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Old 07-02-2019, 01:44 AM
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Default T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

What? Another dragon-themed terrarium? Didn't you just do one?

Yes.

Yes I did.


^I snagged this piece of ghostwood off of Glass Box Tropicals as soon as I saw it. Somewhat expensive (it's ghostwood, after all), but absolutely worth it.

I didn't know exactly how I would use it until it arrived earlier this afternoon. I knew I saw an animal head of some sort --- a deer, or a horse, or something --- but when in doubt, just about every ambiguously-detailed "head" can be a dragon head. Because, who knows what a dragon's head looks like?

I thought about using a marble to make an eye, but the slot I wanted to put it in was just a little bit too narrow. So:


^I used an old woodworking trick and boiled the wood until it became pliable. (And I also accidentally sterilized it, which is nice and probably unnecessary.)

This was risky; I didn't know how manzanita would react to boiling temperatures, and the piece of driftwood in question was already pretty rickety. It survived, though.

The process also turned the water in the pocket amber-colored and left a faint smell of lumber. I don't think I'll be boiling sausages in it again, at least not for a while.

...So, I took the driftwood out of the pot and went to work. I didn't think to photograph the marble before I put it in, because I've had it for years and it never seemed like a new element to me.




^I was very pleased with how it turned out. It looks very much like an eye, I think, with the flesh pockets to the sides and the lower eyelid encroaching up on it. Frankly, I thought I would either 1) push the marble too far and lose it in the dark pocket to its right, or 2) outright break the wood. Now, quite the contrary, it's lodged in there so securely that nothing will accidentally knock it loose.

Now, there are a few things to note:
  • This is intended as another uninhabited terrarium. I'd like to keep its production animal-safe, just in case. But if I pass the point of no return, I will not risk any animals' lives by putting them in there.
  • I have not decided on an enclosure for this driftwood, or much of anything else, either. It is about 24" by 8" or so, so it isn't a small piece of wood. I would like to have more than a head to this dragon, so I'd like to find a large tank at a reptile show or build one myself.

    I have decided, however, that I will have no water feature in this terrarium. At least, unless it becomes functionally import or very likely to not run into problems.
...I guess that's about it, as far as important things. I'll post updates as they come to me. I am known for long posts and myriad posts.

This is much a log of the steps of this project for me, but I always appreciate input! Many thanks again to jgragg for his immense support in my previous build thread, as well as to anyone who offered advice and intelligence there or in the many other questions I've asked.

EDIT: An important thing I forgot to mention: The "head" isn't complete. At least, probably not. It seems to me it could use a jaw, unless people are able to see the thin horizontal recess running along the right side of the piece as a closed mouth. If that is the case, it is basically a complete head, with horns, an eye, a full mouth ... and all the other stuff.
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Last edited by Kinstrome; 07-02-2019 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 07-02-2019, 01:43 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinstrome View Post
EDIT: An important thing I forgot to mention: The "head" isn't complete. At least, probably not. It seems to me it could use a jaw, unless people are able to see the thin horizontal recess running along the right side of the piece as a closed mouth. If that is the case, it is basically a complete head, with horns, an eye, a full mouth ... and all the other stuff.
That's the way I saw it. Looks good!

Mark
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Thanks! I'll probably stick with it like that.

I bought a tank today that is just about the right size to have this driftwood piece somewhere in it.



I did not personally check the dimensions --- I ought to have --- but the seller's measurement was 24" * 24" * 18" (width * height * depth)

The top was somewhat altered:



^He used his own wire mesh to seal the top, and he did a pretty good job of it. 75% of the screen was covered in aluminum foil originally, but I removed most of it. Evidently that's what a crested gecko (the tank's former inhabitant) needs to hold in humidity.

I know about folk here partially replacing the wire mesh on top of their vivs with glass, but that's for frogs' humidity / air flow needs, and plants are secondary. So next up for me is to decide what to do about the top.

A couple of options are:
  • Get some rectangle of glass that does not fully cover the top, and just let the uncovered space provide air flow. In this way, I can move it back and forth if I want to change where the air goes out.
  • Get a rectangle of glass that fully covers the tank, then drill holes for ventilation. This requires a lot more technique, because I'd have to drill holes without damaging the glass multiple times perhaps, and then I'd have to do put in the wire and whatever holds it in place, which I don't know how to do. Plus side, though: I would be able to house an animal in it in the future.

A side note: thinking about not using a bulkhead and drainage container, but rather a concealed pipe from which I can pump the water out.

If I keep making terrariums, I should probably just buy a drill press...

Last edited by Kinstrome; 07-02-2019 at 11:39 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:09 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Looks pretty sick! Looking forward to seeing where this goes.
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:08 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Beautiful piece of wood! I'm interested to see what you do with it
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:48 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Thanks! I always appreciate compliments. It's hard to know who's really looking, even with the page visit counter.

I'm considering using pink foam and hot-wire tools to carve castle ruins.

Holy shit, you're basically just re-making the previous terrarium.

Yes. Yes I am.

And it gets worse: I did this ANOTHER time over a year ago!

This is T3:





Castle walls, check. Waterfall-spewing dragon, check. Water feature that didn't work for five whole minutes, CHECK.

(But this terrarium won't have a water feature.)

...Anyway! I'm thinking about carving pink foam, using a polymer clay tool to make brick patterns, slicing holes into it using hot metal, and somehow making the pink foam board thinner, because it's too thick to make castle walls small enough to fit into the tank. (That last concern is my biggest.) Also, I don't know if acrylic paints can survive light mists a couple times per day, or if I need to use some kind of thin sealant to protect them.

I'm not dead-set on a castle, anyway. It would just be a neat construct for plants to grow around.

Other notes:
  • I'm considering Turface for the substrate because of its supposed cheapness, but I can't find a retailer ANYWHERE around here that stocks it. Tractor Supply Co., nope. Walmart, nope. And I'm sure not going to pay to ship 50 lbs. of it (or really, any quantity).
    ---
  • I've not used foam to create a hardscape, as some folks do for aquariums, vivariums, and paludariums sometimes, but I have the equipment to do so, and more or less have the know-how.
    ---
  • I'm not sure how the dragon / animal's head emerges into this terrarium. It can't have a big body visible like the dragon in T9, the previous terrarium, due to space limitations. It's hard to see just from photographs, but the head has to lean at such an angle for the "face" to be visible, that it takes up a lot of space. It also would have an unseen neck at the angle it needs to be at, hidden by the "jaw". That part might be useful, if I want to hide its body in some sort of construct. But I am having trouble imagining what sort of setting would make sense for a dragon / woodland spirit. Maybe an artificial tree that takes up the back-left corner of the tank?
    ---
  • If this is a woodland spirit, I'm considering including some pointed quartz crystals I have in order to mystic-ize the setting it lives in. Quartz crystals are supposed to be safe when exposed to water, better than selenite crystals. If I do this, though, Turface just won't look right.
    ---
  • Artificial lianas and vines are another option for decoration.
    ---
  • Whether or not I decide on using a castle, I want to have some structure inside that takes advantage of various plants' tendency to grow and twist around things. Polymer clay is great for accomplishing this, but I don't yet know what, besides an old castle, looks natural in a forest or forest-like setting.
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Old 07-10-2019, 03:42 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

I'm going to put this thread to the side for a little while. I haven't been able to conceive an attractive setup that would involve the piece of driftwood that I began this thread talking about. At least, I haven't been able to get a good idea that involves putting that driftwood in the 24" * 24" * 18" Exo Terra I have.

I found something better to use that tank for, so I'll make a thread about that soon. I'll be back someday to handle this driftwood piece.
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