Activity of the Day: Pressed flowers with or without a flower press!
A great traditional way to preserve flowers and leaves, this is an incredibly easy technique suitable for absolutely anyone to do. It produces really sophisticated looking preserved blooms and flowers which, while fragile, are lovely to use as they keep some of their delicate outdoor scents. They make beautiful gift cards and pictures.
In old novels, heroines press special blossoms in between the pages of books. This is genuinely a great way to press flowers, though you do have to be a bit careful not to use very thick or juicy flowers or leaves or you could damage the book. Putting anything you're pressing in between layers of loo roll to absorb any colour or moisture is a good idea, too (they didn't have loo roll in the olden days so put flowers between the flyleaves, which don't have writing on so don't matter so much...). Any size book will work- you don't have to use an enormous book as we have, just fit it back tightly onto a shelf or put a few more books on top of it for a week or so, and you'll have pressed flowers at the end.
Of course, you could use a flower press to press flowers.
These are really easy to make (OK, less easy than pulling a book off a shelf).
You will need:
2 flat pieces of wood the same size as each other (our press is made from shelf board offcuts and is about 10 years old)
4 long bolts- with wingnuts if possible, but ordinary nuts are fine too.
A drill with a bit a little larger than the bolt shaft size.
Scrap cardboard (corrugated is good as it's a little bit compressible, but any will do- delivery card envelopes are great)
Loo roll or tissues
Put the two pieces of wood together.
Make the bolt holes by drilling through all 4 corners, making sure you go the whole way through both pieces.
Put the bolts upwards through the holes in the lower piece of wood
Cut pieces of card to fit on the lower piece of wood inside the bolts.
Put one piece of card on the wood.
Cover the card with a layer of loo roll
Place your chosen flowers or leaves spaced out on the loo roll (don't put them too close together- they'll be wider once they're squashed).
Cover with another layer of card
Repeat steps 6-8 until you've run out of flowers and leaves or the card is almost to the top of the bolts.
Use the second piece of wood to press the card and flowers down, until you can screw the nuts onto the bolts. You don't need to screw all that tightly- you're just mimicking a book pressing shut. A gentle finger tight pressure is fine.
Leave for a week or so.
Carefully open the press and gently lift the flowers and leaves out.
If any feel damp, put them back in the press and press for another week. Use the ones that feel dry straight away in crafts or store in a sealed container in a dark place, so the colours don't fade.
Exactly the same principles apply to pressing in a book- except you don't need to do any drilling, or find any card!
Here are some of our latest batch of pressed flowers before and after pressing, in both our press and in a book. These are a random assortment of garden flowers and leaves the children chose to press. You can see that some of the colours have changed on pressing- this is to be expected. If you leave flowers in a tight press for too long, colours can fade, but more often they darken- though they will eventually fade in daylight. Sometimes we do themed flower pressing, with an aim in mind for a particular event- for example, matching a couple's wedding flowers for an anniversary, which can be a lovely and long-lasting memento.