DIY: Pressing Violets to Make Botanical Art by

Issue 68 · Africana · April 18, 2013

DIY: Pressing Violets to Make Botanical Art

Issue 68 · Africana · April 18, 2013

Pressed flowers have something of an old-fashioned air about them, which is probably why I like them so much.

Photographs by Erin Boyle.


The same delicacy that makes violas and violets tricky as cut flowers makes them a perfect option for pressing. Details below:

Above: When selecting the flowers that you'd like to dry, choose blossoms that are clean and fresh. Resist the temptation to use flowers that are already past their prime because wilted petals will be difficult to flatten neatly.

Above: I love the look of flowers pressed with their leaves. Where possible, I plucked my violas with a bit of their leaves still attached. I gently peeled back extra leaves until I had a shape that I thought would be nice once pressed.

Above: A flower press is a lovely thing to have—and not so very hard to make on your own—but using an old book to press flowers is just as easy and only takes up as much room as the book you use. Use two sheets of parchment or waxed paper to sandwich your flowers between the book's pages.

Above: Laying your flowers face down on one piece of paper will help to mitigate displacement after you fold the cover closed. After you have your flowers arranged the way you'd like them, gently close the book.

Above: I made sure to place my flowers toward the bottom of my book so there would be plenty of weight above them after it was closed. After I closed the book, I returned it to its usual place on the shelf and waited.

Above: For thin flowers like violas or pansies, a week or ten days is all you really need to get a nice press. Some people recommend switching out the parchment paper during that time, but I don't think it's a necessary step.

Above: Keep in mind that flowers will darken as they dry. The whites of my Coconut Swirl violas became much more noticeably yellow. After they're dry, your pressed flowers will be brittle. Use extra care when moving them off the parchment paper where they're been drying.

Above: After your flowers are dried, you can glue them to thank you notes or place cards as an impressive embellishment.

For more about violas, see Plant of the Week: Violas, A Love Story.

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