The Delicate Pressed Plant Artworks From Helen Ahpornsiri

Growing and collecting flora and foliage to preserve them with flower-pressing methods before delicately re-imagining them into artworks.

By: THURSD. | 07-12-2022 | 4 min read

Based in East Sussex, UK, artist Helen Ahpornsiri grows and collects flora, foliage, and seaweeds which she preserves with traditional flower pressing methods before delicately re-imagining them into artworks. Dive into Helen's wondrous world of pressed plant artworks and learn how to start making your own.

Helen Ahpornsiri's Dried Botanics Artworks

The artist’s collection features mammals and insects from across the animal kingdom—ranging from peacocks and bees to elephants—some of which are aligned with tiny pieces of gold leaf that reflect the sparkling color and vibrancy of the species she creates. "I work with a variety of flora, preferring fern and wildflower species. Flowers commonly considered weeds are unassuming yet familiar, they can be embued in folk tales and personal connotations which resonate with people in different ways. I’m interested in the idea of preserving plants like these and giving them a new narrative." From Helen Ahpornsiri Pressed Flower Bug


Working With Nature

The majority of the plants Helen Ahpornsiri uses are grown in her own small garden. Selected flora is cut for pressing, leaving the rest of the plant to continue growing and providing for the local wildlife. The Delicate Pressed Plant Artworks From Helen Ahpornsiri Botanical Art Quote The Delicate Pressed Plant Artworks From Helen Ahpornsiri


Foraging Plants and Flowers From the Wild

When Helen Ahpornsiri forages from the wild, she always follows the BSBI code of conduct and only collects small specimens from abundant species, being careful to cause as little disturbance to the environment as possible. Some of her artworks are made using seaweed, which is foraged in small quantities at high tide when washed up on the strandline, or low tide when loose pieces are collected in rockpools, and always with permission from the beach owners. Care is taken not to remove any seaweed from its holdfast. The Delicate Pressed Plant Artworks From Helen Ahpornsiri Pressed Flower Bug The Delicate Pressed Plant Artworks From Helen Ahpornsiri Botanical Art


How to Press Flowers - With Helen Ahpornsiri

Flower Pressing is a great activity for both children and adults. It is a wonderful way to discover, appreciate, and build a connection with, the natural world. Presses can often be found in second-hand stores or made using wood, bolts, and wingnuts/straps. Even an old book can be used as a flower press. Below are some step-by-step instructions. Happy pressing!

The Delicate Pressed Plant Artworks From Helen Ahpornsiri Pressed Butterflies


Step 1: Picking Your Flowers

Most plants that are quite flat will press nicely. There is a lot of trial & error in flower pressing, try the different flowers and leaves around you and see what works. Some of my favorite plants to press are ferns, forget-me-nots, queen anne’s lace, and violas. Excess moisture on your flowers should be avoided so try not to pick on rainy days or dewy mornings. If picking from a garden, only pick a few flowers at a time, as it’s best to keep them as fresh as possible before pressing.

Helen Ahpornsiri Picking Flowers
Helen Ahpornsiri Picking Flowers


Step 2: The First Layer

For the first layer in your flower press place a sheet of corrugated cardboard and one or two pieces of blotting paper (other papers will work - I often use sheets of cartridge paper from old sketches, but blotting paper helps remove more moisture). Position your fresh flowers on top of the paper, thicker plants can sometimes be cut in half to make pressing easier. If using a book, place your blotting paper and flowers between the pages leaving a pinch of pages between each layer.

Step 3: Filling Your Flower Press

Now cover your layer of flowers with another sheet of paper and more corrugated cardboard. Repeat this layering (Cardboard/paper/flowers/paper/cardboard) until you’ve placed all of the flowers you want to press. Place the top on your flower press and tighten the bolts/straps to medium/high pressure. If using a book, carefully place heavy books on top of your flower-filled book.



Step 4: Storing the Flower Press

Keep your flower press in a warm dry place, like an airing cupboard. Warm air passing through the gaps in the corrugated cardboard will help dry out your plants quickly, which keeps the color bright.

Step 5: Checking on Your Pressings

After a few days check on your flowers, some of the paper may need replacing if it feels cold or damp. If the paper feels dry leave your pressings as they are and close the flower press.

Step 6: Opening the Flower Press

Most plants will be ready to remove from the press in around three weeks. It can take a little more or less time depending on the thickness and moisture content of the plants. Folded paper or envelopes are handy places to store your finished pressings. There are all kinds of crafts you can now do with your pressed flowers, if using them to make pictures most craft glues will work well, just make sure they are acid-free. To see more of Helen Ahpornsiri's work, visit her website or discover her art on Instagram.



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