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Pressing flowers can be rewarding hobby or kids’ art

Pressing flowers can be rewarding hobby or kids’ art

Making pressed flower art is a fun, easy way to preserve some of your garden and landscape favorites. Both children and adults can enjoy doing this simple hands-on art project.

For the minimalist, all you need are common household items, including brown paper bags or newspapers (not the glossy pages); heavy books or bricks; and tweezers (to carefully pick up or rearrange fragile specimens). Other supplies needed will depend on your final project(s). For instance, I chose to make a few wall art designs, so I needed a glue gun and a few inexpensive glass frames.

If you do not have a garden, ask your friends and neighbors, find some interesting weeds growing in your backyard, carefully collect roadside wildflowers or take a walk in a meadow. Always consider personal safety and conservation laws that can be easily found by calling your local master gardener extension office.

The science of pressing and drying plants involves removing moisture slowly while preserving as much original shape, color and texture as possible. This is best achieved by using the following timeline and time management tips:

1. Change blotting papers used to absorb excess moisture every 24 hours if petals are thick and fleshy until fully dried.

2. Using the minimalist drying method, project-ready samples can be done in two to three weeks. Patience is required.

3. On the other hand, if doing this project with children or as a day project for groups, a microwave can be used to speed up the process. This method works especially well for denser flowers like dahlias, roses and peonies that have a higher moisture content. However, you will need a few extra materials for this method, such as a glass container of silica beads for preserving shape and form.

When it comes to the art of using pressed dried flowers, I learned that browning, molding and other undesirable effects can be transformed into usable project materials. To illustrate, sweet potato plant leaves brown easily, but I chose to spray paint them gold to add a little bling to my wall art. In addition, losing a few petals off a Mexican blanket flower is no biggie. With a little imagination, these imperfections made the perfect butterfly in my favorite native pollinator-friendly garden composition.

In addition, I found fun and surprising facts about materials from my garden to commemorate each season. For instance, sugar snap pea stems, leaves and curls added whimsy to my springtime garden themed composition. In mid-summer, I had a lot of fun using tendrils from my birdhouse gourd plants. I also discovered nasturtium leaves have a gorgeous lily pad shape, but beware of their deceptively moist leaves, also prone to yellowing. Yarrow foliage easily became my personal favorite for its delicate and intricate texture. A pressed and dried zinnia bloom with a few dried cascading petals made for vibrant cheerful composition for my summer garden. And late summer meadows are great for plucking wildflowers, such as Queen Anne’s lace, a definite dazzler for my final composition.

Learn how to press flowers at http://go.osu.edu/pressflowers.

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