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 allows the artist free range to express his or her 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 bookmarks.
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 occurring outside the plant 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. 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, Yellow Sour Clover 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 material to create a picture or pattern.
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. You need to press your collections as quickly after cutting them as possible. Simply lay a tissue (kleenex type tissue without additional creams such as aloe) on a page within the phone book. Carefully arrange your leaves or flowers so that nothing overlaps (it helps to keep things in categories and similar things together). Lay another tissue on top of the leaves and close the book. You may fill as many pages as you wish and you can reuse the phone book when these are dry. Once you have put your collections of the day into the phone book, lay something heavy on top of them such as several bricks or a cinder block. Allow these to dry within the phone book for at least 2 – 3 weeks. Some thick and dense flowers, such as roses, require much longer. Roses can take a month or two to press and are a little tricky to work with.
Check on Pressing Progress
Check your collection after 2-3 weeks. Carefully peel the tissue away from the leaves or petals. They should appear very flat and be dry. Lay out as many as possible so that you can see what you have to choose from to create your piece of art. When not using your pressed leaves, store them back between tissues inside of a phone book to keep them from curling until future use.
Choosing Card Stock
If you are creating a bookmark, choose fairly firm, acid free cardstock. There are many beautiful cardstock types and designs available to choose from and you can find them in the scrap-booking section of most craft stores. Card stock should be cut to the appropriate size before you begin to arrange leaves and petals. Bookmarks can range in size from 1-2inches wide by 8.5 inches high for most practical uses.
Time to Create 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.
Gluing Your Pressed Beauties
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, you may 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. Wait for the glue to dry.
Now place the glued bookmarks between two pieces of parchment paper to press further overnight. Place 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.
The next day you are ready to laminate your art work. 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 art work 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.
Feeding Bookmarks into Laminating Machine
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.
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!