Flower pressing is a centuries old art form that has spanned a myriad of cultures. From candle making to oshibana to jewelry, this standalone beauty can be repurposed into a vast array of artistic projects. This short guide will provide an overview to a process that can be replicated with readily available materials and a brief stroll outside.
It’s best to search on bright sunny days when flowers and leaves are sufficiently dry, as dew can lead to molding in the pressing process.
It’s also important to choose flowers that aren’t too bulky, as it will be difficult to fully press bulbous flowers. There are a plethora of beautiful flowers native to the upstate New York region that will work well for pressing, particularly American Willow Herbs, Purple Asters, Forget-me-nots, Queen Anne’s Lace, Goldenrod, etc. If you’re particularly drawn to a flower but are worried about its size, you can simply cut it in half or pick out some of the carpels (the middle section that secretes pollen).
Above all, make sure that you pick only wild flowers that won’t be missed and don’t belong to anyone else. Take care not to over-pick, as these beautiful plants are a small but important part of the region’s delicate ecosystem.
Prepping the Flowers
If flowers are wet, gently pat dry with a tissue or paper towel.
You can then begin pruning the flowers, removing any excess petals, leaves, or stems. If you wish, you can also press leaves to add some greenery to your product.
Locate a heavy book that you don’t mind getting a bit messy. Pressure is key here, as the weight of the book pressing on the flowers is what will ensure water is completely removed. So, if you can’t find a heavy enough book, simply be sure to weigh down the book afterwards with any heavy object.
Line a page of the book with parchment paper and carefully place flowers face-down. For plants with clusters of small flowers, like Queen Anne’s Lace or Goldenrod, simply place these stems as flat as possible. You can repeat this process throughout the same book to consolidate the drying process, just be sure that enough pages are left between each group of flowers to ensure moisture doesn’t transfer.
Carefully close the book and use twine or ribbon to ensure it remains shut. Keep the book flat and place a heavy object atop it if necessary.
After two to three weeks, your flowers should be ready to collect! Delicately remove each flower from the page - they are very fragile so take extra precaution doing so.
Now you’re ready to use the flowers in whatever way you’d like! For some ideas of how to use these flowers, see below.