It turns out that the longest amount of time a tiny, succulent plant can live in an equally tiny light bulb is about two years, according to David Nebert. The local artist’s company, (ei) design
, specializes in nature-inspired jewelry and housewares, and the tiny terrariums that hold super-small plants are available as pendant necklaces. They’re also among his most popular wares.
While a DAAP student, Nebert was drawn to create his own designs, along with what was assigned in class. His pieces started bigger, as decor pieces, and were scaled down to jewelry when he discovered the tiny light bulbs. The resilient plant he uses is called Mother of Thousands, Alligator Plant or Mexican Hat Plant, among others.
"There are existing terrarium necklaces that one can find, but most often it's not an actual living plant, it's just dried moss or something," he says.
The biggest challenge, he says, is not over-watering the plant, which can cause it to outgrow its makeshift home quickly.
Nebert describes his overall aesthetic as "simple elegance," explaining, "I strive for a very simple design, using celebrated objects that one can wear and stick to one or maybe two pieces. It's not too busy, so the eye can focus on that beautiful object."
Instead of envisioning his final product, he finds items that inspire him, gravitating toward natural seeds, leaves and basic materials such as clear glass, raw metals and stone in hues ranging from blues and grays to earthy reds and browns.
While his dream is to create a retail space that would combine art installation and product design, Nebert says he also plans to expand his work into lighting.
The terrarium jewelry and housewares are currently for sale at Fabricate
and on specified dates at Crafty Supermarket
; Nebert says he hopes to expand to more venues in Over-the-Rhine, downtown and the Gateway District soon.
By Robin Donovan