Pressed Flower Paper: A Guide to Pressing Flowers in Four Different Ways
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If you’re a fan of my blog, you already know that I have a passion for pressing flowers. My previous post on creating pressed flower art was a hit, so I decided to explore other techniques. After much experimentation, I’m excited to share with you four different methods for pressing flowers.
How to Choose the Perfect Flowers for Pressing
To create a masterpiece, it’s essential to start with the right flowers. Follow these tips for selecting, picking, and preparing your flowers:
- Always choose flowers that are close to full bloom, avoiding any with blemishes or dark spots.
- Pick flowers from the garden in the morning, once the dew has evaporated.
- Ensure that the flowers are completely dry, as wet or damp flowers can become moldy.
- If using a bouquet, keep it in water until you’re ready to press. Remember to cut the stems at an angle, place them in a vase with flower food, and replace the water daily. Remove any leaves below the water line.
- For large flowers with layered petals, you might consider separating the petals before pressing and then reassembling the flower later, if desired.
If you’re interested in preserving the 3-D shape of flowers, check out my post on how to dry flowers.
The Best Types of Flowers for Flat Pressing
Over the years, I’ve discovered that some flowers are more suitable for pressing than others. Here’s what I’ve found:
The best flowers for pressing have a single layer of petals and flat faces. I’ve successfully pressed various flowers, including plumbago, roses, vincas, pansies, Esperanza, zinnias, and delphiniums. For larger bulbs or spherical flowers like peonies or ranunculus, you may have better luck preserving the entire flower. This can be achieved through various drying methods or by separating the individual petals from the stems. In the case of thicker flowers like roses, you can even split the flower in half before pressing.
Avoid using flowers with fleshy, water-rich petals as they may be prone to mold or scorching when pressed.
How to Press Flowers in a Book
Pressing flowers in a book is one of the oldest and most reliable methods. I personally love this technique, although it does require time and patience. Here’s how to do it:
- Sturdy book (e.g., phone book)
- Paper to absorb moisture (parchment paper, thin cardboard, newspaper, coffee filters, or blotting paper)
- Heavy weight
Step 1: Prepare the Flowers
Before you begin, separate any petals if necessary. Arrange your flowers on a sheet of parchment paper, leaving at least 3/4-inch of space between them. Try to group flowers of similar varieties or thickness together.
Step 2: Cover and Close the Book
Place another piece of paper on top of the arranged flowers, gently flattening them to achieve the desired shape. I find it easiest to fold my parchment paper in half, creating a book-like enclosure for the flowers.
Next, close the book and place a heavy weight on top. You can also stack more books or use a brick, ensuring there’s enough pressure to press the flowers evenly.
Step 3: Allow the Flowers to Dry
The drying time will vary depending on the thickness of the petals. I usually wait around 2.5 weeks, but for thicker flowers, you may want to wait up to four weeks.
Some suggest replacing the absorbent paper every three days, but I’ve found that parchment paper works well without needing frequent changes.
Once your flowers are dry, handle them with care using nylon tweezers to avoid any accidental damage.
Using a Homemade Wooden Press
Similar to the book-press method, a homemade or store-bought wooden flower press can yield fantastic results. Plus, you can customize it to your liking. Here’s how:
- Two 12 x 12-inch pieces of plywood or MDF
- Cardboard sheets
- Two pieces of paper (blotting or parchment paper)
- Four bolts and wingnuts
Step 1: Drill Holes in the Boards
Drill a hole in each corner of the boards, about 1 inch from the edge. Make sure the size of your bolts matches the holes on both boards.
Step 2: Arrange the Flowers
Cut the cardboard to fit inside the plywood or MDF, ensuring it works around the four holes where you’ll insert the bolts. Place a piece of blotting paper on top of the cardboard and arrange the flowers as desired.
Create a sandwich with the flowers in the middle. Place a piece of cardboard on either side, followed by the wood or MDF.
Step 3: Secure and Wait for the Flowers to Dry
Insert the bolts and tighten them using the wingnuts until everything is secure. The drying time will depend on the thickness of the flowers used.
Compared to book pressing, a wooden press distributes the pressure more evenly and eliminates the risk of damaging books.
Pressing Flowers with a Microwave
One of my favorite methods for pressing flowers quickly is using a microwave. If you’re short on time, this is the perfect option for you. For a detailed tutorial, check out my post on DIY pressed flower art. Here are the basics:
- Microwave flower press
- Tweezers (optional)
Step 1: Place Flowers on the Inner Lining
Arrange your flowers on the fabric liner, shaping them as desired. Try to group similar flowers together.
Step 2: Microwave the Flowers
Most microwave presses require one long initial “burst” to heat the flowers. Start with 25 seconds and adjust as needed.
Step 3: Continue Microwaving
Microwave the flowers in 10-second bursts until they achieve a paper-thin consistency. Allow the plates to cool between bursts to prevent browning or scorching. If scorching does occur, you can always reorder refill packs.
Note: Succulents or flowers with fleshy petals may scorch when microwaved. Take care when removing the flowers, as petals may stick to the inner liner. Gently stretch the fabric liner or use nylon tweezers to release the flowers.
You can also use a book in the microwave instead of a press, but ensure there are no metal accents on the cover to avoid any unexpected fireworks!
Pressing Flowers with an Iron
If you need to press flowers quickly and don’t have access to a microwave or press, you can use a household iron. However, I must admit that this method doesn’t yield the same quality as the others. Here’s how it’s done:
- Parchment paper or other absorbent paper
Step 1: Arrange the Flowers
Sandwich the flowers between two pieces of parchment paper and position them as desired. Place a thin towel underneath for a sturdy surface.
Step 2: Iron on Low Heat
Turn off any steam settings and iron the flowers for 15-30 seconds at a time on low heat. Allow the flowers to cool briefly before pressing again.
Once the petals have partially dried out, you can choose to complete the drying process using the book or wooden press methods mentioned earlier.
Please note that the results of ironing may not be as satisfactory as the other methods. The parchment paper tends to wrinkle, causing ripples in the flower petals.
Choosing the Best Method to Press Flowers
To make it easier for you to compare the different techniques, I’ve created a small chart (because I’m a bit of a nerd!):
- The book method is the best for preserving the color and texture of the flowers.
- The microwave flower press comes in a close second, offering convenience as its main advantage.
- Ironing should be reserved for urgent situations or when you need quick flowers for a child’s craft.
If you’re looking for another way to preserve flowers, try drying them with silica gel. It’s the ideal method for maintaining the texture of your blossoms.
What to Do with Dried Flowers
Now that you know how to press flowers, the possibilities are endless. Preserve flowers from special occasions such as weddings, vacations, or even funerals to remember loved ones. Need some inspiration? Check out my tutorial on making wedding table numbers with pressed flowers or my article on creating pressed flower wall art using a spray painting technique.
In upcoming posts, I’ll share exciting ideas for using dried flowers in jewelry, shadow boxes, and much more. Stay tuned!