Pressing flowers and leaves is a time-honored technique for preserving the beauty and memory of special flowers. Pressed flowers and leaves will last for many years and can be used in decorations, framed in a shadow box or incorporated into paper. Pressed flowers are flat, while other methods of flower drying preserve the three-dimensional aspects of flowers. In the past, flowers were pressed between the pages of a book, but this is not recommended because it permanently stains the pages and because the paper in modern books is not as absorbent as that used in the past. You can either make a flower press or use books or bricks to press flowers.
Make a flower press by cutting two pieces of plywood or pressboard 2 inches wider and longer than the paper you will use.
Place the boards together; in each of the corners, drill holes large enough to accommodate the bolts.
Cut flowers and leaves with a sharp knife or clippers. Harvest during the middle of the day, after the dew has dried. Choose flowers in good condition.
Stack four or five layers of unglazed, absorbent paper such as newspaper, pages of an old telephone book or blotter paper. If using the flower press, place these pages on top of the bottom board.
Arrange the flowers and leaves in a single layer, with plenty of room between them, on the paper in the way you want them to press. Pay attention to arranging the petals so they will flatten appropriately.
Add another layer of paper and flowers, if desired, and then more paper and cardboard. Build the layers of paper, flowers and cardboard until all of the flowers have been used.
Place a heavy object on top of the stack. A stack of books or several bricks works nicely. If using the flower press, cover the stack with the top board, insert the bolts and tighten the wing nuts.
Change the paper every three or four days for thick flowers. For less dense flowers, once a week should be sufficient. Leave the flowers and leaves in the press for two to four weeks, depending on the thickness, until dry. Thick flowers such as carnations or roses will take longer than a less dense daisy. When in doubt, allow a little extra time.
Speed up the drying process by placing the press in a warm, dry place such as a sunny window or near a radiator or heating vent.