Framed in black tape and frozen in time under glass, these arrangements of dried, pressed flowers and foliage are a two-dimensional reinterpretation of classic scientific specimen boxes.
Fresh-cut specimens for pressing or pre-pressed botanicals
Paper towels (if pressing flowers)
Blank newsprint paper (if pressing flowers; available at art supply stores)
Large heavy books, phone books suggested (if pressing flowers)
Pairs of glass panes
Sobo craft glue
Brush for glue
1 inch gold-tone binder clips or ¾ in wide black friction tape (available at hardware stores)
Scissors (if using tape)
Spoon (if using tape)
Clear panes of glass showcase even the most intricate of silhouettes, seemingly suspended in midair. A random placement of the materials takes on an organic composition, while a strategic placement is more graphic. I like to display the finished pieces by composing a variety of frame sizes and plants layered in a group so you can see dimensional effect through the layers of glass. Presented this way, they look like works of art atop a dresser or sideboard, but you could also place them on a shallow shelf or rail.
1. Press fresh-cut specimens yourself (or skip this step and use pre-pressed botanicals). Pick your flowers and leaves at their freshest and blot with paper towels to dry any moisture before pressing. Give some thought as to how the flower or foliage will look when flattened, then place the plants between two sheets of blank newsprint paper and insert the sandwiched specimens into the pages of a heavy book. Choose a book large enough to press the botanicals and one where you will not be upset if the page possibly gets a little wet during the pressing—a telephone book is ideal. Separate the pressings by at least 1∕8 in for best results. Weigh the book down with other heavy books and leave undisturbed a couple of weeks until the specimens have dried completely.
2. Use a lint-free cloth and window cleaner to clean glass panes on both sides before you begin your arrangement.
3. Select a pressed botanical to display. Create arrangements using multiples of a single plant type or a variety of plants in different frames to keep the look modern and create a graphic composition; mixed specimens in one frame can vary in thickness and might affect how the panes hold together. Analyze your dried specimens before making your final choice.
4. Position the specimens on one pane of glass as desired. Let the shape of the botanicals inspire you: experiment with random placement or more structured designs like a grid or wreath.
5. Once you have arranged the specimens, use a brush to apply a few very small dots of craft glue to secure the botanicals to one pane of glass. Let dry for about 2 hours.
6. Top with a second pane, then connect the two together with binder clips or friction tape. To use clips: Clip one binder clip at the top of the panes and one at the bottom. To use friction tape: Working on one side at a time, cut a piece to fit, adding about ¼ in/6 mm overlap at each corner. Center the tape on the edge of the panes and press into place over each side, folding the tape over itself at the corners. Use the back of a spoon to burnish the tape to adhere it completely and make a sharp finish around the edges.
Keep out of direct sunlight to minimize fading. Should you need to clean the glass once the project is finished, be careful not to get any moisture in-between the panes of glass. If you have used friction tape to connect the panes, do not get the tape wet.
As featured in the Spring issue of Beekman 1802 Almanac Magazine. For more check out BRING THE OUTDOORS IN by Shane Powers with Jennifer Cegielski, photographs by Gentl + Hyers (Chronicle Books, 2013).