There probably isn’t a prettier memento than a pressed flower. But once you rescue those special-occasion roses or summer-picnic daisies from the pages of a dictionary, what’s next? Hallmark Designer Tuesday S. turned to a group of artist friends for some pressed flower ideas.
I remember my mom always being very creative in her crafting when I was younger. She loved to make her own flower presses for wildflowers she found, and she’d make unique collages and frame them in antique zinc-bordered frames. I always loved those dainty creations.
Seeing a resurgence of pressed flowers in design trends, I set up a workshop to juxtapose the delicate, natural beauty of the preserved flowers with fresh illustration and painting techniques. It’s no surprise that Hallmark rarely meets a flower we don’t love—also no surprise that we have some pretty great artists around here. So I saw a great opportunity to encourage them to play and explore and see what magic they would come up with.
And I promise, they did not disappoint.
Other than watching my mom mess around with this technique a few years ago (ahem…like 25 years ago), I had no knowledge of how to do it. But hallelujah for Google.
How to make a flower press
I had large ferns and flowers with roots in mind for some pressed flower ideas, so I needed the presses to be really big. I made mine 2’ x 4’.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- 2 PIECES OF 1/2″ PLYWOOD
- 4 EACH: BOLTS, WASHERS, AND WINGNUTS (BOLTS SHOULD BE AT LEAST 3″ LONG TO FIT SEVERAL LAYERS OF MATERIALS)
- CARDBOARD AND FOAM CORE (SLIGHTLY SMALLER THAN PLYWOOD, WITH CORNERS CUT OFF TO FIT BETWEEN BOLTS)
- PARCHMENT PAPER
Making the press is easy—just drill holes at each corner. Then fill it up with flowers (see tips below), and secure each corner with bolts, washers, and nuts. Set the presses in a dry area of your house, and stack some heavy objects on top.
Tips for pressing flowers
- Gather and press more flowers than you need. I estimate that only a little over half turn out the way you would hope: Many fade considerably. Some are too delicate and fall apart when you open the presses. And some are more susceptible to wilting and molding.
- Don’t limit yourself to cut flowers. Try pulling pulling plants and wildflowers (gently!) out from the root. Brush the roots free of dirt, let them dry off, and press the entire thing.
- Dry your flowers as much as you can before pressing. This will help avoid molding.
- You can put multiple layers of flowers, but be sure to sandwich the plants and flowers directly between the parchment paper. It’ll help keep them from sticking to the surface and keeps them in good shape to transfer.
- How you layer your materials will depend on the flowers you’re pressing. I layered cardboard, newsprint, and foam core, for bulky plants that need a little more give on the top and bottom.
- In my first round of experimenting, I was unsure of the ideal press time, so I tried everything from one week to a full month. I found that two weeks was the sweet spot, but fluctuates depending on flower types. Wildflowers picked dry required the least time to press—just a week or two.
Pressed flower ideas from the workshop
Here are some of the things I supplied for the workshop:
- PLEXIGLASS AND GLASS SHEETS
- METALLIC PENS
- INK PADS
- GOLD LEAF
- PAINT AND BRUSHES
- DOUBLE-SIDED TAPE
- GLUE (VARIOUS KINDS)
- FLORAL PROTECTANT SPRAY
I encouraged the artists to use the florals any way they wanted. I brought a bunch—and none were sentimental, SO preserving them without altering them wasn’t a concern.
They just experimented like crazy and we worked alongside a wonderful photographer and photo stylist to help arrange and photograph their work.
Not only was the workshop uniquely fun, the results were stunning. (Our designers are already putting them to use—look for the results soon in a Hallmark store near you.)
And now I may have a slight obsession with pressing flowers. Long hikes with my kiddos gathering wildflowers, then taking them home to make something pretty from our day is a nostalgic little nod to my childhood.