FUN WITH PRESSED FLOWERS
Hi and welcome to another Wacky Workshops project.
With all the beautiful flowers in bloom showing off their springtime petals, it’s a perfect time to discover the joys of flower pressing and pounding.
The four-year-old Goddess and I are having a lot of fun collecting flowers, among other nature goodies, during our walks these days.
I recently introduced her to the flower press and I believe I have created a monster, though a very beautiful one indeed. All she wants to do now is bring home flowers to press or pound. I won’t let her take flowers from people’s yards (including mine, or I’d have none), which doesn’t impress her. However, she soon finds many treasures growing on the nature strips or dropped on the ground (camellia trees have been a great source lately).
I was given a flower press years ago. Basically, it is just two pieces of wood held together by four screws that can be tightened at regular intervals. It is fun to use but in the past, when I have needed large amounts of pressed flowers for various work projects, I have used large books (the old phone books used to be great) and they work just as well. The point is to have a lot of weight on the flower to keep it flat.
LET’S GET STARTED
- Flower press or large and heavy books
- Paper towels
- Scrap paper
- Cut the flower stems off so you are left with only the flower head
- If the flower is a bit wet you need to let it dry out or it will rot in the press
- Carefully lay it on the paper towel, ensuring its petals are spread out flat – you want your pressed flowers to have a beautiful shape.
- Cover the top with paper towel.
- Open press or book and lay several layers of scrap paper down
- Carefully lay your paper-covered flower on top of the scrap paper and cover this with more scrap paper (the scrap paper draws out the moisture in the flower. It helps protect your books (if you’re using them) but a bit of thick cardboard either side of the scrap paper will ensure their safety from moisture)
- Close book or press. Tighten the press as tight as you can. Lay the book flat with others on top if possible.
- The hard part – leave it alone for at least a week – two or more is better. You can tighten the screws on the press periodically.
- After leaving it time to flatten and dry, open the book or press and carefully unwrap your flower. You should have beautiful pressed flowers, ready to turn into a keepsake.
So now that you have these beautiful, pressed flowers, what are you going to do with them? There are several things you can make with them.
- Put a few different flower pieces together to make a lovely picture for the cover for a greeting card
- Glue the flower onto cardboard which is glued to a magnet for the fridge
- Make a beautiful bookmark.
Goddess and I had fun making bookmarks. We carefully glued the flowers to a strip of cardboard (I had her draw on the other side of the cardboard first), then we covered the cardboard with clear contact paper. Next, we punched a hole in the top and added some pretty ribbon. Awesome gifts!
After you experiment with pressing for a while you’ll find some flowers keep their colours better than others. I found Black Eyed Susan (Thunbergia also) one of the best. That lovely yellow stays bright for years. In general, it’s best to use flowers that easily lay flat and have thin petals but it’s lots of fun to experiment. Don’t confine yourself to just flowers. Herbs, leaves and ferns are great for pressing too. If you want more detailed information check out Fine Gardening.
Another fun flower activity is flower pounding. Sounds mean, doesn’t it? Well, let’s assume the flower feels no pain as it is no longer living, having been detached from its life source. Flower pounding is a great art activity. It puts colour in random shapes on paper or material. It is also a safe and acceptable way for young kids to vent pent up energy and frustrations.
LET’S GET STARTED
- Paper or white/neutral material (calico works really well).
- Flowers, leaves, herbs (these also leave a nice smell on your chosen canvas).
- A pounder (we used a rubber mallet but a big rock would be fine, as long as you watch out for little fingers that might get in the way).
- Place the flowers, leaves, herbs on your chosen canvas (paper or material) and cover with a piece of white paper.
- Pound away with all your might.
- Take the paper off the top, check out your design and decide if you want to add to it with different coloured plants. It was all about the pounding for the four-year-old Goddess – definitely a case of enjoying the journey more than the destination. Having said that my art students used to have great fun turning ‘finding the hidden pictures in the random flower dye shape’ into a game.
If you get a bit serious about the dye effect on the material you should consider using a fixative to set the dye so it won’t wash out. If you really love the idea of using natural dyes check out the how here at Money Crashers.
Read this great article at Happy DIY Home for tips on pressing flowers using an iron or a microwave.
Click here for instructions on how to make a pretty flower pen.
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Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria