How to make pressed leaf and flower artworks

Make these intricate botanical collages using summer leaves and flowers to create a beautiful artwork for your home.

How to make pressed flower artworks Jennie Ashmore

Follow Jennie Ashmore’s simple step-by-step guide and make your own nature-inspired masterpiece using just flowers and leaves, a sharp knife, glue, paper and an old telephone directory or two.

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You Will Need

  • Flowers and leaves
  • A sharp knife
  • Glue
  • Paper
  • An old telephone directory

Step 1

Jennie Ashmore - pressed flower how to
Artist Jennie Ashmore spends her summer collecting leaves and flowers from the gardens and meadows of Dumfries ©Mark Molly

Pick a small selection of flowers and leaves with your hands or a pair of scissors, and place in a small box, where they won’t get bruised. As soon as you get home, start pressing them.

Step 2

Jennie Ashmore pressed flowers how to - step 2
Collection and pressing is an ongoing process and, on dry days, Jennie will often spend several hours outdoors selecting plants ©Mark Molly

Place all your samples on a clean, dry worktop. You can dry leaves and flowers in a purpose-made press (simple ones can be bought online for less than £40). Alternatively…   

Step 3

Jennie Ashmore flower pressing step 3
Each artwork Jennie creates involves three basic stages: the collection and pressing of samples; collating dried material for an individual piece, and the studio-based creation of the work itself ©Mark Molly

Place specimens in a large book, such as a phone directory or encyclopaedia. Jennie says this makes it quicker and easier to find samples, as there are no bolts to undo as with purpose-made presses.

Step 4

Jennie Ashmore pressed flowers step 4
Some of Jennie’s favourite flowers to press are daisies, primroses and lady’s smock ©Mark Molly

Jennie preserves her samples between two sheets of white paper, gently turns a few pages of the directory over, and repeats the process. Place more heavy books on top to create the required pressure.

Step 5

Jennie Ashmore pressed flowers step 5
Old telephone directories are easy to label with a marker pen or sticker ©Mark Molly

Label to help you find samples more easily. Leave for about eight weeks in a fairly cool environment, away from direct light. Sketch out your design on paper, and use stiff card to make your templates.

Step 6

Jennie Ashmore flower pressing step 6
Make your templates by cutting shapes out of stiff cardboard – use a cutting mat and ruler to create sharp edges ©Mark Molly

Once dried, select the specimens you want to use in your artwork, comparing colours and textures. Cut shapes using a cutting mat, a sharp art knife and your prepared templates.

Step 7

Jennie Ashmore flower pressing step 7
There are no right or wrong patterns when creating your design – it’s simply a matter of taste ©Mark Molly

Work on watercolour paper or mounted card (not cartridge paper), arranging the samples with your moistened fingertip (not tweezers – this is fiddly and can damage delicate samples).

Step 8

Jennie Ashmore flower pressing step 8
Jennie believes it’s possible to make impressive creations with the most basic materials ©Mark Molly

Attach samples using a tiny blob of glue and a matchstick. A latex-based glue such as Copydex is best because you can rub it off easily if you make a mistake.

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Finish the design to your chosen pattern, and leave it for a day or two to allow the glue to dry completely. When your artwork is finished, you can mount and frame it.