I really enjoy giving away cut flowers in the summertime. I always have lots of daisies to share and usually zinnias, too. They make a great hostess gift, and unlike bringing snacks or desserts, you don’t have to worry about food allergies or bringing fattening food into someone else’s home!
But I run into trouble when trying to decide what to put the flowers in. My vase supply dwindled after my first summer of big-time gardening, so I resorted to glass jars I saved from food, like pickles. My husband tried to tell me this was tacky, but I can’t give away all of my vases! And I can’t just keep buying more of them. (I do try to keep a lookout for inexpensive vases in thrift shops, but I usually find a lot of bud vases, and I like a vase with a wider mouth.)
So I try to save jars of interesting sizes and shapes and decided to make them look more intentional—and decorative—by decoupaging them with pressed green leaves.
I’ve found that pressed fresh, green leaves are more flexible and less brittle than pressed fall leaves, which are already brittle at the time they’re picked.
My jars are on the small side, from artichoke hearts, sweet peppers and capers, so I picked smaller leaves in early summer for pressing. The bigger your jars, the bigger the leaves you can use, so go crazy! I’ve found that leaves from maple, Indian Cigar and mulberry trees press well when green. I tried red oak, and they weren’t as flexible and easy to work with for this project.
Tip: Need help getting sticky labels off your jars without using harsh chemicals? Try Brillo pads, the ones with the soap already in them. They work like charm!
Here’s how you can make your own decoupage leaf vases:
1. Gather your jars, pressed leaves (fully dried), ModPodge Gloss or other decoupage medium, sponge applicator and a pair of scissors. You’ll probably want to protect your work surface with newspaper. With the scissors, snip the stems off your leaves—I found the stems are too brittle to bend along the sides of the jar.
2. Work with one jar at a time. Cover the jar (or half of it, if you prefer to work half a jar at a time) with ModPodge.
3. Press a leaf onto the still-wet ModPodge to make it stick to the jar. Smooth it out to prevent any air bubbles, gently pressing down on all areas of the leaf, especially the edges. Place as many leaves as you like around all sides of the jar.
4. Repeat for each jar, allowing the jars to dry completely, for about 15 minutes.
5. Once dry, cover the jars and leaves with an even coat of ModPodge and allow to dry for another 15 minutes.
6. Once that coat is dry, add another coat of ModPodge to better protect the leaves.
7. Once dry, fill with water and add your favorite cut flowers!
I like mine so much that I’m afraid I’ll have trouble parting with them.