|From the top of the grandkids’ arrangement.|
When my mother was a child, her grandfather gave her a copy of Gone with the Wind. The book. I’m sure it was beautiful when it was new, but I’ve always known it to have a worn, faded green cover and a spine held on with bright red tape. I never considered opening it; I assumed the book wouldn’t sustain another reader.
Hidden inside the pages is a pressed flower. When my great-grandfather died, Mama took a white carnation from a funeral arrangement and pressed it inside the book. The flower looks about the same today as it did when she pressed it 30 years ago.
When my own grandmother died 3 years ago, we grandkids bought the tackiest funeral arrangement you could imagine. Granny would have LOVED it. It was full of birds of paradise and golden curly-cues. It looked like a fireworks display. When the family returned to view her grave after the burial, I got the wild idea that I would preserve some flowers for each family member as my mother had. Somehow taking those flowers with me made leaving the site easier.
|This fabric softener left behind a pleasant
I tend to have a where-there’s-a-will-there’s-a-way attitude about life, and I am enabled by Google’s search engine. I had never pressed flowers before, so I had to do a lot of research. (Seriously, what did people do before all this information was at their fingertips?)
There are basically 5 steps to drying flowers:
- Pick flowers that don’t have thick stems. Birds of Paradise are not good choices for a first-timer. (I learned that the hard way.) Lilies are.
- Make a solution of glycerin-based fabric softener and water. Coat the petals of each flower.
- Hang in a dark, cool, dry space for a couple of days until the softener has completely dried.
- Arrange the flower on a piece of parchment paper, fold the parchment over the top of the flower, and close inside a book.
- Add as much weight to the top of the book as possible.
|This herb dryer, given to me by my mother, is
full of rosemary, basil, thyme, parsley, and the
occasional hot pepper in the summer.
In a couple of months, you should have flat, papery flowers that have retained most of their color. Any flowers with white petals will yellow–I don’t think there’s a way around that. But colorful flowers, such as pink roses, will remain remarkably true-to-life if you dip them in the glycerin solution.
|These Stargazer Lilies demonstrate the importance
of dipping the flowers in glycerin before pressing
them. Without the glycerin, none of the pink color
would have survived..
Since I mastered this craft, I’ve pressed flowers from several functions–not all funerals, I’m happy to report! This spring I have commemorated Anna’s and Jess’s weddings. I bought pictures from the wedding photographers and inexpensive glass-on-glass frames. Jess loved the flowers I stole from her bouquet and pressed. Anna’s wedding flowers are still in the press!