Thursday, 5 March 2015

The art of pressed flowers

The art of pressed flowers is a simple and satisfying craft. The only personal requirements are patience; neat handedness and an admiration for flowers are all that is needed to make pretty floral pictures and original gifts. Collecting many wild and cultivated flowers on a summer day can be made into many decorative and useful items like table mats, greeting cards and gift tags. When creating pressed flowers the flowers and leaves need only a few weeks under a weight such as a pile of heavy books or a proper botanical press, after a few weeks of pressing the flowers and leaves are ready for use. Most pressed flower projects do not need a great deal of equipment to create something lovely, in projects the plants are simply glued to a paper background and then protected under glass or plastic. The only real special equipment worth investing is is a flower press if you intend to make this into a regular hobby as flower presses are the neatest and most efficient way of pressing flowers. 

Lilliput Zinnia's pressed in the flower press

Any and all fairly small, fine and flat flowers, including the likes of daisies, primroses, violets and buttercups are suitable for pressing.  Any larger variety of flower with multiple blooms like lupines, hydrangeas and such rarely press well and often need to be broken up into small florets then pressed separately to be reassembled or for a delicate effect used singly.
Flower heads are not the only thing to be pressed, some stems and leaves can be pressed successfully as long as they are not bulky, hard, or brittle.
Other things to consider pressing are seaweed and even butterflies.
When some pressed flowers are finally ready to be used in a project they might not look at home with its own stalk and foliage but relates much better to those found on other blooms. An artistic eye when creating a project will determine this in the end.

After flowers are pressed most lose its original color and often fade in time. This fading and discolorations often from retention of moisture when flowers are being pressed and this can be avoided if the flowers are dried right from when they are picked. As a rule, yellow and orange flower retain their colors. Blue and red flowers change by fading or turn beige or brown. Very young green foliage often changes to a dirty yellow, grey, or even black. These might not appear attractive but they can lend interest to any design so keep any ‘failures’ to see if they can be attractive with other pressed flowers.

Spring and summer is the best time to pick flowers as this is when they are at their finest. Pick on dry days during the middle of the morning or afternoon. Try to avoid picking flowers at noon on a hot day as these flowers tend to disintegrate when pressed. Flowers when picked late or early with dew on them will go moldy in the press if they are not dried off.

On another layer in the flower press, roses

Once you have gathered your flowers, leaves and stalks and ensured that they are dry to the touch, it is best to press them immediately. If you intend to press flowers regularly, then it is worth buying or making a press, but satisfactory results can be achieved by using a heavy book and putting the plant materials between its pages.

You will need:
Blotting paper (I use paper toweling) tissues or other absorbent paper; cardboard or corrugated paper; a flower press or equivalent paintbrush or blunt-ended tweezers for arranging flowers in the press; scissors, a sharp craft knife or razor blade for dissecting difficult plants; adhesive tape to secure stalks if necessary.

Arrange plants for pressing in groups. Make sure that you press enough flowers at one time for a particular project, Put as many flowers as can be accommodated on one sheet of paper without them touching. As soon as the flowers are dry you can keep tightening the wing nuts on the press to exert greater pressure. Total pressing time obviously depends on the type of plant and moisture content but generally all flowers should be kept in the press for at least six weeks. However the longer the better is best.

Pretty and original projects: Bookmarks, tags, and cards

A simple convenient lightweight is made from two squares of plywood held together at each corner with a bolt and wing nuts with which the pressure on the flowers can be adjusted. The following instructions are for a press of this design which is simple to make and much cheaper than a brought one.

You will need:
Two pieced of wood at least 30cm (12in) square and 20mm (3/4) thick. You can make a larger press to press more flowers. Four blots about 10cm (4in) long and 1cm (3/8) in diameter, with washers and wing nuts; a drill with a 1cm bit; several sheets for plywood or corrugated paper and blotting paper all cut to fit between the bolts of the press

Drill a hole through each corner of the two pieces of wood, holding them together in a clamp to ensure that the holes match. The press is now ready for use. Prepare flowers for pressing by putting hem between sheets of blotting paper as already described. Put each sandwich of flowers and paper between layers of corrugated paper or plywood, place them all in the press, insert the four bolts and tighten the wing nuts.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are


  1. I had forgotten all about this lovely art form. My mother still has a violet pressed between the pages of her bible (somewhere in the psalms) that my father picked for her when they were going out....about 60 plus years ago.

  2. Phil,
    Pressed flowers seem to keep so well when out of the light. I think you should mount the violet onto card, on the back write the story of why the violet is important and have it laminated for your kids and their kids to know the story.
    Your dad was an obvious keeper.