I have always had a passion for art. I think my parents allowed that part of me to grow when they never got mad at my siblings and I for drawing all over the walls. One time we even drew on the car by taking rocks and scratching in our designs (which, granted, they did get a bit mad for that).
When I am making art whether it’s through ceramics, jewelry, or drawing, I become immersed in it. It’s like reading a good book, everything fades to the background and my focus only has eyes for what I am creating. I sort of feel like nature when it creates its’ own art beauty. For nature, flowers are their art. You can see how much energy nature puts into forming a single bud. Because of this, I wanted to find a way to combine the two.
This combination starts back through time. Grab your corsets and best British accent and head back with me to the Victorian Era, where using flowers for art became a highly popular art form.
Into the Time Machine We Go!
Victorian women created keepsakes.
Flowers that they pressed through books to keep a memory at hand. As you sit and eat your scone on a large front porch, think about it. Dried flowers held memories. Memories hold images. Images create Art.
Let’s take back that artform.
I have been perfecting pressing flowers for over three years. But to start pressing flowers, you have to understand the basics.
The basics = the weighted press + weeks of time.
Don’t step through the time machine just yet…. keep your French dresses laced up and your suits up to par, because pressing flowers involves what the Victorians did.
Basic Technique for Preserving Flowers
Basically, your flower holds moisture. To press a flower, you need to remove the moisture from it. How? Well, in a nutshell, you put a ton of weight on top of a flower and the water disperses outwards leaving the flower dry.
Weighted object + flower + 3 weeks = pressed flower
To start, you need newspaper and cardboard.
Two objects that are very hard to come by. … I kid, most everyone can look up from their computer screen and see these two lying on the corner of your table. If you don’t have newspaper or cardboard in your house you can use:
- Paper bags
- Computer paper
- Paper towels
- A heavy book
- Pre-made press
When using a book make sure it’s a book that you’re okay with ruining. I did the unfortunate mistake of using a heavy library book. After a few presses in said book, I ruined the book and had to pay for it. On a good note, now I have a heavy book to press even more flowers in! On a bad note, the book was more expense than I thought.
Tips for Preservation
Essentially, you want to use anything that will capture the moisture your flower disperses. You need to use a substance that can soak up the water and keep it away from the flower being pressed. You do not want to use wax paper, aluminum foil, or another waxy or run-off surface. This will keep the moisture with your flower and then make your flower moldy.
The Press Flower Sandwich
To make a flower press you’re making a sandwich. Just like afternoon lunches of bread, lettuce, and turkey your press will look the same (without the added benefit of being able to eat it after you’ve made it). It’s going to go cardboard, newspaper, flower, newspaper, and cardboard. You can stack these presses as high as you want. Just know that no matter how high you stack the presses eventually you’re going to need to put weight on top!
Changing Drying Sheets
I stress, like before, the flower disperses its moisture into the surrounding paper. This said you need to change that paper. Almost like a dirty diaper, for the first 2 weeks every three days you need to change out the newspaper. Why? Because if you let your flower sit in the newspaper’s moisture it will become moldy. Like any soiled baby, the flower will cry when it has not been changed.
How Long to Press
Using the weighted press varies from flower to flower. Begonia’s hold a ton of moisture and can take up to a month and a half to fully dry. While daisies can take three weeks. You know the flower is dry when it is paper-y and thin.
Back to the Present
The Victorians might have started the rage for pressing flowers but I am perfecting it. With the basics down you can now graduate to new unique techniques (say pressing flowers in cat litter). With this step down check out my blog post for pressing flowers in cat litter! Finally, unlace those corsets and throw off the suits, let’s bring pressing flowers back into the 21st century!
Need inspiration for what you can make with your pressed flowers? Check out my shop on Etsy, NoFarmNeeded.