The Victorians started pressing flowers to commemorate flowers given to them by their lovers. Of course, plant hunters also pressed flowers but for completely different reasons. Flower pressing fell out of favor as chemicals introduced in the later part of the 1900s were able to dry flowers while keeping their form and color. Flower pressing is again gaining favor and while it may be slightly old fashioned, a pressed flower from a special bouquet symbolizes romance and love.
Choose unblemished (no signs of mold or discoloration) flowers for pressing. Carefully remove faded petals from the flower. You can press the flower with the stem, or snip the stem off just under the sepals (the green leaves between the stem and the bottom of the flower). If you leave the stem, cut off the part of the stem that was in water, and remove leaves that are discolored or moldy.
Place your rose between 2 sheets of paper towel, pressing down slightly, to remove excess moisture. Leave your rose between the paper towels for 2 to 3 hours. You want the flower to be absolutely dry. Keep the paper towel covered rose out of direct sunlight and in a cool location like a pantry or dry basement.
Press your rose flowers on a stable hard surface out of direct sunlight. It can take up to 4 weeks to completely dry and press your flower, and moving it around too much during this process can damage the flower. Assemble the press on the surface it is going to be stored.
Place a piece of plastic wrap, foil or a small drop cloth on the surface you will be pressing the flower. It should be slightly larger than the paper you will be using. Putting something between the press and your surface will prevent moisture pressed from the flower marring the surface.
Place a piece of cardboard on the prepared surface. Cover with a piece of heavy weight paper. Arrange the rose flower on the paper. You want the flower and stem to be 2 to 3 inches from the top, bottom and sides of the paper. You may need to trim the stem to get everything to fit. Your rose flower can be on its side or facing up.
Place another sheet of high quality, heavyweight paper over the rose. Be careful not to displace petals when you do this. Place the remaining piece of cardboard over the top sheet of paper.
Place a brick, cast iron skillet, heavy hardbound book or heavy piece of wood on top of the cardboard. The weight is what presses the flower. It acts by pressing moisture out of the flower, causing it to dry. As the flower drys the weight starts to flatten the flower.
Check the flower on week 3 of pressing. Remove the weight and top pieces of cardboard and paper. If the flower is dry to the touch, it is ready to be removed. If the petals are still soft replace the top pieces of paper and cardboard and weight. Check again weekly until the petals, and stem if you left that, are dry to the touch.