Iron Press

Iron Press @NoFarmNeeded

We are leaving the Victorian Era behind and stepping into the 1950s and 60s. In an era known for the plastic revolution and for classic T.V.

I’m talking about the Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver, and Bewitched. In several episodes, they use an iconic heated object (I’m sure my title gives it away). The Iron. A staple across America.

Now….I do know how to use an iron. Quite ironic actually because most people think millennials don’t even know how to use a washing machine (I’ve always been a fan of nice smelling clothes). Irons are good for pressing out wrinkles and straightening pant seams. They are also good for pressing and drying a variety of flowers.

Which Flowers Work Best to Be Pressed with the Iron: 

I use pansies. Why? I love pansies and they are easy flowers to use for the iron press. Because it is not like ironing pants, no matter what Alice tells you.

As a side note (speaking of Alice from the Brady Bunch), why do we never see Mrs. Brady working or ironing? What does she do all day? Can anyone tell me this!

Back from the side, onto the straight road.

The Iron Press is fairly simple to understand. Put a hot object on a flower, between towels, and wallah, the flower’s moisture is gone. A magic trick that doesn’t even need a sexy assistant, because of course, we are the sexy ones.

The Steps for a Successful Iron Press: 

1. You are going to first, put your flower between parchment paper. Newspaper’s ink leaks onto the petals, paper towels imprint their pattern, and towels (in general) have wrinkles that iron on lines. Parchment paper is your best option. It can withstand the heat and leaves no trace behind.

Parchment Paper NoFarmNeeded

The iron should be set on high for cotton/wool. You want the hottest heat possible.

Hot Iron NoFarmNeeded

2. When pressing your flower just hold the iron on top of it. Do not iron like you would a shirt. No small circles, no downward lines, keep it stationary. Every minute check to see how your flower is doing.

Ironing NoFarmNeeded

3. It is ready when it is papery thin and dry. Trust me, you will know. The water coming out of your flower is pretty easy to see. It leaves dark splotches on the petals until they are fully released.

Pansy NoFarmNeeded

4. Pansies should take no more than 3 minutes. Other flowers can vary. Begonias have taken up to 10… maybe more, the time was just ticking by.

. . . and remember to always create something new! How about a clock?

Photo May 11, 12 54 49 PM

Take out the iron from your back room, the closet, or your laundry room. Press your flowers and if you have time, throw in your shirt as well. Might as well hit two birds with one stone.

The Weighted Press

The Weighted Press

I have always had a passion for art. I think my parents allowed that part of me to grow when they never got mad at my siblings and I for drawing all over the walls. One time we even drew on the car by taking rocks and scratching in our designs (which, granted, they did get a bit mad for that).   

When I am making art whether it’s through ceramics, jewelry, or drawing, I become immersed in it. It’s like reading a good book, everything fades to the background and my focus only has eyes for what I am creating. I sort of feel like nature when it creates its’ own art beauty. For nature, flowers are their art. You can see how much energy nature puts into forming a single bud. Because of this, I wanted to find a way to combine the two.

This combination starts back through time. Grab your corsets and best British accent and head back with me to the Victorian Era, where using flowers for art became a highly popular art form.

Into the Time Machine We Go!

Victorian women created keepsakes.

Vic

Flowers that they pressed through books to keep a memory at hand. As you sit and eat your scone on a large front porch, think about it. Dried flowers held memories. Memories hold images. Images create Art.

                    Let’s take back that artform. 

I have been perfecting pressing flowers for over three years. But to start pressing flowers, you have to understand the basics.

The basics = the weighted press + weeks of time. 

WP Material NoFarmNeeded

Don’t step through the time machine just yet…. keep your French dresses laced up and your suits up to par, because pressing flowers involves what the Victorians did.

Down to the Nitty Gritty

Basically, your flower holds moisture. To press a flower, you need to remove the moisture from it. How? Well, in a nutshell, you put a ton of weight on top of a flower and the water disperses outwards leaving the flower dry.

Weighted object + flower + 3 weeks = pressed flower 

To start, you need newspaper and cardboard.

Two objects that are very hard to come by. … I kid, most everyone can look up from their computer screen and see these two lying on the corner of your table. If you don’t have newspaper or cardboard in your house you can use:

  1. Paper bags
  2. Computer paper
  3. Paper towels
  4. A heavy book
  5. Pre-made press
Premade flower press NofarmNeeded
Pre-made Flower Press

Caution Advised!

When using a book make sure it’s a book that you’re okay with ruining. I did the unfortunate mistake of using a heavy library book. After a few presses in said book, I ruined the book and had to pay for it. On a good note, now I have a heavy book to press even more flowers in! On a bad note, the book was more expense than I thought.

Back to the Technique

Essentially, you want to use anything that will capture the moisture your flower disperses. You need to use a substance that can soak up the water and keep it away from the flower being pressed. You do not want to use wax paper, aluminum foil, or another waxy or run-off surface. This will keep the moisture with your flower and then make your flower moldy.

The Press Flower Sandwich

To make a flower press you’re making a sandwich. Just like afternoon lunches of bread, lettuce, and turkey your press will look the same (without the added benefit of being able to eat it after you’ve made it). It’s going to go cardboard, newspaper, flower, newspaper, and cardboard. You can stack these presses as high as you want. Just know that no matter how high you stack the presses eventually you’re going to need to put weight on top!

Changing Sheets

I stress, like before, the flower disperses its moisture into the surrounding paper. This said you need to change that paper. Almost like a dirty diaper, for the first 2 weeks every three days you need to change out the newspaper. Why? Because if you let your flower sit in the newspaper’s moisture it will become moldy. Like any soiled baby, the flower will cry when it has not been changed.

How Long

Using the weighted press varies from flower to flower. Begonia’s hold a ton of moisture and can take up to a month and a half to fully dry. While daisies can take three weeks. You know the flower is dry when it is paper-y and thin.

Pressed Flower NoFarmNeeded

Back to the Present

The Victorians might have started the rage for pressing flowers but I am perfecting it. With the basics down you can now graduate to new unique techniques (say pressing flowers in cat litter). With this step down check out my blog post for pressing flowers in cat litter! Finally, unlace those corsets and throw off the suits, let’s bring pressing flowers back into the 21st century!

Kitty Litter NoFarmNeeded
Need inspiration for what you can make with your pressed flowers? Check out my shop on Etsy, NoFarmNeeded.

Spring Flowers NoFarmNeeded

The Art of Silica Gel

Silica Gel NoFarmNeeded

Drying Flowers With Silica Gel

Silica Gel. The most wonderful sand in the world.

As you know, I am a pressing/drying flower enthusiast. Love it. The problem with weighted presses or irons is that the flower gets distorted to a two-dimensional shape. I want the whole flower. 3-D and all. Silica Gel is the way to go.

What is Silica Gel?

Silica Gel Blue NoFarmNeeded

This gel is a substance that has the same consistency as sand. When you first open the box, it will start off blue and then as you dry flowers in it, slowly turn to white.

Blue = Ready to Use    White = Full of Moisture

Once the sand is white, all you do is pop it in the oven at 200F for two-three hours (or until it turns blue again). Then, wala, presto it’s ready. This technique is very reusable.

Steps to Drying

1. Get a sealed tight container, one with a lid

2. Cover the bottom of the container 1/4 inches thick with sand

3. Get the flowers you want to dry. I recommend roses, tulips, and daffodils. Although, I have dried everything and anything in it (ranging from Bells of Ireland to Snapdragons).

Tulips NoFarmNeeded

4. Cut flower so there is 1/4 inch of stem

1/4 inch Tulip Stem

5. Place flowers face up in the container. The 1/4 inch of silica gel should hold up the flower straight.

Tulips Silica Gel NoFarmNeededTulips in a Group NoFarmNeededFlowers in Silica Gel NoFarmNeeded

6. Cover the flower with the rest of the sand. (Make sure you get in the cracks and crevices)

7. Wait 4 – 5 Days. The more moisture the flower holds the greater the wait time. Tulips take 4 days, while roses take 5.

Silica Gel Container NoFarmNeeded

8. Dump your sand into a new container and shake your flowers out!

Well, easy right? What a wonderful pressed flower. Try it for yourself and tell me how it goes!

Spring Wreath with Pressed Flowers

With my dried flowers I created a Spring Wreath. Follow my blog, to get the latest updates (like the making of this wreath in the next few weeks!)

Silica Gel NoFarmNeeded

Not the Way Your Grandma Pressed

Not The Way Your Grandma Pressed NoFarmNeeded

Not The Way Your Grandma Pressed

This week I had a wonderful opportunity to present at this year’s Chicago Flower and Garden show. I presented, “Not the Way Your Grandma Pressed”, a session on learning new techniques and creative ideas that you can do to press flowers.

 

It was awesome! I had an amazing group of people show up to watch.

Not the Way Your Grandma Pressed NoFarmNeeded

Then it got me thinking. How can I bring this information to even more people? Drumroll, please……….. I taped it.

If you click below you can see my presentation and hopefully learn something new. Let me know what you think.

And…. did you learn something new?

Just in case here are,

5 Tips to Remember about Pressing Flowers

  1. Get a wide range of flowers in different stages and varieties
  2. Place your flower exactly how you want it to be pressed via the technique you are using
  3. Depending on technique, change out the newspaper, parchment paper, cardboard, or paper towels every three days for the first two weeks
  4. Make sure your flower is fully dried before use (paper-y and thin petals
  5. Be creative with the designs! (Use the scraps too!)

Love the look but don’t want the hassle of making them? Check out my Etsy account here.

New Use for Kitty Litter

Drying Flowers with Kitty Litter

Cat litter…. a toilet for a cat but also a fantastic way to press and dry flowers. Cat litter is cheap and readily available (just ask all those cat lovers out there). This is why I am saluting it.

To get a  good dry flower the material you use has to be…

  1. Dry
  2. Absorbent

Cat litter is both. Hence, the commercials that rave about their brands nice clumping-ness!

So, let’s dig our paws in deeper.

A Note On Flowers:

The first flower I dried was Statice. Even though it’s an easy flower to dry and press on its own, I wanted to see how it would hold up against kitty litter. And of course, since it’s Statice, it worked!

With kitty litter, I have successfully dried Snapdragons, Bells of Ireland, and Roses.

Steps to Drying the Flowers:

Cut your flowers so 1/4 ” of the stem is still attached

Flower Cut NoFarmNeeded

Get a tight-sealed container, like a plastic tub or glass container

Cover the bottom of the container with a thin layer of cat litter

Thin Layer of Cat Litter NoFarmNeeded

Put your flower in and completely cover it with the litter

Two Ways to Dry:

  1. Leave the Container sealed for 3 days. After 3 days the cat litter should have soaked up the flower’s moisture.
  2. Microwave for 3 minutes. During this time the water from in the flower will move into the cat litter. (Please do this with your windows open because the cat litter does smell when heated!)

Product:

The flowers should be nice and dried in 3 days or 3 minutes. Enjoy using it in arrangements or other crafts. Look for inspirations here!