Turn a plain birdfeeder into a botanical beauty with this pressed flower art project. Also, find out how to make your own botanical art from flowers and leaves, and use it for a multitude of creative projects.
For more, see 25 Pressed Flower Art & Craft Projects.
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You May Have an Art Tool in Your Printer
This project started with an old homemade birdfeeder I purchased at a yard sale for $1.
I originally thought it would be neat to decoupage pressed flowers to the birdfeeder, as I have been obsessing over pressed flower projects recently, but I knew I didn’t want to give up my collection.
That’s when I remembered an art obsession many of us had back in the early 2000s when home computer printers and digital cameras started to become more affordable.
If your home printer allows scanning, you can create images of pressed flowers, butterflies, and anything else that flattens nicely to make unique art sheets. Once printed, you can decoupage them to any surface like this feeder.
I’ll show you how I gave this birdfeeder a botanical makeover.
In projects like these beeswax flower pots (see below), it’s best to use the actual pressed flowers. But, for something like a birdfeeder, it’s preferable to use printed copies of the flowers to ensure durability. Plus, it’s a Mod Podge opportunity, which is kind of hard to resist.
Want to know how to press flowers including a super fast method? See How to Press Flowers and Leaves here.
Scan It, Janet
The quality of scans you get varies greatly by make and model. My printer is in the Canon MX series and I’d rate the quality of the pressed flower scans, even on the best settings, as mediocre at best. It’s fine for printed documents, but it doesn’t really have what’s needed to capture the colours and depth of botanicals. I haven’t tested other printers but I do recall artists having good luck with various Epson printers that have the capacity to better capture some depth of field. Some can capture so much depth that it’s possible to scan entire live plants as well by placing them near the open document table (scanning surface). In fairness, if a printer isn’t designed for this purpose, it’s just dumb good luck if it’s a scanning genius.
That said, I used my less-than-perfect home printer for this project.
So, to get the images, I place the pressed flowers and leaves face down on the glass (also called the document table) and carefully place a background piece of paper or cardstock on top. This prevents the lid from damaging the botanicals when the lid is closed during the scanning process.
Scanning software allows you to preview the item, in case you want to make any adjustments, and then properly save the image.
For instructions on creating pressed flowers and leaves instantly, click here.
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Here’s some of the scans I tested for this project. I used black, brown, and white backgrounds.
For wow-power, I love the black background but I didn’t think it would look great on a birdfeeder in the garden.
The brown is okay, but it looked like the white would really make the flowers stand out. Also, white in general is quite eye-catching in the garden as you do not see it very often. Even daisies aren’t truly white.
What if I Don’t Have Any Pressed Flowers?
- You can buy pressed flowers at some craft shops, here on Amazon, or Etsy, and other sites.
Not to distract you, but there are also wonderful products made from pressed botanicals if you are looking for a unique gift.
- You can also buy digital files of scanned botanicals on sites like Etsy. These are all ready to be printed.
- You could also use any other art you like that is printed on paper. Consider wallpaper (if it’s not vinyl or too thick), wrapping paper, book illustrations, copyright-free online graphics, your own photographs, children’s drawings, scrapbook paper, and so on. Really, any paper that won’t run when you brush Mod Podge onto it. Whatever you choose, do a test first.
What If I Don’t Have a Scanner?
- Try your friends, an office, or local copy shop in case they’ll let you bring in your botanicals to scan. You never know.
There are millions of scanners out there that are hardly ever used. You might also find one at a thrift shop.
Transforming an Old Birdfeeder
Here’s the $1 feeder.
I took it apart, washed it, and painted it white with some exterior latex paint.
Make Your Own Botanical Art
Here’s the steps:
- Scan pressed flowers, leaves, butterflies, or whatever you like. Save the images at 300 dpi with top quality settings.
- Make any adjustments you want to the images. You can use Photoshop Elements, or a free program like Gimp, or anything you might have.
For my scans, I needed to brighten the images quite a bit. The scans themselves were a bit muddy or dark looking, and the laser printer I use (at a local copy shop) makes everything darker than the original. Also, I scaled my images down a bit in size to fit the project. It could also look nice to use large floral prints and wrap the designs around the feeder. Always so many options in art!
- Print your scans on regular printer paper, not photo paper. If you have a laser printer, you’re all set. If you have an inkjet printer like I do, it’s best to get decoupage and image transfer prints done on a laser printer to avoid a problem with bleeding (i.e. you don’t want the ink to run or smear). You can make it work with inkjet with some extra steps (letting the print dry for 24 hours, spraying on an acrylic fixative and pre-coating the print with glue), but paying 50 cents a print at a local copy shop is probably easier.
- Cut out the prints to suit your birdfeeder. If you frequently craft with paper, consider getting a paper trimmer like this one. It was sent to me by Fiskars and it’s my new BFF. It just makes it so easy to get perfect cuts on long lengths of paper.
For best results, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the feeder. Place your print on the Mod Podge and gently press into place, pressing away any air pockets, and smoothing out the surface. You can use a brayer, or smooth-edged plastic card, or fingers. Whatever works.
I worked on one section at a time, cutting and pasting all at once so I wouldn’t mix up my pieces.
The Mod Podge is used both as a glue and a sealant as you’ll see in the next step.
Let the Mod Podge dry at least 20 minutes before applying the first top coat. Work in thin layers, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly before adding the next one. For an outdoor project like this one, 2-3 coats should be good. If the feeder is kept outdoors year-round, you may need to add fresh Mod Podge each year as it gradually wears down over time.
Mod Podge washes off your hands and paint brush with soap and water.
And that’s it. Reassemble the feeder and it’s ready for display.
I am still debating whether I’ll keep mine indoors or outdoors. I like it as a plant holder:
To turn it back into a birdfeeder, I used hardware cloth (wire mesh) where the old plastic panels used to sit.
It’s quite eye-catching in the blandness of the early spring garden:
It didn’t take long for the birds and squirrels to realize they had a new feeder to explore.
The ideas in this post have given you a lot of options. If you don’t have pressed flowers, you can purchase them, or purchase digital scans of them, or use any other printed art you like. Just be sure the paper works nicely with Mod Podge and the inks don’t run.
For more ideas, see 25 Pressed Flower Art & Craft Projects.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛