Hello! Life has been crazy busy, and we’ve hardly been home, since purchasing Minnie Driv’r! Since the end of August we’ve attended two vintage trailer rallies, two Sister’s on The fly events and two “just us two” trips. We’ve been on the move so much I haven’t been able to post about the events except the first two! But we are enjoying ourselves which was so needed after a project intense summer.
I’ve always wanted to press some of my garden flowers and this year I gave it a try! I hope you’ll try to make your own pressed flowers using some from your garden or even store bought ones.
Each year as fall presses on I find myself dreading the arrival of cold weather, knowing that a frost would put an end to the time I spend outdoors coddling my flowers. But I’ve gotten over that. Now, instead of mourning the climatic change, I’m devoting the time I used to spend tending my garden thinking of imaginative ways to use all of the flowers I’ve pressed.
Drying flowers in a press is a simple operation. In fact, now that I decided to press my flowers, I don’t even own a flower press. Frost will be coming soon so I hastily picked some blossoms (salvia, cosmos, zinnia, ferns, licorice, morning glory and inpatients) and stuck them into a heavy yellow pages and a huge old bible that I weighted down with a cast iron pan. Weeks later, with my first batch, are some still colorful, blooms just as pretty as they had been growing in the garden.
To me, pressed flowers preserve a moment in time and evoke a remembrance of a special bouquet from a loved one or a stunning pansy bloom that caught your eye in spring. They seem to keep summer alive almost forever. Pressed flowers are perfect for framing, placing inside a locket, or using as adornments for note cards. Here’s how to make your own pressed flowers.
Selecting Flowers for Pressing
I picked my flowers in the morning, after the dew has evaporated, when they are ready to open their buds or just before their peak. Collecting blooms/foliage at various stages of life gives a more natural look. The better the quality of the blooms at picking time, the better they will look when dried and pressed.
Once I’ve collected a batch of flowers, I sort them by type. I dry like flowers together because they dry at the same rate, and it also simplifies the labeling process. With my flowers sorted, I then arrange them, face down, on sheets of white paper. It’s important that none of the flowers touch; otherwise, when they dry, they will be stuck together.
I use sheets of smooth white typing paper to sandwich my blooms during the pressing process. The paper draws the moisture out of the petals, and also keeps the occasional problem blossom from sticking to the pages of the book I’m using or the cardboard layers of my flower press. I once made the mistake of using textured paper towels to layer my flowers, which resulted in dried flowers with the same texture. Now I use only smooth typing or blotter paper
The easiest flowers to press are those that:
- lay flat, i.e. cosmos and tickseed
- hold their colors, i.e. Viola and Nicotiana (tobacco flower)
- have thin petals, i.e. poppy and larkspur
- have thick centers, i.e. french marigold and Hibiscus. Remove the petals & dry press individually
You can dry chunky flowers such as multipetal roses or carnations (or even fruits and vegetables), but they will take longer and require a bit more attention.
Materials for Flower Pressing
Since I don’t have a press, you can use telephone books, newspaper; blotting paper; printer paper; flat, noncorrugated coffee filters; flat cardboard; or plain, untreated facial tissues to absorb moisture and aid drying. Your want the flowers to dry as quickly as possible which prevents browning. Don’t use paper towels because their textures may be imprinted on the petals. Also avoid waxed paper because it retains moisture. Get picked flowers into a press (which ever you use) as soon as possible.
You can buy or make a wooden flower press, but the following techniques operate on the same principle.
Pressed Flower Technique: Books
The easiest method of flower pressing and requires no special equipment other than absorbent paper and a heavy book or phone book. Pigments in the petals, stems, and leaves may stain the paper, so if the book is valuable, protect the pages with a layer of paper on each side of the plants being pressed.
There are two ways to press using this technique. Start by placing the flowers between two layers of absorbent paper, then placing heavy books on top. Or I just placed the flowers between the pages of the book itself, leaving at least 1/8 inch between multiple pressings. Weigh down the top of the book with a brick or other heavy item.
Let the flowers dry for a week before checking on them. At that point you may want to replace the absorbent material. Allow two to three weeks for complete drying.
Pressed Flower Technique: Iron
Like the other methods, this one begins with pressing the flowers between two pieces of absorbent paper.
Heat an iron to a low setting. Empty any water from the iron and do not add water. You do not want to add moisture with steam.
Prepare the flower for pressing by placing it between two sheets of absorbent paper. Flatten the flower with a heavy book first, then press the warm iron on top of the upper sheet of paper for 10 to 15 seconds. You don’t need to make a gliding motion as if ironing. Wait for the paper to cool for another 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat. Check occasionally by very carefully lifting the paper to see if the flower is stiff and dry.
Pressed Flower Technique: Microwave
Using high heat on flowers might cause them to turn brown, but if you are in a hurry, you can use a microwave to speed the drying process.
For best results pressing flowers with a microwave a professional microwave flower press designed for this purpose. Follow directions, placing the flower between two pieces of absorbent paper and using 30- to 60-second zaps, allowing the plant material to cool between microwave uses. If you are drying more than one set of blooms, alternate cooling and heating with two microwave presses.
In a pinch, you can create your own microwave flower press using two ceramic tiles and rubber bands to hold the tiles tightly together. Place the flowers between two sheets of absorbent paper, then press between the ceramic tiles. Heat for 30 to 60 seconds at a time, allowing the materials to cool before repeating.
Or place the flowers inside a book (be sure there is no metal in the binding). Heat the book for 30 to 60 seconds at a time, checking to see when the flowers are dry. Allow the book to cool for a minute or two between zaps. Do not microwave the book for longer than a minute at a time.
When the flowers are dry, finish the process with the traditional air-drying press with a book or heavy object. The flowers should be finished in a day or two.
I just started a new batch and have them all tucked inside a telephone book. Waiting three weeks is the hard part!
Have you dry pressed any flowers?