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Something completely different

I’ve been writing about the oil spill and its effects for a few weeks now, and so, as was said in the introduction to the Monty Python show, “And now for something completely different.”

We, a few of us anyway, admire the flower arrangements on the Thanksgiving table, at weddings and so forth. Other than in our memory and a few pictures, both of which fade with time, we forget what they looked like.

It’s possible to capture in a small way some of that memory by using an old art form called ‘flower drying’. In times past it was a laborious and time consuming process involving a plant press, clothe or paper and occasionally some chemicals. All this takes more money and time than most of us are willing to put in and most often the results are less than appealing. In more modern times it can be done easier, cheaper and faster.

Most of us have received packages in the mail containing a small packet of silica gel crystals which absorbs moisture. Please notice the label on the packet ‘Do not eat’ – they mean it. This small amount of gel will absorb some the moisture present in the package.
There is a finite amount of water that a given amount of crystals can absorb and once this is reached moisture will return to the package. One nice thing about silica gel crystals is that they can be ‘re-energized’. The water can be driven off by heating them in an oven for a fixed amount of time at a given temperature and the crystals can be used over and over.

If you search the internet for ‘flower drying silica gel’ you will find a lot of good information on the subject.
One question I had was how do you tell when the crystals have absorbed their maximum amount of water or when you heat them when is all the water driven off?

You can buy silica gel with ‘indicator crystals’ that are either blue or yellow. When the indicator crystals change color then it is time to replace the silica gel and recharge what you’ve just used then the color returns. Some people say the yellow indicators are better than the blue and some the opposite. You can buy pounds of silica gel crystals on-line cheaply.

Some tips include:  the thicker the flowers and stems are the looker it takes; make sure that you get the crystals down inside the petals of the blooms in the larger flowers; don’t stop the drying process too soon or the flowers will rot and dry one species at a time to allow for consistency of results.

If you’d like something quick, easy and fun that doesn’t involve silica gel give this a try. Use freshly picked flowering plants, weeds will do, put the end of their stems into a vase with a food coloring that contrasts with the shade of the blooms. The food coloring will be quick pulled up through the stem and into the blooms. Putting them in direct sunlight will speed the process. Children love this.

Think Global – Act Local!


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