Pressed flowers look fantastic in clear resin, wether you are using full flowers or parts of large petals and leaves. This blog documents 3 ways of pressing flowers including microwave pressing, using an iron and more traditionally, book pressing. I will compare the results of each method paying particular attention to colour retention and drying time. it is very important that your flowers are completely dry before setting into resin as the moisture will react with the resin making it cloudy and will turn the leaves and petals brown.
Pressing flowers with a microwave press takes a little patience when you first start. You need to invest a bit of time to experiment with exposure time and resting periods to get the best result. The size and thickness of the flowers or foliage you are pressing will have an effect on the time it takes to press so it is best to press similar items together for an even result.
I have used a Microfleur 5" press in a 900 watt microwave. I found that exposure time in the microwave took longer than the instructions suggested. I set the microwave for 30 seconds for the first exposure. I then removed the clips on the press, wiped the plastic surface dry and carefully removed the felt pads, wafting them in the air a little to cool. I found it best not to disturb the flowers between the cotton liners as they are very delicate at this point. After 1 minute resting time I re-assembled the press and set the microwave for 20 seconds before removing, airing and resting again. I repeated this process of 20 second intervals until the flowers or foliage were of a thin papery consistency.
Once you are happy the flowers/foliage are sufficiently pressed and dried, gently remove them from the cotton liners with a soft paint brush if they do not come away easily. They are now ready to store or use.
Image top: Before pressing
Image bottom: After pressing
Pressing with an Iron
I found this was a fast way to press and the cheapest as you don't need any specialist equipment. Fist prepare your flowers or foliage by flattening in a book between 2 sheets of absorbent paper ( I used cartridge paper) for a few minutes while you set up your iron. Make sure your iron doesn't contain any water and set to a low heat. Remove the paper containing the flowers or foliage from the book and place on your ironing board. Press the iron on the top sheet of paper for about 12 seconds, hold it still as you don't want your flowers to move. Remove the iron and let the paper cool then repeat the process. Check if your flowers are dry by carefully lifting the top sheet of paper, repeat if necessary. Your flowers or foliage are ready to use or store.
Image left: Ironed Poppy petals
Image right: Fresh Poppy petals
Pressing with a Book
Pressing flowers with a book is of course the simplest method but I often don't have the patience to wait a few weeks to see the results!
I use 2 sheets of paper either side of my flowers or foliage to avoid leaving any moisture on the pages. You can check back to see if any moisture is leaking through and replace the outer sheet if necessary. It is useful to leave some paper sticking out from the pages with the date of pressing written on so you know how long it has been pressed for.
Microwave press: This was a lot of guess work the first few times but it seemed to retain the colour of the flowers better than the other methods.
Pressing with an Iron: Quick result and easy to do. The colour retention was better than book pressing but not quite as good as the microwave.
Book Pressing: Super easy if you are happy to wait for the result. I found the loss of colour disappointing.
Store your pressed flowers
Keep them airtight. Keep pressed flowers as healthy as possible and secure them in an airtight bag or plastic storage container. Keeping the air out also keeps away the humidity which can cause mould and rot.
Keep the flowers in a cool place away from sunlight. Flowers exposed to excessive sunlight and heat can cause premature fading and may even shorten the flowers lifespan.
Keep them Dry. Add some silicone granules to your container to draw out any moisture in the air.