Discover the art of flower preservation: a spring guide to preserving flowers with glycerine

Discover the art of flower preservation: a spring guide to preserving flowers with glycerine

Now that we’re out of the cold winter months and headed for sunnier days, motivation to begin anew is higher than ever. With both flowers and creativity in full bloom, the time couldn’t be more perfect to get started on a new project! Working with plants in the spring is incredibly satisfying. After those long months of grey skies and cold weather, who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by greenery?

With our Flower and Foliage Preserving Kit, you can learn to preserve certain types of flowers and plants in glycerine, so they’ll stay looking fresh year-round! The kit includes everything you need to start preserving the flowers, including some green dye to keep your greenery looking vibrant, as well as a ribbon and a floral foam disc to create a centrepiece. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of plant preserving, which kind of plants you can preserve in glycerine and some beginner projects you can start with your newly preserved flowers.

A series of spring flowers.

So, how do you preserve flowers?

It is safe to say that most people like having plants or flowers in their homes. They are like a colourful little burst of nature that brings peace and fresh air to your interior. There is even something very poetic about their short lifespan. It reminds us of wabi-sabi, the Japanese philosophy of appreciating imperfection and impermanence. But what if there was a way to extend this moment of freshness for a little while, keeping the plants looking lively and bright over longer periods? You could preserve plants over the summer and they would still be there during the morose winter months, reminding you that there are better things ahead.

There are a lot of different ways of preserving flowers and plants, each with its advantages and drawbacks. You can suspend flowers upside-down in a dark room to dry them, cover roses in wax or resin to create lifelike sculptures, or even press them between the pages of your favourite book.

We chose to help you preserve your flowers and foliage in glycerine. Not only is it easy (especially with the detailed instructions and comprehensive components included in our kit!), but the preserved flowers will last a long time and take on beautiful neutral colours. This technique is simple and quick to produce, though you will need some patience to see the results!

Glycerine preservation works by replacing the water in the plants with a solution of glycerine and preservatives. In turn, this also lowers the chlorophyll content, which makes the foliage and flowers turn beautiful shades of mahogany, honey, or olive. We include some green dye in our Flowers and Foliage Preserving Kit, so you can keep your flowers looking natural if you want to.

Different types of preserved flowers: flowers preserved in resin, dried flowers and pressed flowers.

Does glycerine preservation work on all flowers?

The key to preserving flowers in glycerine is to use the right types of flowers and foliage. Luckily for you, we have spent a long time testing our kit on all different kinds of plants, so we have gotten pretty good at knowing which flowers will work with the technique and which flowers won’t.

Glycerine preservation tends to work better on flowers and foliage with woody stems and small leaves. Because of their strong structures, these flowers can hold up their shapes and colours very well during the preservation process. For instance, we have found that flowers like hydrangeas, ruscus, and baby's breath all work well with the glycerine solution. The king of glycerine preservation though is none other than eucalyptus. Its stems are perfect for holding onto the solution, and its cute round leaves take on wonderful jewel tones through the preservation process. We have many bouquets of preserved eucalyptus in the OurHands office! They look wonderful paired with some dried flowers.

More delicate flowers with large heads and small stems are not recommended for glycerine preservation. Because of the imbalance between the flower heads and their stems, the heads might absorb a lot of solution and become too heavy to be held off by such delicate stems. The vibrant colours of these flowers might also not survive the preservation process, leading to wonky, muddy-looking flowers. We would recommend against preserving plants such as tulips, roses, and chrysanthemums with glycerine. If you still want to preserve these flowers, try hanging them upside-down in a closet for two to three weeks. While air-dried flowers are more fragile than their glycerine-preserved siblings, they will still look amazing. You can even create bouquets using both dried flowers and glycerine-preserved foliage!

Which flowers work with glycerine preservation? Ruscus, baby's breath and eucalyptus.

What can I do with my preserved flowers?

Preserved flowers can be used for many arts and crafts projects. Here are a few ideas to get you started with your new floristry hobby!

  • Preserved bouquets around the house. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. You can use preserved flowers to create bouquets and decorate your house. As mentioned, you can use the ribbon supplied in our kit to help shape your bouquets, and you can use vibrant dried flowers to add a pop of colour to your home. Our Flower and Foliage Preserving Kit makes multiple batches of preserved flowers, so you can decorate all the rooms in your house with different flowers!
  • Artful centrepieces. This is another project that you can make with our kit. Using the provided floral foam disc, arrange your preserved foliage and dried flowers to create delightful statement centrepieces that will look like little natural fireworks distributed around the room.
  • Minimalist wreaths. Who says wreaths can only be used at Christmas? Use foam or floral wire to attach your preserved flowers in a circle. You can hot glue more decorations to your wreaths depending on the final result you want, such as pinecones for a rustic aesthetic or a velvet bow for a touch of elegance.
  • Gift toppers. Take gift wrapping to the next level by attaching some preserved flowers to your present with wire or glue. This will make your gift stand out and can act as a keepsake for the recipient!
  • Table decorations. You can use preserved flowers and foliage to create elegant table designs for dinner parties and special occasions. You can scatter your preserved flowers across the table or create individual place settings by attaching the flowers to napkin rings or little handmade cards.

Flowers Preserving beginners' projects. A centrepiece under a glass dome, a preserve wreath and some presents with preserved flowers.

As always with being creative, the sky is the limit. Remember that flowers can become oversaturated with glycerine and start oozing it a little bit, especially as it gets warm. Make sure to wipe the flowers gently and don't use them on anything that might get stained too badly.

Do not forget to tag your wonderful creations with #madewithourhands or to tag us @ourhandslondon directly into your photos on Instagram. We cannot wait to see what you come up with. Happy spring!

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