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Oshibana

Updated: Mar 27, 2023


Did you know that using pressed plants as an art form dates to the 16th century? Japanese samurai called it oshibana which means “pressed flowers”. Oshibana was practiced to bring greater focus and to develop an appreciation of the natural world among the military. Botanists pressed plants to preserve them so they could later identify and categorize them. It also became a popular artistic pursuit in Europe during the early Victorian era.


Oshibana creates an entire picture which may be an animal, a landscape, or a geometric composition using different plants and plant parts. The result of a design is as varied as the imagination of the creator but the process of drying and pressing is the same. It is a simple process, albeit time consuming.


If you’d like to try making your own oshibana art, here the steps:


First, harvest plant material under dry conditions. Choose specimens that have no blemishes as the drying process tends to highlight these spots.

Next, “sandwich” plant material between two pieces of acid-free paper and put in a flower press or a heavy book. Depending on the relative humidity and the amount of water in the plant material, the drying process can take from one week to six weeks to complete. Try not to peek too soon! Pulling the papers apart before the drying process is complete can tear your beautiful specimens.

Then, choose a beautiful piece of paper to create your design. I use a thin toothpick to apply a very thin coat of diluted white craft glue to the wrong side of the plant material and place it down.

When your design is complete, it is helpful to put your art under pressure again for at least several hours to be sure the glue has set.

Display your special oshibana art in a place where it is out of direct or indirect sunlight, so that the colors are preserved.


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