Wonderful bookmarks, pictures and plaques using dried materials were on display this spring at the National Garden Clubs convention held right here in Buffalo.
The convention offered so much to write about, I had to spread out the articles. In previous installments, you can get ideas for miniature flower arrangements; you can watch Ricardo Costa, internationally renowned floral designer from Brazil, create a flower arrangement, and you can see exhibits from the flower show.
I saved the topic of dried flower creations for now because I thought you might be looking for something to do inside over the winter or you might want to make gifts for friends. It’s fun to use pressed flowers.
The scene with the bridge at the beginning of this article was done by Carol Larson of Wisconsin and the eagle directly above was done by Dorothy Julius of Lancaster. These amazing creations give you an idea of what you can accomplish with some pressed flowers and leaves, imagination– and skill.
If you’re just starting out, try a smaller project such as a bookmark, which can be completed fairly quickly. A bookmark makes a wonderful gift, too.
As you can see from the examples here, a bookmark can be simple or complicated. The bookmark by Sheila Weisensale uses a leaf to represent a vase, and other flowers form the arrangement. A symmetrical design was created by Carol Johnson. A fuzzy cord adds texture to the bookmark created by Doris Weber, and the cord is embellished by wild oatgrass, which is used on the bookmark as well.
(You can click on any photo to make it larger.)
I’ve worked a bit with pressed flowers and can offer you a few tips:
- Dry the flower when it’s fresh and beautiful. Petals with blemishes don’t look any prettier when they’re dried.
- Look for thin, flat flowers.
- Petals from fuller flowers, such as roses and tulips, can be pulled apart and pressed individually.
- Leaves and ferns also look beautiful when pressed.
- Seeds and other bits of plants can add interest to your dried flower projects.
There are many methods for pressing flowers, but here is a simple, low-tech, old-school way. Place your flowers, leaves or petals between sheets of tissue paper or facial tissue. Sandwich the tissue paper between the pages of a heavy book and forget about it for several days or a few weeks. The tissue will absorb the moisture from the plant material while the weight of the book keeps the petals from curling.
Tip: If you’re drying many small items, open the book, place the tissue paper on a page, place your items on the tissue paper, cover with another sheet of tissue paper and carefully close the book. This is easier than trying to move the tissue paper and flowers to the book.
If you use paper towels rather than tissue paper, the texture of the towels will transfer to delicate petals. It can be an interesting effect, but if you want smooth petals, use tissue paper or facial tissue. For a very large plant I used newspaper.
Phone books work well for pressing plant material. I’ve used old art books, but be aware that if a petal touches the page, it might stain the page. The moisture from the plant material may cause the pages to warp, too, so don’t use your favorite art books.
You might not have any flowers blooming in your garden right now, but there are many places where you can buy flowers. And don’t forget to look around your garden right now for interesting seeds!
What you use to adhere your flowers depends in part on what you are using as the base for your project. For most paper, fabric and card stock, I have used either a spray adhesive or various kinds of white glue. Elmer’s glue will work, and I often use ModPodge for collages. It may be easier to apply the white glue to your paper than to a tiny flower. However, note that if you get the white glues where you don’t want them, they will dry clear, but they will leave a shiny spot. Spray adhesives make it easier to get a nice, thin coat of adhesive on a delicate flower, eliminating the lumps and bumps you might get with white glue. However, spray adhesives must be used with proper ventilation.
Tweezers can be helpful when positioning flowers.
The last two images here are plaques that use dried plant materials to achieve a three-dimensional effect. These flowers and plant materials are dried, but not pressed. I haven’t worked with materials like these, but I wanted to include the photos to give you inspiration.
If you have tips on working with dried plant materials, please share with other readers by leaving a comment below.
Bonus tip: Get ideas for other craft projects to make for Christmas at Garden Walk, Garden Talk by Donna Brok.
Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko