See projects below.
Nearly everyone has at some time saved a flower or
leaf by pressing it between the pages of a book. Pressing flowers has been a
favorite art form since it gained popularity during the Victorian Age.
Various methods have been tried since then, and several new techniques have
been developed in order to improve the color and shapes of pressed flowers.
Basic Wooden Press
Wooden flower presses are easy to construct and are
capable of holding many layers of plants.
1. Cut two pieces of plywood (no larger than 9" x 12") slightly
larger than the paper you wish to use in-between the floral material.
2. Drill holes large enough for four long screws in all four corners of both
pieces of wood.
3. Place the floral material layered on absorbent paper in-between the boards.
Slip the screws through the holes and tighten with wing nuts to compress the
floral material in-between the sheets of paper.
Padded Pressing Boards
The basic wooden press has some disadvantages. The
thick parts of the flowers can be crushed, while the thin petals of the
flowers, left unsupported, can shrivel. Sometimes moisture collects inviting
decay, and often times flowers and leaves stick to the paper. Even though
the basic wooden press has some drawbacks, it has been the standard pressing
technique used by avid plant pressers for many years.Better results can be achieved by using pieces of
raw cardboard (chipboard) padded with polyester fiberfill and fabric. Place
the padded board on the backside of the flower and plain chipboard on the
front. The non-absorbent polyester allows moisture to evaporate instead of
collecting within the sheets of absorbent paper. It also supports the back
of the flower, while the front is pressed against the plain chipboard. Both
thick and thin parts of the flower are held firmly in place without being
smashed or bruised. Using a smaller, standard wooden press, and substituting
the absorbent paper with layers of padded pressboards and chipboard
definitely adds to the success of the pressing technique.Polyester fiberfill is sold in most fabric stores.
It is available in different thickness. The padding should be
approximately one and one half inches thick for larger flowers and one half
inch thick for more delicate flowers. Cut two 9" x 6" pieces of
plywood for a smaller press, and use eight and a half by five and a half
inch pieces of chipboard. Use straps or weights for pressure instead of
compressing the pads with screws and wing nuts.
How to make a thick
Cut one piece of one and one half-inch fiberfill, 2 pieces of chipboard and
one piece of nylon tricot-knit fabric to five and one half by eight and one
2. Spray fabric glue over the surface of the chipboard.
3. Press the piece of fiberfill into the glue on the chipboard.
4. Spray glue over the surface of the fiberfill.
5. Lay the fabric on top of the glued surface. Press down on the fabric so it
adheres to the fiberfill.
For Thin Padded Boards follow the previous procedure using half-inch
Filling the Press
thick pads when pressing heavier flowers like zinnias, dahlias, daises or
delphiniums. Use thin pads when pressing lightweight flowers such as:
pansies, primroses, violets or forget-me-nots. Space them close together but
Split roses and buds down the middle before placing them in the press. Start
at the top of the calyx and cut down through the stem. Then, slice up
through the petals. Place the two halves against the plain chipboard and the
petals against the padding.•
To press flowers in profile, fold them upwards and lay them on their sides
on a piece of plain chipboard. Cover them with a padded pressboard.
To press a spray of flowers which has a stem, leaves, flowers and buds, lay
the spray right side up on top of a padded press board. Arrange the spray in
a graceful line and cover it with a piece of chipboard.
Stack the thick and thin padded pressboards and place them in-between the
plywood sheets. Add pressure.
Identify the contents of each layer or groups of layers by including a
"Post-it" note with the date and kind of flower being pressed.
Excessive pressure will definitely bruise the
flowers, yet insufficient pressure will cause shrinkage. The springy quality
of the polyester adjusts to the changing shape of the flowers, expanding or
compressing as they flatten. Keep the press in a warm, dry place as the
flowers dry. Drying time will vary depending upon temperature and humidity.
Most small flowers will be dry in four to five days. Pansies may require
seven or eight. Flowers are dry when they are stiff and crisp throughout.
Partially dry flowers feel cold to the touch. Don’t remove the flowers
from the press until they are completely dry. Partly dried flowers will
shrink and pucker up.In unusually cold and damp weather, slip your press
into the oven using only the gas pilot light for heat. If you don’t have a
pilot light, preheat the oven to 100 degrees and turn it off before placing
the press inside. Each day, until the flowers are dry, preheat the oven,
turn off the heat, and place the press inside. Put a sign on the outside of
the oven to remind yourself and others that the press is inside.
To remove floral material from the press, slip a
thin knife under the center of the flowers. Don’t pull the petals, they
may tear. Most flowers are easy to remove. Brush off any loose vegetation
clinging to the pads. When the polyester pads become flattened with use,
fluff them up by holding them over a steaming kettle or pot of water.
Chipboard sheets can be cleaned with a damp cloth. To prevent them from
warping, stack them in the press to dry.
Information from "The Complete Book of Floral Techniques For Fresh,
Dried & Silk Flowers" by Nan Geller published 1996
See Pressed Flower Projects below