Easy DIY Flower Press

Welcome Inventors! I wanted to make a good, old-fashioned flower press. When I was in third grade, I went to a camp where we pressed leaves, flowers, and grasses to create leaf collections, art, and cards. I loved it! So, this summer, flower presses were on my bucket list of things to introduce to my kids.

I needed:

1 – 2×4 ft. piece of ½ inch plywood

2 – ¼ in. carriage bolts (4 per press) about 2 inches long,

3 – ¼ in. wingnuts and washers (4 per press)

That was it! I was able to make four 12×12 inch presses – one for each of us! The kids helped, and here’s how:

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First, I cut the plywood cross-wise into four equal parts. I used a scroll saw because I am a big chicken with circular saws. Once I had my four pieces, I cut them in half again.

After we had all eight pieces, I let two of the kids sand the edges of their boards with sandpaper. I worked one-on-one with my third kid (in rotation) using a drill with a ¼ inch bit. We painter-taped the boards together and drilled through both at the same time. That ensured our would holes line up even if the measuring and cutting wasn’t perfect. We drilled 4 holes in each board, about 2×2 inches from the corners.

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Once each board had the holes, we pressed four carriage bolts through one board. It took some wiggling, but it worked. Carriage bolts have a square under the head of the screw that will press into the wood and keep it from shifting/falling out easily, but regular bolts will also work great.

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The presses were ready for flowers and leaves. We put newspaper down first and then put the flowers in between paper towel sheets. This was cheaper than using all paper towel, and it prevented newspaper ink from staining our stuff.

When our press was loaded, we put the top board on the other side, and secured each bolt with a washer and a wingnut. We turned the wingnuts until there was a lot of resistance and the board was slightly warped. Drying time from plant to plant can vary, but a good rule of thumb is at least 2 weeks.

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My kids and I had fun with these. They’re portable, easy-to-use, and when we make memories in the great outdoors, now we have a special way to keep a piece of them forever. Thank you for visiting, and I hope this encouraged you to invent timeless memories in your story today.

Invention on the Go

Welcome Inventors! Do you like travel stories? Whether it’s an airplane to Africa or a walk to Ben’s Pretzels, getting away from home base is an invention adventure. My latest real-life adventure was a surprise birthday trip to Cross Village, MI. Huge thanks to my Alex, who wanted to give me the stars.

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Cross Village was less than a half-hour south of a dark-sky park. This stargazer’s dream gave us a full view of the night sky without competition of city lights. To be completely honest, we brought kids, and they were not enthused to stay out past 11:00 when it really started to get good. But the park and night were gorgeous. If this idea sparked your interest, check out:  http://www.darksky.org/idsp/parks/

IMG_0565Then there was Legs Inn – a restaurant with unusual history and a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan. IMG_0585

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Traveling was wonderful for inspiration because it challenged me to think differently. The house soup at Legs Inn featured hard-boiled eggs! Adventure was delicious.

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If you venture out, you could run into people like the artists at Three Pines Art Studio. Gene Reck and Joann Condino were not only gifted in ceramics & textiles, they were also kind. They partner with other artists internationally and host classes for all ages.

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I left with this fabulous oven-safe, dishwasher-safe salmon dish that easily decorates my home as much as my table!

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Also noteworthy: we did accidentally break a piece of pottery when we were there. We wanted to pay for the piece, but Gene and Joann insisted they had a better idea. They invited our kids to help them plant the (mostly intact) broken piece of pottery in a flower pot they had out front. I want to write book characters inspired by these two.

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We had breakfast at the Old World Cafe, and the stonework, ornate paintings and enormous fireplace within gave us the feeling we’d been transported to another country. The food was as grandiose as the building. But tastier. 🙂

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My challenge to you is to make some travel plans. Let yourself be inspired by the journey, and when things don’t go according to the plan, plant your broken pieces in a flowerpot. That may be the inspiration you were looking for all along. Now go – invent your story!

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