Pressed Flower & Foliage Picture Art
The flowers in our garden gives us a short-lived pleasure and delight. When you can capture this delight by pressing and preserving the flowers and foliage you then have the perfect art medium for creating pictures of lasting beauty.
Collecting Flowers for Drying
Collect flowers (preferably open faced) and foliage that will lie flat that lend themselves to pressing e.g. Pansies, Violas Buttercups, Fuchsia, Cosmos, Queen Anne's Lace, Daisies from the lawn, hydrangea (single blooms), delphinium, cyclamen, rose and rose petals, freesia, narcissus, jasmine, primrose, ivy foliage and ferns.
For best results pick flowers at their freshest and press when there is no dew on them. Cut off the stems than place the flowers and the stems on a clean paper towel. If you are unable to press the flowers and foliage immediately, place them in a zip lock bag and store in a cool place. When you're ready to press use a soft brush to remove any debris from the plant material.
Pressing and drying flowers or foliage.
There are several ways to press or dry your flowers and foliage
1. Between books Pages - once you have collected enough flowers place flowers between two sheets of paper to protect the pages of the book (phone books work well) and gently close. Leave at least 25 pages before and after the pressed plant. Make sure the blotting paper has a smooth surface, as any texture will transfer. It will take between 2 to 4 weeks for them to dry thoroughly.
2. Flower Presses - A flower press is very inexpensive to buy or make your own.
Layer your flowers in the press by cutting pieces of cardboard and paper to fit between the boards of the press. Colour retention will be improved if you put the flowers between sheets of paper and change daily or at the very least every couple of days. Note: Flowers turn brown when they don't dry quick enough. These should be discarded.
3. Drying Flowers - For dried flowers you can hang them upside down in a cool dry place. This method takes at least two weeks. Alternatively place them in an oven that has been well heated to about 180°C. Turn the oven off and place flowers on a rack or tray and put them in the oven. Leave them until the oven is completely cooled. This method works well for small flowers such as rosebuds and lavender.
3. In the microwave - Microwave presses are simple to use and create pressed flowers. Colour retention is excellent and thick, fleshy flowers are easier to press. A wide range of flowers, leaves and other flora can be ready in seconds to minutes depending on the power of your microwave and the type of flora being pressed.
To reduce the height of a thick calyx snip close to the petals with small scissors, and pare down thick stems with a craft knife.
To remove excess moisture from a fleshy stem, place it in a folded piece of paper towel and squeeze gently.
Different plants take different times to flatten and preserve, anything from three to six weeks, whether you use a book or a flower press. Check every two weeks.
The plants will not be harmed if you leave them in the press after they are dry, but you can damage them if they are removed before they are ready.
Making a Dried Flower
Some frames are more suitable than others Choose a wooden frame that can be stapled easily to secure the frame back. Metal and plastic frames come equipped with clips allowing the back of the frame to be opened and closed easily.
Flowers can be mounted on acid free card or on a piece of soft fabric such as velvet. When using fabric, cut the fabric the same size as the glass. If it larger it tends to wrinkle around the edges.
Arrange the flowers and foliage on the card or fabric using tweezers. When you are pleased with the arrangement carefully put a drop of craft glue, using a toothpick, and press the flower down firmly into its final position.
Before framing the picture, make sure you let the glue dry completely. Cover with the glass and secure the backboard onto the frame. Try to make an air tight seal when framing. Air causes oxidation and premature fading of the pressed flowers.
Making Botanical Specimen Displays
Another popular way to display dried flowers and foliage from the garden is to create Botanical Specimen Displays by collecting and preserving plants found in nature. Mount your specimens on single sheets of paper or turn your specimen displays into herbaria books by binding together.
I like to use acid free parchment paper to glue my samples onto. Look for parchment that will give an aged look to the finished work. This can usually be found in craft stores or scrapbooking supply stores.
Arrange the flower, leaf and seeds of the featured plant onto the paper. Using a calligraphic pen to write the Latin (or common) name of the plant and any notes you may wish to make. These can be sold through craft fairs and markets or advertised in gardening magazines as gift items for gardening friends. Many craft stores will sell on your behalf if asked.
Caring for Pressed flower and foliage displays
Avoid displaying in direct sunlight as this will cause the flowers to quickly fade and avoid high humidity rooms in the house such as bathrooms or kitchens.