Ornamental Jardinieres You Can
Make Quickly and Inexpensively

Ornamental jardinieres or pots were very popular during the Victorian era. They were used to cover the plain flower pots plants were grown in. The most prized jardinieres being Sevres or Wedgwood China. These were costly and not all Victorian households could afford them. So what is to be done? Victorian ladies figured a way to make their own!  Here are all the instructions they followed. You can also use them, too, and make your very own.

Make Your Own Victorian Ornamental Jardinieres

Published in Cassell's Household Guide, Volume 2, 1896.
Edited for use on this site

Ornamental Jardinieres #1

Fig. 1

Ornamental Jardinieres #2

Fig. 2

Very pretty jardinieres may be made in imitation of Sevres china and of Wedgwood. Each jardiniere is cutout of cardboard, square, wide enough to hold the flowerpot and saucer, and an inch higher than the top of the pot. Cut the sides in four square pieces, of stout cardboard, narrower at the base by an inch than at the top. Join the four pieces by strips of thin linen, pasted inside, down the corners; when these are dry, line the card with good white paper. Let this also dry.

Then take two pieces of turquoise-blue satin paper, the size of one of the sides. At the top and bottom this paper is not quite to reach the edge, but only to meet the border of flowers. At the two sides, where the jardiniere is joined, it is to wrap over.

Draw an oval in the centre; be sure it is correct, and then cut it out. Paste each of these pieces evenly on the two opposite sides of the jardinière, wrapping the ends over the sides. Cut two more like them, but not wide enough at the sides to wrap over; let them rather be slightly within the edge. Remove an oval in the centre of each, and paste them on the two remaining sides. Let this dry well.

Next, with purchased German embossed garlands, &c., ornament the edges of the ovals, disguising the meeting of the pink with the white. One or two tiny Cupids and butterflies, or little birds, maybe introduced into these garlands. Then add to the borders wreaths of flowers, just covering the margin of the pink paper. The extreme edges are covered with gold paper, which is bought in the sheet, cut in narrow strips, gummed, and placed over the edges. The strips should be ruled on the back with a pencil before being cut, and each strip be folded in half down the centre, and opened again, before it is gummed. With blue paper the Sèvigné Sevres china is imitated; for the Du Barry substitute pink. Fig. 1 is an illustration of the jardiniere. A jardiniere in real Sevres china, at the present time, is worth about £300.

The Wedgwood jardinière are made of cardboard, in a similar manner to those for the Sèvres. Instead of lining them with white paper, line each with a bluish-grey dead paper. Cover the outside in the same manner. Then cut out an embossed design from lace paper — figures are the best — and attach with gum to the centre of one side of the jardinière. Gum the level parts of the figure only, and not the raised ones, and be sure not to flatten it in pressing it on. Place a similar ornament on each side.

Edge the jardinière, not with gold, like the Sèvres, but with strips of white paper. A good way to keep embossed paper medallions well raised, is to gum them on the reverse with a strong solution in all the hollow parts; let this dry completely. Then gum the flat parts only, and attach it to the article to be ornamented — merely lightly place it on and gently press the edges, to avoid breaking the dry gum on the reverse.

Fig. 2 illustrates the Wedgwood jardinière, and a similar figure to that upon it can be procured from lace-paper makers. Instead of blue-grey, the Wedgwood may have a pale stone-green ground, to imitate Palissy ware.

These square jardinières can be placed upon tables or stands in the corners of rooms. Larger square jardinieres, made to fit the tops of little occasional tables, are very effective. The pots can be ranged within. Cut the card deeper than the largest pot, and nearly as long as the table is square at the base; towards the top it becomes a little wider. Make it up in the same way as the small ones; the Sèvres china, or the Wedgwood, or Palissy can be imitated.

Ornamental Jardiniere design

Fig. 3 presents a pretty design for a table jardinière, square, or for a long narrow window-box, to be used in a room or in a greenhouse.

Ornamental Jardiniere inside

When the pots and saucers also are arranged inside; these jardinieres, there is an unsightly space at the top. To conceal this, cut two pieces of card with a half-circle; out of the centre of each, like Fig. 4. Place one of them on the top of the jardinière, inside, letting it rest on the pot, and the flower projecting out of the half-circle; place the other piece the other side of the flower in the same way; the two pieces of card thus overlap each other in the centre, and the sides of the half-circles meet. On the top of them spread enough moss, real or artificial, to cover them. Before putting them over the flower-pots,stab them all over with large holes by the aid of a stiletto. For boxes containing rows of pots, cut the card like Fig. 5.

If there is only one row of plants, only cut out the half circles on one side, but, if there are more than one, on both sides. Measure the distances first, so as to make the excisions in the right places.

Jardinieres from these designs may be made works of superior art, by drawing and colouring them by hand on white wood, which can be cut to order for the purpose, and should be thin. Water-colours — all the transparent ones rendered opaque by mixing them with permanent white and a little gum — or oil-colours, are both suitable.

Oil-colours are the most permanent. Either must be varnished when completed. If glass, the shape and size of the wood can be procured, and placed over it, securing the edges to the wood, and the edges of the glass itself together at the corners; by bindings of gold paper, the effect is much enhanced. Such stands may be placed on brackets, or surmounting dwarf bookcases, or on greenhouse shelves. It is best to have a solid base of the wood, as well as sides, so as to make each jardinière like a box without a lid, especially if it is glazed. Then, when not charged with flower-pots, a heavy book, orsome shot can be put inside it to prevent its being easily upset.

Such jardinieres can also be made of poticomanie. It is necessary to have a glass shape first, procurable to order from a wholesale glass importer. Inside this place the devices, gumming them to the glass with a thin solution of isinglass, or very pure white gum. When quite dry and well fixed, paint on the wrong side of the glass the grounds of such medallions as are white. Let that dry. Then add the ground colour, painting still on the wrong side. If the ground is uniform, without white medallions, put it all on at once. When dry, repeat the ground colour, till it is perfectly even and smooth in appearance on the right side; each coat must dry before the next is added.

Please note: These instructions are as originally published. Many of the items may not be available for purchase at your local craft or hobby store. You will need to use your judgement on what to substitute for items no longer available.

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