How to Press Flowers
Pressed flowers make a great alternative to dried or fake flowers and can be used for attractive decorations, perhaps around a table centerpiece, or create a beautiful scrapbook. There are several different methods for effectively pressing flowers. It’s useful to experiment with several until you find your favorite one. Sometimes the simplest method is the best one, but you may get better, longer-lasting results with a little extra effort.
1) Select your flowers.
Pick flowers that are in full bloom and free of bruises and evidence of insects. You may want to begin with flowers with a flat face, as these will be easiest to press. It’s also important to make sure flowers are free of moisture before you press them, so dab any visible water away with a paper towel.
2) Choose your method.
There are a few popular options you can choose from:
a) Use a book.
The simplest, least demanding method of pressing is to use a thick book, like an encyclopedia and insert the dried flowers, protected by one sheet of white paper on either side, between the pages at regular intervals. Make sure the flowers lie flat and be sure to leave about an eighth of an inch of pages between each flower. Rest other thick books on top of the book with the flowers inside it and sit back and let gravity do the rest of the work over the next couple of weeks. To speed up the process, you can actually microwave the book with flowers inside it for periods of 30 seconds.
b) Buy or make your own flower press.
To make a flower press, you will need two wooden boards cut to a size of 9” by 12”. Place two pieces of cardboard cut to equal size between the boards and line the cardboard with two pieces of blotting paper, available at any art supply or specialty store. Then insert two pieces of plain white paper in between the sheets of blotting paper. Your flower or leaf sample will go in between the two pieces of white paper. The sequence is as follows: Wood, cardboard, blotting paper, plain white paper, flower or leaf cutting, plain white paper, blotting paper, cardboard, wood. Drill holes in each corner of the wood, cardboard pieces, etc, and hold the entire press tight with long screws and wing nuts. Be sure to check progress and change the blotter paper every few days. This will ensure that moisture levels remain low. Your flowers should be all set after a couple weeks.
c) Microwave pressing.
You can purchase a ready-made microwave flower press, or fashion your own using regular ceramic tiles held together with rubber bands. You can even substitute plain corrugated cardboard for the tiles. Just be sure to line the tiles or cardboard with paper – coffee filters work even better than plain white paper, since they are more flexible.Once you’ve assembled your microwave press, place in the microwave and set it to medium power. Microwave the flowers for about 30 seconds at a time, allowing the cutting to cool down between each session. It’s a good idea to open the press while cooling to allow some moisture to escape. Repeat over the course of a few hours until near completely dry, and then, leaving the flowers inside the paper or coffee filters, insert between the pages of a heavy book to finish off the pressing process.
Helpful Tips: You may want to use just a touch of glycerin (available at arts and craft stores) mixed with a little alcohol or water to treat the flowers or leaves before pressing. Spray a little on your samples and let the fully dry before pressing. You can also mix a little antifreeze or fabric softener with water and apply this mixture. Just remember to use caution with these chemicals!