The oldest examples of preserved flowers date back to ancient Egypt where people were buried with floral wreaths and garlands, which dried over time. The deliberate preservation of flowers for art originated in Japan, and became popular in Victorian England. Preserved flowers are used for cataloguing plants, are given as gifts, and viewed as works of art. Fresh flowers are preserved by either drying or pressing, and are most often displayed in glass cases or picture frames.
Select the flowers that you want to preserve. Choose well developed flowers, and pick them on a dry day. When preserving Helichrysums (Everlasting), pick them after the third ring of petals has developed. There are over 600 species of Helichrysum, which are bushy shrubs with yellow, cream or gold flowers. When preserving Hydrangeas, pick the flower heads as they begin to turn papery.
Choose an empty snow globe or an old jelly jar. Empty globes can be found at craft stores or online. Cut the flowers' stems so that they fit comfortably inside the glass.
Separate the flowers into bunches of three, and tie them together with a rubber band. Hang them upside down to dry in an airy, warm and dark room for two weeks. Papery flowers like Hydrangeas should be stood in a vase with 1 inch of water, and left to dry for two weeks.
Purchase a piece of florist's foam. Cut it to a size slightly smaller than the base of your globe or jar. Make holes in the foam with a thin crochet or sewing needle. Place a small amount of wood glue at the end of a flower's stem and push it through one of the holes. Repeat with the rest of the flowers, each in its own hole.
Secure the foam to the base of the glass dome or jar. with a strong adhesive such as wood glue. Place the glass top over the base and secure it into place. Your dried flowers will now be inside the glass.
Cut the flower stems to the length of the picture frame. Remove any thorns or excess leaves.
Place the flowers between two sheets of blotting paper, and then sandwich the sheets in the middle of a heavy book. Alternatively, use a specially designed flower press, which works in a similar way. Leave to dry for two weeks.
Choose a piece of paper the same size as the picture frame. Dot wood glue on the stems of the flowers and attach them to the paper using tweezers. Remove the glass from the frame, and place four large drops of glue at the corners of the frame's base. Lay the paper over the base and press it into place.
Leave the glue to dry for the time indicated on the bottle, and then replace the glass.
Pick flowers with vibrant colours. Pressing will fade the colour, so don't use light pastel shades.
Tips and warnings
- Pick flowers with vibrant colours. Pressing will fade the colour, so don't use light pastel shades.