There are some occasions in life when the flowers you receive are extra special. Whether it is your wedding day, an anniversary or even a flower given to you by a child, a great alternative to drying them is to try flower pressing.
Flower pressing has a long history. In Ancient Greek and Roman times, flower pressing by botanists was a common method for them to later analyze, record and classify the flowers they had collected over a period of time. Their traditional flower press generally consisted of two flat boards covered with layers of paper that were bound by straps.
Known as Oshibana, flower pressing has been practiced in Japan since the 16th century. The artisan would collect flowers, leaves and bark at specific times to ensure the color was preserved correctly. The pressed pieces would be arranged on specially made paper before they were sealed airtight under glass, preserving the image for centuries to come. The art of Oshibana requires great skill and artistic conceptualization.
During Victorian times, flower pressing became a common art form among women in the western world. Many would press the flowers in between the pages of books, often leaving an imprint of the flower on the page. The more avid hobbyists would use wooden flower presses, layering blotting paper on either side of the flower to absorb any moisture. Once the flowers were dry, they were often framed under glass, proudly displayed on lace, silk or velvet fabric. Many of our Grandmothers still do this today.
Flower Pressing Materials
More avid hobbyists will invest in a wooden flower press however flower pressing doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby. Here are some of the materials you will need if you want to try flower pressing at home:
- Flat cardboard
- Blotting paper
- Plain paper
- Non corrugated coffee filters
- Untreated facial tissues
Flower Pressing Methods
There are three most popular methods of flower pressing today are in the microwave, in a book and with an iron.
This technique should only be used if you have a specially designed microwave flower press otherwise the high temperature of the microwave will cause the flowers to turn brown.
As a frugal alternative, you can use two ceramic tiles bound together with an elastic band to make your own microwave flower press.
Make sure you cover the flower with two pieces of absorbent paper before placing them in either of the presses.
Heat the flowers in 30 – 60 second intervals until they are dry however it is important to allow the flowers to sufficiently cool in between each zap.
Remove them from the microwave and allow them to finish the drying process in a heavy book. It shouldn’t take longer than a day or two.
By far the easiest flower pressing technique, using a heavy book and absorbent paper is also one of the easiest methods.
Place the flowers in between two pieces of absorbent paper and pop them inside the book. Alternatively you can also place them in between two heavy books.
If you are pressing them inside a book, be mindful the flowers may stain the pages. This can be avoided by placing an outer layer of paper on both sides of the absorbent paper.
Allow them to dry for around a week then change the absorbent paper. The flowers will likely need another few weeks after this before they will be completely dried and pressed.
Again, place the flowers in between two pieces of absorbent paper. Use a heavy book to flatten the flower before attempting to press the flower.
Making sure the iron is on a very low heat, carefully press the iron on the absorbent paper for around 15 seconds before lifting it off. Do not glide the iron across the paper.
Allow the paper to cool down before repeating the process. Check the flower regularly to avoid burning and to check if it is stiff and dry.
Flower Pressing Tips
- Depending on your skills level and the materials you have, some flowers are not so easy to press and may be better suited to drying instead.
- Try pressing flowers that are naturally flat such as daisies, violets and single petal roses.
- Bulky flowers such as multiple petal roses or carnations can be pressed but they require more skill and will take longer.
- If you are pressing flowers you have picked yourself, pick them in the morning as they are preparing to bloom but after the morning dew has evaporated.
- Choose flowers that are vibrant in color. The brighter the color, the better the results.
- If you are pressing flowers that have stamens such as lilies, remove them before pressing to avoid stains.
- Try pressing leaves, ferns, bark and other foliage to add to your pressed flower collection.
- Avoid using wax paper or paper towel when flower pressing.
- This is a great activity to do with children. Why not get them involved?
Flower pressing is a wonderful way to capture those special memories forever. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact Tracie at Brown Floral for further information.
If you would like to receive future tips like these, please subscribe to Brown Floral’s blog and be the first to get inspiration from new articles!