Pressing flowers is a technique that has been in existence since the Victorian Era. The process was used to preserve plant specimens for cataloguing and identifying, as well as for art. Lewis and Clark collected and pressed many specimens on the Discovery Trail, a feat in itself when you consider the hardships they endured. This link takes you to a site that still contains preserved plants from their journey. Many of their plant specimens were destroyed before they returned to the East Coast. I was able to view an herbarium from the early 1800′s at a local museum, and it was amazing to see the color was still present in the specimens. The collection was very well preserved, every leaf and petal was in place.
I first learned to collect and press botanical specimens for Botany and Biology classes a few years ago. I’ve always enjoyed collecting and identifying plants, and I used to wildcraft medicinal plants and make tinctures and salves with them. But learning to dry them so they were still identifiable for class was more challenging than drying for use as medicinal plants. My first plant press was made at home, from two pieces of plywood and a couple of old canvas straps off of an old backpack. I cut cardboard from boxes to lay the plants between, and newspaper was used for blotting the excess moisture from the pressed plants. It is a very inexpensive hobby. Individual petals can be dried, as well as leaves, ferns, and foliage to combine in delicate patterns.
This Power Point lesson will itemize a list of supplies you will need, and take you step by step through the process of collecting , preparing, and pressing your plants.