diy project: cocktail shaker + coffee tin arrangements

i love flowers the way i love good food: i like to surround myself with both as often as humanly possible. for me, flowers are the fastest (and prettiest) way to bring life to a room, and they always make my day a little bit happier. so today i’m happy to have sarah brysk cohen from blossom and branch join us for a guest post about using everyday containers from around your kitchen as vases for fresh cut flowers.

sarah loves to pick up seasonal flowers from the market and find homes for them in unexpected vessels so this week (and next week!) she’ll be sharing two different ways to celebrate fresh flowers with garden variety kitchen containers. today sarah will be using a coffee canister and cocktail shaker to create arrangements, along with sharing her tips for great flower arrangements. i’m so thrilled to have sarah with us this week and next. i hope you’ll enjoy her arrangements as much as we did, and stay tuned for her next two arrangements next wednesday. thanks, sarah! [photos by maggie harkov]

*ps: sarah is teaching “bodega flower” workshops in new york right now. the next one is april 11th- email sarah here to sign up and get more info!

CLICK HERE for the coffee tin + cocktail shaker arrangement how-to and sarah’s tips for fresh flowers after the jump!

Sarah‘s basic principles for flowers:

o Clean all leaves, stems or thorns that will sit below the water-line in whatever container you use.
o Use sharp tools and clean, cool water.
o Give flowers a fresh, angled cut and change the water every other day.
o Try adding a dash of lemon-lime soda (like 7up or Sprite) to the water – the sugar perks up the blooms!
o Try adding a few (just a few) drops of bleach to the water – it will keep the stem-rotting bacteria at bay.
o For tough or woody stems, use warm water and try snapping the stem with your hands instead of cutting. The splintered stems increase surface area for the water to travel up to the bloom.
o When in doubt, cut the stems short, so that the heads of the flower rise just above the neck of the vase. This pavé style is very European and chic.

Coffee Canister How-To (notes written by Sarah in her own voice)

I used a grouping of delicate tulips in icy white and green shades to match the classic look of the silver canister.

1) Unwrap bunch of tulips and rinse the stems so they are free of the excess sandy dirt at the bottom of the stems. Because tulips are bulb flowers, they tend to retain soil at the bottom.
2) Gently peel away loose, droopy or yellowing leaves. Remember to hold the flower in a solid spot toward the top, just under the bloom with one hand and peel the leaves with the other. Leave only enough greenery to accent the flowers and make sure they are not too bulky to fit in the canister.
3) Bunch together loosely in your hands and arrange the blooms so that they are on an even plane. Single flower arrangements look chic if you keep them in a tight cluster.
4) Measure against the container and cut the stems so that the blooms sit almost at the neck of the container.
5) Rearrange as you see fit! You can always place them in the canister, decide you need to remove more leaves or adjust the height and replace!
6) Add lily grass loop (see below) – tuck in with your tulips and enjoy!

Lily grass how to – Take a bunch of lily grass and bend into an arc. Secure at the bottom with a rubber band. The lily grass arc lends a modern accent and gives the arrangement an extra special something.

Cocktail Shaker How-To (notes written by Sarah in her own voice)

I think craspedia (billy buttons) are so delightful and brighten up any room. They also happen to be easy to work with. I was inspired by their stiff construction and utilized the holes in a cocktail shaker to help them stand tall, like a frog at the bottom of a vase!

Craspedia need no cleaning or preparation! They don’t even have leaves! You can simply measure them against the cocktail shaker, deciding the perfect height for each stem. Cut stems, place in the holes and repeat! I like a whimsical shape for this arrangement with some stems tall and jutting and other stems squat and cute. You can also try to form a topiary shape with the craspedia – start in the center with taller stems and gradually go shorter toward the outer edges. Have fun!

  1. I love these ideas, and I really, really love the photography. Gorgeous!

  2. DC Sarah says:

    oh yes! this is wonderful. i worked at a flower shop in high school and apparently forgot all my skills-bought a bunch of flowers last week and had no idea what to do with them, it was so sad.

  3. Dognbird says:

    This is a beautiful and simple idea. I love it!

  4. Gina D says:

    I love these arrangement ideas! I would love to know where I could find the coffee canister. It’s my favorite.

  5. I love Billy Buttons! haha, and I never knew they went by that name…cute.

  6. Rydia says:

    *O* so betiful and gorgerous

  7. Kayla Poole says:

    I just started experimenting with random containers to display flowers. It really does add so much unexpected character. Love the idea of the cocktail shaker (mine sits on the windowsill virtually unused most of the year, so I am excited to try this!).

  8. Danielle says:

    I really love the grass loop. So simple but so elegant!

  9. Lucy says:

    brilliant. and lovely. so ingenious!

  10. Heidi says:

    I love your yellow shirt — where did you get it?

  11. cathie says:

    so beautiful & fun! i love billy buttons.

  12. Alex Louisa says:

    Ohhhh the crazy abundance of grassy plants around my yard now have a purpose! Hello grass loops!

    Beautiful arrangements and gorgeous photos. What a good excuse to find a nice silver cocktail shaker ;)

  13. megan says:

    these are lovely, and i really need to get my hands on some billy buttons!

  14. Sarah says:

    Thanks, everyone! Billy Buttons are the greatest. I also love to combine them with other bright colored blooms (pinks, greens), almost like polka dots. Yellow blouse is from Banana Republic!

  15. Nikki says:

    Where can I get Billy Buttons? I have been researching them on the internet like crazy but can’t seem to find any!

    1. grace says:


      Have u tried your local florist?


  16. Alysson Hartmann says:

    I love these ideas…I am obsessed with flowers lately and have to have them everywhere. I now have some more thoughts on where/how to show them off in the house. Thanks!

  17. novita says:

    I’ve been looking for a coffee tin (to store coffee), and saw the one here–it’s gorgeous! Any ideas on where I can find one like it?


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