Preserving Leaves and Flowers

I find it highly therapeutic admiring and collecting beautiful leaves during my walks and hikes.  I press the leaves (flowers included) and use them for nature field journals, mixed media art, and papermaking.  One of my science instructors got me addicted to plant pressing and study through an herbarium project in my science class.  I thank her for that and have passed it on to other children, especially those who are homeschooling.

 For the artsy side of me, in addition to creating collage and mixed media art with pressed plants, I also plan to try my hand at using some of the leaves and flowers for nature printing and leaf cutting art.  One of my favorite nature printing sites is The Nature Printing Society.  For leaf cutting, check out Lorenzo Manuel Duran's portfolio!  You will be amazed!

One of the techniques that I use for pressing plants is microwaving.  I have used is the Microfleur 9" Microwave Max Flower Press.  With this press, leaves are dried and pressed within minutes through use of a microwave.  It does an excellent job, however, in my awareness of living a more healthy lifestyle,  I have become less of a microwave fan.  I experimented with using the press without microwaving.  Upon checking the leaves today, I was pleased with the results. (photo above)
I would like to invest in a wooden herbarian press that I saw listed on Amazon sold by the Carolina Biological Supply Company. (pictured left)  *Actually, the more I look at this, the more I feel it will be fun MAKING it!!  Will look into that!*  BioQuip also has a nice plant press. 

Here are tutorials for making a wooden press:
L'herbier Blog
The Mountain Rose Blog

 *Another thing on my "To-do" list....order acid free herbarium mounting paper.*

Being that I love working with kids and often teach classes,  I have been using alternative and economical methods for plant pressing to share with them.  The fun in plant pressing is experimenting with different methods.

Below is a  press that I made by cutting corrugated cardboard paper.  The boards were 8 1/2 x 11.  I cut them in half, along with cardstock to be placed between the corrugated cardboards.

To help the plants dry nice and flat, lay something heavy on top of the cardboard press.  I forgot to do that with the leaves  pictured below-left. (Oops!) They didn't turn out as flat as I wanted, but I'm still a happy camper!  Here is a "How to" video for making this press.

The photo right are leaves that I pressed using a phone book. This is one of the easiest among the methods of flower pressing, and it requires no special equipment other than a heavy book (or phone book). To press using this technique, I simply placed the leaves between the pages of the book, and weighed down the top of the book, with a heavy box or stack of books.  The pages absorbs the moisture.  I allow the flowers to stay there for a couple of weeks to dry.


Back during my school days, I pressed leaves via an iron.  Simply empty water from the iron so as not to add moisture, and heat the iron on low setting.

Prepare the flower for pressing by placing it between two sheets of absorbent paper. Press the warm iron on top of the upper sheet of paper for 10 to 15 seconds. Wait for the paper to cool for another 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat. Check occasionally by very carefully lifting the paper to see if the flower is stiff and dry.

UPDATE: Found this large press at a thrift shop for only $4.00. (Can also be used for bookbinding and papermaking.) I feel that some folks passed it by not realizing what it was. A small press along that style costs $120.  A large press such as the one that I found can double that. Needless to say, I'm a happy camper!


Charlene N. K. said…
Highly interesting blog! Love it! I also used to press lots of different leaves back in the Phil., and I brought some with me here, but haven't done anything about them yet. I still keep pressing here, especially fall leaves. I just press them between pages of thick catalogs. I have so many projects but can't find the time to do them all. (sigh)

Your style of pressing looks imteresting. I hope I can see some of your finished leaves arts someday.

I followed the links you provided, and I'm amazed by those beautiful leaves arts. I wish I had the time to try them too!