GardenSMART :: Sweetly Scented Sweet Peas Like It Cool
The Art of a Simple Press
By Allison Zeeb, No Farm Needed
Photographs courtesy of No Farm Needed
The art of press flower-ing is as only good as your press. Like any skill, to master one you need to get comfortable with the most basic technique. And that is the simple press.
Making the Sandwich
PB&J, need I say more? Yes, I might be getting hungry, but the concept is still the same. For a sandwich, it's two firm sides with a dough-y center; for pressing flowers it's two firm sides with delicate petals in between. What do they have in common? Both will satisfy even your hungriest of cravings.
Find the Bread
Let's slow it down and start from the outside of our press (or the bread of our sandwich). The bread is the cardboard or the wood of your press, something that gives your press structure. You can't have a sandwich unless you have a firm structure for your hands to grab onto…same idea with the flower press. Without your boards, your flowers will become limp and messy.
The type of flowers you pick will influence your board size. I like to have my pieces of wood or cardboard an inch or two bigger than the flowers I'm using. Which means I do have to use scissors or box cutters at times to cut my board. While this is my rule of thumb, do not be concerned if your board is the same size or a tad smaller than your flower. If this is the case, just make sure your flowers do not extend out from the edge of the board.
How it Works
To use the press, start by laying down your piece of wood or cardboard on a flat surface (i.e. table, floor, etc.). I then cover it edge to edge with pieces of newspaper (2-3 sheets). Usually, one sheet of newspaper folded open will lie over my board leaving no cardboard showing.
Sometimes, the newspaper spills over the edge. That's okay! The newspaper is only there to soak up the flower moisture, so your board doesn't bend. While I mentioned 2-3 sheets, if you have extra newspaper laying around, the more the merrier!
With your first layer of newspaper in place, it's now time for the flowers.
To start, make sure you lay your flowers on the newspaper exactly as you would like them to be pressed. Try not to overlay flowers on top of one another as this will create problems when removing.
Once the first layer of flowers is in place, add a second layer of newspaper on top (2-3 sheets). Exactly like your first layer. It should go as such, one layer of newspaper (2-3 sheets), one layer of flowers, and then one layer of newspaper (2-3 sheets).
When you've run out of flowers, you will finish your press with a piece of cardboard.
Press your Sandwich
Start by placing your flower sandwich in a part of your house that does not get a lot of foot traffic. Think basement or corner of the bedroom. From there all you need is a heavy weight to lay evenly on top of your cardboard. This is where it's nice to have heavy books laying around the house. I've found that old college or high school textbooks work great! If you don't have any heavy books around the house don't panic. Think about something else that is heavy.
Timing is everything!
With this press flower technique, you should first switch out your newspaper after 3 days from the first press. Meaning, if you start your pressed flowers on Monday, the first change should happen Thursday at the latest. After that, change out the newspaper every week to allow your flowers to dry out properly. If you leave your flowers in the wet newspaper too long they will mold.
You will know your sandwich is finished pressing when your flowers are easy to remove from the newspaper. Most flower sandwiches will take 3 - 4 weeks to press. That might seem like a long time, but remember, once your flowers are pressed, they will last a lifetime!
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