Beautiful Botanical Art with Pressed Wildflowers Created by Denver Couple
Rachel Parri and Keith Kralik of Denver’s Flower Press Studio capture the beauty of nature
Pressed flower art, or botanical or herbarium art, is a decorative technique that involves preserving and arranging dried flowers and plant materials to create visually appealing compositions.
The art form goes back centuries, with pressed flowers having been found in Egyptian tombs and ancient burial sites in Greece. There are also the “tussie-mussies” from medieval times. In the 1500s, the Japanese art form of oshibana (pressing flowers in a way to create a whole picture) supposedly taught samurai warriors the importance of patience, concentration and living in harmony with nature, according to the Natural History Museum in London. And during the Victorian era, pressed flower arrangements were used to create botanical reference guides, for decorating stationery and as art pieces for the home.
Today, pressed flower art is again having a moment, but in a more modern way. The advancements in techniques and technologies provide limitless possibilities when it comes to design.
Enter Rachel Parri and Keith Kralik of Denver’s Flower Press Studio, who are taking full advantage of the trend. We spoke with Kralik about where they are taking the art form.
How did you and Rachel get into flower pressing?
In 2019, I collected some flowers and pressed them into a book and framed them as a present for Rachel’s birthday. Later that year, we bought a house in Denver and then COVID hit, so during lockdown, we xeriscaped our yard, planted a ton of flowers and vegetables and brought on two beehives (you know—standard pandemic stuff).
By the following summer, our garden was filled with blooms, so I began pressing lots of calendulas, sunflowers, poppies and other flowers. I had been making my own wood picture frames, so I played around with designing patterns and shapes with the pressed flowers and used the frames I made. By October 2021, Rachel and I were hooked and officially started the Pressed Flower Studio, focusing on preserving bridal bouquets.
We didn’t have access to fancy flowers though, so we reached out to florists and offered to help strike weddings [that is, clean up and re- move all flowers] so we could practice on wedding flowers that would typically be thrown away. Slowly, one design after another, we got better and more confident in our skills. Word began to spread, and by the end of 2022 we had pressed thousands of flowers and created 200 pressed bridal bouquets, 252 original designs and custom frames for all.
Although we loved the work, the round-the-clock schedule wasn’t sustainable, so in January of this year, we made a conscious effort to cap our wedding bouquet preservations to 35-40 and we booked a trip to New Zealand, where we backpacked, camped and completely unplugged to get clear on the direction we wanted to take the business. We had a “eureka” moment, deciding that bridal bouquets were just the tip of the iceberg—we could do so much more with our press in terms of designs, mediums like textiles, wallpapers, clothing; honestly, we could go on and on, and so we are. This year we will have two limited-edition print releases and are filming and editing educational courses.
What is it about working with flowers that inspires you?
Flowers give us a chance to be outside every day, get a good workout and vitamin D, activate our senses (taste, smell, sight, etc.), and bring us a sense of calm. Flowers provide food for insects or for others to seek
shelter. Season after season, flowers pop up on their own. You almost get this sense of a fresh palette in your garden because seeds might have spread to different spots or come over from another garden. Perhaps seeds were planted by squirrels or dropped by birds … who knows? It’s a little surprise. And, of course, the colors and shapes that flowers come in give us infinite possibilities for creating.
Where do you get your flowers from?
We source all the flowers we use from small, local, independent flower farms. We reached out to five Front Range flower farms and asked if we could do a print series with their specific flowers, so we collect seasonal blooms from each farm. This enables us to build relationships with the farms, share their story with our audience and showcase their flowers, since most people do not see their flowers. It’s a win-win.
Tell us about the educational resources you’ve been developing.
We receive a lot of questions about pressing flowers, color retention, mold, browning, gluing, framing, sourcing, how to make a press, etc. It’s usually the same sequence of questions, so we saw a need to offer step-by-step videos. The goal is to show the presser our techniques; the attention to detail that they will need to put into each flower that is pressed; the care that goes into the flowers while they are in the press; the wrong ways of pressing; the mistakes that are common in pressing; and the results that they should be achieving.
The current curriculum is in development and will consist of four courses:
How to Press Fruits and Vegetables Mini Course
How to Glue and Reconstruct Flowers
How to Frame
To sign up for upcoming courses, purchase original or print artwork or snag one of their coveted pressed bridal bouquet creations, head to flowerpressstudio.com.