Making art out of pressed fall leaves and flowers was one of the first crafting activities I did as a kid.
My grandma had a big flower press and she would make beautiful cards and framed artwork for people. She’d let me make my own little card with her flowers when I’d come to visit her.
As a teenager, I asked my dad to make me my own press. Now I can preserve pressed flowers and leaves with my kids to make beautiful crafts of my own!
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How to Make a Press
The simplest way to press flowers and leaves is just to place them in between some heavy books. However, that method doesn’t allow for many layers and you often end up with *someone* grabbing the book and scattering a deluge of fluttering leaves all over the room.
Another method is to make a press. Here is the press my Dad made for me: it’s made from two pieces of plywood with four holes in the corners, four long bolts, four washers, and four wing-nuts.
This site has an even more detailed tutorial on how to make a flower press just like this one.
Assembling the Press
Once you have the pieces for your press, gather some cardboard to place between the layers of leaves and flowers. Cut the cardboard into a rectangle the size of plywood, then cut off the corners to accommodate the bolts.
You’ll also need some tissues, tissue paper, newspaper, or sheets of paper towel. (The quilted design of many paper towels can leave a mark on tender flower petals, so I wouldn’t recommend those.)
Now layer your press in the following order:
- place a piece of cardboard on the bottom
- add a tissue (this helps absorb any moisture)
- arrange flowers and leaves in one layer on the tissue (no overlapping)
- repeat steps 2 and 3 a few times (for fresh items, you’ll want to start with three or less layers. If your items are bulky or have thick stems, they may require being their own layer with cardboard on either side of them.)
- place a piece of cardboard on top
- repeat steps 1-5 until you’ve placed all your flowers and leaves in the press
- put the top plywood piece on top of the final sheet of cardboard
- put the bolts through the holes, add a washer to each bolt, and tighten a wingnut on each bolt until the press is tight
Be sure to store your press in a dry location so nothing gets moldy and your items fully dry.
Once everything is dry, you can use your pressed items for beautiful (or just fun!) crafts and art projects. Your pressed nature items should be good for years! The colors fade after a long time, but there are still fun ways to use them.
Using Your Press
You can press and preserve beautiful leaves, flowers, and other pieces of nature like grass, ferns, maple seeds, and even butterfly wings (but that’s kind of gross…).
Once everything is flat and dry, you can often put more than three layers in between the pieces of cardboard. This just makes more room in your press for new goodies!
Pressed leaves and flowers make wonderful crafts, artwork, and decor. These crafts are especially fun to do with kids, because everything is free and replaceable. If they ruin something, go gather some more!
Enjoy nature and have fun with your press!
Not sure what to do with all your beautiful pressed leaves now? Be sure to check out my next post in this series, Top 5+ Fall Leaf Crafts! Here is a sneak peek at some of what you’ll get there…