Household Crafts: Homemade Potpurri

Looking for an easy household craft? Tips on making your own potpourri at home.

Potpourri or the use of herbs and flowers to sweeten the scent of a room has been around for centuries. The word potpourri comes from the French meaning "rotten pot", which can be directly attributed to the use of crushed herbs, leaves and other organic matter placed in pots and containers to improve the scent of a home.

In the middle Ages, it was popular to place rushes or straw sprinkled with dried flowers and herbs around the floor to improve hygiene and mask the smells in a society wear bathing was optional. Linens and clothing were sometimes stored with dried flowers petals such and rose and lavender to help freshen ones personal space and mask odors. While some practices from the middle Ages have thankfully fallen to the wayside, the art of potpourri has remained.

When making your own potpourri, you have the advantage of choosing the scents and colors that suit your tastes. Potpourri is an inexpensive way to add your personalized scents and colors to your home with ingredients you can find in your own garden or from a local nursery. With a little research, you can create delightful scents for you home with a personal touch.

Start by choosing flowers and herbs that appeal to you. Rose, lavender, thyme, chamomile or whatever you may have growing in your own garden. Late morning and early evening are ideal time to cut flowers and herbs for drying. Make sure you cut enough to experiment with, by mixing the different scents. You can tie off the bunches and hang them upside down to dry in an area away from direct sunlight or you can place individual flowers or petals on a tray to dry. Make sure you turn them often. The drying process can take anywhere from a couple of day to two weeks, depending on the thickness of your plants and the method you choose for drying.

When your ingredients are finished drying, you should store them in airtight containers away from direct sunlight. Next, you will want to buy a fixative to help by taking in some of the essential oils and extending the life of your potpourri. Fixatives are found in craft stores, online and at nurseries. The most popular fixative is orris root. Orris comes from a species of iris that people have used for centuries in sachets, soaps and perfumes.

Now that you have your ingredients, you will want to choose a container for your potpourri. There are no rules on container types, as long as you find one with a large enough opening to allow the scent within to permeate an area sufficiently. Shallow bowls, small decorative jars all work equally well. Just choose a design that pleases you and compliments the colors of your potpourri.

The most rewarding part of making your own potpourri is the mixing. This is where your creativity begins to unfold. Amounts are a matter of personal taste. If you want one particular flower or herb to dominate the mixture, use it as the base for your potpourri. Try mixing a few scents that are too mild individually, or don't have the exact scent you wanted. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results. If you are looking for a more exotic smell, try adding aromatic wood chips to the mixture or something from your own spice rack. Cinnamon and cloves make an exciting addition to many potpourris. Be creative and a little daring. Potpourri is a very forgiving craft and you can add or remove as much or as little of one ingredient as you like with no adverse affects.

We touched on the subject of using a fixative to help extend the life of your potpourri. If after a few weeks, you notice the smell has faded and you want to refresh it, just add a little more orris root. You can use a few drops of essential oils to help bring new life to an old potpourri. Essential oils can be found in a huge array of natural scents at local craft stores.

Making your own potpourri is an inexpensive and natural way to scent your home that will bring out your own creative qualities. You can combine and try a myriad of mixed scents that will look just as appealing as they smell. So, bring a little of your garden inside the home and enjoy it year round.

© High Speed Ventures 2011