ISSUE 15  |  Best of Spring 2016

DIY: Reclaiming an Old-Fashioned Cut-Glass Vase with James’s Daughter Flowers

April 13, 2016 6:00 AM

BY Erin Boyle

Alexa has me convinced: there’s a place at the table for cut glass.

But a cut glass vase needs an arrangement that’s equal parts modern and trailing to counteract all of those faceted edges. If it’s my vase, it also needs the help of a floral expert.

I called on an up-and-coming floral designer on the Brooklyn flower scene, Lisa Przystup of James’s Daughter Flowers, to help me with my challenging vessel.

Photography by Erin Boyle.


Above: A little background. When I sat down to brunch three years ago with my cousin Mildred–a lifelong New Yorker and the epitome of style and grace–to celebrate my recent engagement, she handed me a beautiful and intricate cut glass bride’s basket. The piece had belonged to our Aunt Ruth (if we’re getting technical, Aunt Ruth was Mildred’s aunt, and my great-great aunt) and I cherish anything that comes from these venerable women in my mom’s family. But the truth is that I’ve had trouble finding the perfect occasion to pull out the diminutive vessel. Even with a simple arrangement of tulips, the piece felt too fussy and old-fashioned for my apartment (and this coming from someone with a penchant for all things vintage).


Above: Lisa came to my new apartment with bundles of pale yellow poppies, white jasmine, and other statement flowers to make a sculptural arrangement.


Above: She began her process by creating a framework of Scotch tape. A floral frog is also a handy tool for creating a modern arrangement with plenty of breathing room between stems, but the frog was too large to fit into the base of this small basket.


Above: Lisa started the arrangement with a base of greenery; her choices for this small vase were eucalyptus and jasmine.


Above: Lisa prepares tall stalks of Fritillaria persica. A journalist by training, Lisa got bitten by the flower bug while researching a story on Brooklyn florists for New York Magazine. After spending a summer testing her floral skills on weekend trips upstate, Lisa decided to try her hand at running a business and launched James’s Daughter Flowers.


Above: To the base of green, Lisa added dainty checkerboard Fritillaria meleagris. (Have a hankering to plant your own? See How to Make a Meadow of Snake’s Head Fritillary.)


Above: Trailing white jasmine was a treat for Lisa to find after an early winter that offered only pink varieties.


Above: Pro tip for preparing poppies: burn the plant stems to seal the stem and prevent the milky white substance from leaching into your arrangement  and causing the poppy to wilt and the other flowers to suffer.


Above: The work in progress.


Above: To one side, pink parrot tulips droop over the edge of the vase.


Above: The finished arrangement on my newly painted dresser. I can’t decide if the arrangement makes a modern statement, or if it’s just perfectly old-fashioned enough to suit the cut glass. In either case, I think it’s pretty near perfect.

Not convinced about the power of cut glass? See Alexa’s post on Remodelista: Trend Alert: Your Grandmother’s Cut Crystal Makes a Comeback.

N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published on March 5, 2014.