Preserving Flowers – Introduction
Preserving flowers is a popular and common method used by artists and craft hobbyists that allows them to use floral elements to create attractive and elegant forms of art. There are several uses and appeals related to this process, with the first being that preserving flowers allows you to enjoy their beauty even when their growing season has long since passed.
Preserving flowers by drying and pressing creates pressed flowers, which are fun to use when creating crafts at home with your family or in the classroom with students. Whichever reason you have for preserving flowers, by doing so ahead of time you can have a large supply ready for whenever you need them.
Preserving Flowers – Methods
We’ve listed here the most common methods of preserving flowers with instructions on how to complete it:
· Hanging – Air drying or hanging is the easiest and best method for preserving flowers. As a general rule, flowers need only to have the leaves removed and to be hung upside down in a warm, dry, dark place until the moisture content has been reduced. The best places are closets, attics, or pantries. It is best to avoid basements, porches, or garages as levels of dampness can damage your specimens.
Divide the flowers into small bunches to prevent accidental crowding and crushing. The stems of the flowers can be tied together with twine, wire, pipe cleaners, string, rubber bands or anything that will hold them securely without causing damage. Hang the flowers nails, coat hangers, or anything else that protrudes and allows for unobstructed drying.
Air drying flowers may take from one to two weeks or more depending on the moisture content of the cut stems and relative humidity of the room they are in. Some flowers should be picked for air drying in the bud stage, or partially opened, as they will continue to open while drying. Others must be picked when they are fully mature. Make sure you pick them without any existing moisture present on the petals.
· Pressing – Pressing is another easy method of preserving flowers. One thing to keep in mind is that the flowers will be flat when done, and much definition will be lost. Unglazed paper such as that of old newspapers or books is best. Spread the flowers so they do not overlap between several thicknesses of newspaper. If using books, keep at least 1/8” of pages on each side.
Additional layers of paper and flowers can be built up and then covered with a board or piece of cardboard before pressing down with a heavy object. The time required for drying, depending on the flower size or tissue content, can be anywhere from two to four weeks. Storing pressed flowers is not a problem because they usually are not removed until they are used.
· Glycerin – This chemical replaces the water in the plant material, making the preserved plant supple and long-lasting. To use this method for preserving flowers, the plant material needs to be gathered in a fully hydrated state. Use two parts of water to one part of glycerin, making sure the water is lukewarm for better mixing and faster absorption.
Where leaves only are used, they should be submerged completely in the glycerin-water solution. Where leaves attached to stems are used, only the stems are immersed into the solution. The time required for completing the preservation process varies, but expect two to three weeks before the glycerin solution reaches the leaf tips.
When working with any chemicals, whether preserving flowers or otherwise, it is always advisable to wear gloves and take safety precautions to keep your eyes and mucous membranes clear from contact.
Preserving Flowers – Uses
Preserving flowers gives you many options when it comes to decorating or making crafts. You can place pressed flowers onto a colorful painted or paper backing and then mount them on the wall with a frame like a picture. Others you can place into scrapbooks or photo albums to create a catalogue of your work.
You can often create arrangements and decorations worthy of a professional florist, although they are still the best bet for bouquets of live specimens.
Another great benefit of preserving flowers is the fact that it can be a group activity enjoyable to many people of all ages. It’s a great way to spend time with your kids, or for keeping children in your class creatively occupied.
Alternatives to Preserving Flowers
If you’re looking for live alternatives to preserving flowers, your florist’s shop is the place to go. They have a wide variety of arrangements that you will love as home decorations, or that make great gifts for friends and family. You can use their online store to arrange for delivery, saving you time if you tend to be very busy, and allowing you to complete the entire process from the comfort of your own home or office.
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