Introduction: Preserving Nature With Spray Paint ... Really!

Spray paint is one of the greatest beautifying and  time-saving mediums ever invented.

In the right hands, spray paint can turn an ugly-ducking dresser into an heirloom. It can transform  a sheet of poster board into a museum-quality masterpiece. It can even metamorphisize an ugly brick wall into a work of art that even Michaelangelo could admire.

What you might not know is that spray paint can also be used to preserve flowers and "weeds" into an eye-popping, show-stopping WOW FACTOR in any floral arrangement from centerpieces to bouquets.

Take a LOOK-SEE!

I know I'll never look at a "weed" the same way again... and I don't think you will either! ;-)
 

Step 1: Preserving Pressed Flowers:

When it comes to preserving book-pressed flowers, forget hairspray.  

It doesn't get easier, better, or more permanent than good quality clear spray paint.

Krylon makes a Triple-Thick Clear GLAZE that covers beautifully in a single coat.* 

I always try to leave the stem on the flowers I dry because it makes them easier to handle. When that isn't possible, a toothpick can be attached to the dried flower with just a tiny dab of white glue if there's no stem.

A gentle burst of clear spray paint is all you need to preserve your pressed flowers. 

They need to dry thoroughly after being coated with spray paint.  I use bowls filled with sand to stand the stems/toothpicks in.

You can also use sand-in-a-fancy-dish to make  a pretty flower centerpiece!

*lol... Before you think (or say) I'm just plugging a Krylon product because they're the sponsors, check out the picture of MY can. It's 4 or 5 years old and it still sprays perfectly. 

Step 2: Dried Flowers and Weeds- Hidden Beauty Revealed.

The fun really begins when you start transforming/preserving plain old weeds and give them color! 

Collect every dried weed and flower that catches your fancy. Some are sturdy, some aren't.  lol... JUST PLUCK! 

I had no previous experience with preserving dandelions or their GIANT  5" cousins I encountered this year... I'm just sharing my trial and error technique. 

When you're spray painting dandelion-type seed pods, remember they are fragile.  Try to pluck them while their stem is still green. The spray paint will work like a fine mist of GLUE if you take it slow and easy.
  • Hold the nozzle of the spray paint can at least 8-10 inches away from the target.
  • Point the nozzle directly toward the CENTER of the target.
  • Spray in short bursts. Gently rotate the target, spraying over the entire surface.
  • DON'T overdo the first coat. BE PATIENT and allow it to dry completely before you apply a second coat.
  • 3-4 coats should keep the pods intact. Be sure to spray up the stem and onto the base where the seeds attach to the stem.
You can use ANY color spray paint. I used white, black, red, gold, silver, lavender, blue, pink and yellow spray paint. 

White spray paint seemed to accentuate the natural, 3D honeycomb appearance more dramatically than black.  

Yellow paint attracted tiny bugs like CrAzY!

Hummingbirds naturally gravitated toward the red.

As you play with the spray paint, you'll get more confident and start layering colors. It is so easy... and there are no mistakes.

HAVE FUN WITH THIS!  Who cares if you get some spray paint on your hands? A dab of acetone on a rag will clean them up in a jiffy! 
 

 

Step 3: So PRETTY!!!

The idea and inspiration for this instructable came out of nowhere... almost. ;-)

A few weeks ago I looked out my window at an unusually lush, green and colorful landscape and began gathering wildflowers to press.

Then Summer finally showed up and within a few days, that same landscape turned "tan".  Along with the tan, Mother Nature also added dozens of HUGE dandelion-type seed pods and other strange, furry plant creatures I'd never-ever noticed before.

Maybe I just wasn't looking all these years???  (Well... I'm looking now! ;-)

Instructables does that to a person. You start looking... then you start seeing... and imagining the possibilities.

I just grabbed my shears and started clipping whatever looked interesting. The variety of "subjects" was immensely varied and the whole process became a little addictive... to say the least! 

My apologies, but aside from a few Pansies,  I don't have a clue what flower or weed species are represented in this Instructable. Besides, you'll have different indigenous weed and flower species to choose from anyway.

I'm just SUPER excited to share the (MANY) pictures and the (FEW) simple spray paint techniques I used to preserve their beauty! No special skills or tools are needed.

I think you can glean a GAJILLION different ideas on how to present these spray paint-enhanced beauties.

Bouquets and Table centerpieces are just the beginning.

I've got a few ideas of my own... but I'm sure you knew that already! ;-D

Thank you for visiting my Instructable!

Comments

author
InspiredLynn made it!(author)2016-10-22

I recently inherited a family Bible over 100 years old. Inside I found an oak leaf that is intact - but is just the "skeleton" of the leaf. I want to preserve it and frame it. Obviously I only have one chance to get it right. Should I spray it with clear spay paint? Ideas? Options? Experiences?

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Pawlover made it!(author)2016-10-18

Do you need to spray with the clear coats before color coats . I live in the foothills and have access to so many different things that others may cosider weeds but once colred would be great on in a craft . Thank you for sharing your infornation .

author
brattattak made it!(author)2016-08-22

Were all of these created with Krylon? I have some much of that laying around. I was under the impression there was a paint made for flowers. and would you mind sharing some of your techniques for painting and drying?

also, what are your thoughts on foliage sealer?

I'm new to this and want to gather as much information as possible!

:)

author
JennaG13 made it!(author)2016-03-24

Wondering if clear spray paint would work to preserve feathers as well...? Have any of y'all tried it before? Working on a good-sized project and would like it to last, especially since it's not one that can be kept in a dark, air-tight container to preserve the feathers.

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nicamarvin made it!(author)2016-01-16

Thank you for this instructable. I will be using it to seal and electroform /gold plate real roses.

author
Btrumpet6567 made it!(author)2015-11-17

Do the flowers have to be pressed orcan they just be flowers from, say, a bouquet?

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MindyW1 made it!(author)2015-09-30

Can i use the clear coat Krylon to persevrve a floral arrangement and it not kill the blooms?

author
bajablue made it!(author)2015-10-04

Once cut from the plant, the blooms are already technically dead.

Hang the flowers upside down to dry, then spray paint them as instructed. Many light coats are preferable to a couple heavy coats.

Hope this helps… good luck!

author
MindyW1 made it!(author)2015-09-30

Can i persevere a bouquet of flowers by using the clear coat Krylon spray paint?

author
housepony43 made it!(author)2015-09-26

Wonderful Instrucable. Do you think this would work on magnolia buds? They are bright pink right now and would make a great centerpiece.

author
AliceF5 made it!(author)2015-05-26

*。⋆♪ Hello ✿٭¨̮ ,
Can you please tell me how hard they are after this? I would like to make hairpieces using this technique but I need the flowers to be strong enough to be tousled about in light winds and other conditions hair might endure?? I've looked at using poly resin (and expoxy but the pictures that come up in search have the same end look so I'm thinking the search is just relying on 'resin') but they look so thick, so glassy/acrylic like -SO FAKE. I would really like for my hair ornaments to look delicate and as natural as possible without crumpling away at my fingertips! Please let me know if this is suitable or if you know of another method which is. THANK YOU

author
TheBiologistEye made it!(author)2015-05-09

I bought some Krylon UV-Resistant Matte Clear Acrylic Coating. Just tested it out for the first time. Humidity is 47% and temp is 84F. I didn't have a way to hold my stuff down. I see now that is necessary. The air from the can kept trying to blow everything away. I tried spraying from further away. I ended up with a frosty look. Is this because I was spraying from too far away. Maybe also too hot?

author
christopher.roskosh made it!(author)2014-11-16

I've been weighing my options on how to use weeds to make model railroad trees for quite some time. Like any other dead plant, they fall apart on their own eventually without a fixative. I looked at Design Master paints, but they're hard to find except online and even then are expensive. I'm going to give this a try with the Krylon matte clear (UV resistant variant possibly), and then regular cheap flat green and brown sprays for the color.

author
tatts.veetee made it!(author)2014-10-06

Will this by default kill a dangerous insect that you intend to preseve? Like say a hornet or something? Ive been looking for a way to preserve an insect without pouring a casting resin...I dont want it preseved in a "block"/

author
christopher.roskosh made it!(author)2014-11-16

Not nearly fast enough to kill, only preserve. Your best bet it to catch the insect in a small jar with a cottonball soaked in isopropyl alcohol inside. The alcohol asphyxiates the insect without damaging it, then you can mount it with a straight pin and spray it with the fixative.

author
dannydraait made it!(author)2012-02-25

There are no mistakes... Only happy accidents... haha...

I just loooove your idea, they look almost like flowers from another, undiscovered, strange planet. I am definitely gonna put some use in it.
Thanks ;)

author
bajablue made it!(author)2012-02-25

Wow... what a nice thing to say. ;-D

Thank you so much danny!!!

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lsophie made it!(author)2011-09-12

This is beautiful! Thank you!

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-11-16

Thanks!

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flyingpuppy made it!(author)2011-08-04

Is that a regular dandelion? I have a field of them! Oooh, and I could preserve the napweed too!!! My brain is working overtime here on things I could do with weeds!
And btw, congrats on being a finalist! I'm proud to be in there with you!

author
bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-05

No puppy... It's not a regular dandelion, but I'm sure they must be related. Some of these are 5+ inches.

I could send you some seeds to grow! hmmm... I wonder if that would be illegal?

lol... High-five to you, my fellow finalist!!! I love your amazing project... best of luck, too!

author
albeem made it!(author)2011-11-14

It is a yellow Goatsbeard grows by railroad tracks here, is really hard to grow, it was my father's favorite flower, and he used Krylon to preserve it too! He was an engineer and I think he loved the geometry of the weed.

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-11-16

By golly... you are spot-on, albeem!!!

Thanks so MUCH for the info!!!

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-11

Hey puppy... I just found a regular Dandelion yesterday.

It was already SO white, spray painted it with the Krylon clear.

Here is a picture with the dandelion next to the GIGANTELION. ;-)

Dande.jpg
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artfulann made it!(author)2011-08-02

Nice! I especially liked your comments about noticing things- maybe they had been there before? Doesn't matter because you noticed them NOW.

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-03

Thanks artfulann! This has been such a strange year, weather-wise.

Maybe I really did miss some of these incredible flowers/weeds before. The total absence of Indian Paintbrush flowers isn't at all normal.

We had a wasp infiltration in late April but they have all vanished now.

In their place, this species of strange-looking Beetles (with furry antennae) have made their debut.

Beatle.jpg
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adamjoe86 made it!(author)2011-08-04

You could also paint insects like this beetle as well. Maybe make some beetles into golden scarabs? Or just make them really shiny and more durable.

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-04

adamjoe... what a GREAT idea you've had!

I glued the beetle to a toothpick... the first installment of...

The Golden Scarab.

scarab1.jpg
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flyingpuppy made it!(author)2011-08-04

Where did you find a scarab? Love their coloring! And they symbolize resurrection.

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adamjoe86 made it!(author)2011-08-05

Scarab Beetles are just a family of beetles (Scarabaeidae). It includes cratures like Japanese Beetles, May/June Beetles, and the Ten-lined June Beetle (like bajablue found) . It works with other insects and relatives.

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-05

Thanks adamjoe! I didn't know that some beetles are scientifically known as scarabs.

I just thought "scarabs" were something mythical... like from the Mummy movie! 8-)

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-05

Thanks for the info, puppy! You gave me the right word... "scarab"... to identify this little guy!

He's a Ten-lined June (Scarab) Beetle common to the West Coast. What they are doing here in Idaho, in August , is a mystery to me!

Beautiful creature, though. He has the cutest little face... like a tiny bat.

Looks like I've got myself another spray paint preservation project! ;-D

author
bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-04

wow... I saved the dead beetle I found... that's a great idea!!!

Except for spiders... i hate 'em. 8-/

Thank you for the inspiration!!!

author
artfulann made it!(author)2011-08-03

I understand completely. In Texas, if you were to look at the weather drought map, the whole state is in red (extremely dry). It is so dry that trees are dying perceptively whereas usually they die on the sly with somewhat dry conditions. But since we are 20 inches of rain below normal, the drought is somewhat newsworthy.

We had very little paintbrush this year too. I'm afraid this is what global warming might look like.

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-03

Here is the same "flower" with a few additions. ;-)

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supersoftdrink made it!(author)2011-08-04

Okay, why have I never thought of this? Beautiful instructable. Thanks for sharing! I'll be collecting wild flowers now just so I can try this. :)

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-04

Hey there, supersoftdrink... thanks so much for such kind words!

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sunshiine made it!(author)2011-08-03

Lovely!!!!!!!!!! Weeds are amazing!

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-03

lol... I know... I've never seen ANYTHING like this before!

k2.jpg
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NYnitwit made it!(author)2011-08-03

What are those things in the middle?


Very very pretty and unique idea!!

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-03

Here is the same "flower" with a few additions. ;-)

k3.jpg
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NYnitwit made it!(author)2011-08-03

Oh, now that is super pretty!

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-03

Thanks... it's a giant Golden Magical Dandelion. Glad you like it! ;-)

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-03

lol... the inner beatle-thingys are actually spray painted split peas. ;-)

Thanks for your nice comment!

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flyingpuppy made it!(author)2011-08-03

Does that preserve the color as well? I like this method!

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-03

Hey puppy... Time will tell... Pressed flowers are so fickle! ;-)

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susanrm made it!(author)2011-08-01

This is amazing. Great photos. How well do the colors stand the test of time?

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-02

ugh... "pressed flowers using clear spray paint." 8-)

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susanrm made it!(author)2011-08-02

Wait, what? Is this in reply to something I said? The Pinterest referrals are from me, by the way.

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bajablue made it!(author)2011-08-03

No. I was just finishing my unfinished sentence below-->

"The pressed flowers us? Only time will tell. I found that they aren't as fragile when coated with SP instead of hairspray."

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