When Dran Alessi set up her table at Antidote's annual Craftidote market, it was the first time she sold her found object terrariums to the public. Usually busy at painting and drawing -- she last exhibited at Lawndale's Big Show -- she decided she had to start crafting so she could participate alongside her family of artists, including brother Sean Flournoy of Throttle Tees and sister-in-law Carol Smith of McCheek's Mayhem.
"I collect a lot of stuff. I go to all the vintage shops, like the Guild, so I have a big collection of stuff that's hard to explain -- little things I had to have. So, I thought I would use the plants and the glassware and see what I could do with it."
The delicate moss and upwards climbing branches come largely from Buchanan's, and Alessi lets the trinkets such as the ceramic owls, skull beads and chrome car emblems determine the overall concept for each terrarium. They often trigger memories for people. First goes a layer of rocks, then charcoal for absorbing moisture, dirt and sand.
Her most vocal customers that day at Craftidote were the children, who saw little worlds inside each glass container. "I noticed that they were being very gentle with the plants but couldn't stop themselves from playing with the objects like the rabbits. They would critique which animal was standing next to what other animal."
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Her other interactive fans include my cat, who promptly destroyed my terrarium by ripping out the plants, eating half and scattering the rest. Alessi has a similar story. "The first night I worked with the plants, I separated them into an assembly line and I had all my materials out. I didn't even leave them out overnight, I just went to the laundry, and I came back and my cat had nibbled every one of the leaves." Alessi fixed my terrarium and recommends a spray bottle and separate cat and plant shifts for animal defense.
"My cat is awful," I said. "Mine too," said Alessi.
Alessi offers pre-made and custom build terrariums and can be reached at email@example.com for orders.