After our wedding, I dried the flowers from my bouquet along with my mother and new mother-in-law's bouquets and created framed arrangements for the three of us. Mine is hanging on the wall above my laptop as I type this and we gave each of the mothers theirs as a Mother's Day gift the year after our wedding. They didn't know we had done anything with the flowers so it was a fun surprise!
I'm sure there are many, many ways to dry flowers. I knew I wanted them to be flat, so I used a press that I found at a local craft shop that works in the microwave. (And a side confession - I didn't have the whole kit, just the refill kit with two wool pads and two cotton liners, and it worked just fine. I'm sure the whole kit would make for a better press. I found the refill kit in our art store's clearance room a few months before our wedding and thought I'd give it a go.)
This process worked really well and being able to dry the flowers in the microwave was helpful as I wanted to try lots of things and see quick results. It was a good thing that I had several bouquets to work with because, as a newbie to flower drying, I had an idea in my head of what I wanted to do but working with plants means there's some bit of the process that's unpredictable, although the same variation is also what makes the arrangements truly beautiful.
Note: It's good to start this as soon as possible as the flowers will lose their luster quickly.
Step 1: Dry and Press
As I mentioned, I used a Microfleur wool pad refill set to dry and press my flowers. These quickly wick moisture away from the flowers and can be used repeatedly.
Using the wool pads does take some practice as each microwave is a bit different, so you'll need to learn how to calibrate the timing based on how powerful yours is. Also, please note, this is for microwaveovens, *not* conventional ovens!
To use the Microfleur wool pads, follow these steps and experiment on your own:
1. Load the Microfleur
You're going to make a flower sandwich. Place a wool pad down on the table then a linen liner. Place the flowers you'd like to press on top of the linen liner, making sure that no parts of the flowers touch or overlap. Try to do similar types of flowers together (all petals in one batch, all small branches with flower bunches in one batch, etc.) as they'll all require slightly different time in the microwave. Next, place the second linen liner on top of the flowers and finally the second wool pad on top.
2. Microwave in small bursts
Consider the amount of fluid that will need to be dried out of the flower or plant you're pressing in each batch. Fleshy or moist flowers will taken longer than petals and leaves.
Flowers should be dried in stages, starting with an initial burst (45 seconds for a 600W oven, 30 seconds for 750W and 20 seconds for a 900W) followed by several smaller bursts, each half to one third the initial burst.
There are several advantages to using several short bursts instead of a single drying cycle. According to Microfleur:
- The method gives better control over the
- Where specimens have thick and thin
portions (e.g. calyx and petals) the thicker
parts can be dried progressively without
destroying the thinner portions
- Some rearrangement of petals and other
parts is possible while the specimen still
retain some moisture.
Your goal should be to reach a texture similar to paper that is reasonably stiff and resists drooping. Also, since you've just microwaved these flowers, realize that they may be quite warm to the touch. The heat will make it more apparent if there is still moisture in the flowers, but be careful when you touch them.
Step 2: Select the Best Flowers
I tried all sorts of variations. For my projects, I wanted flowers that were really flat since I was framing them and I found that the thicker flowers didn't turn out as cleanly.
I laid out all of the similar types from my experiments and selected the ones I felt were best for the various frames.
Step 3: Frame Your Favorites
In order to keep the flowers in place, I used dabs of quick-dry epoxy. It dries clearly and just a small amount will hold the piece.
We went to our local art store to see all the various frame options. For our mothers, we prepared a big frame for each of them and also a smaller frame with just a single rose petal and some smaller flower bits for their desks at work (my husband's idea!) and they love having one at home and one smaller one in the office to glance at throughout the day.
Good luck with your own flower experiments!