One art form that I really admire is that of pressed flowers. It's great because you can pick and preserve the flowers and use them year round to create pictures, note cards and decorate picture frames.
It's a fun way for children to become engaged in gardening and begin to take a closer look at the many gifts of nature. In late summer our gardens are full of beautiful blooms that are perfect for pressing.
Building a flower press is simple. All you need is a few simple materials:
- (2) 14 inch x 14 inch pieces of 1/4 inch plywood
- (4) 3 inch long 1/4 inch threaded bolts
- (4) wing nuts and washers to fit bolts
Hand drill with 1/4 inch bit
- 5 - 7 pieces of cardboard 14 inch x 14 inch with the corners trimmed off so that they will fit around the bolts. The flowers will be pressed between these.
- 8 1/2 inch x 11 inch construction paper
- Masking tape
First measure and mark the corners of the plywood to indicate where to drill holes for the bolts. At each corner, with a pencil or pen, mark a spot about 1" in from the edge of the plywood.
Lay the second piece of plywood under the one that you have marked and clamp the 2 together. Drill a hole in each corner, using a 1/4" drill bit.
Now you are ready to assemble the press. Begin by placing 1 washer on each of the bolts. Thread the bolts through the bottom piece of plywood and set this on your workspace so that the screws point up. Stack the cardboard on top of the plywood and cap with the second piece of plywood so that the bolts fit through the holes drilled into the corners.
Add washers and wing nuts to each to the bolts. Tighten the wing nuts.
Once your press is built you are ready to collect flowers. I've found that plants such as petunias, cosmos and salvias press better than fleshy or bulky blooms like marigolds, large roses and sunflowers. And don't forget to collect some leaves as well, ferns, and colorful foliage plants such as coleus will complement your pressed flowers.
After the flowers and leaves have been selected, lay them on your construction paper and hold them in place with a little clear tape. Then label each one and write something about where it was found growing. Place the construction paper in the press between the cardboard pieces and tighten the wing nuts.
In about 1 week you'll have pressed and dried flowers. The pages can be made into an album for a nice late summer keepsake for you and your children to enjoy for years to come.
If you don't have time to make a press you'll find an old phone directory can work just as well. But the real fun with this project is going out and gathering the flowers.