After seeing flower art online, Keith Kralik and Rachel Parri were inspired to start pressing and preserving flowers. What began with collecting discarded flowers from weddings and preserving bridal bouquets, over time turned into cultivating beautiful relationships with farm partners to source all kinds of blooms that they turn into incredible flower designs. Framed into meticulously preserved pieces of art, their process is one of patience, creativity, and experimentation. Like many artists of all styles, Flower Press Studio has blossomed into what it is today through trial and error— along with perseverance and the ability to adapt for growth.

Can you share with our readers a little bit about what you do and how you got into this business of pressed flower art?

In a short sentence, we press A LOT of flowers and then create designs with the flowers we press. In terms of how we got into this, it just happened naturally. In our first season with our garden, we had poppies, calendula, sunflowers, and other natural wildflowers growing in our garden. So we just started to press them and see how it all turned out. We probably saw pressed flower art on Instagram and were like, that’s pretty. Let’s give it a go. We made a handful of pieces that friends and family bought but this was not going to be sustainable. We were making the frames and doing everything and there was no way that was going to sustain two people. So then we learned about preserving wedding bouquets through Instagram again. And this is where we thought we could possibly make a living.

Fast forward, we learned A LOT from pressing bridal bouquets. Many bouquets have technical flowers in them so you are always experimenting on different pressing techniques with the harder flowers like dahlias, sunflowers, peonies, etc. We would get free flowers from florists that were going to get thrown out so we could figure out how to preserve many varieties of flowers without screwing up the bride’s flowers. It was A LOT of trial and error. In 2023, we realized we wanted to branch away from doing all bridal bouquets and do something more original so we made a few pieces and again witnessed how people viewed our original design work and it was a sign to us to explore our own creativity more, so that is where we are today. Experimenting with different surface substrates, working with small flower farms to create beautiful art using the best blooms we can source from our farmer partners.

What is the process like to create a piece of art from start to finish, and how long does each one typically take to complete?

The process is a bit the same and a bit different for varieties of flowers. But first I will start with what people think of when they think of pressing flowers.

Many people think of the “set it in a book, weigh it down, and wait for months” method, and although this can work for some varieties of flowers, it will not work well for most. There is a correct time to press flowers. If moisture is hiding between petals and you try to press that, that flower will brown and rot. You cannot have moisture lying on the petals. There is significant time we spend on prepping the flowers before we put them into the press which we go over in our flower pressing course, but flower prep needs to happen with almost all flowers. From thinning out ranunculus to taking the little internal stems out of snapdragons and foxglove, to pressing whole sunflowers instead of deconstructing and then reconstructing them, and understanding how flowers will come out of the press will help you in your flower preservation. If you do not thin out flowers, you will most likely get a large clump of flower or foliage coming out of the press that does not look as neat and beautiful so it is important to prep your piece how you want it to turn out before you enter it into a press.

Drying the flowers is a whole thing in itself. It is important to check daily on how the flowers are doing in the press. If you do not, you may have bad results. Little tweaks need to be made in the press. We check hundreds of flowers every day of the week. This is how we maintain good vibrancy.

Here are some examples of how we would press some flowers. 

Poppies, flax, calendula, bachelor buttons, etc. Start with a flower that does not look technical; something that does not have too much going on. These are all pretty easy to press and dry and don’t need much breaking down. For flax, we like to keep the stems on these. Drying just the flowers is tough because they are so thin so just keep it all together. If you do not have a press, just use a piece of cardboard, then lay a piece of chipboard (think cereal box), and about 8 pieces of paper (it does not matter if there is ink on it). Then place the flax onto the paper, then cover it back up with more paper, a piece of chipboard, and another piece of cardboard. Then you can put some bricks on it, a cement paver, or other things that can give an even, distributed weight against the flower. This same thing can be done with poppies and bachelor buttons. For calendula, we like to clip the stems off but you can do either way. You can probably check on these flowers every other day instead of every day. Replace any paper or chipboard or cardboard that is damp with new ones.

The duration to make a piece differs. It depends on how big it is, how detailed, how many varieties of flowers were pressed for a piece, etc. This Winter, we will make a handful of pieces from flowers we sourced from local flower farms. So we made multiple trips to various farms from May to October, working with the farmers to get amazing variety and color. Pressing all of these takes weeks. You are constantly pressing and changing out the paper. This is done every day. Once the flowers are dried then you can lay everything out, which will consist of a few tables worth of specimens. Then the designing happens. So in all, from sourcing to pressing to designing and gluing, it can take anywhere from 40 hours – 80+ hours. The hard part is waiting. We have to wait until the seasons are done to start work. We cannot go to an art store and purchase our paint. Our paint comes from a tiny little seed that needs nurturing and continuous battles with nature (too many bugs eating the petals, too much sun, too much rain, too much hail, etc.). Patience is a virtue. We honestly value our flower farmers soooooo much. They are the best. 

What tools do you work with the most?

I would say tweezers, a pair of large and small scissors, and a paintbrush. All of these are so common and readily available, that anyone could pick these up and start creating something if they wanted with pressed flowers. 


What are your favorite flowers to work with and why?

Wildflowers. They allow for so many colors to be offered in a piece, as well as thin, wavy stems that allow for some funky visuals in the piece, and a variety of small, medium, and large blooms. For us, it’s pretty crucial to have variety. 


How do different seasons affect your work? 

Winter is generally a great time for us to design as we will have collected flowers from Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons. Spring, Summer, and Fall are collection seasons and pressing seasons, and a lot of design takes place during the Winter. Some designing will of course be happening all year round as we are constantly adding to our inventory of pressed flowers. We take things as they come though. 

What is the best advice you can give someone who wants to try pressed flower art?

This business was the most organic thing we have done in our lives. There was no plan. We just went with some ideas and tried them out and will continue to try ideas. That is the only way to improve is to keep tinkering away. If you have an idea, start small and see how it feels to you. If it feels good, then proceed further. If you are looking to try pressed flower art as a creative outlet, I would suggest learning how to press flowers properly. One thing we did at the start was STRIKING for wedding florists. We got paid to go clean up wedding venues and take home as many flowers as we liked because they were going to get thrown out anyway. Plus we got paid for this so double win. Someone can of course take our course on how to press flowers, but if you want to do it on your own, collect flowers from your neighbors or your garden and press them. Try using a book, a press, etc. If you do not get the results you were hoping for, you may have done something wrong, so keep experimenting. It is not rocket science by any means, it just takes time to experiment and a willingness to keep going. You will get moldy flowers and brown ones. That is quite alright. Everyone does. Just throw them out and start again.

Do you have a favorite piece or commissioned work you have done so far?

Honestly, not really. I like all the deconstructed pieces I have done. Some are simpler, some are much more in-depth. I like the really in-depth ones and will continue to push towards those. We have some ideas for 2024-2025 like using more veggies, fruits, and fungi in pieces in conjunction with flowers. Those should be pretty exciting to do. But yeah, every piece starts small and then morphs into something as I go. The flowers are my guide. How many curves something has will help me place it somewhere where it belongs, and how big something is will tell me it is a possible focal point, or if a flower is “not perfect” (I love it when flowers come out a bit misshaped) then this means I can tie it into something more regular. Every single piece is different. That is what makes it so fun. My brain gets easily bored and this is the first thing I have done in my life that allows for something new season after season. 


Do you prefer the monochromatic look more, or the colorful pieces?

There is a time and place for monochromatic and when done right, it comes out sooooo good, but I think we both gravitate to color more. 

What’s up next for Flower Press Studio?

We are adding a bunch more flower-pressing sections to our flower-pressing course. We are working with a company out of Minnesota to release some wallpaper designs. We are working with Cobble Hill Puzzles to release two puzzles. We plan to experiment with printing on different substrates to see how our designs look on metal and wood. We have some amazing farm flower collaborations we are beginning this Winter and then for the Summer of 2024, we are working with Denver Botanical Gardens as well as a couple of beautiful farms in Washington state. There is a running list of ideas which I am sure some will be lost in the shuffle and some completed. We are a two-person team, Rachel and Keith. We can only do so much before burning out which we did for the past 2 years, so we are stopping commissions and focusing on creativity and talents to create some pretty amazing designs while working with equally amazing partners like the farms and other non-profits.

Instagram: @flowerpressstudio_