Framing Pressed Flowers

Create unique gifts and earn extra money by framing pressed flowers to preserve summer's colors.

| May/June 1974

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    Use milkweed pods to craft simple homemade ornaments.
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    A frame of dried pressed flowers can be a fun home art project or a creative source of income.  

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Every spring and summer, not so long ago, I'd grub daily in the earth . . . weeding, mulching, coaxing my flower patch to bloom. By July there would be buds, by August blooms and by September death: the growing season over and a lot of work and beauty lost. No more! Now, with the seedlings just popping out of the ground, I'm looking forward to turning those fleeting delights into long-lasting, attractive floral "pictures" . . . and a handy source of extra money.

I got started in this creative home business of framing pressed flowers almost by accident. One day I picked a few cosmos blooms, brought them inside and placed them between the pages of an old magazine (remember the orchid from the high school prom?). Two weeks later, I returned to find the flowers dried and still perfect in shape and color. Inspired, I dug out an old picture frame and was on my way. Here, for all you other flower freaks looking to try your hand at pressed flower art, is the technique I've worked out since that beginning.

How to Press Flowers

First, the flowers. I've included a list of beginner-proof species at the end of this article, and you'll soon find other good kinds near you . . . probably right outside the kitchen door. Pick them on a sunny day around noon, when there's a minimum of humidity and dew on the petals.

Indoors, away from breezes and the kids, lay your treasures on two thicknesses of paper toweling. Press each bloom flat with your fingers. The center part can be removed if it's too bulky, and the stem either snipped off or left, depending on whether you like its looks. Space the prepared materials half an inch apart on the sheet. When the page is full, cover it with two more layers of toweling and several open facial tissues. Then carefully place the "sandwich" between the pages of a magazine. (Use an old, discarded periodical — not a MOTHER EARTH NEWS — so you won't mind if the paper is discolored in the process.)

Lay the closed magazine on a hard, flat surface (the attic floor is low in humidity and out of harm's way). Bring out the heavies — bricks, dictionary, etc. — and place them on top of the improvised flower press. The blossoms will be dry and flat in a week or two.

Flower Mats and Frames

Meanwhile, you can be collecting the rest of the materials. Buy or find inexpensive black velvet (short, flat nap is the best and least bulky to work with). Frames can be bought complete in local discount stores — at a cost of 69¢ to 90¢ for 3-by-5-inch or 5-by-7-inch sizes — or picked up at roadside flea markets for next to nothing. Look for those with the glass intact. Missing backings don't matter . . . cardboard taken from laundered, folded shirts or cereal boxes is ideal in weight and stiffness. The finish of a frame, too, is unimportant. Sandpaper and a can of spray paint work wonders for a quick refurbishing.



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