Pressed Flower Tutorial

Many of you have kindly asked us for more information on how we press flowers and if we ever host pressed flower workshops.

For us making pressed flowers is not just about pressing flowers, there are many other elements to the process that make it a worthwhile activity. Going on walks through the forest, looking after, cultivating and watching our own plants grow and learning about new plants and the idiosyncrasies and difficulties to grow each one, these are all really important and enjoyable parts for us. Picking and pressing is a small part of the process and one we only try to do in a sustainable and very selective way.

Given the way we try to limit our impact on the environment we don’t host any workshops. (Also you do have to wait for at least a week for everything to be ready!) But that doesn’t mean that it’s a secret how we press flowers! We wanted to write a tutorial here to show how we do things and try to pass on what we have learned along the way.

Materials you will need:

-Any flowers, leaves or even weeds that you have found. I love using weeds & the sort of plants & flowers that you wouldn’t usually think of as pretty or appreciate. To me if they successfully turn into something better or more beautiful than you were expecting that is a joy!

-A very heavy book, something like an encyclopaedia.

-Newspaper: with each sheet folded twice to make it into about A4 size

-Blotting paper : we use 315gsm blotting paper, so things may take longer to fully dry if using a thinner paper (you could always try doubling up a thinner paper). Cut to a slightly smaller size than the folded newspaper

-Two books- magazines, children’s illustration books etc something not too floppy that is thick & hard enough would be perfect. It is good to use books that are the same or a slightly bigger size than the blotting paper size you will be using.

-Silica gel sachets if available

-A plastic bag that can fit all of the above apart from the ‘very heavy book’, preferably without holes.

The method:

Step 1: Pick the flowers & leaves that you want to press. I love this process; it’s a great way to feel the season. But if you pick any wild flowers/leaves please respect nature. I always pick only the amount that I actually use, no more.

Step 2: Try pressing them as soon as possible. Once you get all your flowers/leaves place a piece of blotting paper on a piece of folded newspaper & then lay the flowers/leaves on the blotting paper. As none of the flowers & leaves should overlap make sure that they have enough space between them.

Step 3: Carefully sandwich them with another piece of blotting paper & folded newspaper on top. If you have more flowers/leaves to press place another piece of blotting paper on this newspaper & repeat.

Step 4: When you finish placing all the flowers/leaves between blotting paper, carefully put this pile on a book (or magazine, children’s book etc) sandwich the pile with another book. Keep this in a plastic bag with a pack of silica gel (if you have one) to help create a dry and stable atmosphere. Rest a heavy book on top of it & leave it for a week or so. (You can of course substitute the books with your own D.I.Y or professional press, but books are more readily available and how we started!) I can understand that you would feel a craving to see how the flowers/leaves are doing but for a beautiful result it’s the best not to touch it until it’s ready as things are quite delicate before fully dry!

Step 5: After a week finally you can open it! But you still need to make sure that everything is completely dry. If it still feels moist, change the newspaper & add new silica gel if needed. Leave them in the bag for another week or so.

This method is only an example of how we make pressed flowers. It’s not definitive and there are a few other techniques that can be found. This is just a method that worked well for us so hope it helps if you are looking to start pressing your own flowers :)

A few final tips:

I have often been asked how to keep the flower/leaves colours bright when turning into pressed flowers. I think this ‘trick’ is the use of good blotting paper. Getting rid of the moisture from the flowers/leaves quickly is the most important thing in making the flower/leaves colours as fresh as possible. This is why it’s important to press as soon after picking as possible too.

This is another popular question that I get asked: how to stick the pressed flowers/leaves on paper etc. Seriously no tricks or anything special! I use PVA glue- only a small amount but spread over the entire area of the flower/leaf. You need to spread the glue very thinly.

One final thing after everything is stuck down (although not a necessary step depending on what your outcome is) is to varnish your flowers/leaves. This helps to protect what you have pressed from handling and also further sticks down any bits that might still be a bit loose after gluing. We use an acryclic matt varnish, this is non-yellowing and affects the flowers the least, you almost can’t tell it is there!

There are U.V resistant sprays that you can buy to reduce the speed pigments in the flowers and leaves will fade but you will have to spend a lot and build up many layers to have any effect. A better consideration is to think about how the flowers will be stored (keep out of direct sunlight!) and displayed. For example if framing you could consider using a U.V resistant glass to preserve the pigments. This will have a limiting effect on how light changes your work if that is important, although it won’t completely stop things fading. You are maybe just as well embracing the change and delicacy of pressed flower making as part of its beauty and charm!

Happy pressing :)