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Spring is here and so is spring flower planting. Most of us know that to make our annual plants bloom more and to continue blooming we must pinch back our spent blooms. So why not do this pruning a little early and have that bloom for our craft projects.
There are so many things you can do with dried flowers. Basically, you can decoupage them to any flat surface. You can decorate tables, candles, candle holders or make some beautiful one of a kind stationary. So here are the plans for an easy to build flower press that only require a saw and a drill and a pair of scissors.
Cut your 1 inch boards in to two squares 7 by 7 inches long. Since these are small pieces of wood you may be able to get a small board from your lumber stores cut off bin. While you are there, for .50 to a 1.00 you may be able to get that cute lumber guy to cut your squares for you. Now drill holes 1/2 of an inch from the corners. Make sure your long bolts will fit through the holes, if not, sand with a pencil covered with sandpaper. Now you are going to cut your cardboard. You need to cut 8 cardboard squares that are 5 by 5 inches square. Then you are going to cut 8 pieces of blotting paper that are 5 by 5 inches square. You are going to cut the newspaper into 16 squares that are 5 by 5 inches square. The newspaper is used as filler. So that your blossoms are cushioned some what by the pressure exerted by the wing nuts.
To assembly your flower press: Start by putting your bolts through the holes with a washer on the bottom then put a square of cardboard positioned between your bolts. Two squares of newspaper, two squares of blotting paper, two squares of newspaper, one piece of cardboard. Continue layering until you put the last piece of cardboard on top. Next put your top on running the bolts through the top. Put your washer on the top and close with your wing nut.
To dry flowers: Pinch off your blossoms. You want them as close to full bloom as you can get. Layer the blossom between the blotting papers in your press starting at the bottom and working your way up. Depending on the size of your blossoms you can usually get between 3-5 blossoms per blotting square. I have many antique rose bushes in my yard that burst forth with amazing blooms in May. I have even taken small rose buds and pressed them in my press. Now close your press and let the flowers dry for about 1 week.
To store: I had a small index file that I made small envelopes out of waxed paper to store my dried flowers in. I made them the same size as an index card, but with a little more to serve as a flap down. I stapled the sides so that I could still have air circulating around them. On the index divider cards I wrote what kind of flower was behind them.
You can dry any kind of flower, but you need to know that some of the more delicate flowers may crumble when dry if you are not very careful with them. I have even dried lilac sprays in mine and they have come out pretty good, but I need to use them right away. I also ask the neighbors if I can have their spent blossoms to dry if they have annuals that I don't have. They are great about letting me pinch back their plants. I also made a flower press that was a little bigger so I could take it with me when we go hiking or camping. This way I can preserve blossoms of wildflowers that I love that grow in the wild, but I am not tearing up the whole plant for a bouquet. This can teach children good conservation of our natural surroundings. Don't forget to dry some leaves and ferns. These are great bases for layering your dry flowers on when you start making your projects. I find that drying the leaves separately speeds up drying time on my flowers.
Now what to do with these flowers? I have gone to my local dollar store and bought clear glass candle holders and with a little white glue have glued the flowers around the base on the outside of the container. I then let this dry after getting them positioned. I then have taken a paint brush and coated all the flowers with white glue to seal them. These make wonderful gifts for friends and family and could give you a head start on Christmas. They look gorgeous with the candle light shining through them. I had some white lampshades I did the same thing with. I glued them where I wanted them and then sealed with white glue. You could glue some to small wooden TV trays for outdoor garden parties. Just lightly sand the TV tray to give the finish a little bite and then glue your flowers on and polyurethane the tops. I make stationary by getting some plain white colored or pastel colored invitations (Walmart has these). I glue on the flowers and then cut a piece of clear contact paper to a little larger than the front and lay that on pressing really good to seal and then I cut off the excess.
A friend saw what I was doing and she came up with this idea. She had a couple of old lace curtains that she only had two of and decided she did not like. She cut them into place mat sized pieces. She then cut some white cardboard the same size; one for each placemat. She then glued on flowers and leaves. She then sandwiched the whole thing between two pieces of contact paper and I have to say they were stunning. You could also glue these to the back of a clear glass plate and seal with Alene's clear glass decoupage. I would not run these in the dish washer, but with clear glass plates running a dollar at the dollar store, these would be cheap enough to give as a gift filled with home made cookies.
If you let your imagination run wild I am sure that you could come up with lots of ideas of where to use these. This is also a good group project that could be used by the scouts or a church group.