Plant presses and nature collage art

I’m in the process of developing curriculum for a couple of different eco-spirituality programs I’ll be co-leading this summer. One of the people I’ll be working with, Jessica, a former environmental educator who’s now the DRE at the Northhampton UU congregation, floated the idea of pressing plants.

Now, plant pressing is usually done to prepare specimens for an herbarium. But Jessica found a lesson plan in the Project Wild Aquatic curriculum book which uses a plant press for a process art project. You assemble a collage of aquatic plants (or really, any kind of plant) between sheets of porous paper, and press in a plant press. As the plant is pressed, the paper absorbs some of the colors of the plant. Wait a week till it’s dry, and you have a cool collage.

This activity kind of resembles flower pounding (see lesson plan #24 on this webpage). It also introduces participants to the use of a plant press — a standard botanical tool/process — which is a nice addition.

Still working on refining this activity for use with kids in a summer camp setting. We’ll see where this leads. In the mean time, a couple of resources: Plant presses for the classroom | Herbarium Supply Co.

Update, later the same day:

Here are my instructions for a cheapo plant press, cobbled together from several online sites:

You’ll need fifty 3×5 file cards, two pieces of corrugated carboard cut to 3×5 inches, and two strong rubber bands. Place a flower in the middle of the stack of file cards. Put the rubber bands around everything (see the drawing). Let dry for a week or more. When dry, glue the dried flower to the index card using white glue.

Sketch of the flower press described in the text

Snowdrops are starting to bloom outside our front door, so in a couple of days I’ll be able to give this a try in the real world.

(And here’s the follow up post where I actually make one of these.)

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