I encourage everyone who wants
to work with pressed flowers to try and press your own flowers. Pressing flowers can be very gratifying in itself and will add to the
enjoyment of creating a finished pressed flower piece.
There are several good methods for pressing flowers. We'll cover some of the
Flower Preparation - For
best results make sure you pick your flowers at their freshest and press
when there is no moisture on them. It's very important to properly
condition your flowers if you don't press them immediately upon picking
them. I normally condition them regardless of how soon I'm able to press
or dry my flowers. The colors are better when you take this extra step.
When preparing the flower for pressing some
thought should be given as to how it will look when flattened. Avoid allowing
parts to overlap unless for artistic effect. Leaves should normally be laid
Pressing Flowers in Books - Place flower between 2 sheets of paper to protect the pages of the book. Leave at least 1/8" of pages between pressings, weigh
the book down and wait a couple of weeks.
You can put the book with flowers and paper
in the microwave and zap in short bursts, (30 seconds to a minute at a time, checking
between to see if they're done.) Repeat until almost done, then put in a another book
or press to finish.
I have an old set
of encyclopedia Britannica that I picked up at a garage sale for under $10
that I use for pressing. They look better than phone books and you come
across some pretty interesting info as you press.
Flower Presses - You can buy a flower press or make your own. Personally, I prefer a
press because it allows greater air circulation. It would be hard to
make your own though, unless you're good with wood-working.
To make a simple wooden press: Cut 2 boards, hold them together with a long bolt and wing nut in each corner. Cut pieces of cardboard and blotting paper (or newsprint) to fit between the boards,
and layer it; Wood, cardboard, blotting paper, plain white paper, flower,
plain white paper, blotting paper, cardboard, then repeat your layers etc.
Place the other piece of wood on top and tighten the wing nuts. Your color retention will be
greatly improved if you put the flowers between sheets of paper and then
change just the blotter at least every couple of days. The flowers will turn
brown if they don't dry quick enough.
Microwave Pressing - For best results you can
use a microwave flower press
that has been designed specifically for the purpose. I prefer this press because it
allows greater air circulation.
When pressing in the microwave, be careful not to over do it. Start out
with short bursts at a medium setting, perhaps 30-60 seconds, then
experiment with the timing. Let the plant material cool between zaps. I open
the press to let the steam escape while cooling, then repeat until almost
dry. To save time, consider working with 2 presses, just zap one while the
other cools and alternate.
While still in the paper, place your flowers in a book or flower press to
finish pressing. This normally takes anywhere from a few hours to a day
depending on the particular flower.
The Microfleur press is very good too, especially for very thin flowers; you can get one
from Pat Smith at
Sonshine Crafts...email her for details.
To make a
simple microwave press: Use regular ceramic tiles, with rubber bands
to keep the whole thing together. I've tried a lot of materials for the padding
and what worked best for me is plain old paper toweling as padding, with the
flowers placed between two pieces of regular paper, like you'd use in a
printer. It's important to put the flowers between printer paper so they
don't pick up any texture your paper toweling may have.
I've also substituted coffee filters for the paper with very good
results, especially when the flower isn't completely flat, such as roses.
The coffee filters aren't as stiff as computer paper so the flowers come out
An even simpler way to press in the microwave is to substitute
corrugated cardboard for the ceramic tiles in the instructions above. Try
it! It works and will give you a feel for if you like like using the
microwave before you spend the time and money for a more permanent microwave
You should get good results with any of these methods. Different flowers
press better with different methods, so experiment. There are many examples
of flowers that press well on other pages of this website and also in my
The variety of
flowers and plant materials to press is so great that you really need a
couple of different presses if you want to be well covered. A flower that
presses well in one type of press may do poorly in another type of press,
If I could only have one press I would choose
a botanical press. However, I sometimes see presses of solid wood with either
straps or wing nut fasteners that are referred to as "botanical
presses" but that's not accurate. A professional style botanical press
should have the more open frame-work design.
As time permits I'll write up instructions to
make several different types of presses, so check back every now and then for
new designs. I experiment a lot and have well over a dozen good press
More Advanced Pressing Methods - The
methods discussed above work well with simple flowers and leaves. You will
need to put more effort into Pressing Full Open Roses but it can be done.
As lilies open, always remove the stamens to prevent staining the flower.
Pressing Fruits and Vegetables can be fun, and with proper
Vegetable Preparation you can get some pretty good results.
In some cases it helps to treat your plant
materials with a little glycerin before pressing, especially with foliage and fall leaves. Just spray it on and allow the leaves to dry to the touch before pressing.
- You can get glycerin from a pharmacy or craft store and mix it with either water or alcohol.
- Anti-freeze is a mixture of glycerin and
methyl alcohol, so that's an option as well. Methyl alcohol is toxic so
take common sense precautions when using it.
- The main softening ingredient in fabric
softener is glycerin, so you can also use a little fabric softener mixed
- As a precaution you may want to
dye foliage or flowers that are prone to
fading, before you press them.
When in doubt give it a try! Have
some fun, experiment,
and never stop playing!