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How to Press Flowers for Pretty Cards, Pictures and Decor Items
Pressed Flowers With Their Fragile Beauty are Evocative of Watercolor Paintings
Pressed Flower Crafting
Pressing flowers is an enjoyable hobby, something most anyone can do, no matter their age or skill level. It's easy to get started and costs very little. And the results can be spectacular.
A variety of different flowers can be collected and then pressed and stored away to be used in future crafting projects, such as decoupaging a floral trim to dress up a household object or for making cards or pictures. Imagine how lovely pressed flowers would look decoupaged to a candle or to the front of glass canisters. If you've ever visited a specialty shop or gift store, you may have seen cards or candles decorated with pressed flowers or those glass diamonds hung from ribbons with pressed flowers inside. These are truly lovely and unique items, but in most cases, you can make your own.
Some of the best flowers to use in pressed flower art are as close as the backyard. You simply pick and press a range of different flowers as they become available, spring, summer, and fall. And once pressed, flowers make a charming embellishment for different surfaces and their delicate beauty adds such an exquisite touch.
This article will discuss flowers that press well, the materials you'll need, how to go about pressing them, how to affix them to different surfaces, and what you can make with pressed flowers.
Delicate Beauty of Last Year's Pressed Flowers
Choosing the Best Flowers for Pressing
It's best to choose smaller, more delicate flowers that will press easily. You want them as flat as possible
Avoid flowers with dense centers because these will be harder to flatten and may spoil the look
If choosing stems and leaves, go for thinner and less dense
Thinner and Less Dense Flowers Are the Best Specimens for Pressing
Select flowers during a dry period when petals aren't covered with dew. You don't want dark spots to mar the look of your flowers.
Best Flowers for Pressing
What flowers are best for pressing? As mentioned earlier, delicate papery flowers make the best specimens for use in pressed flower art. Try to choose flowers with a single layer of petals.
- Baby's breath
- Hydrangeas (separate flowers, not heads)
- Poppies (smaller varieties work best)
- Sweet peas
Pansies and bluebells are my favorite choice but it can be fun to experiment, depending on what flowers grow in your yard. Even small wildflowers can press up beautifully. Sometimes papery flowers form part of a larger flower head or clump. If you want to use these, simply separated the flowers.
Pansies & Violas Press Beautifully
Adding Other Natural Materials
What to Do if a Favorite Flower is too Thick
If you want to use a favorite flower but it's too thick, a way around this is to press just the petals. These can then be used to enhance an arrangement of pressed flowers, as for example, if you've made a center arrangement for a picture or a card. You can frame your center grouping with the petals arranged around it in an oval or circular shape or place the petals around the outer edges.
Thicker flowers are best preserved using other methods.
Even Leaves Look Attractive When Pressed
A Word About Color
It can be fun to experiment from year to year and you will discover which flowers hold their color. Some will fade out, while others retain their lovely hues. Color fastness may be a consideration depending on the project you have in mind, as for example, you would want flowers to retain their colors in a picture or if decoupaged to decorate an object.
Pressed Flower Picture
Materials You'll Need for Flower Pressing
- Plain paper
- Thick catalogs or large phone books (or a flower press)
- Heavy books for additional weight
- Bricks (optional)
How to Press Flowers
- Gather an assortment of flowers, discarding any bruised petals and trimming ragged edges.
- Cut stems to desired length.
- Select the first catalog, opening the pages near the back.
- Lay a piece of paper on the catalog page. Do not used patterned tissue or napkins because the pattern would transfer to the flowers.
- Arrange an assortment of flowers on the paper, making sure that specimens do not touch, overlap, or stick out past catalog pages. For leaves, flatten them right side up.
- Place all flowers and leaves in the center and near the inner part of the page, which prevents them falling out of the catalog.
- Some people like to make sure that petals are flat and not curled before pressing them, and these can be held down before covering with catalog pages, but it can also be fun to press them as they are and see what results. Cover flowers with another piece of paper.
- Turn catalog pages to cover the first batch of flowers.
- Continue, sandwiching flowers between sheets of paper, then turning catalog pages to cover each section, working from the back to the front.
- Fill each catalog with flowers, leaves, stems, or other materials gathered.
- Store catalogs in a safe place, away from heavy traffic areas. Stack catalogs one on top of the other, but not so high as to tip over.
- Place extra catalogs on top of the stack for extra weight. If you have them, place a couple of bricks on top.
- Wait a couple of weeks/months to ensure that flowers are thoroughly dried and pressed.
Why Use Paper Between Pages?
I like to use paper between flowers and catalog pages when pressing flowers. While one could place flowers directly into books, there's always the risk that flowers will pick up ink or lines of text. Better to be safe than sorry.
When you later open your catalogs, you'll likely be amazed at how different and lovely most of your flowers look. Colors may have changed and some flowers will have taken on a different appearance.
You'll be able to identify most of your flowers but some may have changed so much, you aren't able to identify them, so it's a good idea to mark your catalogs, so you know what flowers they contain.
It is always exciting to discover what treasures await inside catalog pages. And with so many lovelies to choose from, the hardest part may be deciding which flowers to use for a project.
What Do You Think of my Pressed Flowers?
I opened my catalogs to the flowers shown in this article.
Here's What I Found!
Why Use a Flower Press?
Using catalogs or phone books is an inexpensive way to get started making pressed flowers; however, for the best results, a flower press might be the preferred tool. A press ensures that your flowers and leaves are pressed evenly.
Of course, different presses are available, so if you are thinking of purchasing one, it's a good idea to do your homework ahead of time to make sure that the press you buy is best-suited for your needs.
What Can You Decorate With Pressed Flowers?
You can do so much with pressed flowers!
Use pressed flowers to make:
- suncatchers (see cautionary note)
Materials for Pressed Flower Art
Once you've pressed your flowers, you are all set to use them in your creations. There are a few things you will need to do so.
- Small brush
- Heavy paper or card stock
- Items you plan to decorate
- Mod Podge
- Damp Cloth
It is generally best to keep items out of the sun, so as to avoid flower-fading. While pressed flower sun catchers might be truly fetching, direct sunlight could impact on the colors. Make sure to hang it in a window that does not get direct sunlight.
Did You Know?
Small feathery ferns press up nicely.
Working With Pressed Flowers
You can decoupage your pressed flowers to almost any surface and Mod Podge is a great medium for doing this. It goes on cloudy but dries perfectly clear and seals in the flowers. This is important. While you could simply glue them to your chosen surface, for the best results, it's better to cover the flowers completely.
- Arrange selected flowers and any other pressed material, such as leaves, ferns or vines on heavy paper, card stock, or your other chosen surface, experimenting until you've achieved the desired effect.
- Use Mod Podge to both glue and seal in flowers/plant materials. Move each flower and using a small brush, brush Mod Podge on the paper, then place the flower over top. Use tweezers, if needed to position your flowers, stems, and leaves and to press any areas down into glue.
- Keep attaching flowers and other materials to paper/surface
- When everything is in place, brush Mod Podge over all materials to seal everything to the surface.
- Use a damp cloth for immediate cleanup on table surfaces and for cleaning your hands.
Making a Pressed Flower Card
A Word About Groupings
If you are arranging your pressed flowers in a grouping, make sure to add some leaves, ferns, and vines. These elements, if done well, can truly enhance an arrangement.
A Way to Revisit the Summer Garden While Winter Winds Blow
I've pressed flowers throughout the years and you may find you enjoy doing this too. I particularly enjoy looking at flowers from my yard during the winter months. It's a joy to open my catalogs and see how each flower turned out, especially when the yard is blanketed in snow and nary a flower is blooming anywhere. This transports me back to the summer months and truly, I can't think of anything nicer than working with flowers when it's snowing outside.
This is a fun yearly undertaking if you have young children. They, too, will be eager to discover what the flowers look like after they have been dried and pressed.
Some enjoy sharing flowers from their yard with family and friends by way of pressed flower bookmarks, greeting cards or Xmas cards. These make for unique personalized gifts.
Saving Images of Your Best Specimens
Before you use your flowers, it may be an idea to take photos of your best specimens. You can use these images later for other projects, such as for distinctive writing paper or cards.
I used a photo-editing program and experimented with different colors, as seen below.
Colors can be changed in a photo editing programClick thumbnail to view full-size
Inexpensive Hobby Offers Rich Rewards
Pressing flowers is such a rewarding hobby. It's an inexpensive way to use natural materials to create beautiful items that can be enjoyed for years.
After reading this article, will you try pressing flowers?
© 2013 Athlyn Green