DIY Book Flower Press (free craft from the garden)

how to press flowers

When I was a little girl I loved to dry and press flowers. I had them hanging in my room, randomly placed in books and stored in little bottles like potpourri all over the house.

Recently, my six-year-old daughter has shown an interest in collecting things from nature; leaves, feathers, rocks and sticks are among the favourites. When I shared with her my childhood passion for pressing flowers she was, in her words ‘so excited to try’. So with a garden full of flowers, we got started.

Supplies

Garden flowers

Heavy book (old phone book is perfect for this purpose)

Baking paper

How to Press Flowers

Step 1: Picking the Right Flowers

The main issue faced when pressing flowers is mold, which is caused when a section of the flower is taking too long to dry out, usually around the receptacle of the flower. The easiest way to avoid is to pick flowers that are known to dry well. My favourites are; pansy, African violet, petunia, daisy, snapdragons, brunfelsia, geranium, roses and vinca.

 How to press flowers  - Nine best flowers for book flower press #beafunmum #aboutthegarden

Step 2: Preparing the Flowers for Pressing

To prepare the flowers for pressing, simply dispose of thicker areas that you think might potentially go mouldy. For example, with roses it’s best to pick the petals and press them individually rather then as a flower head. 

Step 3: Creating a Moisture Barrier

It’s a good idea before you pop your freshly picked flowers into that favourite volume of Dickens, to use a protective barrier so the moisture from the flower petals doesn’t seep into the book pages. In the past I’ve simply recycled an envelope, but I’ve recently found the non-stick surface of baking paper to be superior. Now all you need to do is;

 How to press flowers  - Book pressed flowers free craft from the garden be a fun mum

 How to press flowers  - Book flower press get ready to fold the pages free craft from the garden be a fun mum

 How to press flowers  - Book flower press using big heavy books be a fun mum

  • Cut the baking paper to required size, ours was A3.
  • Fold the baking paper in half.
  • Lay the baking paper open within the pages of the book.
  • Place the fresh flowers inside, ensuring adequately spaced.
  • Carefully shut the book

Step 4: Storing the Book Flower Press

Store your Book Flower Press in a dry location. It takes several weeks, we left ours for 5, for flowers to dry and press using this method, so ensure your location is up and out of the way.

Remember once your flowers have completely dried out, they will be fragile, so teach children to handle with care.  

How to press flowers  - Book pressed dried flowers free craft from the garden be a fun mum

Pressing flowers is so much fun and best of all you can use them in a variety of craft activities from papermaking, decorating photo frames to bookmarks and potpourri.

If you plan to use your pressed flowers for future craft projects, store them in a dry air-tight container to avoid exposure to moisture.

Happy Pressing!

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Posts from Renee

Nature Craft Ideas

Discovery box: for items kids like to collect from nature

Kids Collection Display Jars

Simple Activity: Paint Rose Petals

Fiona from Fiona Kate showed me how to do this. She’s so very clever and has this ability to make simple activities so beautiful.  It’s about being able to be fun with anything, even with fallen rose petals from the garden.  Spring is upon us, and this is a wonderful way to celebrate.  Tint a few empty jars, buy a few roses and when they have had their day to shine, take a small moment to paint the remnants, to capture their beauty.  This is how.

Materials

Rose petals (as a reference)

Watercolour Paper (you can use regular paper but watercolour paper is best)

Paint brushes

Coloured Pencils

Painting Rose Petals

1. On a piece of watercolour paper, paint rose petal shapes, using the loose petals as a guide. Take note of different shapes, and the gradient/different colours. 

2. Using a coloured pencil, draw in a little detail on them. See the pink petal below and the peach petal above.

3. Allow to dry.

Painting Rose Petals

Only 5 –7 mintues in total to paint something so simple, yet so gorgeous! These would look amazing on the front of a card or even framed.

More

Triad Tree – Watercolour experiment

Early Watercolour Experiment

Leaf Art

Rainbow Leaves

Painted Leaves

Paint Leaves

autumn activity for kids paint leaves

To celebrate Autumn, the younger children and I went to one of our favourite exploring spots for a rainbow leaf hunt. We also collected dry leaves to later paint and hang in the kitchen (we did this last year with maple leaves).

I love doing this sort of stuff with the children because it has such value and meaning. It’s not just about a craft to fill the time. No, it’s more than that.   It’s about taking the time to notice around us (it’s Autumn and leaves are changing).  It’s about exploring and spending time as a family.  It’s about doing a mini project together that adds joy to the house we all live in.  And I feel good about it…long after the paint dries.

Materials

Paint ( I used child-friendly acrylic paint)

Paint brushes (small brushes work best)

Leaves

String (I use Divine Twine)

Painting Leaves

1. We looked for already dry leaves that were quite flat (ie. not too curled) to make painting easy.

autumn activity kids -- paint leaves

2. Simple designs seem to work best, like lines and dots.

autumn activity kids -- paint leaves

autumn activity kids -- paint leaves

3. Allow to dry

autumn activity kids -- paint leaves

4. The easiest way to hang the leaves, so they sit flat against the wall, is to thread string on to a large needle, and then starting from the unpainted side, thread the needle up through, and then back down again  on the same leaf.  Repeat until all the leaves are on the string. Hang and then space the leaves apart as desired!

_DSC0820

Comon…how cute do these look!?   I enjoy seeing the leaves in my kitchen everyday.  They bring colour into the house as we celebrate nature in the home with good memories attached.

autumn activity kids -- paint leaves to hang

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Paint Sticks

Nature Crafts: Deconstructing Flowers

Over a week ago now, I bought myself bright flowers and displayed them in tinted jars.  I enjoyed them every single day. Today, when I glanced over at my kitchen table, the flowers looked a little tired. But there was still a little perkiness in the petals.

How often to we glance at a simple flower without truly appreciating the complex wonder contained in each one?  I was challenged to do this very thing by photographer Qi Wei Fong and his exploded flowers series. So, before I disposed of the gerberas, I thought: why don’t I take a few moments to examine them with the kids? The activity took less than 10 minutes and gave me opportunity to reinforce the wonder all around us, if only we take the time to look.

Exploded Flowers by Qi Wei Fong

Deconstructing Flowers

Materials

Flower

Scissors

Hard surface

It’s best to work out of the wind, so we found out very quickly!

nature crafts -- Decontrusting flowers

Cut the stem off.

nature crafts -- Decontrusting flowers -- cut stem off

Pluck the petals and arrange of a white piece of paper, cardboard or directly on a table.

nature crafts -- Decontrusting flowers -- pluck petals

Display.

nature crafts -- Decontrusting flowers -- arrange petals

exploded flowers

I love these unforced times, when anyone can join in if they like.

I said, “Hey, I’m going to pull apart these flowers to see all the bits. Anyone want to do it with me?”

The two little ones hovered for a bit, interjecting, chatting and taking turns at pulling petals, and then they left to continue their game.  Then, my 9-year-old daughter and I were left, and we sat together plucking petals and arranging them.  It was a truly lovely experience.

When we finished, I called out to no one in particular, “We’re done if you want to have a look! I’ll leave it on the table for the rest of the afternoon, so if you’re interested, come and look at all the amazing pieces of just one flower!”

It didn’t really matter if they got messed up. I left them there until dinner. Everyone looked, and loved it. I watched the children pause, every time they walked past the table.

nature crafts -- Decontrusting flowers

The petals are in the bin now. I wonder, was that a waste of time? To sit and pluck the petals off flowers? I mean, who has time to do that, right? Well, I do, I guess. I’ve learned the value of just doing stuff.  Capturing the moment.  Acting on an idea and threading it into our life…because I have more time than I think. Time woven, not caught.

Next time I look at a flower, I will have a little more wonder than before. And I hope the kids do too. Yes, time well spent.

More

Nature Crafts

Paint Rose Petals

The Tree Draws

Nature is alive and beautiful, and as a family, we celebrate this on a daily basis.  I stumbled upon artist, Tim Knowles online, and his tree drawings inspired this activity.

It’s an easy activity to do with kids and holds promise of mystery and magic on a breezy day.  A tree that draws! You can’t help but notice the wind, and how it moves the leaves in a dance, or how pretty the bird’s song is. It forces you to be still, and watch, and listen.

One of Tim Knowles Tree Drawings

Oak On Easel

Stonethwaite Beck, Smithymire Island, Borrowdale, Cumbria
1/07/2005

Our Tree Drawing

Backyard Tree (can anyone recognise the type of tree?) On Easel

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
24/07/2012

11:30 am to 1:30 pm

tree drawing inspired by artist tim knowles

Materials

Canvas (or other hard surface to tape the paper)

Watercolour Paper or an Art Board

Masking Tape

Drawing material of choice (heavy sketching pencil, felt pen, permanent marker)

1. Materials

You can purchase all of these materials from a discount or art store (and even places like Target, Officeworks & BigW). I decided to use three A5 pieces of pastel watercolour paper for one feature, and then an artist board for the other. An artist board is like very thick cardboard with a canvas front. It’s brilliant for all kinds of projects and not as bulky as a canvas.

nature crafts do a tree drawing

2. Tape paper to canvas or straight on to an easel if you have one

This way, the paper will hold still for the tree. Keep the tape right at the edge so it doesn’t damage the paper too much.

tree drawing

3. Set up the paper in front of a low branch

Use an easel (if you have one), a step ladder (like I have) or a chair.

tree drawing

4. Tape pen to a branch

Look for a branch that naturally moves in the wind, that is close to the ground.

tree drawing

5. Adjust canvas in front of pens

Move the canvas in place so the pens are only just touching, and the tree draws with the wind. It’s beautiful to watch!  Leave for a few hours and see what happens.

tree drawing

Watch!

6.Date and hang

I purchased this lovely frame half price at Target.

tree drawing nature art

Second project

Backyard Tree (can anyone recognise the type of tree?) On Branch

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
24/07/2012

12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

I also hung an art board on a branch (using an alligator clip, to hold the board, and a ribbon).

tree drawing on art board

tree drawing -- bird

The children were AMAZED and very excited to see the final picture.  They though this one looked very much like a bird or swan. Can you see it?

Date and time

date drawings

tree drawing nature art

Ideas

  • Give as a gift: couple a photograph of the tree in a frame with the relative drawing
  • Create a memoir of a special place visited or holiday destination
  • A fun weekend activity
  • Build on the tree drawing shape to create another drawing

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Nature Crafts

Nature Crafts: Painted Sticks

I came across this picture of painted sticks by Canadian Artist, Ginette Lapalme. I was inspired by this idea as it brings nature into the home, and I love that!

painted sticks

Our Painted Sticks

On Saturday afternoon, my 11-year-old daugther and I went out in the backyard to find sticks.  Then, we sat at the kitchen table and painted for 20 minutes or so. It was lovely!

painted sticks

painted sticks

Materials

Paint Brush

A selection of acrylic paint

paint sticks

Designs

We kept the designs simple to allow bark to show through.

  • Veritacle Stripes
  • Horizontal Stripes
  • Dots
  • Colour blocks
  • Circles
  • Paint around the stick nobs

Use them

I had a think about where and how we could use the painted sticks, and I came up with these ideas.

1. Shapes and Pictures

Make pictures, letters and shapes with the variety of sticks.

painted sticks -- shapes and letters

2. Rainbow Woods — Imaginative Play Scene

To see how to put this together, click here: Imaginative Play Scene: Rainbow Woods

painted sticks -- rainbow woods imaginative play scene

3. Vases

I LOVE the look of painted sticks in vases. I placed the large sticks in a vase with decorative stone at the base. The smaller sticks, I used in empty juice bottles and a candle holder.

painted sticks -- in vases

painted sticks -- shapes and letters

4. Juice Bottle

This is my favourite. I used a Divine Twine around the neck of juice bottle and arranaged the sticks inside. Perfect for table or desk decoration.

painted sticks -- in juice bottles

painted sticks -- in juice buttles

painted sticks -- in juice buttles

5. Hang

Tie small sticks on a piece of string (I use Divine Twine). Hang horizontally for a wall feature.

painted sticks -- hang

6. Magic Stick

Paint the perfect magic stick.

Nature Craft: Rock Footprints

nature craft -- stone foot prints

When I do craft with my kids, I like for it to be an extension of another outing or activity.  For example, making potpourri bags for the drawers was coupled with a trip to the shops, collecting shells at the beach turned into a wall feature and a fun addition to a country drive was to stop and make wild flower wreaths. For me, craft is about connection rather than just something to do.

When the children and I explored a local stream recently, we collected rocks to make rock footprints.

exploring stream kids

It’s not craft, it’s connection.

 

Materials

Piece of wood (or use a canvas)

2 x Screw eyes

Rocks (1 sole of foot size and 5 for toes)

Gem glue, like 330 Epoxy (a hot glue gun works too but for best results use expoxy glue)

Instructions

1. Sort, clean and move the rocks around until you get the best foot shape.

rock footprints

2. Lightly sand the piece of wood to help the glue stick. Canvas can also be used instead of the wood.

3. Arrange the rocks on your piece of wood or canvas using gem glue or hot glue gun (the gluing should be done by an adult).

pebble footprint

4. Allow to dry as per packet instructions.

5. Press screw eyes and twist on either side of wood to allow for hanging.

instuctions nature craft stone foot feature

6. Hang with a piece of twine or rope.

The Rock Footprint sign hangs on the outdoor cubby. We might add some words to the sign when we think of a good name. I’ll keep you posted.

Connecti

rock footprints nature craft Update

31 March 2014: So almost two years since I wrote this post, I thought I would show you how our footprints looks now: even more rustically gorgeous! (and still holding together after being out in the elements for that long).

Rock Footprints

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Nature Craft

Nature Crafts & Activities

There is much wonder all around and endless ways to create joy. These are two things I hope my children will embrace. Our family aims to live life less compartmentalised so we look for ways to connect the things we do when we are out with things we do at home. One way to do this is to enjoy the beauty of nature and bring this into our home in various forms. Below are links to some of the nature crafts and activities we enjoy (click the pictures for more information on the relevant post).

I would love your suggestions too;  leave a comment at the end of the post.

1. Leaf Art

I can’t tell you how much I love this picture. To see how we made it, click the picture.

leaf art drawing

2. Flower Head Wreath

This wild flower head wreath was easy to made and so much fun for a summer day. We LOVED this activity and you can read more about it on the post.

Fresh flower head wreath

3. Stick Feature

This is a very simple craft. All you need to do is collect twigs (and flowers if you like) and tie them along a piece of string. This can be hung in the home as a feature.

stick hanging feature

4. Rock Towers

This doubles as both an activity and a imaginative play scene.

rock towers

5. Pebble and Stick Trail

This simple activity can lead to all sorts of play ideas.

Nature crafts -- rock and stick trail

6. Pet Rock

I love pet rocks. A lot. They are easy to make and are really so adorable.  A pet rock can be given as a gift, made for best friends (make one for each friend), used as a paper weight, placed on a shelf for decoration (make an entire family of pet rocks) or to play with.

how to make a pet rock

7.Wooden Picture

A smooth piece of wood can be turned into artwork.

nature craft and activities - wood picture

8. Discovery Box

The kids and I made a discovery box for all our collections. You can also make a treasure hunt out of this activity.

{click the picture for more ideas plus free label printouts}

nature crafts for kids -- discovery box

9. Pine Cones

Pine cones are useful for all sorts of art and craft activites.  They are fun to paint, can be displayed in a vase or used in a diorama. To see more pine cone crafts, click the picture.

how to make a christmas diorama

10. Flower Posy

Ah, yes. The simple joy of a posy in a glass is a delight.

glass juice bottle vases

11. Cinnamon Sticks in a Jar

When I was in Thailand, my room had a cinnamon sticks in a jar feature beside my bed. It was just beautiful!

nature crafts -- cinnamon sticks in a jar

12. Paint Rose Petals

Fi shared this with me one of her regular posts. The idea is to use the rose petals as inspiration for a 5 minute art project. On watercolour paper, paint a rose petal shape, using the real petals as a guide. Use a contrasting coloured pencil to add a little detail. This art project looks stunning in a simple frame.

nature crafts -- paint rose petals

Do you have other nature crafts & activities to add?

Pintrest

I have a collection of nature craft ideas on this Pintrest board: Nature Crafts

Other Posts

Favourite Outdoor Play Spaces

Playing with your kids: a confession

Living Learning and Connecting the Dots

Nature Crafts & Activities: Rock Trail

This rock and stick trail is a simple activity that can lead to all sorts of other play ideas. My daughter collected sticks and rocks to create a trail around the house.  She then put a box at the end for treasure.

Nature crafts -- rock and stick trailFun for:

  • Do a nature hunt to find all the things you need
  • Create another line to make a road and add cars
  • Create an Desert Island Play Scene and have pirates follow the trail to the treasure
  • Create box shapes with the stones and jump inside each one
  • Make a Discovery Box

Other Links

More Nature Crafts and Activity Posts

Check out my Nature Crafts Board on Pintrest