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Pressed flowers (without damaging the book?)

 
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I want to press some flowers this year, but my usual method of sticking them between some paper and then stuffing them in a thick book sometimes damages the book by either staining the pages or doing weird things to the spine if the flower is too thick, or even making moisture damage to the pages.

Got any good tips for pressing flowers?
 
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I made someone a flower press as a gift. I've just searched for any photos I might have taken but, apparently, I did not take any!

The press was two pieces of hardwood (in my case, salvaged from a Malaysian pallet) that were cut square, sanded and waxed. These were then drilled out for four holes, one in each corner, and I added long screws with washers to hold the plates together. I used wing nuts so they could be easily tightened by hand.

I've just searched online and the press design is very similar to this.

I suppose a really low-tech solution would be two chopping boards, or flat wooden/ply offcuts, and a large stone!

As far as the actual pressing goes, I think a thicker paper (like watercolour paper) would prevent the staining by absorbing any excess liquid. You could also try using some greaseproof paper (baking parchment).
 
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My friend uses out of date phone books. You could always add an extra weight on top.

I admit, I'd make a press as Luke suggested before using a book I prized and intended to read again. A book I hated or thought was trash would be another matter, but in general, I respect books too much to risk damaging them.
 
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I typically press flowers in wax paper, in between two hardcover books, and then stack a bunch more on top... You could also add a thin piece of cardboard on each side if you are pressing particularly lumpy/hard flowers. Picture a tall stack of hardcover books (textbooks are great for this) abandoned in a corner. Those kids books with the hard covers are also good, and a bit thinner (with textbooks on top). Cardstock, boards, stiff cardboard... Depending on the flowers I think there's a lot of options.
 
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I used to volunteer at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the approach people there used for pressing flowers was the press described above with two boards sandwiching layers of paper and flowers. One difference is that the museum also used corrugated cardboard. I suspect that the corrugations provide more air flow and all the flowers to dry more quickly and possibly retain more color.
 
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I remember, fondly, the flower press I had, briefly, in college. It was a "professional" one, with re-enforced top and bottom plates with layers of cardboard and thick blotting paper in between. There were two ratchetting straps to hold the whole thing together and it was about 20 inches by 15 inches or so - odd measurements, but good sized.
I will, someday, have a similar one.

I would think you can do something less purpose-built by using the books as weights, instead of putting things inside them. Just make a sandwich of absorbent paper (paper towels, newspaper) with cardboard and then have books above and below - or whatever your favorite weight would be.

So - don't put your flowers *in* the books. Use the books as weights.
 
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I have always pressed them inside the book, but in between sheets of waxed paper so there's no damage to the book. Our local libraries and thrift shops always have shelves of free books (even the bookstore does!) so it can be easy enough to have a dedicated 'junk book' for pressing. Nobody seems to use encyclopedias anymore, so those could probably be gotten free, and are heavy too!

BUT! Here's my question- once you press them dry, how do you keep them from fading over time? Is it possible?
 
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Julie Reed wrote:BUT! Here's my question- once you press them dry, how do you keep them from fading over time? Is it possible?


I would guess it's possible. And I think it also depends on how much time you're talking about.
In my experience, drying flowers away from heat and light allows them to retain better color.  Once they are in whatever project you're using them for, as long as they stay away from heat, light, and oxygen, they keep their color longer.
It's just a factor of reality that, over time, everything fades and/or oxidizes.

You could seal the dried flowers off with resin, airtight plastic, or something else that would exclude air. If you then kept them in a darkened room and away from heat, they should retain a certain amount of color depending on what kind of flower they are/how well they keep that color to begin with.
After a time, usually a few years, they will fade.

That said, if you make the thing with the idea of them fading as part of the affect of the craft, it's not bad. I carefully dried flowers from the floral arrangements at my Dad's memorial service, then used those dried flowers to make a number of wreaths that were shadowbox framed and given to the close members of the family. Over the past 20 or so years, they have faded from the original shades, but that was part of the look I was going for.
 
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We were given some pressed flower art.  The person said that the glass would protect from basic light, but don't hang it on the wall that will get direct sunlight or a lot of electric light.  Hang it on an outside wall beside the window instead.  
 
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The stains pressed flowers & leaves make on paper is (yet another) case of the problem being the solution. Using good, acid-free papers on top & bottom of the plant material can also create lovely art that can then be used as stationary, cards, book marks, or(if it's really nice) framed art. Thank you for this reminder of a beautiful craft, r!!
 
Kristine Keeney
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Carla Burke wrote:The stains pressed flowers & leaves make on paper is (yet another) case of the problem being the solution. Using good, acid-free papers on top & bottom of the plant material can also create lovely art that can then be used as stationary, cards, book marks, or(if it's really nice) framed art. Thank you for this reminder of a beautiful craft, r!!


I remember a few years back when this kind of "fabric dying" was all the thing.
There are YouTube videos of people "dying" fabric with pretty flowers and hammers - you put the plant matter down on pre-treated (dye-ready) fabric and then wallop the heck out of the pant matter with the hammer to drive the color into the fabric.
I don't know how stable it was, but it was really popular.

Flower Pounding - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YAHWhxZDis&ab_channel=WylieRecreation
                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYyocyMU5nE&ab_channel=GlobeArtsStudio
                               
 
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I remember that, Kristine! It was a pretty cool thing, as fads go, but I never got around to doing it. I stumbled across the dryin'&dyein' thing when the only paper I had available to press some flowers in was some of my good sketch pad. I was a bit bummed, because I knew the paper would be 'ruined', but really wanted those flowers pressed. When they were done, it was SUCH a beautiful, pleasant surprise! The paper was so lovely, I used it to make a Mother's Day card for my mom, who also loved it.
 
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