Collecting leaves and flowers is a hobby of mine. I like to press them. A few months ago, I found a book at a friend’s house. It was full of blank pages, like a diary. The pages were thick and had no lines, and seemed perfect for pressing, so I asked her if I could have it. She told me I could, and since then that’s been my designated pressing book. Just about any old book will do, but sometimes the ink from the text or lines (especially in a notebook) will make marks on the items that you press.
Sometimes I pick wild flowers to press. Other times, I’ll see flowers like roses that have fallen on the ground, and will pick those up. Flowers from a withering bouquet can also be preserved, although they have already lost most of their color. Some of the flowers that preserve the best are:
wild daisies and other similar flowers
Christmas cactus (Especially picked fresh, the color retention is amazing!)
I’m sure there are more, but those are some of the few that I’ve tried, with the best results. White lilac does not seem to preserve so well, but I have not tried the purple lilacs yet.
I also like to find leaves, especially in autumn, that have been cast to the ground. Red maple and grape leaves are some of my favorites. These press well also, especially if it is dry outside and the leaves are dry already. Do not delay to press them, or they may curl.
Pine needles and some grasses also preserve well.
When the urge or the need arises to make bookmarks or art—I like to give them out as gifts, and they fit well in cards.—I get out the book.
You can make these transparent, with both a back and front side, or you can also use paper. I find that paper normally gives the best results. When I both sides are clear, I tend to get a lot more of those unwanted air bubbles, and they just won’t go away! Sometimes, such as when making a bookmark, it’s nice to see both the front and the back of the plant. I got the idea to make bookmarks like this from a woman to whom a friend and I gave Bible studies. She gave me some book marks made from pictures cut out of magazines, covered with packing tape. You will need either packing tape or lamination sheets. Lamination sheets is best for art, and either will work just fine for bookmarks.
Now, this really starts way back before it’s time to make your bookmark or art. It’s best to select items while keeping in mind that you will use them in a design later. It’s OK if you don’t use everything you press, but sometimes you might want to pick and press something just because—without knowing what you would use it for—and then you might end up using it later. You don’t have to plan every single step. You can get more creative later. Go out and hunt for these items every now and then, during different seasons, and see what you can find. Don’t wait until it’s time to make your art or bookmark before you decide that you’re going to go out and look for some stuff to use (although, you can do some last minute item hunting, too).
Then you press them into a book, or several books. Don’t use a good book, as some plants, especially the more succulent ones, will stain and/or wrinkle the paper. Let the flowers/leaves/etc dry between the pages for about a week. If the book won’t close, put a heavier book (or something else that is heavy) on top.
When the time comes, select what pressed plants you will use in your design.
Now, it’s time to get creative. Arrange the items however you will. I have seen some amazing designs. You can make them into a picture, turning flower petals into bows or insect wings. You can make nature scenes, such as flower petals flying in the wind, or all kinds of different designs. If using paper, you can write or draw on the paper to add to your design. If not using paper, arrange the items flat on a table or other flat, solid surface—one that can handle very sticky tape being applied and peeled off, without ruining the surface or the tape.
Next, carefully put down your tape or lamination sheet. If making a bookmark or small art, you may want to cut your lamination sheet down to the right size first. Leave some room for mistakes.
Carefully press down on your plants if not using paper. Then carefully peel the tape or lamination off of the table and turn your art upside down. If the plants are not sticking, you may need to put them back on the tape. Then apply tape or lamination on the other side, and press or rub out all the air bubbles that you can. Make sure your plants are sealed inside.
If using paper, carefully apply the tape or lamination and press out all the air bubbles that you can. Again, make sure your plants are sealed inside. Then, it’s optional whether or not you will apply tape or lamination to the back. If your paper is light, I recommend it. If it’s heavy, it’s entirely up to you. Just keep in mind that the tape/lamination will help reduce the risk of damage.
Now, trim off the excess tape/lamination with scissors. You don’t want your art/bookmarks to stick to anything, do you?
Bookmarks and small art fit nicely into an envelope and can be sent through the mail to friends and loved ones as gifts. You can also make them for your own books or your wall. They make beautiful, natural decorations.
Making art with packing tape. This one features various pressed leaves, a pressed rose petal, pressed wild daisies, and pressed pine needles. See how the colors are preserved?
I made two of these bookmarks, each slightly different. Each one is still unique.
These bookmarks and smaller pieces of art fit into cards and envelopes, and can be sent through the mail as thoughtful little gifts to loved ones.
You can also hang the art up on your wall.