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How to: Press Botanicals

DIY Projects Aug 15, 2013

Lately I’ve noticed a resurgence of 70’s style crafts – macrame, candle making, pottery, all the things that my mum and her friends did between carafes of wine (when they weren’t out staging protests sans bras). In my mind this craft revival has gathered steam as artists and crafters have reinterpreted traditional techniques into modern and sleek designs (macrame with a touch of neon anyone?) rather than just trotting out exact replicas of what our mums and aunts made. A craft I’ve been surprisingly drawn to recently is the art of pressing flowers – who would have thought something so potentially naff could be so, well, now?

The reason for my recent interest in pressing botanicals has to be the work of Hong Kong (by way of London and Paris) artist and floral designer Gemma aka Hayden Blest.  Gemma presses plants (roots and all) to create art pieces that walk the line between pretty florals and botanical studies – lightyears away from the pressed posies your nan used to make. I’ve noticed Gemma’s work around Hong Kong and have to say I’m a huge fan, and so I was super excited when Gemma graciously offered to give us a run down on creating your own pressed botanicals. Read on to see how!

You need:

  • a selection of flowers
  • scissors or flower cutters if you have them
  • stanley knife
  • paint brush
  • pva glue
  • white A3 card
  • measuring tape
  • vintage frame
  • newspaper
  • stack of books

How to:

1. PREPARATION

Collect a few samples of healthy flowers – try to avoid anything that’s already wilted or damaged. Wash and trim the stems to remove any dirt but avoid wetting their petals. Dry as thoroughly as possible without crushing them then select a book about the same size/length as the chosen flowers.

2. POSITIONING

Cut two squares of newspaper the size of the book you are pressing and lay one piece down inside the book. The newspaper will help absorb the moisture plus protect your book pages. Lay your flower onto the newspaper and try to arrange the leaves and petals nicely. Sandwich the flower with another piece of newspaper. This can be repeated throughout the book leaving a divide of pages between each pressing.

3. PRESSING

Leave the book closed in a stack of other books to provide pressing weight for about a month. After around 3-4 weeks carefully open your book. Sometimes the flower sticks to both sides of the newspaper so ease them apart gently. Pressed petals can sometimes become so fine they become semi-transparent and tear easily.

4. MOUNTING

Take the base of your vintage frame and lay it onto your card and cut around the edge.

 

Once the card is cut to size, place your pressings on top and when you are happy with the layout use the paintbrush to apply glue gently to the back of the pressed flowers and stick down.

5. FRAMING

Once the glue has dried replace the back of the frame and voila! I press everything from orchids and ferns to roses.

Voila!

Head over to Gemma’s website to see more of her work, or follow her on instagram for a peek into her daily life.

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