One of the joys of buying vintage books is when you get them home and start thumbing through them. Occasionally I’ll flip open to a page and find a little treasure like long forgotten pressed flower; hand-picked and lovingly preserved for all time. I really love it when I find them in books that are older than 1900. It really speaks to a small a special moment in time. It’s so easy to press flowers with books and patience and preserve your own little blooms! I recently gathered some early blooming spring flowers, and I’ll have some projects coming up using them!
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To press flowers, you’ll need:
Fresh, gathered flowers
Parchment or regular paper
You can also watch a flower pressing video, or skip right ahead to the step by step images below:
Start by gathering your flowers. While you can press any flower, thinner “less juicy” single petal flowers tend to work better when you press flowers with books. Flowers with a higher moisture content can actually go a little moldy, since they don’t dry fast enough. I started with the earliest spring flowers we had which are violets and blue squill.
Other flowers that “press well” are ones that tend to hold their color, and single layer flowers such as cosmos, yarrow, lavender, violas, impatiens, poppies, zinnias, daisies, and shrub roses. You can also extend beyond flowers and move into foliage. Ferns, leaves, and other greenery (if it’s thin), can be pretty additions to your pressed flower art.
Make sure your flowers and clean, dry, and pest and mold free. You can press directly between book pages, but if you were going to be making them in a large scale, or are worried about damaging the pages, use either plain white paper to press between the book pages, or parchment paper.
Place a piece of paper on a cookie sheet, or a bottom book or board, then the blooms on the paper, leaving space between each one for air to circulate. Plus, any that are overlapping might be stuck that way when dried.
Place a second sheet of paper on top, and then 3-4 heavier books on top.Put them somewhere you can leave them be in your house for a couple of weeks, undisturbed. That’s when the magic happens as they slowly dry out and flatted by the weight of the books. Leave them alone with out checking for at least two weeks, if not three.
When those long three weeks have passed, carefully lift the books and paper. You should have perfectly pressed flowers. If they are flattened, but don’t seem dried out enough, you can leave them in open air to finish drying. To store, lay them between sheets of paper and place in an air tight container. You can even throw in some of those little desiccant silica packets that seem to fall out of everything from shoe boxes to pepperoni.
Then you are ready to create or use your pretty pressed flowers in all kinds of projects! Or, you can tuck them in a book for someone else to enjoy in the future!
or create a terrarium from a old clock case.