Tap into the Victorian art of flower pressing, and make it portable with this pocket sized mini flower press.
My oldest daughter loves collecting and pressing flowers. When we go camping and hiking, she’s constantly scouring the landscape for little blooms, like searching for sea shells on a beach.
Each one a tiny treasure, she carefully plucks it and presses it into a diary or whatever book she has on her. (She always has a book on her.)
When we get home, she’ll flip through the pages to find her flat flowers and transfer them to her collection. But sometimes she forgets, or loses track of which book she stored them in. (She usually has multiple books on her.)
Occasionally, months later, she’ll pick up a book, only to have a brittle blossom float out of it. Or worse for a book lover, she’ll find that the pollen has discolored the pages that held the flower.
I’m pretty sure we’ve returned books to the library containing small floral gifts for the next patron.
So I decided to try making her a pocket sized flower press that would solve those problems, and this is what I came up with.
How to make a Mini Flower Press
These flower presses make a super easy and inexpensive craft project, perfect for hikers, campers, scouts, or a budding botanist.
All you’ll need to get started is a ribbon, washi tape, and a few small pieces of glass or mirror, cut to the same size. I used a ribbon left over in my craft stash, some cute washi tape designs to make it even prettier, and these small mirrors from Hobby Lobby.
I wanted to use plain glass, but small glass panes turned out to be hard to find, and I felt like these little mirrors might be more sturdy anyway.
Simply cut the washi tape into strips the same length as the side of your glass or mirror. (Mine are squares, so all the lengths were the same.) You’ll need four strips of tape for each pane.
Wrap the strips the long way along the edge of the mirror. They will overlap in the corners, which will help create just the right amount of space between panes for the flowers to be pressed but not obliterated.
Then stack the panes together and tie them with the ribbon like a gift. You could also use a strong rubber band or maybe even a hair tie in a pinch.
The whole packet will be small enough to toss into a backpack or pants pocket, and the taped edges will protect it from getting caught on anything.
How to Use a Flower Press
Once your flower press is ready to use, the most fun part is trying it out. Call up your inner romantic and get ready to fall in love with flowers.
Step 1: Get Outside! The best way to use a flower press is to forage for the blossoms you want to preserve. Yes you could buy flowers if you’re working on a project, but to me the romantic part of flower pressing is remembering where you were when you picked that particular bloom.
Step 2: Pick Carefully. Some flowers press better than others. Wildflowers, with their delicate nature and thin petals tend to press well, while very plump round flowers such as roses or peonies may not ever lay flat.
Step 3. Press Gently. The less you handle them, the better for preserving them. The oils in our skin can discolor the petals, especially as they dry out, so the less you touch the actual flower the better. Try to pluck it from the stem with a little green attached, like a handle.
Step 4. Check Later. As they dry out, the flowers will become thinner. You may need to adjust the tightness on your press to make them really flat.
Once your flowers are nice and dry and flat, you can remove them from your press and wipe it down for next time. You can keep your flowers in a scrap book, use them in crafting, or drop them into a letter you’re writing.
I once had a friend send me pressed bluebonnets when I was overseas and missing my home in Texas. I still have that letter (and its sweet contents) some 20 years later.
Pick Flowers, Collect Memories
One of my favorite memories is from a recent family camping trip, wandering through a valley of wildflowers with my kids. One daughter skips ahead through the tall grass, always pushing forward to see what’s over the next hill.
The other meanders aimlessly, head down, on a random trajectory leading from plant to plant. She’s looking for the perfect blossom to save. True to her analytical nature, she evaluates each one carefully before picking, not wanting to pick one she can’t use.
I point out a pretty purple bloom and she shrugs it off. “I already have one of those and I don’t want to pick any more than I need,” she patiently explains, not wanting to hurt my feelings, as I was clearly trying to help.
This is a girl who knows her mind. She knows what she wants and what she doesn’t. She wants beauty, but not at the cost of a single unnecessary broken flower.
I love her heart. Just as I love her rambunctious sister’s galloping soul.
As we head back to the camper from the hike, she slips her hand into mine, and I wonder if it will be the last time. She’s growing up, becoming her own person.
Suddenly I don’t know as much as I thought I did. And she knows more than I thought she did. Is this how it starts? But I push those thoughts from my head and concentrate on the warm weight of her hand in mine, enjoying the moment.
When we got back to camp, she spread her haul on the folding table. Some flowers, a feather, a few pretty leaves. The evidence of a beautiful afternoon. And worth preserving.
That was when I fell in love with flower pressing. It’s not about the flowers, always. Sometimes it’s about the walk you took to get them.