Before You Try: Flower Pressing
Let me start by saying, pressing flowers is a great, low-effort, cost effective way to preserve flowers (especially the petals and leaves). That said, there are some things to keep in mind before delving into this form. Please note that there are many people out there that have successfully pressed flowers and never had any issue with it. You may not have any issue either. Even so, take this as a word of warning, so you can avoid some of the mistakes that some, including myself, have made.
Before anything else, ask yourself these questions:
- Is pressing the plant going to give me a desirable result? I would recommend first comparing the general results of pressing flowers, drying them (hanging them), putting them in silica beads, and any other form.
- What purpose, if any, will the preserved flowers have? What can/will you use them for?
- Can the flowers be cleaned? Cleaning the flowers can help in consistency and prevent certain issues, but some flowers are too delicate or small for much handling.
- Can it remain in tact when being pressed? Does it fall apart? Does it get crushed or change or cover a part of itself you wanted to be visible? Thick flowers can be bad for this.
- How much water does the plant contain? Did you just grab a dew-covered petal and stash it into your notebook or whatever is on hand, or did you wash them and dry them thoroughly before carefully positioning them on parchment paper? If the plant is thick (Zinnias are a perfect example of a difficult flower to press), it can be almost impossible to press the entire intact flower. Zinnias, as an continued example, can have layers of petals, a long dense middle, and a thick, tall base. Such flowers make it uncertain in determining if they are dry enough, and the act of pressing down on such a flower can dismantle it in the process because of said thickness. Ask yourself if you want the fully formed flower to be preserved as is or just the petals, and if it is possible to achieve your goal with pressing that flower.
If you still are considering flower pressing as your best option, then there are still a few things worth considering:
Results can be delicate, thin, and papery. If there is a smell, it can be more “earthy” or “grassy” than you might plan on. The wait time (while you don’t have to do any more work to it after the initial pressing) is usually over a month, if not a few months.
Pressing flowers can require:
- Space you are not needing to make use of while flowers are in the process of being pressed.
- Flat weights, usually in the form of books (or you can spend money to purchase a book press, or make some makeshift alternative to a book press)
- Parchment paper is what I have personally used, but old unused books are what others may commonly use (but I would never recommend risking a perfectly good book simply because you have no more use of it). You can also use craft paper or other dry cheap paper as an alternative (even like those brown paper bags used for lunches might work).
These are the basics, you can use more (or even less) than what I just listed. I will not go on specifics, especially costs, as the whole point of flower pressing for some people is the fact that it is an inexpensive way to preserve your flowers, and you can use what is around your house to achieve this, supposedly. Furthermore, I will not even specify the cost for parchment paper due to so much cost variation, and that unpredictability has recently been made worse at the moment by the current inflation issue that has been occurring here (at the time of my writing this post).
There is one more, one BIG subject I need to get to. In fact, it is the main reason I have written about flower pressing specifically. It is also the main reason why I have spent more money using parchment paper instead of the books that happen to be around. One big reason:
MOLD MILDEW, and ROT, OH MY!
If you can see the poorly done picture I have paired with my post, I am sure you noticed the horrid brown putrid “flowers” that resulted from my errors. The worst part is that some of the “flower mold” ate holes — that’s right — holes through the parchment paper and onto both the work counter and the book that happened to be against the moldy grouping. My work counter (which is smooth) was difficult to get completely cleaned (a stain somehow still remains defiantly on the counter), and the only thing that saved my book was the fact that it had a detachable, papery plastic cover protecting it (the cover was ruined though).
My mistakes are obvious (the flowers were not dry and clean enough), yet even with my careful planning and set up, they are mistakes I still made. Just think of what would have happened if I had put that into an actual book! I might not have even been able to open the book at all, what with the great issue of the rot causing the paper to stick together so badly.
But there is one thing I want you to know after telling you this: I don’t want this to discourage you or make you not want to try out new activities or hobbies. In fact, I think it would be a swell idea to try out pressing flowers even if you, as I had done, put little to no money into it. That is what makes the concept so great after all. All you have to do is shove some flower petals in your little journal and ignore it for a while, then, ta-da! you got yourself some cute, preserved flowers. I show my problems not to discourage you, but to make sure you don’t wind up making the same mistakes I did. Those errors are what was most depressing for me. My only goal now is to make sure that the disappointment I felt is not shared by anyone else, and that you all can find the best fun and enjoyment in pressing flowers. I want you to get the results you worked hard for, and I want you, if you somehow do end up making a mistake, to not let it hold you back. I hope seeing my mistakes can be of some help to you, and I wish you much happy crafting!