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I want to make a piece that mixes a drawing on paper, with a flower collage (or flat bouquet?) on top and put it in a frame. I know dried flowers don't last forever, but what is their post-dried life expectancy? Is there a way to make them last longer for display? I would ideally like to use real flowers, but if they only last a couple years I will have to use fake flowers.

A few sources I found on the internet say to spray them with hairspray (cheap option), or get them professionally dried and preserved (expensive option) like you would do for your wedding bouquet. I don't want to spend a lot of money ( more than 30$ or 40$).

The piece will be behind glass like a shadow box. I don't want them to decay. They will not be open to be touched, but I don't want them to crumble, loose colour or generally disintegrate. I want the piece to remain aesthetically pleasing.

Project Update

I ended up using folded paper flowers for the project and it turned out quite lovely. Thank you everyone for your feedback, but the dried flowers were not working out as expected.

  • Possible duplicate of How can I dry my roses properly? – Matt Oct 20 '16 at 13:34
  • @Matt Your question is about the drying process specifically, and this one is about preserving them after that process. – Web Head Oct 20 '16 at 19:04
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    I suppose. The last part of my question was asking this, in case in was related enough, Once they are dried properly is there anything else I can do to them to help them last longer?. Preservation might be related enough to the drying process in that one is the precursor to the next. If nothing else it should be linked to here as extra information. – Matt Oct 20 '16 at 19:58
  • I agree that your question is great for reference here. I read your question before of course, but felt that they were different enough to post separately (my comment on your post was just a long list of further questions). I want to know more about coatings and things like that, but mostly I want to know how long I can expect them to last for. That's what I think makes this so different. It's not so much about how I should dry flowers, as much as it is 'how much time can I get out of these dried flowers?' – EmRoBeau Oct 27 '16 at 13:58
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If a flattened flower is okay for your purpose; you could adopt techniques from herbarium-sheet preparation. Keep the flowers in a fold of a diary or hardbound old notebook. Change their position every day (if flower is larger or jucier, you could use newspapers since entire papers should be changed at few to 6 hours interval at start days, latter intervals will increase gradually). At first day the flower (or anyother plant matter) would become soft and weak. Gradually it would become hardened like potato chips. Sunlight in way is very helpful.

After completion, paste them with fevicol or such polymer glue in thin-amount ((since your work is permanent, feel free to fevicol or such. Botanists use gum or glue instead so that specimen could be taken out later-on and dissected)), and some simple biology box tools like a pair of needles, a forceps and a scalpel with neat and clean, gently stretched way. (if don't have biology box, don't worry, other art tools and household things could be used). After completion of your artwork, dry it under hard sunlight. could take help of hair dryer. but never a iron. Any spray or coat is not used in a herbarium sheet, but if you wish to spray laquar or such; please make sure it is properly dried. Because if the water is locked it will ensure quick deteroration.

If you wish make it insect-proof; could use book-binding gum with copper sulfate... but that is toxic as well as gums and glues may take more time to get dried, so isn't preferable. If you wish, could wish clothings-naphthalene but then you have to keep it out of reach of children.

But in a herbarium-sheet preparation technique; the flower-colour is not retained.

P.S. Herbarium sheet preparation technique already used by students for beautiful artworks especially with ferns, sedges etc. but rarely with flowers.

  • What does "a scalpel with neat and clean, stretched way." mean? I think it may just be a typo, but I can't tell what was meant – Web Head Oct 20 '16 at 6:50
  • 'typo' means? however it was a suggestion to adopt a biology technique into art... you could modify it for your purpose. I wrote about some simple biology-box tools help a lot Than pasting the plant material in empty-hand. I wrote 'stretched' not to mean a rigorous stretch. sometimes on presence of gum, there could occur slight bending on dried leaves, as well there may remain few unwanted folds while drying which later-on could be stretched on pasting. However beside this 'flat' pasting, inside dried flower you could try insert small paper-cones etc so they again become fluffy, 3-d. – Always Confused Oct 20 '16 at 9:38
  • @AlwaysConfused 'typo' as in typographical error – Matt Oct 20 '16 at 19:59
  • Your answer seems well researched, but I want to know how long these will last for, assuming that I won't be able to process them perfectly (due to lack of experience), and how my drying and preserving techniques will effect how long they last. – EmRoBeau Oct 27 '16 at 14:02
  • different herbaria contains well-preserved herbarium specimens more than 100 yrs old. However a pressed-dried plant material works just like piece of paper. Majority of my collections are more than 5 yrs old and sadly wasn't maintained well (since I'm having to go through certain competitive exams where the requirement to revision through these specimens)... but most of them are in well and unchanged condition in spite of dust. However those not pasted properly, became quite cracked. Some of my friends reported insects ate part of there specimen. But none of my specimens affected by insects. – Always Confused Nov 1 '16 at 3:31

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