Wedding flowers that never fade – pressed flowers

Penny Black

Don’t toss away that bridal bouquet; frame it to have and to hold always.

When you catch the bride’s bouquet at a wedding, what do you do with it? Do you wrap it in tissue paper and let it gather dust in a trunk in the attic? A much more romantic idea is to turn it into a wedding-bouquet picture, the perfect memento of a happy day.

The picture opposite was made with the flowers ftom a very lavish wedding bouquet; there were enough flowers to make a border in addition to the central arrangement. I wanted to create a picture that was romantic and pretty, to reflect the atmosphere of a wedding. So I used a pale pink color wash for the background and added a border of antique lace. You could use the lace from the bride’s gown, or even mount the entire picture on the fabric of the bride’s dress. For interest I added a few extra seasonal flowers in keeping with the theme of the picture: tiny forget-menots and violets gathered from my garden, and florets of lovely lime-yellow alexanders that were blooming at the time in our hedgerows.

Pressing a Bouquet

When you come to pressing a wedding bouquet, the flowers will not be very fresh and may need reviving. So dismantle the bouquet and then pop the flowers in a polyethylene bag. Put this in the fridge for an hour or so before you begin pressing. You should start pressing the nowers as soon as possible to retain their lovely colors.

I find that there is always an element of surprise involved when pressing flowers for the first time. When I was making this wedding-bouquet picture I was amazed and delighted with the final colors. So cross your fingers and have a go too!

About the author The British artist Penny Black has gained international recognition for her pressed-flower pictures and artifacts. Her recent book, The Book of Pressed Flowers: A Complete Guide to Pressing, Drying and Arranging, from which this article is taken, was published this year by Simon and Schuster.

How to Press Flowers

Blossoms, stems, leaves, buds, individual petals, seedheads–almost all parts of flowering plants can be preserved by pressing. Gather flowers on a dry day in the afternoon. Use only undamaged, clean, and fresh blossoms, preferably those that have just opened. Thick blossoms, such as rosebuds, should be cut in half with a sharp knife. Flowers should be pressed as soon as possible after picking to preserve colors.

A traditional flower press is made from two book-size sheets of plywood fastened in each corner with a bolt and wing nut for tightening and loosening. A simple press can be made with two sheets of plywood placed under three hefty bricks. In an emergency, flowers may be dried between pages of a heavy book, although this method is not ideal.

1. Fold three sheets of construction paper in half and place on top of the first plywood sheet. Add a fourth piece unfolded.

2. Add a layer of paper toweling and carefully place flower materials –as many as will fit without overlapping–on the paper towels. Try to use flower material of uniform thickness.

3. Add another layer of paper toweling and fold the fourth sheet of construction paper over the flowers and towels.

4. Place three more folded sheets of construction paper on top of this and press flowers uniformly.

Keep the press in a warm, dry place. Change the construction paper daily for the first several days, then every other day-but don’t disturb the flowers and paper towels, Flowers are ready for mounting when they no longer feel cold or clammy. Drying will take two weeks or less. Be patient for the best results.

Wedding bouquet elements (above) include: hellebore, rosebuds, babies!-breath, cherry blossoms, alexanders, variegated ivy, larkspur, fern, and forget-me-nots. Amum, dogtooth violet, heather, hyacinth, lace, and statice were added.

COPYRIGHT 1988 Saturday Evening Post Society

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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