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Around Town : Pressed Plants

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Now that easter has come and gone, I'm posting about one more crafts story in the April issue, The Art of pressing Plants. This was such a fascinating story to develop. The idea we started with was simple: explore the traditional technique of botanical pressing, but on a much larger scale, then come up with ideas for using oversize pressed leaves and vines in an interior. I started the project by researching plant pressing at  New York Botanical Garden, (an amazing place to visit if you ever get the chance, for too many reasons to list here!) I visited the Herbarium Lab (where plant specimens are pressed and then carefully archived) to learn thier techniques. Then I visited Landcraft Environments, a nursery in Eastern Long Island specializing in exotic tropicals among any other types of plants, to gather cuttings of large plants and experiment with pressing them. You can look at many more pictures of Landcraft taken by Martha herself  here on the Martha Blog. See the gallery below for more images and details about the press we made, and the the finished projects. You can see the rest of the story here.

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a staff member showing how to press an unusual plant at NYBG

1 a staff member showing how to press an unusual plant at NYBG

demonstrating how to support more three dimensional elements in a plant press. Acorns! I loved that this famous herbarium uses simple recycled newsprint in thier presses.

2 demonstrating how to support more three dimensional elements in a plant press. Acorns! I loved that this famous herbarium uses simple recycled newsprint in thier presses.

many plants arranged in the press and tightened well with straps

3 many plants arranged in the press and tightened well with straps

dried plants are kept carefully stacked in the same papers used to press them, eventually each will be mounted and catalogued

4 dried plants are kept carefully stacked in the same papers used to press them, eventually each will be mounted and catalogued

an example of dried plant. I love how well the color is preserved

5 an example of dried plant. I love how well the color is preserved

Queen Ann's lace presses beautifully!

6 Queen Ann's lace presses beautifully!

The gardens at Landcraft Environments. They were so fun to explore.

7 The gardens at Landcraft Environments. They were so fun to explore.

leaves placed in the press back in the craft room. I had high hopes for the Acanthus on the left! It would have been so perfect to use in a decorative way- but it didn't press very well...

8 leaves placed in the press back in the craft room. I had high hopes for the Acanthus on the left! It would have been so perfect to use in a decorative way- but it didn't press very well...

More leaves ready to be pressed

9 More leaves ready to be pressed

a wierd picture, but this is to show the scale of the plants, which are enormous!

10 a wierd picture, but this is to show the scale of the plants, which are enormous!

We brought the press to landcraft for the how-to shoot. Its made of 2 sheets of 3/4 in. plywood, sheets of corrugated cardboard, sheets of newsprint, and ratchet straps to tighten it. These are made for securing things to a car, you can get them at the Home Depot. They worked so well.

11 We brought the press to landcraft for the how-to shoot. Its made of 2 sheets of 3/4 in. plywood, sheets of corrugated cardboard, sheets of newsprint, and ratchet straps to tighten it. These are made for securing things to a car, you can get them at the Home Depot. They worked so well.

Jasmine vine mounted to a folding screen

12 Jasmine vine mounted to a folding screen

Passion flower vine, sprayed gold, under glass on a tabletop.

13 Passion flower vine, sprayed gold, under glass on a tabletop.

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