front to draw attention to the spine of the book.

This design is an experiment in temporality! The terrarium will age and change before your eyes. The soil will shift and the book will gradually decompose. As long as the plant is kept continuously moist, however, it should thrive for a couple of years. If you want to adapt this concept, you could use a succulent or cactus—fewer waterings will slow the book’s decomposition.

Bookish Shelves

Reminiscent of a scientific exhibit from a Victorian plant-collecting expedition, this design permits a close-up study of the unique qualities of the included plants and books.

Pair carnivorous plants with vintage botanical texts, succulents with dry-climate field guides, or herbs with old cookbooks.


  • 2 glass cylinders
  • 2 indoor plants
  • chopsticks
  • accent pebbles
  • 2 old books
  • string


  1. Use string to secure books from a wall hook, making a level shelf.
  2. Clean terrarium glass inside and out.
  3. Remove each plant from its pot and drop them into a glass cylinder with potting soil.
  4. Using a chopstick, gently tamp the soil so it’s level.
  5. Top dress the soil with accent pebbles.
  6. Pour in just enough water to clean up any stray soil on the glass and moisten the plants’ roots.
  7. Display the cylinders on your shelves.


aiello_aAmy Bryant Aiello spent her early childhood wandering around the forests and wetlands of Minnesota. Inspired by lessons gleaned in plants, animals, and the natural world, Amy went on to study photography and installation art at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Amy and her husband are the owners of Artemisia, a popular Portland, Oregon, boutique specializing in terrariums, indoor gardens, and fine art. Amy’s terrariums are one-of-a-kind botanical worlds that are created with a palette of living plants, natural materials, and personal objects.


bryant_kKate Bryant blends her love of writing and gardening, having contributed to gardening books including the two-volume Flora encyclopedia and newspapers such as The Oregonian. She’s also contributed to lifestyle magazines such as Portland Monthly, in which her column and gardening blog, Plantwise, appear. Kate has worked in plant nurseries and volunteered for community garden projects, urban tree plantings, and local Master Gardener programs. Kate runs a garden design, maintenance, and consulting business in Portland, Oregon.


Click image to see inside this book:


“Simple growing tips and chic design know-how in an easy-to-follow, lovely-to-read format. Creating your own terrarium will definitely be next on your crafty to-do list.” —Dwell

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