entertainingFood & Drinkoutdoorweeders digest

weeder’s digest: on vases and vessels

by Grace Bonney

My first job in NYC had me working for an art dealer who pronounced vase like v-aah-se.” Flowers would arrive at the gallery, I’d jump up and say “I’ll run and get a vase!” (rhymes with chase) and she would say “You mean you’ll run and get the V-ahh-se.” Pause. “Yes. I’ll…just…go get that.”

At Saipua I tend to gravitate towards rather plain vases. Cuz I like to let thems flowahs speak for themselves! And there is something to be said for simple vessels – ease perhaps – or multi-functionality. What once was a horseradish jar…now a petite vase perfect for a single anemone. Soda bottle – ideal for a crespedia or two. My penchant for old mason jars? Obviously no secret.

But there are those times when one may need a more substantial vessel. Something that stands as proudly on it’s own as it does filled with flowers. Perhaps you consider this on your registry. Or perhaps a recent trip to Moss resulted in a brush with death when you came within a micrometer of knocking over a very expensive Italian vase. A raised eyebrow on the face of the man at the counter and suddenly you’re considering what it would be like to own 5-figure vase, let alone a 5-figure annual health care package. I’ll tell you what it would be like – INCREDIBLE. Because vases that are beautiful on their own make flowers even more beautiful. Trust me, I know this to be true.

At some point this year I met artist Susan Clark. Sue works across many medium, but her blown glass is of particular note. Glass artistry is somewhat beyond my comprehension. Somehow sand gets melted, blown paper thin, and results in an achingly smooth object. When Sue brought me her work to play with and photograph it was a rare opportunity for me to break out of my habitual mixed-flower-ball-jar routine, and consider flowers as a complement to the vessels they temporarily occupy.

The arch-backed forms of Sue’s pieces offer up small holes (or in some cases multiple holes) in which stems gently rest. Especially interesting from a floral designer’s point of view is how the vessels transform the status of individual blooms; what once was a simple white tulip becomes a segment in a conversation between nature and design. As these tulips sit in their container they continue to grow. As the stems lengthen there develops a notable similarity between the arching of the vessel and curvature in the stem.

With these pieces I had to exercise restraint. A single stem is all it takes to activate the purpose in these forms. The pleasure of working with Sue’s vases has led me to rethink containers in general. It’s lovelier sometimes to admire the intricacy and beauty of a single flower set apart. A vessel that can support that simplicity is handy to have. More of Sue’s work can be seen on her website here: http://susanclark.org/

Next week we’ll look at the other end of the container spectrum and discuss how you can elevate your household recyclables into vases.


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  • Thanks for the info catbird and Sarah – I want to grow these fritillaria now. And I want one of these ghost phalluses to put my flahwahs in. All I can say is every time I see a hole in the ground, I don’t think it looks like a….

  • They are cute…I agree that they look like little ghosts. Anything similar to a pillar could be considered phallic, I think the people with that on their minds are kinda getting carried away.

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