How to Press Botanicals for Inexpensive Artwork

Adding elements of nature to your home with pressed botanicals is a simple and inexpensive way to create artwork. Plus, the possibilities are endless.

Pressed-Botanical- Gallery

When I was renovating our mudroom, I knew that I wanted to do something special with the wall across from the built-ins. Originally, the wall contained a seldom-used family calendar. I know you think that a mudroom would be a perfect place for a family calendar…and it is. Unless you’re like me, and you’re just too busy to keep it updated every week. So I decided that I definitely wanted to go with something different.

The room has plenty of natural light, and for a while, I considered adding a bunch of shelves for plants. I really loved the idea of adding some natural elements to the room.

However, if I was too busy to update the family calendar, I knew it would also be difficult for me to keep a mini greenhouse alive. That’s when I discovered a simple and inexpensive way to create botanical art that wouldn’t need to be watered…framed botanical art.

Now I just needed to figure out the easiest and fastest way to make it.

Pressed Leaf Art

What are the different methods for pressing botanicals?

  • BOOKS: Books are probably the most common and simplest way to press botanicals. Lay your clippings between the pages of a book. Close the book and then place additional books or weights on top of the book to make sure the clippings are completely flattened. Wait for about 2-3 weeks, and then carefully remove the clippings from the pages.
  • FLOWER PRESS: Making a flower press is an easy DIY for all skill levels. If you want to try to make your own press…check out this simple Flower Press Tutorial. If you don’t want to make your own, they are readily available for purchase. I really like this basic Flower Press. Although the drying time is similar to the book method, you won’t need to worry about staining the pages of your favorite book, and the press doesn’t require any additional weight.
  • MICROWAVE: The process of pressing clippings in a microwave is simple and fast. You will place your clippings between a couple of pieces of paper. Add a paper towel between the clippings and the top paper. The paper towel will absorb the clipping’s moisture. Then weigh it down with a heavy plate or something that is microwave safe. Finally, set your microwave on high and “cook” the clippings for about 30 – 60 seconds.
  • IRON: This is the method I used for my project. I needed something that would be fast, and I also wanted to have the ability to adjust my flowers and leaves as they dried. See my detailed instructions below for more info.

How to Use an Iron for Pressing Botanicals

Supply List

  • Iron
  • Iron Board
  • 2 Pieces of Cardstock(for pressing)
  • Backing Paper(cardstock)
  • Variety of Flowers and Leaves
  • Tweezers(optional)
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Picture Frame

STEP 1: Place Botanicals Between Cardstock

You will need two pieces of cardstock. Place the botanical on one piece of the cardstock. Then spread the leaves before putting the second sheet on top. After a few attempts, I actually found it easier when I placed the flowers and leaves face down on the first piece of cardstock, then added the second.

Leaf on colored cardstock

STEP 2: Press Botanicals with Iron

Make sure your iron is on a low heat setting with the steam off. Slowly press an area for a few seconds and then press another area. Repeat this process until the botanical is about 90% dried.

Ironing Leaf Between Cardstock

STEP 3: Attach Botanicals to Backing Paper

If you’re framing the botanical, use a glue gun to attach it to the backing paper. I used basic white cardstock for my backing because it provided more support than regular printer paper. It’s important only to use a little glue. I only applied glue in a couple of places along the stem to keep this leaf in place.

Glue leaf on cardstock

STEP 4: Place Botanicals in Frame

This step is simple, but it’s the best because you get to see the results. When considering a frame for my pressed botanical, I chose frames that would allow about a 1/2 inch – 1 inch border between the leaf and the frame. I thought it looked the best.

Pressed Leaf in Frame

Additional Tips for Pressing Botanicals with an Iron

  1. Practice on some extra flowers first. Don’t start by trying to press your favorite flowers…especially if you have a limited supply.
  2. Different flowers and leaves will require different amounts of time to dry under the iron. I would check them frequently to avoid overheating them and causing them to turn black. This happened to me a few times.
  3. Once the flowers are dried, they will be more delicate and easier to break. Even if some of my flowers broke, I could still piece some of them together on the backing paper using hot glue.
  4. Keep some tweezers handy just in case they stick to the cardstock. They will make them easier to remove.

How to Choose the Best Flowers for Pressing

The best flowers for pressing will not have multiple layers of petals. Flowers such as roses, carnations, and hydrangeas all have multiple layers of petals and will not press well. Also, flowers with thick middles(pistils) like daisies, sunflowers, and coneflowers would be difficult. The best flowers for pressing will already be somewhat flat, like pansies, lavender, and lilies.

How Long Will Pressed Flowers and Leaves Last?

The amount of time pressed leaves and flowers will last depends on a couple of factors. The first is their exposure to sunlight. The more direct sunlight the artwork receives, the faster the flowers and leaves will fade. The second factor is climate. If you live in a drier climate, they will last a little longer than if you live in a humid climate. The humidity will affect the stiffness of the leaves, and over time they will lose their shape. That being said, I would say they will last between 1-2 years. I’ve had a few of my framed botanicals for a couple of years, and I’m planning to replace them. Fortunately, it is an easy and fun project, so I should have them all updated in no time.

Single Pressed Leaves Framed

Using botanicals in home decor really is a great way to add natural elements to your home. I’ve received so many compliments on my gallery wall, and I can’t wait to find other ways to incorporate them in my home as well.

How to Press Botanicals for Inexpensive Artwork

Pressing botanicals is a simple and easy way to add artwork to your home. The creative possibilities are endless and inexpensive.
Prep Time1 hr
Active Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs

Equipment

  • Iron
  • Ironing Board
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Tweezers(Optional)

Materials

  • 2 pieces Cardstock
  • 1 pieces Backing Paper Can use cardstock
  • Several Flowers and Leaves Use a variety
  • 1 stick Hot Glue
  • 1 Picture Frame

Instructions

  • Place botanicals between bardstock on ironing board. Make sure the leaves or flowers are laying flat against the bottom piece of cardstock.
  • Press botanicals with a warm iron. Check frequently to make sure they don't get overheated and discolored.
  • Attach botanicals to backing paper using hot glue. Only a few drops are needed.
  • Place botanicals in frame
  • Enjoy your artwork!

Notes

Additional Tips
  1. Practice on some extra flowers first. Don’t start by trying to press your favorite flowers…especially if you have a limited supply.
  2. Different flowers and leaves will require different amounts of time to dry under the iron. I would check them frequently to avoid overheating them and causing them to turn black. This happened to me a few times.
  3. Once the flowers are dried, they will be more delicate and easier to break. Even if some of my flowers broke, I could still piece some of them together on the backing paper using hot glue.
  4. Keep some tweezers handy just in case they stick to the cardstock. They will make them easier to remove.

How to Press Botanicals for Inexpensive Artwork

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