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Photo by Sarah Boyum

We’re Obsessed With These Eerie Terrariums

The owners of the Terrorium Shop incorporate bones into their plant-filled displays.

Amber Hage-Ali has never been one to shy away from death. As a kid hiking in her native Ohio, she collected plants and insects, arranging them into snapshots of nature inside glass containers. Most fascinating to her, though, were tiny reminders of former lives: bones. Hage-Ali incorporated rodent skulls and vertebrae into her little worlds but kept the “terroriums” to herself, friends, and family members, assuming they’d be too gruesome for public viewing. Even after continuing to make them as an adult, Hage-Ali, now 30, needed the encouragement of her boyfriend, Ian Johnson, a taxidermist she met after moving to Colorado in 2017, to realize others might want these delicate juxtapositions of decay and regrowth in their homes. Once the couple found success at markets and on Etsy, Hage-Ali and Johnson opened the Terrorium Shop in the Regis neighborhood this past May. The customizable displays ($35 to $250) contain succulents and give nature’s critters a final resting place. Says Hage-Ali: “I’m trying to honor the animal by giving it a second life.”

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