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Build a Flower Press

Use this simple device to preserve plants for further study or simply for their beauty.

By Noelle Pareja

With their rich colors and symmetrical shapes, pressed plants are a pleasure to the eye and an important aid for any amateur naturalist hoping to learn more about them. In recent years, flower pressing has also become a popular trend in the arts and crafts industry.

Botanists have long collected and pressed plants as part of their work. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department botanist Jackie Poole explains that “with a plant press, botanists can conserve the specimen’s root, stem, leaves, flowers, fruits and sometimes the size, color and shape for future study and lab work.” Whether for classification purposes or aesthetic pleasure, anyone can preserve a wildflower or plant by building a flower press.

  1. Cut two pieces of 1/2-inch-thick wood into 7-1/2-inch squares. Using a straight edge, draw two light pencil lines corner to corner. Done properly, the two lines will intersect at the center of the board. Following the lines, measure 1 inch from each corner of the board and mark an X. Make sure the edges of the two pieces of wood are lined up and secured.
  2. Drill a 1/4-inch diameter hole in each corner where the X is marked. Sand the sharp edges and trimmings from the boards and wipe them clean. Insert the four bolts through the holes in one of the boards. Lay the board on a flat surface with the bolts pointing upward.
  3. Cut eight sheets of cardboard and 16 sheets of blotting paper into 7-inch-square pieces. Trim off the corners of the sheets by 3/4 of an inch.
  4. Place one sheet of cardboard, then two sheets of blotting paper and another sheet of cardboard, between the bolts. Continue to lay the sheets on top of each other in this order until all the cardboard and blotting paper is used. Now place the other board on top, guiding the bolts through the drill holes. Apply the flat washers and wing nuts. Eight layers of flowers can now be pressed at one time.
  5. To press one layer, remove the wing nuts, washers and the top board. Take away one sheet of cardboard and one sheet of blotting paper. Lay the flowers evenly over the entire surface of the blotting paper, leaving space between them and cover with blotting paper followed by cardboard. Replace the top board, apply the washers and wing nuts and tighten evenly by hand. Store in a warm dry place for two days to two weeks.

For best results, take the press on walks and press flowers as you find them. This prevents wilting and maintains the flowers’ vibrant colors and petal shape.

When the flowers are dried, carefully peel them off the blotting paper with tweezers. If they are stuck, brush them with a paintbrush dipped in alcohol to loosen them.

For flower press craft ideas and projects, visit Bob’s Flower Press Supply at www.flower-press.com. This Web site also contains information on pre-manufactured professional botanical plant and flower press kits.

Remember to ask permission from landowners before picking plants. Disturbing plants in state parks is against the law.

Materials List

  • two 1/2-inch boards to be cut 7-1/2-inch square
  • four 1/4-inch bolts, 4 inches long
  • four wing nuts
  • four washers
  • sandpaper
  • eight sheets of cardboard
  • 16 sheets of blotting paper

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