Freeze summer’s fleeting blooms with DIY pressed flower arrangements

Mike Irvine

Summer blooms may be ephemeral, but that’s what gives us such great appreciation for their bursts of color. To extend this much-loved moment in the garden, we tackled DIY pressed flowers, with a few sculptural leaves thrown in for good measure. The tools we used are simple: a heavy book, glue, paper, rubber bands, and a simple frame. Just follow these instructions from Alethea Harampolis—co-owner of San Francisco’s Studio Choo Florists—to create a quick and easy showpiece that will preserve your favorite blossoms for months or even years to come.

Step 1: Harvest

On a sunny morning when plants aren’t wet with dew or water, gather clean, pest-free botanicals from the garden. Snip all shapes and sizes, including single blossoms (large or small, with or without foliage), longer stems, and sprigs of leaves. Bring indoors and use immediately.

Step 2: Assemble

Fold a piece of white paper—we used a heavy-weight, acid-free variety—in half and place inside an open book, like a hefty cookbook or dictionary. Tuck flowers, foliage, and stems between the folded paper halves, being careful not to overlap. Open the book to a new page and repeat as desired.

Step 3: Press

Once you’ve used all of
your botanicals, carefully close the book and use large rubber bands to clasp it firmly shut. For additional weight, place more books or another heavy object on top. Set aside for at least two weeks.

Step 4: Arrange

Using tweezers, remove materials from the book— they should be flat and moisture-free. Place them on a new piece of paper, and affix your composition using a clear acid-free glue—we chose Tombow Mono Aqua Liquid Glue (from $3.69 for 1.69 oz.; for its pen-tip applicator. Let the glue dry for 1 to 2 hours, place your arrangement in a frame, and hang or prop it against a wall.

Cool Tool

If you’d like your blooms to be paper thin for easy gluing and a flawless finished product, use a wooden flower press. They’re inexpensive and can easily be found at a craft store or online at BestNest (from $19; The materials and instructions are the same as when using a book; just layer your cuttings between sheets of paper and screw the press tightly shut. Two to four weeks later, they’ll be ready for framing!