It's no secret that getting a handmade, custom card is one of the nicest treats you can receive. I mean, someone went through the effort of making a card for your special occasion just for you. Luckily, custom cards don't have to be a ton of work for the maker and they can be just as fun to whip up as they are to give.
In this post, I'll show you how to press flowers and turn them into a custom greeting card.
Here's what you'll need:
- Heavyweight cards - I like Strathmore watercolor cards
- Modge Podge - I like the matte version, and they also offer a gloss
- A heavy book
- Some time! - if you're short on time, you can pick up a microwave flower press
Press the flowers
This is a project you'll need to start a few weeks in advance. First, gather some flowers. Ideally, you have a meadow full of wildflowers growing just outside your door, but in reality, you might be able to gather some from your windowbox or houseplants, your scrawny backyard garden, the sidewalk, and the deli, where you'll have to pay for them.
Wildflowers tend to work well for pressing because they're already kind of thin and often dry. The flowers you find commercially available - roses, sunflowers, tulips - are often thick and fleshy, which means they're full of water and harder to press. I love using wildflowers like cornflowers, aka Bachelor's Buttons, and poppies. I also use clippings from my indoor ferns and random greens I find growing all over the place. If you're buying at the store, stick to flowers that can easily be compressed, like alstroemeria, or separate out the individual petals on larger flowers and press them deconstructed.
fresh cornflowers going into the press
Once you've assembled some flowers, the actual pressing part is super easy. Just place them in the pages of a large book with absorbent pages and put more heavy books on top. Common wisdom tells you to leave the flowers untouched for about two weeks, but I find smaller, drier flowers are usually pressed in about 5-7 days. You can't go wrong leaving them longer though!
a very low-tech book flower press
Prepare your composition
A couple of weeks later, go through your book and pick out some flowers you'd like to use on your card. I tend to go simple, but you can really do anything that makes you happy. A monogram for a special person is an easy way to customize your work.
I recommend playing around with the composition for awhile without touching the glue. Try out different placements and clusters of flowers until you find what works. One design principle to keep in mind is that we are drawn to odd numbers of objects, so if you have two cornflowers in your design currently, go ahead and add one more for increased visual interest.
Glue the whole thing down!
Now it's time to break out the Modge Podge. Use a stiff brush and apply a coat thoroughly to the back of each object. Place it down and give it a moment to dry. Then - and this is the part that feels weird - you're going to seal the flowers down by painting a decent coat of Modge Podge on top of each element. You'll be able to see the glue when it's wet, but once it dries you'll only be able to see the gloss or the matte finish. If you'd like, you can coat the entire surface of the card with Modge Podge so that it's uniform at the end.
And that's it! Enjoy giving your work of art to someone special.