For centuries, botanists, artists and hobbyists have enjoyed the art of pressing and drying plants. Not only can pressed flowers and foliage be beautiful but this can also be of scientific importance. Pressed plant material is easy to create at home with a few simple supplies and can be used for your crafty projects.
DIY Greeting Cards
Here, we will focus on pressing and drying plant material to make your own set of greeting cards. However, dried plant material can be used in a variety ways: bookmarks, framed wall art, jewellery, gift tags and candles. If you need some inspiration, simply search “pressed flower art” on the web and prepare to be amazed!
Supplies you will need for collecting and pressing plants:
- A few large, heavy books (think encyclopedias, dictionaries, text books)
- Newspaper, tissue paper or unprinted newsprint
- Plant material
- Pruners or scissors for collecting plant material
- Box fan (optional)
Selecting the Right Plants
This will be the most important step in determining the outcome of your finished product. In general, colour preservation is a factor of how quickly the plant dries once it has been pressed. Plants that dry quickly tend to hold their colour through the drying process, while plants that have thick or succulent parts will dry more slowly and become brown or even mouldy during the drying process.
Good plant material: perennial plants (as long as the leaves and flowers are not too thick), herbs, ferns and deciduous tree leaves.
Pressing your plants
All you need here are a few large books and newsprint or tissue paper to protect the book and to wick moisture from the plants. When you arrange your plants, minimize overlapping of plant parts in order to avoid creasing or folding in your finished product. Remember, how you arrange the plants here is the way they will stay when they are completely dried.
Press the plants in the books, between layers of newsprint, leaving about a quarter to a half an inch of pages between each layer. Once all of your material has been pressed, stack some additional books on top and make sure you leave your press in a well-ventilated area to promote faster drying. If you like, you may even point a box fan at the stack of books to speed the drying process.
After a few days, be sure to check your press to see if you need to rearrange any stray petals or folded leaves and to see if the plants are drying properly. After a week or two, the plants will be completely dry (you can test this with your fingernail – if the plant is brittle, it is dry; if it feels like it will bend and fold, it is still wet). Once dry, you may remove your plants from the press and start getting creative!
Materials for Making Greeting Cards
- Dried plant material
- Wax paper
- Paint brushes, scissors, tweezers
- Glue (we use acid free glue, however any clear-drying craft glue will do)
- Paper (again, we use acid-free paper but you may use watercolor paper or any paper that is thicker than standard printer paper).
Making your Greeting Cards:
This is where your creativity will shine; however, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Arrange your plants on the paper before you glue them to get an idea for layout;
- Use waxed paper to protect your working surface and to keep your plants from sticking to everything except your greeting card!
- Use glue sparingly, you won’t need as much as you think!
- Use tweezers to transfer glued plant material onto your paper.
Once all of your cards are finished, you may layer the cards with waxed paper and let them dry overnight under a heavy book. Share your handmade greeting cards with friends and family and enjoy the process of creating pieces of artwork from your garden, that will long outlast the transient blooms of summer!
Article source: Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania – well worth a visit if you are ever in the vicinity!