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How to Collect, Press, and Preserve Flowers

Oct. 23, 2020Pressing and preserving flowers is a unique way to solidify memories of a particular time and place.



Last year, I spent two weeks road-tripping around the Southwest. I took pictures along the way, but I also picked and pressed flowers in each state I drove to. It was the end of June, and wildflowers were blooming everywhere. I couldn’t resist saving a few! During the trip, I lived pretty minimally. I camped out of a car, so I didn’t have all the tools to press properly. As we stopped along the road, I grabbed a few flowers or tree leaves and pressed them into my Moleskin notebook that has an elastic strap to keep it shut. I ended up collecting so many flowers that I outgrew my Moleskin and moved on to an old composition notebook I found in the car. This method is a quick way to preserve flowers, sandwiching them between paper and using weight to keep them flat. I always record the location and the date as well. 

I now have a picture frame with flowers pressed from Michigan, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Kansas. While collecting flowers on the road, I found an easy and sustainable method to collect, press, and preserve the plants and flowers. 

#1 — Collect Flowers

When collecting flowers or other plants to press, check to be certain you aren’t picking anything from protected land. If you do venture out to collect and preserve wildflowers, make sure the flowers are in abundance and only take what you need. Keep in mind the Leave No Trace ethic to minimize your impact on our environment. Conscious collecting includes picking herbs from your garden and leaves falling from the trees, or saving a bouquet gifted to you! Once you select your flower, either put it in water or press right away. The longer you wait, the higher chance the petals will wilt and the color will fade.

 

#2 — Lay Flat in a Book 

First, cut away any unwanted leaves or stems. Then lay flowers in the pages of a book. The only risk of pressing flowers directly in a book is that the pages will warp from the moisture, and the petals could stick to the pages. Either use a book that you don’t plan on reading anymore or sandwich the flower in parchment paper or newsprint before putting it in inside.

#3 — Leave to Dry Out

Leave the flowers in the book. Then stack some more weight on top of it. Leave for 2 to 4 weeks. They will be such a nice surprise when you take a look in a few weeks! 

 

#4 — Arrange on Paper

After the flowers dry out, use tweezers to carefully peel them from the book. Then patiently arrange flowers on background paper to eventually place in a frame.

 

#5 — Glue Down

This is key! If you don’t glue down your pressed flowers onto the paper, they won’t stay in place when you hang your frame. Use a paintbrush and liquid glue to carefully dab glue on the back of the stem and petals. Gently press flowers down onto the paper to stick.

#6 — Frame and Hang

When your pressed flowers and glue have dried on the paper, then place them in a frame. Hang and enjoy! 

 
Dana Campbell

By Dana Campbell

 —  Dana is an artist and designer inspired by nature and sustainable living. Originally from Boston, MA, she now lives in San Diego, CA. Outside of working with Avocado, Dana loves going on road trips and camping!

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