Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Waxing Flowers for Preservation

In the 1840's, paraffin began to be produced in quantity as a by-product of the petroleum industry, and ladies soon discovered that they could preserve fresh flowers and leaves by coating them with this inexpensive substance (hmmm, the beginnings of the petroleum addiction?). Bridal bouquets and funeral wreaths, wax-dipped and glass-covered, were favorite parlor decorations of the "Age of Sentiment," cherished for the memories they evoked. (Info from Making Gifts from Oddments and Outdoor Materials by Betsey B. Creekmore)


In the tradition of the Victorian waxed flower bouquets the Little Ladies and I had to try this method of preservation out! We picked all different types of flowers and leaves to see which would work best. The feverfew, daisy and echinacea did not work very well at all; you need more thick fleshy type petals that can withstand the hot wax.

*Pick a cool rainy summer day for this activity; it will warm up the kitchen quickly!

What you need: soy wax, beeswax or paraffin, (I used soy) fleshy petal flowers (zinnia, tulips, lily, orchid, rose), clothespins, double boiler to melt wax, wax paper, narrow-necked glass bottles, candy thermometer (optional)

Steps: Melt the wax until it shows a temperature of about 130 degrees on a candy thermometer (or just wait until all of the wax melts). Remove the pan from the heat. Hold the flower by its stem and dip it into the wax, I used clothespins to prevent my fingers from getting burned. Dip the flower into the wax, deep enough to cover its entire head.



Then lift the flower immediately and shake it over the pan to remove excess droplets. Separate and straighten the petals to your liking before the wax dries.




Stand the flower upright in a narrow-neck bottle until the wax has hardened. Don't let the flowers touch each other or they will stick together. Let them dry and re-dip if you wish. You will notice that the wax catches in the nooks and crannies of the petals and will leave a thick waxy area. Blot these places carefully to rid of the excess wax.


The lily and orchids kept their colors really well after waxing. The wax just seemed to soften them a bit. Here they are before:



And after:





Zinnias lose their color when waxed but they created a really pretty wood appearance. Here they are before the waxing:




And after:



Don't just try flowers, try deciduous leaves. We also tried acorns, pinecones and grass heads full of seeds. It was really fun. Now to go make a garland of waxed leaves to hang across our bow window.



Enjoy!

14 comments:

Frontier Dreams (Nicole) said...

what a great idea!! thank you for sharing!!

Sara said...

How lovely Lisa.

Marina said...

How gorgeous, Lisa! I tried this last year at home with fall leaves and red beeswax (it was from leftover candles- it added a pinkish cast ;}), but I REALLY like the idea of trying it with flowers and summer leaves... thank you so much for posting this... I may give some geraniums a try!

Sherry said...

Wow, this is so neat! :)

Lisa said...

Very cool, Lisa! It looks like you are really enjoying your summer!
Have a lovely week!
Lisa

Shady Lady said...

These look so cool!

Anet said...

These are beautiful!
I was just reading about waxing fall leaves!

alisha said...

what a lovely activity...i had never heard of that before, but it would be interesting to try!

Dawn said...

Great idea! I've waxed leaves before, but never thought of flowers...so pretty. :)

Olga said...

Hi Lisa, what a great tutorial! I didn't know it used to be done. You definitely made me want to try the method out.

Sadie said...

great project! I'll have to save it for when we have more flowers in bloom...

jumbleberryjam said...

Will your coolness ever cease to amaze me?!? Wonderful! How long do you think they'll last? Please keep us posted on their longevity :-)

kyndale said...

You sure are creative adnventurous with your crafts. Too bad the zinnias didn't keep their color.

JFanna said...

Thanks so much for this post. I can't wait for Spring to try waxing our flowers with my girls. I love your blog, it's a breath of fresh air.