Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How To Dry Flowers

Crocus Children"
Alice Crowell Hoffman

Just a little crocus
Growing in the grass
Can announce the springtime
To the folks that pass.

Just a little maiden,
And a laddie wee,
Can spread joy and sunshine
Where they chance to be.


Beautiful Glads from Betty's garden in Whittier, California
Super hot out there so I am hiding inside. I am grateful to get my watering done early, and I think the plants appreciate it, too.

I like doing my watering in the daytime. My MIL suggested that I do it at night, when it was cooler, but I would miss my garden! I use the time to check on everyone and sees who's drooping, sagging or broken; who needs more dirt, more sun, less sun. Plants just about scream their needs, you just have to keep an eye on them.
Flowers are so beautiful and we all wish they could last forever! My Mom knew this and early in my married life, she gave me a great book on flower drying, that has held me in good stead since. 

Here are some ways you can keep and preserve your special flowers

  • Air Dry: This method allows the flowers to dry naturally, but they do lose some color and shape. This method has been around since the Middle Ages! Tie flowers in bunches and hang flowers upside down and let them dry for about a week. If you are drying an entire bunch, make a dust bonnet out of a piece of paper and wrap it like a cone around the stems(with the large end of the cone pointing towards the flowers). Once dry, these flowers should be sprayed with shatter-proof spray which stops the flowers from disintegrating. You can find these sprays at craft stores, such as Michaels. Be aware this method does not work for easily shattered flowers, such as pussy-willows, etc.This method is the preferred one for herbs.
  • Pressing: Flowers can be pressed between sheets of paper and left for about a week. An old-fashioned way is to press them between the pages of the phone book. These will lose color and shape, but are perfect for flat crafts, such as window hangers or stain glass windows or sun-catchers, bookmarks or homemade paper. The most successful method is to use a wood flower press. Editor's Note: Be sure to see tomorrow's blog for instructions on how to make a wooden flower press.
  • Microwave: We recommend the book "Flower Drying With A Microwave" by Titia Joosten. ISBN #0-937274-48-8. The book is a great reference book, and she has documented the types of flowers and the drying times and preferred methods for each.Editor's Note: Try one of our favorite links ABE BOOKS. We bet you'll be able to find a really cheap used one. We checked today and the average price, including shipping right to your door, is $4.
  • Silica Gel: In the early 1600's, fresh flowers were dried between layers of sand. Although the sand method is still used today, a more successful method is to use silica gel.There are several ways to use silica gel, which is a preserving and drying medium. Silica gel is a granular substance that closely resembles sugar. Each grain of silica gel can absorb up to 40% of its own weight in moisture, and is ideal for drying flowers because the small granules can easily penetrate even the most delicate flower heads. It can be found at your craft store,drugstores, floral shops, hardware store, or if you get lucky like me, stalk your local thrift store or recycling center. People get all excited about craft ideas and projects and then dump them when they don't have time and things start to get cluttered.
Silica gel is expensive in the first output, but it is reusable so you will make your money back in the reuse. It usually comes in a cardboard container. If you are planning on doing a lot of flowers, say your entire wedding party's bouquets, you should invest in the larger container. You will also need a large plastic container with a tight fitting lid. The container should be a bit bigger than the flower you plan to dry. This is the preferred method should you wish to keep most of the shape and color of your flowers.

Today I am going to walk you through preserving a beautiful stargazer lily. First, pick your flowers at noon, when all the plant's juices are at attention. Your flower should not be wet or have dew on it. Check for tiny imperfections, such as bug holes, broken petals, etc that when dried, will really stand out. Choose a flower that is not in full bloom, but just right before, as petals tend to drop when the flower is older. Flower buds or flowers with especially dense centers do not dry well, as the silica gel cannot penetrate.

Choose your flower and pinch off the stem right next to the bottom petal, so you will have just the flower. Make sure it is nice, clean and dry.

Next you will need your large bowl with tight fitting lid and silica gel. AVOID BREATHING DUST!!! Pour the silica gel into the bottom of the bowl to form a base for the flower to sit on. Gently nestle the flower face-up into the silica gel on the base.
The next step is to GENTLY and SLOWLY pour the silica gel around and over the flower. Take your time and watch to see that the gel fills in under the petals instead of flattening them.
Continue to pour silica gel over the flower. DO NOT BREATHE DUST!

Keep going until your flower is completely covered. Tap GENTLY once to remove any air bubbles. Cover with lid and place in a safe place away from animals and children, or confused adults,where it won't be jostled or knocked over, for one week. Do not open the lid or check on the flower, even though we know you will want to! Opening the lid allows more moisture into your bowl.
After one week, it is time to remove your flower. Have another bucket or large bowl to pour the silica gel into. Remove the lid and slowly and gently pour the gel off until you can see most of the flower. Then CAREFULLY reach in and dislodge the flower. It will be extremely fragile. Take your time. Reserve your discarded silica gel and pour it back into the container to be used again. Editor's Note: Some instructions call for you to re-dry the silica gel in the oven until the crystals turn blue, but we have never done that and have had no problems using the gel over and over.

Next, take a soft paintbrush and brush gently to remove any excess silica gel. Do this on the front and back sides of the flower.

Since the lily has extended stamens and we did not want them to stick to the flower, we held this flower upside down while spraying, doing the back side first. We used high gloss clear polyurethane spray ( be sure to choose the non-yellowing kind), and gently sprayed the flower on both sides. (If you like a more natural soft look, opt for the satin finish polyurethane instead).
We rested the drying flower in a bowl to dry and gave it several coats. Once it is dry, you have the completed preserved flower!


What do you call a bear with no teeth?
A gummy bear!

What do you get if you cross a grizzly bear and a harp?
A bear faced lyre!

What do you get if you cross a skunk with a bear?
Winnie the Pooh

What is a bear's favorite drink?


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