Thornton shows how to use pressed, dried flowers

By Jean Henry/The Garden Club of Frankfort Published:

Elaine Thornton is a lady of many talents. She is a nationally certified Flower Show Judge, a floral designer, a gardener and, as she demonstrated at the August meeting of The Garden Club of Frankfort, an enthusiastic designer using dried and pressed flowers to create such things as framed art, stationery bookmarks and Christmas ornaments.

She brought with her a stunning array of pressed flowers, foliage and petals and generously shared these so that everyone could explore for themselves the pleasure of combining these colorful pieces of nature into a work of art.

It is extremely simple to get started with this hobby. Just head out into your yard with a pair of scissors and a phone book. With the scissors snip off a flower, a leaf spray, or even just a collection of single leaves. Slip the cuttings into the crease of the phone book.

Give each cutting its own page, or at least its own space on the page. Step on the book to immediately compress the plant material into place. When you take it into the house find a couple of heavy books to stack on top of it to press the material more firmly.

In two or three weeks open the phone book to see the finished product. The flatter the plant material is to start with the easier it is to get it pressed. Flowers such as daisies and zinnias with a thick center will be harder to press.

But don’t be afraid to just take the flower apart. For example, the separate little petals of Monarda (Bee Balm), Geranium, Impatiens and Alstroemeria make a beautiful addition to a design. Plant material that is very fleshy will have a lot of moisture in it and may not press successfully.

The dried plant material is not fragile. You can pick up the separate pieces just with the tip of your damp finger and experiment with where you want to place it. For your first project you may want simply to put the material between two strips of wax paper and iron it. Make a rectangle for a bookmark or perhaps a circle for a Christmas ornament.

If you enjoy that finished product and want to make many more it might pay you to buy a laminate machine and laminate paper. These are readily available in the hobby aisles of many stores. Clear Contac paper may also be used.

Perhaps the most elegant thing to do with your pressed plant material is create a picture suitable for framing. Watercolor paper is best for this project and Elmer’s Glue or Tacky Glue will work for adhering the material to the paper. Use a double mat so the flowers won’t stick to the glass.

Botanical prints are very popular right now for interior decorating schemes. You can create handsome framed botanicals by drying and pressing. To press a large specimen such as the frond of a fern use several layers of newspaper instead of the phone book.

The dried material will last many years. A suggested way of storing it is simply to place it on paper plates, stack the plates and put them in zip lock bags. On a dark day in winter it is a magical thing to pull out the plates with their treasure of colorful reminders of summer and begin to create from them a unique and beautiful design.

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