Vintage Kitsch Turned Terrarium

Last weekend, a group of Texas bloggers converged on Austin to meet up with each other before we all head to the Haven Conference next month (Are you going? I’m speaking!).  The gals from Real Cheap Housewives of Texas organized the whole thing – barbecue, thrift store shopping and mexican food – and it was an absolute blast.

Texas DIY BloggersThat’s me in the back wearing the yellow shirt and turquoise shorts.

We must have hit 5 or 6 different thrift stores that day.  At our very first stop, I found the most interesting little doodad.

Vintage People Feeder Terrarium via

Everyone immediately said they thought it was a bingo hopper.  However, I knew that it wasn’t.  The lid didn’t fit tightly and it wasn’t a perfectly round shape.  It had to be something else, and I figured it was something that dated back to the 70s.  For $2.50, I was willing to bring it home and see what I could find out about it…and see what it could become.

After some research, I decided that it was an off-brand version of the “Swingin’ People Feeder,” a gadget from the 70s that served candy, nuts and snacks with just a tip of the bowl.  Here’s one for sale on Etsy.  Awesome, right?  I say it’s an off-brand, because all of the ones I see online have the People Feeder logo on them.  Mine has no markings of any kind.

I decided to give mine a different use than its intended purpose.  I took it apart and spray painted the ivory plastic pieces in an antique brass metallic paint.  I washed the bowl and added rocks and some preserved moss.

I’ve been loving the terrariums I’ve seen for sale that feature dioramas with little people.  I found a little family in the model train section of Hobby Lobby, and I couldn’t help but get them.  I just hot glued them to a rock I snuck out of Zack’s rock collection – trust me when I say that he’ll never know.  They sort of look like us, in a really weird sort of way.

Vintage People Feeder Terrarium via

I reassembled the whole kit-n-kaboodle and put it on the dresser in my office.  It actually looks really great next to my also-70s/also-thrifted green and brown lamp.

Vintage People Feeder Terrarium via

I love that there are people INSIDE of my vintage People Feeder.   That just blew your mind, didn’t it?  Dang, I’m deep.

Vintage People Feeder Terrarium via

Never be afraid to spend a few dollars on something interesting in the hopes that you may be able to come up with something awesome to do with it.  Chances are, you’ll make it even cooler than it was to begin with.

Filed Under: Create Your Decor, Project Gallery

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. That is so awesome! I love the way your mind works :)

  2. Now THAT is thinking outside of the box! I love it :)

    And I’m sad I moved from Austin area (to Houston area) back in Feb or I SOO could’ve been there with y’all!! Darn!

  3. That turned out really cool! Now I need to paint my fruit :)

  4. I think you’re right about the origins of this item, sadly, I seem to remember something of the sort…
    And BTW, your humarium looks like something from the 70’s too..very Jetsons, or something..

  5. Love the terrarium! Love the little people in your people feeder! Lol!

  6. So awesome, I love how quickly you turned it into something else! Of course, my eyes immediately gravitated to your cute outfit as well-fabulous!

  7. So bummed I was out of town during the get-together. I bet it was a fun time. (And I love your creative interpretation of the people eater.)