One thing I have enjoyed about the lockdown is the extra time at home that’s allowed me to have a go at lots of creative and crafty things that I’ve always fancied or dabbled in but never really pursued. A recent birthday was the perfect time to get kitted up for some of them.
I used to love pressing flowers as a kid using my old wooden flower press – one with all the screws that used to take seemingly forever to lock down or open. Invariably, after waiting for weeks/months it’d be opened to deliver, at best, mixed results, usually a disappointingly faded specimen that barely resembled the beautiful specimen I’d been hoping to preserve.
I’d heard that pressing flowers in a microwave not only massively speeded up the process but also left you with excellent colour retention. Gifted with a new ‘microfleur’ flower press and ‘The Art of Pressed leaves and Flowers’ by Jennie Ashmore (which is an absolutely stunning book btw – not flower press art as you would think of it – it’s given me so many ideas!) I was ready to give it another whirl.
First, a foraging expedition for leaves and flowers to experiment with – apparently there are just some things that press better than others and often white flowers turn brown regardless of which method you use – I’ve found this to be true btw!
The microfleur is pretty easy to use, you pop the flowers/leaves between two sheets of fabric which sit between two heavier felt pads which are clipped inside two plastic plates with holes either side. The key seems to be to get rid of the fleshiest parts and put similar sized/types together and then blast them at 30 second intervals, check and repeat. Some things are really quick and others do take a number of goes to properly dry out. The leaves were especially quick in comparison to flowers.
The results were fantastic – the colours were much better than I ever remember achieving with my old school press. Whether they fade on remains to be seen but will probably depend on light exposure and whether the finished, mounted pieces are sealed in some way. There were a few things that didn’t work so well, as expected, but so far so good.
For now, I’ve placed all the pieces I’ve pressed between paper in a big old heavy gardening book and just need to go and collect more. Then the fun of creating things with my dried foliage can begin…