Thursday, July 01, 2010

My Pressed Flower Pictures - Now That's A Great Idea!

I'm always looking for something different to make or give as a gift.  For me there is nothing as wonderful as receiving a handmade gift from someone.

I love receiving them and I cherish and retain all of the handmade gifts I have ever received.

Now you might be wondering "cherish and retain" - what exactly does she mean by that?  Doesn't she throw anything away?  She can't possibly keep everything she has received for decades on end?  Or, can she?

Well, no - I'm not a hoarder, and yes - I don't throw away handmade gifts.  I might not be displaying all of them, but those that aren't on display are safely packed away.  And, yes I still have all of them.

As you know I LOVE dolls, but I also LOVE flowers, flower arrangements and silk floral arrangements.  Well, I've  always loved to garden and one summer I decided that I would love to have a fresh flower arrangement inside everyday so I could really appreciate the beauty of some of the flowers - like the blue iris, peonies, dahlias, etc.  So, every couple of days I changed the cut flowers in the vase I had in my kitchen.  Unfortunately, hubby has allergies and the cut flowers weren't exactly helping them.  So, I had to stop bringing them indoors and had to be happy just looking at them outside.

Well, as you probably can imagine,  I was only happy doing that for a short period of time.  Then I decided that maybe I should try drying them so I could have them as dried floral arrangements.  So, I picked the flowers when they were in full bloom, bunched them together with elastic bands, and hung them upside down on coat hangers from the rafters in my basement.  Unfortunately, to my dismay, most of the natural flowers did not dry well and, well, there was a moth problem.  So, I stopped doing that.

Of course, I wasn't happy that didn't work out and decided that I could preserve my beautiful flowers with their colors intact by pressing them.

I decided that the old, fat yellow page telephone books would be the perfect way to press the flower heads and leaves.  They had hundreds of pages and I could press multiple numbers of flower heads within groups of pages and when done transfer them to a notebook for storing.  I would use paper towels to absorb the moisture and be able to use the yellow pages over and over.  I would use bricks to weight down the pages so the flowers would be pressed correctly.

So, I opened the yellow pages to the back of the book and put a piece of paper towel down on the page and then added some of my flowers.  I added another paper towel over them and them several pages of the yellow pages on top of that.  Then I added another paper towel, some more of my flowers, another paper towel on top of that and then more pages of the yellow pages.  I continued in this manner until the yellow page book was filled up. Then I placed a brick or two on the top of the yellow pages to weight it down.

As with everything I do, nothing in moderation, I ended up with many yellow pages with bricks on them in my basement for a couple of months. When the flower heads were done I transferred them to three ring binders with individual construction paper pages that had clear plastic covers. I was hoping that would preserve my pressed flowers for awhile.  Of course, by the time I was done transferring everything I had many, many three ring binders full of pressed flower heads and leaves.

I had bought a couple of finished boxes that had picture inserts on the covers and thought they might make wonderful pressed flower gifts during the holiday season.  So, I made 6 pressed flower boxes like those shown in the picture to the left and gave them to my mother, sister, and sisters-in-law that Christmas.

I had also decided that I wanted to make pressed flower pictures that I could hang in my house and also give as gifts.

I had an idea for my younger brother that would be 4 individual pictures hung in a square matrix pattern with each picture representing a different season - Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall.  I had been collecting the pressed flowers from the Spring until the Fall so I had flowers for just about every season.  I had also cut and pressed some of the white pine, evergreen, and spruce tree branches so I could use those for my Winter season.

I decided to use 11"x14" pine frames for the matrix pictures with double matted dark green mats.  The pressed flowers were going to be glued to 11"x14" press-board with the double mats providing enough space for the pressed flower heads and leaves.    When my four season pressed flower pictures were done I was pleased with the result.

I gave it to my brother for Christmas and he was very happy with it.  In fact, he still has some of the pressed flower pictures displayed in his house to this day.  A couple didn't make it.  Some of the flowers lost their color - others turned brown.  But, some have retained their colors.

During this period I also decided that I wanted to give my Mother a present and thought a pressed flower wreath might make a wonderful present.  Her favorite color was blue so I chose a gold frame with a light blue double mat and different blue and white pressed flowers.

I decided to use some pretty printed paper I had bought for the backdrop and placed it on top of my press-board.  I glued the pressed flowers to it in a circle and added a small ribbon bow to the top.  I gave my mother the pressed flower wreath shown in the picture to the left and she loved it.  In fact, it moved from house to house with her and hung in her home until she passed away this winter.  It now hangs in my hall.

I also decided that I wanted a LARGE pressed flower picture for my master bedroom to hang over the bed and chose a dark blue double mat for it.  I used a combination of hydrangea's, iris, daisy's, mums, and various other flower heads and leaves for the picture.  I was very happy with the way it turned out.

This pressed flower picture is shown in the picture to the right.  It's still hanging in my master bedroom, but, sadly, the flowers are now fading.  So, it needs to be replaced.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pressed flowers left anymore so I can't replace it with a similar picture.  I've decided, however, to replace it with a large Victorian cross-stitch picture.

One of my favorite pressed flower pictures is the one shown at the beginning of this post.  It hangs in my hall and was done in a combination of dark blue and white flowers.  Unlike some of the other pressed flower pictures that have faded or turned brown it still retains its beautiful blue colors.  I don't know why it has been so wonderfully preserved, but it has.

I thoroughly enjoyed making my pressed flowers and have enjoyed seeing how well they have stood up over time. Not only have I been able to enjoy them all these years, but the recipients of the gifts have been able to enjoy them as well. Were the pressed flowers a good idea? I think so.

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