Reviving traditional crafts – flower drying

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Since the time of the ancient Egyptians, dried flowers have been used for a variety of reasons.

The ancient Egyptians used dried flowers during ceremonies and left flowers in tombs to send with their loved ones to the afterlife.

In the middle ages, dried flowers were used to treat diseases and were made into medicines and charms to repel bad odours.

dried lavender beside lavender bag

Pouches of dried lavender are traditionally used to scent clothes and bedlinen
This would work equally well with dried herbs such as wild thyme or wild mint

In the 16th century, when the fashion for ladies was to wear low cut necklines, bosom flowers became a very popular accessory due to their sensual appeal.

During the Victorian era the practice of drying flowers became a popular hobby and floral garlands and dried flowers were used to create pictures and added to jewellery, fans and gloves.

In Japan there is an art form known as "Oshibana" which appreciates the beauty and benefits of the living plants. They are exquisite in detail and mountains are created from flower petals and leaves become trees. However, the tradition of drying flowers is not something you see very often here in the UK; you can be part of the revival by drying the flowers you grow in your garden to create beautiful artistic pieces for yourself and your family.

How to dry flowers

The microwave method

You can dry flowers in a microwave in minutes instead of the weeks it usually takes using other methods but you must dry each flower separately.

Simply place the flower in a microwaveable bowl and cover with up to four cups of cat litter until the flower is covered. Then microwave on high for two minutes and leave the litter to cool.

Once cooled, remove your flower from the litter and it will be perfectly dried.

The silica gel method

For flowers that look like they have just come out of your garden, the silica gel method is the process to use.

You can find silica gel at most craft stores and you will need to bury the flower completely in the gel and leave it for up to a week. When you remove the flower it will be beautifully preserved.

The pressing method

For this method you will need a heavy book like an encyclopaedia and some parchment paper. Open the book near the back and place the parchment paper over the two pages, then arrange the flowers facing downwards and make sure they don’t overlap. Then close the book and leave it for seven to ten days.

The flowers will be incredibly delicate but in this form they are great for using to create bookmarks or stationery.

The air drying method

This is a traditional technique for drying flowers.

bunches of wildflowers hung upside down to dry

Buttercups, oxeye daisies and clover being prepared for air drying.  
Air drying is an easy and inexpensive way to preserve wild flowers 

You will need to gather your meadow flowers into a bunch and then secure the stems with an elastic band. In an airy closet hang them upside-down away from direct sunlight and leave them for a few weeks. The petals will shrink and the colours will change but they will be beautifully dried and look very vintage.

Craft ideas for dried flowers

Once you have dried your flowers, there are a variety of different ways you can create beautiful touches in your home. Here are a few ideas you may wish to try:

• Place them in a vasepicture made from dried flowers

• Turn them into pot-pourri

• Create a wreath or garland

• Create pictures; either using pressed flowers to make a representation of your meadow or as a decoupage art piece

• Make coasters and place mats by pressing them between squares and rectangles of glass

• Make them into pendants using a glass cover bead

• Add them to candles either in the making process or to embellish the outside of the candle

• Add to gift cards and tags

• Add to bath bombs or handmade soap

• Make into wedding favours or confetti

• Fill glass baubles with the flowers to hang on a tree

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but you’re only limited by your own imagination, so don’t be afraid to explore your creative side as you enjoy this traditional craft. You can grow your own beautiful meadow flowers by using a MeadowMat available from us.

For more information and to see how you can transform your garden into a beautiful meadow, click here

More about wild flowers and crafts

Using wild flowers in art

How to photograph wild flowers

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