DIYdiy projectsentertainingFood & Drinkoutdoorstudio choowe like it wild

we like it wild: shamrock badges

by Grace Bonney

Aside from the obligatory pint, we’ve never been quite sure what to do on St. Patrick’s Day. Since most of us just aren’t a green plastic bowler hat bunch, we decided to do some serious brainstorming in order to come up with a bit of wearable green that suits our particular tastes. While visiting North Beach’s Washington Square Bar & Grill last week legendary barman Michael McCourt poured us a couple of “lady’s” pints (a half pint) of Guinness to help us get our creative juices flowing, chatted us up about the comings and goings of the neighborhood, and even offered to wear a little of our green himself.

Until recent decades, St. Patrick’s Day was little more than a saint’s day observed only in Ireland. Mike told us growing up there in the during and after World War II, St. Patrick’s Day meant the bars would be closed and there may be a big soccer match to see but the raucous celebrations we associate with today’s St. Patrick’s Day were unheard of. After some investigating we found that some other traditions of the holiday had been lost over time. In previous centuries people made paper badges decorated with crosses and shamrocks to mark the day. Gradually, badge and ribbon making lost favor and most people chose to wear a shamrock in their lapel for the saint’s day, and now…the green carnation. According to Mike, it was a real religious and nationally observed saint’s day, “Until Budweiser realized there was money to be made,” he laughed.

We decided to bring a little bit of finery back to the St. Patrick’s Day celebration by making a shamrock badge (inspired by the idea of Victorian lapel vases) to wear while partaking in our lady’s pints next Wednesday. We happened upon a stash of miniature medicine bottles at a flea market recently that have been the perfect vases for our tiniest flowers in the shop and were a perfect fit for clover (bonus: these bottles are spill proof!). The shamrock is a symbol of Ireland and the holy trinity, but the same clover is a native species on most continents. It usually sprouts little white flowers and is used as a ground cover for areas where little else will grow. Due to it’s tenacious spirit, clover is also considered a weed by many, but how many weeds can say they have their own holiday? Our yards are completely over-run right now with yellow oxalis; the shamrock look-alike we used in our bottle.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Studio Choo’s shamrock badge project (including step by step how-to photos) after the jump!

A little jewelry chain, a few jump rings, a pinback, and some lovely ribbon is all it takes to make our shamrock badge. Measure your ribbons to the lengths you’d like it to hang and then add about a half inch and cut. Fold the end of the ribbons twice and glue, and once it’s set glue the pinback to the ribbon. Using pliers and wire cutters assemble a link of chain around the neck of the vase and attached two lengths of loose chain on either side using jump rings to link. Sew through the end of the loose chains with a needle and thread enough so it can hold your mini-vase and it’s contents. Add some clover and pour yourself a drink.

[ed. note: if you’re having trouble finding tiny bottles, amazon sellers have tons of them for low prices]

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  • This is a really cute project and a great idea. Kids in schools still make paper badges with shamrock pinned to them (not clover as some non-Irish sites say) as art projects for St. Patrick’s day. I have never seen or heard of anyone using a green carnation. Its always shamrock.

    I always wonder when I see St. Patty written on American sites and message boards, isn’t Patty a girl’s name? St. Paddy’s day would be the right name if shortening it from Patrick. You would never hear anyone saying Patty here for that reason :)

    Nicola in Dublin, Ireland.

  • This was a sweet, little post! I never really knew what the TRUE meaning of Saint Patty’s Day was. I’ll try to make it a little more meaningful from now on.

  • i love this post. i’ve grown to dread the st patrick’s day debauchery, but this project idea takes me back to school days when the holiday was fun and crafty.

    jill, i love your posts / photos here and on your blog – it’s good to see that you’re doing well!

  • My mother-in-law can literally look down at a patch of grass and pick out a four leaf clover (it’s the most amazing thing I have ever seen) so this little badge is just perfect for her! Thanks for the inspiration

  • Ain’t history grand. Thanks for looking past the assumptions and sharing some great background. Hope to see more of this.

  • I love everything about this post. I used to live in S.F. and absolutely love the WashBaG (Washington Bar & Grill), I love the history about St. Paddy’s in Ireland, and I LOVE the shamrock badges.

  • I love clover. I’ve been a little obsessed with finding a four-leave clover since I was a kid. Totally appreciate this post.

  • What a sweet post… When in San Francisco I’ve also met some interesting souls at The Buena Vista….I understand they served the first Irish Coffee here in the United States. “The restaurateur pursued the elusive elixir with religious fervor, even making a pilgrimage overseas to Shannon Airport.” The bartenders there are full of good stories, much history and a visit there makes a trip to San Francisco complete.

  • Paddy’s Day for me growing up in Ireland was all about our provincial parade with the shoddy floats and a procession of tractors; people wearing bunches of shamrocks and sometimes 1916 commemorative pins; and one man dressed in green with a white beard and a crock. If I was in the parade I would have frozen fingers and look slightly silly in my scouts uniform.

    Afterward the pipe bands with their kilts would be drinking pints of the black stuff in the local pub.

    Since March the 17th falls during lent we shouldn’t be eating sweats [candy] but our parents would allow it and we’d have to have a Cream Egg and Tayto Cheese and Onion.

  • Oh gosh! I want to wear one of those EVERY day with a little posy placed in it!!! So adorable.

  • When I was little my Mom called St. Patrick’s Day “Leprechaun’s Day” and it was the day when mischievous leprechauns would come to visit and mess up your room but leave candy strewn about to make up for it. Once there were even tiny chalk footprints on the wall leading out of the window.

  • Thank you! St Patrick’s Day is also my birthday, and though I am part Irish (and have traveled there several times), the whole green beer thing leaves me befuddled. Thank you for a lovely craft to do instead! That and a Guiness will do me fine!

  • Oh my! I love these, how cute to wear a plant on your lapel! I think this is my favorite DIY ever. I will be scouring stores for mini medicine bottles so I can have my own wearable vase!

  • This is a sweet project! I see many possibilities for other kinds of mini posies, thanks for the idea.

    Thanks also to all for sharing some insight on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s very interesting.

  • My friend who recently got married had his whole male entourage wear something similar sans the bottle, and using felt instead of real flowers. I like the idea of hanging that bottle and using real plants instead of synthetic ones – it makes everything look fresher!

  • Wow, I just love everything about this post.

    Just like ‘Voila’ mentioned in the comments above, I too have a lady in my family, my grandmother Shelagh for introducing me to the ‘correct way to find shamrocks’. She’s ALL Irish, and ‘listens’ for them. They call to her, she always said. Well, I guess they call to me too; I never have any trouble walking over to a patch and finding several. ;)

    What a wonderful little idea. Warms my Irish heart.


    Heidi (AlpineGypsy)

  • Nice.
    No-one is Ireland ever says Patty’s Day . Honestly. It is only Paddy’s Day or St Patrick’s Day . Anything else is Hallmark nonsense .

  • I’ve never even heard of anyone calling it St. Patty’s Day!! Definitely not how we do it in Ireland. Love the idea of this little badge though…large tufts of wilting greenery is usually what we witness on people’s lapels…this is such a beautiful and practical idea…love it!

    Sadhbh – Dublin – Ireland

  • Love this project! You could also use it to wear other greens and flowers all spring/summer long! I think I’ll give it a try.