Sunday, August 28, 2011

An Old Hobby Revisited

               This time of year I still fight the urge to go back to an old hobby and passion of mine, flower pressing. Many years ago a dear friend taught me this old and delicate art. She has always been a very talented artist. As a matter of fact back all those many years ago she and her mother worked as a team to sketch items of clothing from descriptions for K-Mart.Their sketches were then sent on to be produced and sold in stores. She encouraged me to give it a try and after one summer I was hooked. Once you gain a passion for pressing your eye is constantly wondering as you drive down country roads.

One of my favorite wild flowers or weed it's all in how you look at it is queen ann's lace. It always looks so beautiful after it is pulled out of the press. It was a great flower to use as a filler behind other flowers or it could easily stand alone and look magnificent. I think I loved it so much because pressing any white bloom is tough since they tend to turn brown.
I also love the tale of Queen Ann's Lace.The story goes that the the dark spot in the center of the lacy flower is suppose to represent a drop of blood from where the Queen pricked her finger while making the lace.
Nightshade another fun wild flower/weed to press. I love the color contrast!

Nearly every flower or weed has a tale about it's name and meaning. I love it because it adds a little more fun to this craft or hobby as you press and create your art. I never actually had a fancy flower press like I know they make. I used like my friend used,old telephone books and any heavy object available to press it down flat. The pages in the phone are actually perfect for this,and after all who really uses their phone books to look up a number anyway!
This is a hobby that keeps you very busy each spring and summer,because you can't run to the store in order to stock up supplies. Each year I worried about having enough to make it through all of my craft shows. I would make framed and matted pieces of art as well as gift cards, tags and stationary.

 This one of the few pieces I have left. It's been 14 years since I have worked this type of craft. I only made two pieces where I did a pencil sketch and added the flowers as the only color in the picture. The girl is from a photo I found in an old Victoria magazine. I still have quite a few of the original publications boxed away. They can still inspire me with oodles of creative ideas.
Sadly the age is now showing(20 yrs old) and these flowers are losing their color.

 Another flower that should not be over looked due to it's size is forget-me-not's. These little,teeny romantic, blue blooms are a powerful addition to any piece.They can pack a big punch of color since there are so few blue flowers in this world

How can anyone not fall madly in love with this flower!
Pansy's, rose buds, zinnia petals,and marigolds were all perfect for pressing. Marigolds, believe it or are surprisingly fun to press. The best and really only way to press a rose bud or a marigold is to take a sharp knife and cut them in half. This will yield you two rose buds, and dozens of little individual ruffled petals hidden inside of the marigold bloom.

 Rose buds may take a little longer to press and dry out but the wait is certainly worth it.The thicker the flower the longer it will take and the more pressure you must apply in order to process them correctly. Trust me there is trial and lots of error in this craft. But rarely much of an expense. I always used a heavy paper to make my pictures and just a white glue that dries clear. Long tweezers and toothpicks will be your main tools. Once finished it was then off to the framer for the final and very important step. The right frame and matte is so important to really enhance all of your summer long hard work.

Ivy is another great one to press. They hold their color nicely. There were few pictures that I ever made without a few ivy leaves in it. It looks especially beautiful if laid out in a wreath shape.So don't forget to press plenty of green leaves along with your colorful blooms. They are absolutely a necessity for balance in any art piece you make.

There are so many it's difficult to remember all the names. Just try it. Start by pressing anything and everything. It costs nothing to begin....a few blooms and an old phone book.Oh and don't forget a heavy weight. Make sure it's heavy enough to really press the book flat. I often used heavy patio blocks,or some unused childhood funny is that......that was probably the most they were ever used!

Whenever you go for hikes or walks in the woods always carry a small old paperback book and a few heavy rubber bands. This way if you come across something you are prepared to pinch off a few and carry them away safely tucked inside of the book. But of course don't do this is parks and protected could get in a bunch of trouble.

Then in a month or two open up your presses and you will discover so much fun and some beautiful treasures ready to make gifts for friends and family this winter. 
But hurry the season is nearly over. Should you miss out this year, look for these beauties to come popping up next spring. 
White flowers are difficult to press they can turn brown in the process.

Violets are sort of the silent gun shot that announces the beginning of the new pressing season.


  1. I've always loved pressing flowers...mainly over the years from a bouquet that Don gave me. I never did anything with them as beautiful as your creations! Impressive and quite lovely!

  2. Oh, Rebecca! I had no idea you could draw so beautifully! I love the idea of adding pressed flowers to a black-and-white sketch! Those are so gorgeous! And I am ALMOST finished (one more chapter) of the book, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, which delves into the topic you brought up - of every flower having a specific meaning! It's wonderful! Would YOU like it when I finish it? LOVE YOU & HOPE YOU GOT MY PACKAGE! By the way, I'm home again!