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Cup-and-Saucer Compote




This trio of compotes arose from an assortment of solitary cups and saucers, stacked and firmly affixed with soft wax or adhesive putty. Such lone survivors of tea services abound at tag sales and antiques shops. Pretty as they may be, you've probably passed them up, knowing there was little chance of completing a set. But in this new role, mixing patterns is not a problem. Better yet, most chips, crazing, and stains will be hidden when the cup is inverted.

Just about any cup and saucer can be combined, but there are a few guidelines for selection. Cups without handles -- a form common until the late 1800s -- have the cleanest lines. Also, consider the scale of possible mates: A tiny saucer may look too small atop a tall cup. It's usually best to match materials (e.g., porcelain with porcelain, not ironstone), but feel free to coordinate pieces by color.


  • Cup
  • Saucer
  • Soft wax or adhesive putty


  1. Step 1

    Wash both pieces in warm water using a liquid dish detergent. Dry.

  2. Step 2


    Roll eight to ten 3/16- inch balls of soft wax or adhesive putty. Place around the base of upturned cup. Center saucer; press firmly into the wax.

Martha Stewart Living, June 2001



Reviews (40)

  • ceililly 31 May, 2008

    You can buy the battery operated tea lights at Michaels that I have used in several crystal tea cups on a table. These candles have so many uses and are safe anywhere you might forget to blow out a real one. In pierced jars, bags, rose bowls,goblets and vases. The possibilities are endles with no flame. Let us know of unique places you might use them. Have fun...Ceil in Chatt

  • frizzledbride 28 May, 2008

    Kling or Florist clay can be found at michael's, Wal-Kart, AC Moore and Kmart in the flower supply department.
    Thanks again.

  • noga 27 May, 2008

    wonderfulidea as usual. thank you for this creativity

  • TravelingTParty 26 May, 2008

    Why didn't I think of that!!!! I only have a couple of hundred tea cups and saucers!! ...has this ever occurred to me.....uh, NO!
    Another cute idea is to stack 3 tea cups and saucers in the traditional manner! (from bottom to top... saucer, cup, saucer, cup saucer, cup), attaching each piece with hot glue. It gives the appearance of a tall candlestick holder. I use them as candle holders and vases to hold tiny rosebuds. Anyway, thanks for the charming idea!...Vicki A.

  • PhyllisKov 26 May, 2008

    that is beautiful idea

  • frizzledbride 25 May, 2008

    Thank you to the Living staff for this idea. I think using an old or one of a kind tea cup and saucer as a compote for jams, conditments or candles is a very good thing. I now can put my mother's odd cups and sauces to good use. I will use kling, a florist clay to attach the saucer. This is a temporary method. So you can use you own good china or even if you change your mind. You have helped me save a lot of good memories. Charlotte C. Nelson not a Frazzled Bride

  • polishcontessa 24 May, 2008

    You can hot glue the cup to the saucer. Then make a wick, wind it around a pencil and suspend from cup. Pour hot wax into the cup and let it cool. You now have a lovely candle in a teacup and when it gets down, just put in a tea light minus the tin covering. rycarda smith

  • jakeandhelga 24 May, 2008

    I haven't tried this yet, but I like the uniqueness of it. It doesn't sound like the wax would be permanent. What about the putty? I would prefer only a temporary method. And if anyone has any other ideas about how to use tea cups, I would appreciate hearing about it. Thanks!

  • solbutterfly 24 May, 2008

    Cute idea for a Bridal Shower or a Ladie's Luncheon!

  • dorrainelmt 24 May, 2008

    very cool

  • DeerMarie 24 May, 2008

    Chezrea...I use white Gorilla Glue that I purchased at Wal-Mart. It also works great for gluing together clay pots and saucers and holds up well in the outdoor elements.

  • chezrea 24 May, 2008

    Soft wax or adhesive putty? I'm not sure I know what I'm looking for. Is there a brand name or two? What type of store do I go to - craft or hardware?

  • eternity 23 May, 2008

    OOOOHHHHH! I Love this! I have heard of the "Cup-and-Saucer Candle", but never though of doing this! Thanks a Bunch!!!

  • carabau 23 May, 2008

    Fantastic! I rushed to get my Great-Grandmothers' cup and saucer and placed some Jordon almonds on top. To secure the cup to the saucer, to earthquake putty.

  • Anna_Marie 23 May, 2008

    I've also heard of gluing teacups to the matching saucer (the way it would normally sit on the saucer) and using ribbon to tie them to a Christmas tree. My sister said it was one of the most beautiful trees she had ever seen.

  • younggrama 23 May, 2008

    Thanks everyone for the great additions to this idea! sandrasnyder, you are so right--my mother is elderly and this is a wonderful way to preserve memories as we enjoy using our family heirlooms, thanks again.

  • Sockey 23 May, 2008

    Great recycling idea. One similar to this is saving those broken crystal wine glasses. If there is still part of the stem intact when the base breaks off, it can be brought to a crystal repair shop and turned into a crystal bell.

  • DeerMarie 23 May, 2008

    I've also seen teacups and saucers glued to a thin metal pole that you stick into the ground. The cup could hold birdseed. Hmmmm....I must look into how I'd make one of these for my yard!

  • DeerMarie 23 May, 2008

    The best glue to use is Gorilla Glue. I use the Precision Glue Pen that dries white. This stuff bonds almost immediately. You have to be careful with how much you apply because it really expands and you will end up with a dried, drippy mess. This is the reason I use the white rather than the brown colored Gorilla Glue.

    Candle holders make a great base and look elegant!

  • SandraLawrence 23 May, 2008

    I've seen it done with a full size plate to make a cake plate.

  • SandraLawrence 23 May, 2008

    I've seen it done with a full size plate to make a cake plate.

  • SandraLawrence 23 May, 2008

    I've seen it done with a full size plate to make a cake plate.

  • SandraLawrence 23 May, 2008

    I've seen it done with a full size plate to make a cake plate.

  • barbfeinsinger 23 May, 2008

    I have seen this done with candle holders, too. Very cute. I bought one for my jewelry at night.

  • geniebush 23 May, 2008

    I do think I will super glue mine together (because my daughter can never find
    items that go together)

  • DeerMarie 23 May, 2008

    Wanted to add that I have a small one sitting near my kitchen sink to put my jewelry in when I'm working in the kitchen. I also made one that sits on my bedroom dresser that contains my bracelets and watches. The possibilities are endless!!!

  • terivanhecke 23 May, 2008

    What a good idea to use the "un"used cups and saucers from my Christmas set that I put in the back of the cabinet in favor of the matching mugs that I bought seperately!

  • DeerMarie 23 May, 2008

    These also make wonderful gifts! I made them this past Christmas using a large festive bowl and dinner plate to make a serving platter. I filled the plate with homemade cookies and candies, wrapped the entire thing in colored plastic wrap and tied a bow at the top. Everyone loved them. Just be sure that the pieces you use are safe to eat off of. Some of the paints are toxic. I also glued together coffee mugs with handles and small bowls or plates on top. They looked cute!

  • origamidoll 23 May, 2008

    These are so pretty!

    Something I do with tea/coffee cups with matching saucers from everyday dish sets is use the cups to hold dip and then arrange 'dippers' (chips, veggies, etc) around the cups on the saucer. This allows each person at the party to have their own portable and more sanitary dipping experience. I almost never used these small cups as mugs became the norm, so I saved them.

  • lovemyboyz 23 May, 2008

    Fabulous idea! Simple and makes a beautiful table presentation at your next party!

  • judonthego 23 May, 2008

    What a great idea! I can't wait to check out some garage sales to find cups and saucers.

  • ovestobake 23 May, 2008

    This is one of the cutest ideas I've seen lately. We've used bowls of various sizes with plates on top of those, but these, too, would make a pretty addition to a party table.

  • tricialee5 23 May, 2008

    Shharon, I think it would work to adhere cup and saucer together permanently using a glue like E-6000. I have done this to pieces from thrift store to make an elevated 'pot' to plant trailing plants (specifically, hoya rope plant). And for a "birthday cake" dish, pair a special plate with a coordinating tall container for a lovely elevated presentation. I found a 6" tall faux cut crystal container and an embossed glass plate at thrift store and joined them with E-6000 many years ago... and it's still goo

  • maryomoerlins 23 May, 2008

    This method could also apply to making some unique cake stands- just take the size up a notch and use bowls and plates. I imagine- if this is going to be a permanent addition to your dishware using plumbers caulk or construction adhesive would be a little more sturdy and water resistant than the wax or putty.

  • sandrasnyder 23 May, 2008

    WHAT A TERRIFIC IDEA! I inherited many cups and saucers when my mother moved into her retirement home. However, due to feisty felines, several cups and saucers have been the remaining pieces can be useful while I can enjoy their beauty still and remember my Mom.

  • Mary-helen 23 May, 2008

    What wonderful idea! I have a number of bone china cup

  • jackiebelle 23 May, 2008

    I LOVE this idea, I'm going to try it this weekend!

  • shharon 23 May, 2008

    Good idea! I would think it might be ok to attach them with good cement. Does any one else think that would work?

  • suehorne5892 23 May, 2008

    I love this idea - will add a little height to a tablescape! Can't wait to shop for some tea cups

  • humblebeefarm 23 May, 2008

    wow, i've never even thought of this one. thanks!