Oh, the joy and beauty of drying and preserving your own choice of flowers. The days of dry and dusty-looking arrangements are a thing of the past. With the development of new processes you can make the most ingenious dried flower wall hangings and pictures with a choice arrangement of dried flowers, grasses and leaves.
Dried flowers also allow you to have an arrangement of beautifully dried flowers in your home during the times when fresh flowers are scarce. Uplift your spirits during flower scarcities by filling a picture frame with beautiful pressed flowers, grasses and leaves.
Due to modern day living, air conditioning etc, fresh flowers does not keep as well or as long as one would like the flowers to keep. Dried flowers allow the novice flower arranger to practice her flower arranging skills without fear of waste and flowers dying or wilting.
In our beautiful country we have a huge variety of wild flowers, grasses and leaves that can be used to press. Mix and match flowers, the garden variety as well as wild flowers grasses and leaves when making the flower arrangement or flower picture wall hanging.
There are a few ways of drying flowers, such as pressing, air drying and desiccants. Desiccants are substances that absorb moisture, examples being silica crystals, alum, borax or sand.
When pressing flowers, you begin by preparing the Flowers. All flowers, grasses and leaves should be picked when dry as dampness can cause blotching, spoiling the flowers.
Flowers with many petals are taken apart, each petal pressed separately. Examples flowers that are good for pressing are chrysanthemums and dahlias.
Anemones have thick centers due to their prominent stamens. The stamens can be removed completely or reduced to a fringe of stamens. After pressing it may happen that the centers were the stamens were removed is not to your liking. Cover the center with fennel or something similar which are very thin and would not add bulk to the flower.
Tubular flowers are cut just below the joining of the petals and pressed as a circle. The hole in the middle will decrease during pressing and can be covered to your liking. After removing the calyx small flowers can be pressed sideways.
When pressing tubular flower heads, the upper three or four inches are enough to press. If all the flowers are left on the stem, the result will be untidy. Retain the removed flowers as they can be used when completing the flower picture.
Flower buds and half open flowers are cut in half. This will enable you to have two of a kind but also to remove the bulky center, leaving only half the petals, calyx and stem.
Materials Required For Pressing Flowers
You will need newspapers, blotting paper, hardboard, bricks, a sharp pair with long scissor blades and a small pair with curved blades. An old telephone directory works just as well.
Method of Pressing Flowers
Fold three pages of newspaper into four, cut two pieces of blotting paper to the same size. Open the newspaper and place one of the blotting papers on it.
Now you can place your plant material on it. Try not to mix flowers and leaves of different thickness as pressing will be uneven.
If material overlaps, an imprint will be left, so try and avoid this. Flower and leave tips have a tendency to curl, place these face down. Remember to allow sufficient room for stems bearing small flowers to expand during pressing.
Now place the second piece of blotting paper over the flowers and close the newspaper. Place a piece of hardboard on top for even pressure. You can use the bricks for extra pressure.
Wait at least ten days before opening the papers. Some thin petals may start to roll up if opened too soon and it is very difficult to flatten them again.
More colour is retained if the flowers dry out quicker, therefore the blotting paper covering thicker petals such as lilies, should be changed to prevent the retaining of moisture. Pressings should always be kept warm and dry.
By learning and experimenting on how to combine different flowers, leaves and grasses you can create any flower arrangement or picture.
In a flower picture, leaves generally provide lines in the picture. Leaves may be picked any time of the year. The fresh greens of spring, the darker hues of summer and the great variety of colours in autumn inspire great works of art.
Try and avoid perfectly symmetrical leaves as they will give an unnatural stiff look to your picture. Rather search for those with a bit of a curve, a rounded tip or similar irregularities.
The biggest benefit of dried flowers is that it will delight you for years as you can keep special treasures such as wedding flowers arranged in a wall vase (enclosed in a picture frame) for as long as the sight of it pleases you.