The Washington Post

Alternatives for the Mason jar cycle

The clear glass container invented for the canning of food is everywhere

No Mason jars were used in the making of this article.

The same cannot be said of weddings everywhere. Or cocktail hours. Or the homes of trendy 20-somethings.

The Mason jar — a clear glass container invented for the canning of food — is everywhere. Still. Another peak wedding season has come and gone, and yet again, the jar was inescapable.

Vases, centerpieces, chandeliers, lanterns, soap dispensers, cocktail shakers, terrariums, tumblers, planters, lamp bases, photo frames, snow globes, spice racks, bracelets, gumball machines — all made out of Mason jars.

“It has exploded to where, I don’t know, probably 75 percent of weddings end up with Mason jars,” said Jennifer Condon, wedding style and registry director at Brides Magazine.

As illustrated by the number of Google searches for “Mason jar,” the decorating trend for homes and weddings first took off in 2011. Condon said it unsurprisingly coincided with the rising popularity of do-it-yourself-type decor in the wake of the recession.

People were trying to save money, and the jars were inexpensive.

People were trying to personalize their homes and weddings, and the jars were versatile.

People were short on time, and the jars were easy to find.

Then, there was the Pinterest effect.

“Brides are inspired by other brides,” said Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings. “Brides post their weddings online, then other brides spend a lot of time looking at what those brides were doing.”

And so went the Mason jar cycle, until an item that once represented creativity and personality became the Instagrammable poster child of normalcy. Antiques stores jacked up their prices, manufacturers made jars in ridiculously impractical sizes and the company that owns the Ball Corp. brand doubled the price of its stock. The Mason jar became synonymous with any setting that was meant to feel homey or outdoorsy.

Brides who had no previous interest in canning, farms or rustic decor were having barn weddings full of burlap, weed-like flowers and, of course, Mason jars. Washington wedding planner Jeannette Tavares said the idea has been so ingrained in brides’ minds that her customers expect every non-ballroom wedding to look this way.

“There is a movement among designers to get out of this idea we were being pigeonholed into,” Tavares said.

She encourages thinking outside the Mason jar, to options such as glass cylinder vases, mercury glass or even centerpieces made of succulents.

“We are ready for something new and different,” Tavares said.

Unless the “rustic chic”-loving world isn’t ready for new and different.

“The Mason jar is a true icon of made-in-America quality and ingenuity,” said Eleanor Madison, who sells the jars from her vintage furniture company. “They deserve to be repurposed and reimagined like this.”

The 25-year-old entrepreneur said the jars are not a trend but a lasting staple that “beckons us back to a simpler time.”

DIY Weddings Magazine founder and chief executive Kym Stelmachers said it beckons her back in a different way.

“Each generation has something they are embarrassed about. I mean, proud of,” Stelmachers said. “Take the ’80s. Big puffy sleeves on your wedding dress was a must-have. The bride was practically swallowed up by her own dress. But it was trendy!”

So is the Mason jar a multifunctional classic or an overdone cliche? Another cliche might be the answer: Only time will tell.

Jessica Contrera is a staff writer at the Washington Post.



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