Pressed Flowers – Day Five/Microwave Pressing

Many of the area wildflowers are beginning to bloom. In my pile of foliage and flowers are blossoms of Birds-eye Speedwell, Vinca, and Celandine. It’s time to begin restocking my pressed flower supply. I love using wildflowers, they are often small and airy, perfect for pressed flower compositions. One caution though when using wildflowers, be sure that you are not using a plant that is protected as threatened and endangered in your state. To see a listing of your State’s Protected Wildflowers check out this site: US Government list of Threatened and Endangered Plants.

Some flowers don’t press well in the traditional way in the pages of a book. I’ve found to retain color in some varieties of flowers I must flash press them in a microwave. I don’t use the expensive microwave presses; the best way is to use an old book. The book must have very porous paper, it must not have gold or silver leafing on the spine or page edges, and a smaller book works better. Most of the books I use are from the 1930’s and 1940’s. You can find books of this age at yard sales and thrift stores. They are usually very inexpensive.

1. Separate your flowers into thinner petaled flowers and foliage, and thicker varieties.

3. Lay the blossoms and foliage on the page. These vincas have a thick stem that will not press well behind the open faced blooms. After I lay them out on the page I cut off that stem. For the side pressed blossoms, I leave the stem intact. I also include several buds of the flower.

4. Shut the book and rubber band the edges. For thin varieties of flowers and foliage I microwave between 15 and 30 seconds. This provides the heat that speeds up the drying process. The book should not be hot, only gently warm to the touch. For thicker varieties of flowers and foliage I heat for 30 – 60 seconds. As with anything microwave temperatures vary, you will have to experiment to see what works best for you. After pressing, clean out any residue left behind in your microwave by heating a cup of water with lemon or citrus peel, and then wiping away the moisture from the sides.

5. Don’t open the book, leave the rubber bands in place and put your book under a heavy weight.

6. Your flowers should be dried and ready to use within 3 – 7 days. To remove them from the pages of the book, gently slide a soft paint brush beneath the edges.

I use large books to store my pressed flowers. I place them on acid free paper and label the sides, leaving the edges hanging over the book pages about 1/2 inch. This helps me find exactly the type of flower I want when I am composing a picture.

The flowers and foliage are ready to use. In coming days and weeks I’ll give more tips on how I compose, glue and use my pressed flower projects.

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Pressed Flowers – Day Four/A Few Timely Tips

Spring is here and it is prime pressing time. Here is a reblog of a post from Minding My P’s with Q.

I’ve been pressing flowers almost every day. Spring is prime time to collect smaller leaves and flowers. I will be sharing a few of my pressed flower tips in my blog over the next few days. Here are my first four tips:

Pressed Flower Tip #1 – Make sure all your plant material is completely dry before pressing. Arrange flowers and foliage between pages of blotting paper and place inside a large book. Weigh the book down with something heavy. Use acid free paper if possible. Wait 1 – 3 weeks and your flowers and foliage will be ready to use. (More tips will be posted soon for using the microwave and summer heat in cars for pressing.)

Pressed Flower Tip #2: Use your pressed flowers to create:

Greeting Cards

Scrapbooking Pages

Bookmarks

Decoupage

Stationery

Candles

Magnets

Jewelry

Resin Paperweights

Windchimes

Pressed Flower Tip #3 Gluing your pressed flowers can be a bit tedious. It pays to start with a reliable glue. These are a few I have found to work well. Rubber cement – This is one of my personal favorites but the fumes can be irritating. If you go beyond the edges sometimes the glue will show in your finished composition. Egg white – Whip it up a bit until frothy and use a thin paintbrush to brush on the glue. White glue – Not one of my favorites, but it does work. White glue, such as Elmer’s will work also. I have also used a glue stick in recent years and had good luck with that, although very fragile flowers pull away and stick to the top of the stick. A better choice is to use a brush, or a floral pin (see tip below) along with the glue stick.

Pressed Flower Tip #4 Sometimes after you glue your project down you will find some of the ends of overlapping petals are still not completely flat. These edges need to be glued down.  To apply a small dab of glue beneath the errant petals I use a long floral corsage pin with a drop of glue on the end. The pearl bead on the end makes the pin easy to handle. To find ends of petals that need a dab of glue, lightly blow on the composition and the ends that need a bit of glue will raise up just a fraction, this alerts you to where you need a bit more adhesive.

Pressed Flowers – Day Three/Pressing Wildflowers

Wildflowers are a good source of blooms to press. One word of caution, always be sure they are not poisonous or endangered. I try to choose wildflowers to press that are plentiful or even downright invasive, Marsh Marigolds are a good choice that fit into both categories. This low-growing plant is a gorgeous yellow, a color hard to locate in late summer. It grows luxuriantly in moist, low-lying areas. The flowers I picked were among thousands growing near a stream.

Today I picked and pressed several blossoms of Marsh Marigold along with some wild onion top fronds. The center of marsh marigold flowers is raised and must be removed by pinching out before pressing. You can see my pinched out centers in the photo below.

If you press the marsh marigold with the center intact it will raise the petals away from the paper and they will shrivel rather than press flat.

I also love finding wild onion fronds that have curled and twirled. These are amazing pressed and are one green that will stay true and not brown. I find many uses for these twirly stems in my pressed flower craft.

Press both these plants between the pages of a large porous-paged book.

Pressed Flowers – Day Two

If you are a pressed flower lover, and garden with posies intended to become subjects for your flower presses, consider creating a flower farm in an out of the way spot in your yard.

I love my gardens, and I love pressing flowers, within that statement lies my dilemma. If I pick from my gardens too extensively, I lose the appeal of their mass of colors. I’ve learned over the years to grow the flowers I press in separate containers in an out-of-the-way place. When I grow my pressed flowers this way I can lift the containers onto my potting bench for easy picking, and my gardens don’t begin to resemble lush foliage without bloom. The flowers planted in containers also gather less soil on their petals in rainstorms or heavy winds. I buy most of my containers at the dollar store and fill them with inexpensive soil. They do great and having them all in one area saves time too.

*Quick Tip: Dollar stores often sell oil drip pans in their shops. These are perfect for creating a flower farm. They are dark in color, about 14 inches in diameter, and will hold about four shallow rooted annuals. They absorb heat so the flowers grow and bloom quickly.

This post originally published in The Flower Ark’s sister blog: Minding My P’s with Q

Pressed Flowers – Day One

The calendar has turned to April in my area of the US, the Mid-Atlantic state of NJ. Leaves and wildflowers, along with some bulbs, are sprouting and blooming. It’s time to begin pressing.

First you need some flowers. A few I begin with are early Spring bloomers: celandine (march marigold), Johnny-Jump Ups (violas), Pansies, Buttercups, Forget-Me-Nots. These flowers are all early bloomers. There might be others in your area that you can experiment with too. I know that all of the above-mentioned flowers are reliable and press well with minimal effort.

The easiest and least expensive way to press flowers is between the pages of a large book with porous pages. Shiny or magazine-like pages will cause flowers to brown. Run your hand along the page and see if it feels dry and just a bit rough. If this is the texture of the page flowers will press well. Older books work well for pressing. I find catalog/phone books a good choice. Libraries sell older periodicals for pennies. I bought this huge dictionary this week for only 50 cents. It is perfect for pressing flowers.

Before adding flowers it makes sense to run a tissue across the pages to remove any excess ink that might get on the flowers. Place flowers face down, close book, and weight it down with other books or heavy objects. In a week or two check your flowers. Many will be ready to use. A good rule is to hold a flower between thumb and forefinger. If it stands up straight without bending in on itself it is ready to use.

Pressed Flowers – Garden Cress

Spring has sprung, and so has the garden cress. This small weed is invaluable in my flower designs. I use leaves from the rosette that forms near the ground, and leaves that adorn the slender stem. These miniature pieces of foliage add interest to pressed flower designs.

The garden cress leaves need no special treatment. They can be pressed between the pages of a book and will be ready to use in less than a week. I usually forgo pressing the flowers as they are dense and do not press well.

I like to place the leaves on a sheet of porous children’s doodle paper, folded in half. I place the pieces on one side, refold it, and place in a hard-covered book under a weight.  In a week or two, I can remove the page easily and store it in a larger book with the edge labeled for easy access.

I love the negative space around the leaves. Small leaves that are ferny or feathery are much better candidates for excellent flower pressing design than leaves that are larger and oval/round.

Check back in a week or two for a post that will include a finished design using these small leaves.

Art Tips/Supplies – Fineline Masking Fluid Pen/Scarlett O’Fairest

I have been dabbling with my watercolor paints this week, painting a sweet scarlet flax blossom that grew in my wildflower garden last summer.

Cee’s Flower of the Day: Scarlet Flax

The white highlights in the center of the flax would have been tedious, if not impossible, to paint around. I used a wonderful new masking fluid tool called the Fineline Masking Fluid Pen. This art tool is available at Amazon and is a prime product which includes free shipping if you are a member. Masking fluid is easy to apply from the narrow wire tip at the top of the bottle. I store the masking fluid in the bag it was shipped in for extra protection from drying out. I’ve had it well over a year and it still flows nicely for me. I also keep a long sewing needle in the package just in case of a clog.

Here’s a close-up of the highlights I was able to capture in my painting using the fineline masking fluid pen. An important tip I can share is to start the flow of masking fluid on a piece of scrap paper before you apply the pen to the watercolor/art paper/canvas. I had a big drop of the fluid emerge at the start of application. It’s easy to wipe the drop away on scrap paper and then have a very fine line of fluid to apply to paper or canvas.

I titled the painting Scarlett O’Fairest, a play on words of the beautiful heroine of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlet flowers seem a fitting way to say Goodbye February!

Digital files of Scarlett O’Fairest, sizes 11 x 14 and 8 x 10 JPG and PNG formats, are available on The Flower Ark Etsy Shop.