Pressing flowers allows you to preserve blossoms for identification or inspire a host of different craft projects. It can also serve as a way to record your garden's evolution while preserving the moments of spring and summer beauty. Keeping a garden journal for me isn't all about the plants in your yard or garden - it's almost like a memory book of you and what's in your life (and on your mind) at that time. I associate it with something called plant feelings. Over time, you'll find that your garden journal is not only a cute diary of you and your garden, but it also becomes a valuable personalized tool for your future gardening endeavors.
Selection & Picking
Pick flowers from your garden, or gather wildflowers from a field close by. Select flowers that have a good shape and color and that are free of moisture. It is best to pick them on a dry day in the mid-afternoon, long after the morning dew has dried. To avoid wilting - press shortly after harvesting.
Pruners or Scissors
Blotting paper or newsprint
1. Place flowers or plant material between the blotting sets of paper, making certain all parts are spread out flat and not touching or over-lapping. If special curved stems are desired, form these by hand before pressing. If a flower has a thick center you can remove the petals and press them separately, to be recombined later.
2. Layer it! Cardboard > paper > plant specimen > paper > cardboard. Repeat your layers, etc.
3. Once you have enough stacks that your press can hold, put the top wooden piece back on and tighten its wing nuts down to create an even pressure. Leave flowers in press for 3-4 weeks. Pressing time can be shortened if drying conditions are good and if wing nuts are tightened slightly each day. When flowers are dried they can be stored indefinitely between the pages of a magazine or book.
*Alternatively, if you don't have a specially made press you can use a book. Place flowers between two sheets of paper to protect the pages of the book. Leave at least 1/8" of pages between pressings, weigh the book down with heavy books or weights (about 20 lbs) and wait a couple of weeks. A quicker way would be to put the book with flowers and paper in the microwave and zap in short bursts, 30 seconds to a minute at a time. Let cool between zaps, opening your press to let moisture and steam steam escape when cooling. Don't over do it you don't wan't to burn them babies!
Make your own simple wooden press:
Cut 2 boards, hold them together with a long bolt and wing nut in each corner. Cut pieces of cardboard and blotting paper (or newsprint) to fit between the boards, and layer it; wood, cardboard, blotting paper, flower, blotting paper, cardboard, then repeat your layers etc. Place the other piece of wood on top and tighten the wing nuts. Your color retention will be greatly improved if you put the flowers between sheets of paper and then try to change just the blotter paper at least every couple of days. The flowers may turn brown if they don't dry quick enough.
Mounting & Framing:
Interesting designs can be created by mounting whole flowers and foliage. Decorative effects can be created by combining separate elements such as petals, leaves or branches. Whatever yr approach, handle with care. Pressed flowers are very delicate and to minimize damage, it is best to position them with tweezers using a small amount of glue applied with a toothpick, to the thickest part of the flower for good adhesion. The object is to apply just enough glue to tack the flower, stem, petal or leaf in place, since if you are framing it, the glass will do most of the work in holding the flowers flat. Use a heavy weight paper, backed with sturdy cardboard, cut to the same size. Place glass over arrangement and apply firm, even pressure while tapping the glass to the cardboard backing all around. Your flower piece is ready to be framed!
Flowers or other botanical specimens can be mounted to the bottom of a serving tray or a coffee table and covered with clear glass for protection, or used in stationary, soap making, candle making, etc. The best part is the creative process - whether it's projecting colorful natural pictures, getting crafty with apothecary, making collages, or putting together scientific botanical collections - you don't have to have a "green thumb" or whatever, pressed flower projects are limited by your imagination - thanks Amma (Grandma in Icelandic) for the pressed poppy inspiration from lightyears away.