The term ‘’ is used by flower arrangers to embrace any utensil which holds or Oasis and can therefore be used for flower .
In the old days arrangers were much less adventurous in the use of containers for wedding flowers than they are to-day, limiting themselves to brass or occasionally cut-glass vases, while in country churches one would sometimes see jam jars standing about, completely uncamouflaged. Now, I am happy to say, there is a much more imaginative approach and anything is permissible, from kitchen casseroles to priceless silver goblets.
Jumble sales and white elephant stalls are very good sources for containers: but it is important not to get too carried away by textures or colour. What is necessary in a container is that it should have a good wide top and be well balanced. Some urn-type vases have narrow bases. When filled with flowers the whole thing overturns, which is a disaster!
Another good source for containers for wedding flowers is the church members’ flower and kitchen cupboards. A plea by the flower guild may encourage members to empty their cupboards and give their less used containers to the church. Not only casseroles but also pate dishes, tureens and pastry bowls can be excellent for flowers. Provided that it holds water, a container need not necessarily be discarded because it has chipped edges or is generally shabby. It is a good idea to get together several practical people and to have a ‘vase repairing day’.
Repairing vases does make quite a mess and it is best if it can take place in a barn or outhouse. If this is not possible and it has to be done in a house or a corner of the church, first spread out a large sheet of polythene and then put dust sheets on top of it. Scrub all the vases and let them dry, and where necessary repair chips, cracks, etc, with Polyfilla. When this has hardened, rub it down, and paint the container with a matt plastic paint. I find that shades of grey, black and dull green fade into church backgrounds. If the church is whitewashed, then white vases are useful.
If the style of the building is formal, and the decoration includes gold, a vase with its decoration picked out in gilt paint can be very effective: but you need a clever painter and the gilt needs to be used in a sparing way! Some churches, especially modern ones, have walls painted in strong colours; or the colour may be in the windows, curtains or carpets. In such a case a vase can with advantage be painted so as to pick up the colour in the building and flowers can be used to tone in with it.
Containers should always suit the building. Of course, when filled with flowers many are hardly visible, and so can be used in any church. What I hate to see is a simple country church filled with formal gilded or marbled pedestals and containers which in no way suit the background.
It is possible to obtain lovely glass-fibre copies of antique urns; but while they are beautiful, they are also heavy to carry and expensive to buy. To-day they are often replaced by excellent plastic reproductions. It is worthwhile to collect copper and brass preserving pans or copper casseroles, because they look well in most churches and provide a becoming background for flowers. Copper is especially attractive if placed on a wooden chest or table, when it reflects the flowers well. It may be possible to find a local pottery which will make vases to order: I have seen very good wide-topped vases made to order in colours of the church’s choice. Large earthenware and copper jugs are excellent for branches of foliage. Silver goblets can enhance a formal church, particularly one of the Regency period, and here gilt and marble can also be used to advantage. If you are using a silver goblet or any other container which might be scratched or otherwise damaged by chicken wire, it is essential to use a lining to protect it.