With a dual degree in the Humanities and English Secondary Ed, I write on many subjects including travel, baking, crafts, and relationships.
How to Make a Pressed-Flower Bookmark
Pressing leaves and flowers to create art is a fun and easy craft for adults as well as children. You can make a variety of artistic products using these dried beauties. This craft gives the artist free range to express creativity by arranging various shaped leaves, flowers, and grasses into unique pieces of art. You can create pictures and frame them or try something as simple as a bookmark.
Step 1: Collect Flowers, Plants, and Leaves
To create a bookmark, first collect various leaves, herbs, grasses, flowers, and even seeds.
- It is best to do your collecting on a dry and sunny afternoon.
- The drier your material is, the better. Moisture tends to cause problems during the pressing process.
- You’ll soon learn which leaves and petals retain color and produce the best product, but it is helpful to try many types and shapes of plants at first.
Which ones work the best?
The following plants, flowers, herbs, and grasses work well and retain brilliant colors: fennel, catnip, thyme, dill, larkspur, coral bells, Queen Anne's lace, butterfly weed, hydrangea, cosmos, buttercups, clover (leaves and flowers), crocus (saffron-orange centers) and wax plant flowers.
These are just a few you can try but there are many more. Experiment with what grows naturally in your yard. Choose various shapes and lines to give yourself a variety of materials to create a picture or pattern.
Step 2: Press and Dry Your Collection
To press your collections, you can use something as handy and practical as a phone book which works very nicely for this craft. There are commercial-style presses available, but they are not necessary to make a lovely piece of art.
How to Press Flowers
- You'll want to press your collections as quickly after cutting them as possible.
- Simply lay a tissue (plain kleenex-type, without additional creams like aloe) on a page inside the phone book.
- Carefully arrange your leaves or flowers so that nothing overlaps; it helps to keep things in categories and group similar items together.
- Lay another tissue on top of the leaves and close the book.
- You may fill as many pages as you wish.
- Once you are done filling pages, close the book and lay something heavy on top (like bricks or a cinder block).
- Allow this to dry for two to three weeks.
Note: Some thick and dense flowers, such as roses, require longer. Roses can take a month or two to press and are a little tricky to work with.
Step 3: Check on Progress
Check your collection after two to three weeks. Carefully peel the tissue away from the leaves or petals. They should be very flat and dry. If not, leave them to dry longer.
If they're ready, lay them out on your work surface so that you can see what you have to choose from to create your piece of art.
Note: When not using your pressed leaves, store them between tissues inside of a phone book to keep them from curling until future use.
Step 4: Choose and Cut Card Stock
If you are creating a bookmark, you'll want to use fairly firm, acid-free card stock. There are many beautiful card stock types and designs available to choose from and you can find them in the scrap-booking section of most craft stores.
The paper should be cut to the proper size before you begin to arrange the leaves and petals. Bookmarks range in size from one to two inches wide by 8.5 inches high for most practical uses.
Step 5: Arrange Your Masterpiece!
Hopefully, you have collected a wide variety of leaves, herbs, flowers, and grasses. Study them for a while to see what images pop out at you. Play with repeating patterns.
Arrange leaves and petals to create the design you desire. You can use fern tips to represent trees and two narrow leaves connected by a stem can look like a bird flying. Use your imagination to create your impressionistic piece of art. Also, you may choose to create a beautiful pattern by alternating leaves and flowers down the length of the bookmark.
Step 6: Glue It All Down
- Once you have the patterns you desire arranged on each bookmark, place a small amount of Elmer’s Glue-All in a small lid.
- You may desire to dip the tip of a small knife or toothpick (for children) into the glue just to wet a tiny part of the tip.
- Once you have a very tiny bit of glue on the knife tip, use it to gently lift the leaf or petal off of the bookmark so that you can apply glue to the place where you wish to have it permanently adhere. Using a Q-tip to apply this glue to the card stock works nicely. Again, only a very small amount is actually necessary.
- Use the knife or toothpick to lay the leaf or petal back down onto the glue spot.
- Finish this process with all leaves and petals, then wait for the glue to dry.
- Next, place the glued bookmarks between two pieces of parchment paper to press further overnight. Place the phone book on top of the parchment and add bricks to the phone book to keep leaves and petals flat and prepare them for laminating the next day.
Step 7: Laminating
The next day, after the glue is completely dry, you are ready to laminate your artwork. You can use manual laminating paper but it is often difficult to manipulate and air bubbles can be a problem. A small home laminating machine works nicely for preserving your art.
First, lay your bookmarks inside the two sheets of laminating paper if using a machine. Double-check to see that all hairs, dust, and unwanted particles are not present on the sheets. You can use a tissue to wipe them clean.
See the video below for directions for feeding the laminated artwork into the machine. You need to feed them very straight and carefully in order to avoid problems. Once they come out of the machine, quickly use a tissue to press the laminating paper down against the leaves and petals and smooth out any air bubbles or unsmooth lines.
Step 8: Finish by Cutting Bookmarks Apart
All that is left now is to cut your bookmarks apart. Cut carefully, as a straight line gives them a neat finished look. Punch a hole in the top and insert a ribbon to finish your bookmark!
Enjoy! Bookmarks like these make wonderful homemade gifts and last for many, many years.
Other Art Projects You Can Do With Pressed Leaves and Flowers
Check out the photos below to see what else you can do with pressed leaves and flowers!
This process and the pictures provided are all thanks to Rosalie Stine, who has been creating these beauties for some time now in her home in Winsor, PA. She has sold them for $5 a piece at various stores and craft shows throughout the U.S. They are much sought after and resupplying her stock keeps her busy throughout the year. All of the photos in this article feature her artwork.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I use a hot laminator for pressed flowers? Does the heat damage the flowers and leaves?
Answer: Yes, the laminator used was a hot one and no, it does not damage the flowers. It goes through the machine so quickly.
Martha Rohrbaugh (author) from Owosso, MI on March 13, 2012:
Thanks "That Grrl" - I've been so busy, its hard to look at all the wonderful stuff posted on hub pages. Thanks for taking the time to look at this one. My mother is the one who does these and they are so much more beautiful than the pictures can truly show. I read your profile - you sound like just my kind of person. I love reading too and am very interested in being all our Creator made us to be so, while I love arts and crafts, I am kept even busier studying what He is doing in our age. There is just so much going on. I hope you are getting some this warm air up there in Canada and experiencing an early spring too. Take care my friend.
Laura Brown from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on March 12, 2012:
Very nice post. Voted up!
Martha Rohrbaugh (author) from Owosso, MI on March 03, 2012:
Glad you liked it Mare!
Mare on March 02, 2012:
Thank your hard work and putting this together! Now I have more confidence to do it on my own.
Martha Rohrbaugh (author) from Owosso, MI on March 01, 2012:
Thanks Lizam1! Glad you enjoyed it!
Lizam1 on February 29, 2012:
Thank you for this wonderful hub. The pictures are inspiring. I will definitely use this technique with my mums groups. Voted up and awesome!