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Preserving Valentine's memories

February 11, 2013

When it comes to longevity (among other things), a flower never will be a diamond. But a little creative effort can go a long way toward prolonging the life of most Valentine’s blossoms.

Options for floral preservation range from basic drying techniques to more-labor-intensive projects that incorporate the petals and buds into wall hangings, wreaths and even jewelry.

“The more fragile the flower, the more protected it needs to be,” said Karen Sanders, design team coordinator for Creative Impressions Warehouse in Colorado Springs.

Shadow boxes work well for showcasing and providing protection to delicate blooms, and also help with another potential issue: Cleaning.

“It’s almost impossible to dust a dried flower arrangement,” Sanders said. “You can gently blow on it, but it just doesn’t get all of the dust.”

For drying on the cheap (without chemicals), Sanders suggests keeping the original arrangement intact and, after the heads begin to droop, loosely wrapping a rubber band or ribbon around the base. Hang the bouquet upside down until it’s fully dry — a week to 10 days. Be sure to choose a drying spot that’s dark (sunlight can fade colors) and has some air circulation. Air movement helps with drying and keeps mold at bay, Sanders said.

Flowers can be pressed dry the old school way — between waxed paper inside the pages of a thick book — or using a pressing kit, available at craft stores.

Silica, a chemical drying agent, also can be used — but, even with the help of science, some flowers such as orchids aren’t suited for drying, said Marcia Stinson, floral design specialist at the Broadmoor Towne Center Michaels store. Sturdier flowers such as roses, peonies and baby’s breath are ideal candidates.

“Separate all your stems out ... put them in a Tupperware container and pour silica over it,” Stinson said. “Dry it fully and seal it before you put it in your bud vase. It will last much longer.”

Sanders suggests crafters create a decorative wall hanging with dried buds (clipped off just below the “collar”) arranged over hot glue on a heart-shaped backing of heavy cardboard or chip-board.

Hot glue can be used to attach dried flowers to a grapevine wreath backing as well.

“There’s no right or wrong with color combinations,” Sanders said. “It’s all about what you like and what you want to remember.”

Consider doing a collage of photos of the fresh bouquet accented with dried flowers from the original arrangement, or affixing a dried bud (with stem) atop a photo frame, Sanders said.

Differently colored dried buds displayed in clear apothecary jars can make great accent pieces for bathrooms and bedrooms, Stinson noted.

“The apothecary jar is wonderful because it’s just a pretty shape on its own, and when you look at it you really see the bands of color inside,” she said.

To further extend longevity and durability, buds or petals can be dipped into or brushed with a nonyellowing acrylic resin and then used to create pendants or pins, said Laurie Baker, a jewelry specialist at the Broadmoor Michaels.

“After it’s sealed with acrylic, you can easily attach it to anything,” Baker said.

Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364

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