If you have pretty flowers in your garden, or pick them when out on a summer walk (know your local nature rules, though, and be very careful not to pick any rare flowers!) then now is a wonderful time to press flowers and save them to use in crafts later in the year.
You can buy flower presses quite cheaply, or use a heavy book, but a homemade flower press has that extra-special feel to it, and is simple and fun to make.
What you need:
2 thick (1/2″ thick is fine) pieces of wood about 10″ square
4 3″ bolts, about 1/4″ thick, with wing nuts to fit
A drill (parents only!) with a drill bit a little wider than the bolts
Acrylic or thick poster paints
Wood Varnish (optional)
Some pieces of reasonably thick cardboard (construction card is fine, or just pieces cut out of sturdy cardboard boxes (not cereal boxes, that card is too thin for pressing most flowers)
Pieces of plain paper
Tissue paper (optional)
Note: the dimensions are a suggestion, you can adapt them to the wood you have or the size you would like your flower press to be!
Making your flower press
1. Sand your pieces of wood and ensure there are no splintery bits. For a really professional look, if you have a good DIY-er in the house, you can ask them to use a router on the outside edges of both pieces of wood. If not, just sanding them is fine.
2. Drill holes in all four corners of both pieces of wood. If you position them about an inch in from the corner that is about right. If you can, clamp both pieces of wood together and drill straight through both – that way your holes will line up perfectly.
3. Have your child decorate the topside of the “lid” of the press by painting a colorful picture or pattern. Varnish if desired.
4. Thread the 4 bolts through the “bottom” of the press (the plain piece of wood), then cut pieces of card and paper into squares that will fit inside the bolts.
5. Layer the “ingredients” like this: one piece of cardboard, two pieces of paper, one piece of cardboard, two pieces of paper, and so on. Keep layering until you have a good chunk of “ingredients” – probably at least an inch, depending on the thickness of your wood etc. Then add the decorated “lid”. The wing nuts are used to keep the press together
Drying your flowers
Pick flowers during the late morning or afternoon – when the dew has had a chance to dry. Open the press up and arrange the flowers carefully between the pieces of paper in layers. Make sure the flowers are spaced out so they aren’t touching. If they are very delicate, or quite moist, you may want to add a layer of tissue paper. Keep layering – cardboard, paper, flowers, paper, cardboard, and so on. This time, when you put the “lid” onto your press, tighten the wing nuts as much as possible (ask an adult to help!) If you go back to your press every day or two, especially if you’re drying bulky flowers like roses, you’ll be able to tighten them a little more.
After several days (how long depends on the flower), your flowers will be dry and can be removed. You can store them in a show box, layering them gently with tissue paper, until you want to use them.