There's no doubt about it! A handsome flower vase can transform even the humblest bouquet into a work of art. Unfortunately, those burnished copper urns and elegant porcelains shown in fancy home-and-garden magazines cost plenty. (And as veteran vase shoppers know, inexpensive flower containers are seldom fit to bring into the house.) As a result, many folks end up sticking their finest garden blooms into old foil-wrapped coffee cans, water glasses, or equally unglamorous pots and jars, all the while wishing for something better.
But not Norma and Jim Leary of Jamestown, Pennsylvania. They assembly their own beautiful yet inexpensive homemade vases from ordinary glass containers and such natural materials as pebbles, sand, soil, corn, beans, peas, and birdseed. You can too, and here's how:
PRELIMINARIES: Select a tall, round apothecary jar (or any other large, attractive glass container) to serve as the outer shell of your double-walled vase. Then center an ordinary pint jar upright inside the larger vessel. Finally—to keep your peas or pebbles or whatever from falling into the smaller jar—cap it with foil, waxed paper, or an old lid.
DESIGN: Fill the space between the two containers with layers of whatever decorative materials you choose. Jim likes to place a final cap of dark-brown loam on top of the lower strata of pebbles and sand. Tiers of corn, peas, beans, and birdseed look attractive as well. As you can imagine, the design possibilities are nearly endless: Just vary the color, texture, and/or size of the particles; the thickness, shape, and/or sequence of the layers; and the size and/or configuration of the outer container.
DISPLAY: Fill the inner container of your creation with water and freshly cut flowers from the garden or from the florist's shop if necessary (anything to get blossoms into the house). We think the naturalistic motif of the Learys' "sand and seed" vases complements the beauty of a bouquet as well as or better than most of the high-priced store-bought urns and amphoras we've seen.
RECYCLING: After your flowers have faded, remove the water from your vase's inner container with a large basting syringe—as shown here in the last small photo—or with a siphon. And if you find you've grown tired of the "old" vase, just dismantle it layer by layer and make a new one from scratch!