How to Make Birch-Covered Vases


I first fell in love with the concept of birch vases when I saw  Beth Helmstetter’s design:

These photos by Jose Villa are incredible, and I swooned for birch!

I mean, look:

How gorgeous, right?!

This wedding is one of my favorites. I’ve also copied Beth’s lace-covered candles from this wedding:

Mine aren’t quite as gorgeous, but it was such a rewarding DIY project, that I highly recommend it!

My quick table mock up, with candles, birch vases, and white hem-stitch table runners on clearance for $19 each from Pottery Barn (waaay cheaper than even renting long table runners from the linen rental companies):

And another:

Photos above by Tanja Lippert.

Anyway, let’s get down to the birch vase tutorial. First, collect your birch bark. I got mine used from a bride who didn’t need them anymore.

Then I found a bunch more at Pottery Barn on clearance. They had them the past two winters, so maybe they’ll have them again next winter.

Chances are, some of the birch cylinders won’t be the right size you want them to be. If that’s the case, measure your “inside” vase–it can be a jar or simple old can from your kitchen, since it will be hidden, and measure how large you’ll need your birch cylinder to be, allowing for about a 2-inch overlapping seam of bark.

Here are my Pottery Barn cylinders and my tools: scissors, a pencil, and a ruler:

The cylinders were way too big, so I pried them apart at the seams (they had been hot glued together at the seams).

I then measured and cut them to the size I needed. Some of them were funkily-made with several “seams” and sections of bark forming one cylinder. I want only one seam so I can position the cylinders in pairs on the tables with the seams pointing in to each other so they’re hidden.

Here’s a picture of a PB birch cylinder cut in half, showing the funky extra pieces Pottery Barn had used to make them larger. I simply pulled those off.

Then I measured, traced a cutting line in pencil, and used scissors to cut the bark. Depending on how thick your bark is, you might want to use heavier shears or cutting tools. I used a utility knife once to start the cut, but I don’t recommend doing that! The utilitly knife was way too flimsy for the thick bark.

Now you’re ready to put ’em back together again!

I got a couple balls of twine and rafia ready, plugged in my hot glue gun, and started putting them back together again.

Some of the bark pieces weren’t very flexible, so I soaked them in the bathtub for an hour, which I found made it easier to bend the bark.

Step 1:

I held the cylinder together the size I wanted it, making sure the seam overlapped about a couple of inches so I’d have room to hot glue it securely. I then traced a line in pencil, as you can see in this picture, so I knew where exactly to apply hot glue. This also helped me create a perfectly straight seam in the haste of trying to quickly apply hot glue and then put the cylinder together before it dried on me!

Step 2:

I applied hot glue quickly and liberally. This was hard, because I needed to stop in the middle each time and add another hot glue stick into the glue gun. I used a lot of glue! About one stick for each cylinder! You might find you need more or less, depending on how large your cylinders are.

Step 3:

I held it together as tightly as possible while the glue dried.

I found this technique of smashing it down on the table using my palms worked pretty well:

I used both palms, for the record. (I had to remove one hand to take a picture!) Oh, if you’re wondering what that cardboard cylinder is on the inside, it came with the Pottery Barn cylinders, and for this particular vase, I was only shortening the length, not the circumference, so I decided to stick the cardboard cylinder inside for extra support.

Step 4:

I tied it in twine, to secure it. I’ll remove the twine before the wedding.

 

Have you used birch in your wedding? What did you make or buy that was birch?

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