Flower Pressing

Pressing flowers is an enjoyable pastime that can bring hours of pleasure. There are some easy ideas for selecting, pressing and storage of your blooms.

Flower pressing is an enjoyable pastime that will bring hours of delight and result in the creation of special handcrafted items that bring pleasure to both the maker and the receiver. There is no need for this hobby to be expensive as there are some shortcuts to help someone starting out.

For example, it is not necessary to own a flower garden in order to take up the craft of flower pressing. Florists stock a good range of flowers all year round or perhaps you may have a friend who enjoys gardening who will supply you with blooms in exchange for a few handcrafted cards. If you live in a flat or apartment and still want to grow your own flowers you can grow them in containers on a patio or windowsill. In fact window boxes can be utilized to good effect being both space saving and aesthetically pleasing.

It's really a matter of trial and error to discover what plants to use but generally speaking it is best to keep away from plants that have fleshy stems as these contain water. Some colors last better, yellow in particular, whereas blues and pinks can fade over time. By experimenting you'll soon learn which flowers to use and which plant matter will turn brown during the pressing process. For this reason don't use very bulky material. With larger flowers such as hydrangeas and delphiniums, remove each floret and press these individually. You will then end up with a larger stock of blooms to use in your work. Also don't forget the weeds growing on roadsides and in fields. Even seeding grasses can make an interesting addition to your work.

The beginner can often use heavy second hand books to press their flowers. Place blotting paper between the leaves so the pages aren't damaged and lay your material in between. You can then place more books on top to add extra weight to aid the process. Books are ideal for pressing leaves, leaving them perfectly flat although they're not so suited for small flowers which need a more evenly placed and concentrated pressure to press them perfectly.

Flower presses can either be store bought or made at home. They consist of two pieces of wood (usually plywood) with a hole drilled in each corner. A threaded bolt is then pushed through the bottom of each of these with a washer and wing nut securing the other piece at the top. In between these you create a sandwich of corrugated cardboard and blotting paper with extra layers of paper if you wish.

There is some difference of opinion as to how long you should leave your flowers in the press. Some people think a few days, others several weeks. This can depend on the climate with flowers drying much more quickly in a drier atmosphere. For this reason you can speed up the process by placing your presses in a warm place such as an airing cupboard. There is also a move towards drying flowers in the microwave oven. On removing the flowers from the blotting paper, you can place them in plastic bags to be stored flatly in a drawer or more ideally, replace the blotting paper and then store them in old telephone books. These can contain quite a large amount of flowers and also keep your stock protected and in good condition. Always remember to write what's stored in them on the outside cover as this will save you a lot of time when you're searching for something in particular.

You can use pressed flowers to decorate cards, bookmarks and pictures. Using formal styles or sticking to more random patterns is really a matter of individual taste. Either use cardboard, material or wood as a base to glue them to. Always lay out your picture first before you fix them down permanently because mistakes are very difficult to repair. Protect the finished product by using a clear plastic seal (even laminating) in the case of cards, a clear varnish on wooden items, or glass in the case of pictures. Always keep finished items out of bright light as sunlight will fade colors. Otherwise your work should last many years and bring pleasure to all who see it.

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