Hello! Can I add flowers to my handmade paper? If so, how do I go about doing that and are some better than others?
Yes, you can add flowers and other organic materials to your handmade paper, often with quite lovely results. In papermaking this is called “botanical inclusions.” Actually, any flowers can be used, but some petals might bleed color. Roses are an example of this. Many other petals may fade over time. Maybe this is not a concern to you. The best way to see what you like is to experiment. When doing so, there are some things you can keep in mind.
Add inclusions to the pulp before you form your sheets. Choose organic materials that will lay mostly flat. If inclusions are significantly sculptural in their own right it will be hard to keep them embedded in the paper. Flatter materials will be trapped in by the papermaking fibers as they dry. Ferns are quite dependable for this. Also, maple seeds work well.
Know the plants you are working with! Some flowers are harmless, some are okay unless you ingest them, some are downright noxious and could do you real harm! A quick online search will let you know what you are working with so you can proceed with confidence!
Some flowers that are likely to retain their color are coral bells, calendula, pink and blue larkspur, bachelor buttons, angel wings, red or purple bee balm, marigolds, and sunflowers. You can dry the organic material before adding it to your pulp or add it fresh. A common practice is to blanch fresh flower petals by boiling them in water for 60 seconds then plunging them into and ice bath. This will keep their colors from bleeding, but might alter the color of the petal in the process.
Arnold Grummer’s has a many colorful botanicals ready for adding to pulp if you want to give it a try! Click Here
Hope this helps and happy papermaking!
4 thoughts on “Adding Flowers to Handmade Paper”
Very cool paper! This is giving me a lot of new ideas!
The flowers I added to pulp are falling off after the paper has dried. Is there a spray adhesive I can use to keep them in place?
Hi Mary — Thanks for delving into papermaking with botanicals and submitting your question. If your intent is to put flowers ‘in’ the paper, they behave best when they’re mixed in with the pulp and become part of the sheet when the handmold is lifted and pulp+botanicals form a new sheet on the screen. The botanicals are ‘locked’ into the paper by fibers that overlap the petals and are also part of the sheet. Are your petals ‘floating’? In that case, try pre-soaking them. Soaked petals and botanicals are more easily incorporated ‘into’ a sheet. Botanicals will occasionally have a tip or frond that rises above the top layer of pulp. We generally secure it in place using white glue and a fine tip paintbrush. I would suggest the same for an entire petal having never tried spray adhesive.
Arnold Grummer shows how to put botanicals (and other items!) ‘in’ the paper here: https://youtu.be/GyAiZCLtfTg
Arnold Grummer shows how to embed a botanical ‘on’ the paper surface here: https://youtu.be/W8f4L4zkyxQ