For centuries botanists and nature enthusiasts have been looking for ways to conserve plant species to study them or a simple passion for collecting. With time the harvest, the drying of the plants, and the preparation of the herbarium became much more than an instrument of botany. Scientific thought, curiosity towards the natural world, aesthetic enjoyment in contact with it, the herbarium brings together all these deeply human motivations. To this is also added the eternal effort to immortalize beauty by transforming it into art. The interest of man for botany and the natural world, in general, was not long in manifesting itself through a vegetal tendency strongly present in the decoration. Green plants, plant prints, terrariums, we are not surprised that the herbarium has found its place in a decoration inspired by nature. Easy to make, the dried flowers and leaves can be used as the basis of many DIY projects. Learn how to make a herbarium with our helpful guide and have fun creating your flower arrangements from dried leaves.
How to make a Herbarium?
The making of a herbarium begins with the gathering of plants. Take advantage of outings in nature to collect the specimens that will constitute your herbarium or explore the flora of your neighborhood. You will only need a bag or basket, a pair of scissors/pruning shears, and a plastic bag with zip closure. Be respectful of nature and ensure that the species are not protected or that you do not take a single flower. Above all, take care that the flowers are fresh when harvesting and lotus flower drawing.
Choose flowers that are not yet in full bloom and are not damaged. If you are collecting them from a garden, the best time to do so is in the morning after the dew has lifted. If you are using a flower press, choose plants that match the size of the press. Once the leaves are picked, it’s time to prepare them for the next step. Freshly cut flowers should be placed in an airtight bag to be protected from moisture before being placed in a herbarium. Ready to start drying? There are several actions to happen earlier:
- After picking, immediately put the flowers in water to keep them fresh as much as possible. Cut the stems at an angle.
- Then cut the bottom leaves under the water to prevent rotting and the possible development of bacteria.
- Place the flowers in a vase with water and a little sugar or cut flower food. The sugar will keep the water clean. Just keep them in the water for a few hours.
- To dry thick flowers with relief (bulb flowers, orchids, roses), it will be necessary to cut them in half.
- Lay the samples flat on a flat cardboard paper (printing paper, facial tissue, and even coffee filters), and proceed to dry.
Vintage Flower Press for Passionate Botanists
The pressing. From putting between the pages of a heavy book to drying in the microwave, pressing techniques vary according to your desires and the materials you have. Experiment with the different ways to squeeze flowers to find the one that works best for you. The most straightforward approach would continue to place them between the pages of a heavy book (dictionary, telephone directory, etc.). There are many points to examine if you choose this technique:
- Place the flower between two sheets of blotting/newspaper paper before placing them between the book’s pages. If the size of the book allows it, you can dry several flowers at the same time. However, be careful that the different specimens are not in contact.
- Put other books or heavy objects on the set. Let it dry for two to three weeks in a dry, dark place.
- Remember to change the blotting paper regularly. Once dry, the samples are very fragile, so use forceps to remove them and place them on the herbarium.
A last-minute DIY Project?
It would help if you pressed flowers without having to wait several weeks. In this case, use an iron. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Place the samples between sheets of blotting paper.
- Make sure the iron does not contain water.
- Set the iron to a low temperature.
- Press on the blotting paper for 10 – 15 seconds without necessarily slipping the iron.
- Wait another 15 seconds before repeating the method.
It’s time to start making your herbarium. This step is the most creative and depends entirely on your project and the idea behind it. A neatly arranged and labeled sample notebook or a small notebook with an individual specimen on each page accompanied by drawings and inspirational words? It’s up to you to decide.
Vintage Flower Press for Passionate Botanists
- 2 wooden planks of 10.5 cm (3.5 mm thick)
- Abrasive paper
- Acrylic paint, brush, water
- A drill with a 5 mm wood bit
- Paper for printing
- A pair of scissors
- 8 flat washers 10-24 mm in diameter
- 4 wing nuts 10 mm, 4 screws 10-24 63.5 m
- Lightly sand the wood with sandpaper to reduce any unevenness. As desired, apply water-diluted acrylic paint to the sides of the pieces of wood.
- Place the printed pattern (to find in pdf format on the minted.com site) on the two superimposed wooden boards and secure them together using adhesive tape. Drill four holes through the wood of the two pieces using the points shown on the pattern.
- Using scissors and the template, cut out seven regular hexagons (9 cm) from the cardboard. Do the same with the printing paper. You will need 10 print paper hexagons. Superimpose the pieces by alternating the cardboard hexagons with the paper ones.
- Take the 4 screws and insert them with the washers in the four holes of one piece of wood.
- Secure the stack of cardboard and paper sheets and the second plank of wood.
- Finally, place a second washer on each screw under the nuts.