How to Press a Flower

Do you have a bounty of flowers in your garden? Have you ever wanted to press a flower, but weren’t sure where to start?

how to press a flower

Pressing flowers just requires a little bit of patience for the flowers to actually dry, but the process is quite simple and doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment.

how to press a flower

Start by collecting some flowers. Big thick flowers like roses are hard to press, but delicate flowers like pansies are the perfect candidates for this project. My suggestion: Make an experiment out of the process and try a bunch of different flowers to discover what works best.

We thought that daffodils would work out great, but they stuck to the press and lost a lot of color. So experiment, make guesses, document your ideas, and make some discoveries.

how to press a flower fridge

If you’re not pressing right away, store your flowers in the fridge to keep them fresh.

how to press a flower

Flower Press

I used a very inexpensive product, the 4M Flower Press Kit. It’s currently out of stock, and this 4M Flower Press looks equally wonderful (Amazon). The press comes with nifty straps that you can tighten and hold the whole thing together, and I didn’t have to spend a lot of time cutting cardboard. However, you could easily make your own press with the following materials: a stack of cardboard, photocopy paper, and a heavy book. 

how to press a flower

Place one piece of cardboard down on your table. Cover it with a piece of photocopy paper. Place flowers on the paper in the way that you want them to dry. Add another sheet of paper on top of this, and then another piece of cardboard.

how to press a flower

Keep stacking: Cardboard, paper, flowers, paper. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until you’re done. Place one last piece of cardboard on top. Cover the whole thing with one or more heavy bricks to smoosh it down flat.

how to press a flower

This is where you have to be patient: come back and check the flowers in two weeks. We pressed these two weeks before the grandparents came for a visit, which created a natural moment in our lives for uncovering our dried treasures.

how to press a flower

If you’d like to glue these to a card, pour some white glue, Mod Podge (Amazon), or Glazing Medium (Amazon)
into a small bowl. Paint the glue to the card (not too much if you care about the glue showing) and adhere the flowers to your paper.

how to press a flower

You can use your pressed flowers to make collaged cards, framable art, or add a bowl of them to a table and see what the kids come up with.


Which reminds me that our next Creative Challenge for kids is coming up on June 4, and the material is: Flowers! I hope you’ll join me. Start collecting those flowers and have fun with this one.

And if you’re looking for a reason to make your own art and would love the company of others to motivate you, I hope you’ll consider joining the fun Double Page Spread Challenge. We just started last week and there’s already a ton of inspiration on Instagram (type in #tinkersketch to follow) and on Facebook.


Have you pressed flowers? Any favorite pressing flowers? What else could you do with dried flowers? And any other tips that I missed?

DIY Water Wall

Does it feel like summer in your part of the world? It’s heating up here, and my kids have been enjoying this easy and inexpensive new backyard water feature. All you need is a nearby water source, recycled plastic bottles, and a wall to attach it to.

My older daughter helped me build this one afternoon last week while my toddler was napping. She loved the responsibility of holding the bottles steady while I drilled and took a lot of pride in our finished water wall. It’s not gorgeous, but it’s a lot of fun and an upcycler’s DIY dream.

water wall build

To replicate this upcycled playscape in your own garden or patio, I’ll break this down into some simple steps.

collection of water wall materials

DIY Water Wall Supplies

Plastic bottles

Screws (our nifty kit is from IKEA)

Drill. The one in the photo is no longer with us. Sniff. However, our brand new, favorite drill is a cordless wonder is the Makita DT01W (affiliate). It comes with two sets of rechargeable batteries, so you’re never without power!

Exacto knife. This one (affiliate) is a good deal

DIY Water Wall Steps

With the exacto knife, cut a hole in the side of the bottle. The hole will be large enough for you to fit your hand into it so that you can easily position and drill in the screws.

score bottle and add screws

Using the exacto knife, score an “X” on the side of a bottle and push a screw through the “X” from the inside. Repeat one more time so that you have two screws poking through the bottle.

Screw the bottles to a fence or wall. Tilt them slightly downward to help the water pour through. You might have to shift the bottles around or cut the holes a bit more to make the water wall work properly. Test as you go.

water wall testing

Test it out to make sure it works. Add a bucket at the bottom to catch the water, which can then be added to plants or returned to the top of the water wall.

Invite some friends over to play.

water wall play

Set up a water-filling station and add some pitchers, watering cans, and cups.

And be prepared for eye-opening, open-ended fun.

Inspiration for this project

I’ve been inspired by Let the Children Play once again! Last summer Jenny gave us the idea for our mud pie kitchen (and here’s her mud kitchen), and other outdoor hands-on activities that get my kids thinking and building in the fresh air. Her water wall post (full of water wall inspiration from around the web) has been sitting in my mind since she posted it in October (she’s in Australia where it’s bloody hot in October), and it’s altogether responsible for the hours of fun my kids and neighborhood friends had with our newest backyard water feature. Thank you, Jenny!

How to make an easy summer water wall


Building Memory and Memories {Hallmark Giveaway}

Do you have any recordable books? If my children hadn’t received these as a gifts, I’m not sure I would have imagined that we would gain so much from them.

hallmark recordable books

When my older daughter, N, was one and half, her grandparents and uncle sent her recorded copy of The Night Before Christmas. They took turns recording the pages, mailed it off to us, and we all enjoy feeling a little bit closer to them when we hear their voices. They live far away on the other side of the country, and the clear sound of their voices helps us connect to them in between phone calls and visits.

Connecting with faraway family is a enough of a reason to get one of these books. What I didn’t anticipate was that N would learn to recite the entire poem, The Night Before Christmas, before her third birthday. This totally blew me away, and I’m sure it’s because she had control over listening to the passages of the poem at her own pace.

I’m not here to brag about my child’s brilliance — that’s not the point (although of course I think my kids are amazing!)– rather it’s one example of how the repetition of stories, poetry, and songs can get deep into a child’s soul, contribute to memory-building, and transform their imagination.

the night before christmasShe listened to this story over and over again, apparently soaking it all up and paying attention to Clement Clarke Moore’s complex and rich language and eventually repeated it back to the book, and then to my husband and me:

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

So when Hallmark asked if I’d like to review a couple of their recordable books, how could I say no?

love you forever

I got the chance to record my voice on the books they sent while my kids sat on my lap (not recommended unless you like the ambiant sound of your kids asking you questions and making chirping noises), and my girls now enjoy opening them up to hear me tell a story.

And this brings me to a sort of cautionary tale. I was picking up twinkly lights in the holiday aisle of our drug store last winter when I saw a woman looking at a display of recordable books. Our eyes connected and I couldn’t help but share how much my kids have gained from these books. She agreed with me and then explained that her father just passed away and she wished she had asked him to record a copy a book for her kids just a couple weeks back. How could she have known?

Not one to end on a sad note, if you click on this page you’ll see a full list of all the Hallmark Recordable books. I don’t see any holiday books there, but perhaps they’re seasonal and we’ll see them again soon.

If you’d like to enter for a chance to win your very own recordable book, Hallmark has given me two books to give away. To enter for a chance to win one, please leave a comment with the name of the book you would most like to own and why, and I’ll select a winner through Contest is open to US residents and closes on Sunday, May 13 at 9 pm PST.

I’m in no way affiliated with Hallmark; I’m just a happy customer who looks for opportunities to share the things I love with my readers. 

#TinkerSketch {Day One}

I’m excited about the enthusiastic response to yesterday’s invitation to create a daily Double Page Spread Challenge.  The ideas and iterations that I’m hearing from you are so inspiring.

Since this is a creativity challenge, it’s no surprise that you’re coming up with personal ways to participate: doodling on your iPads, making collages, and incorporating writing with photographs to name a few.

It sounds like you’re interested in sharing through Facebook and Instagram, and I’ll throw Google+ into the mix for those of you who may be moving into this new and exciting social media network.

I also hear that some of you would like prompts for inspiration.

To make this easy, here’s a little breakdown on how we’ll get started (but I’m open to suggestions!)…

Sharing your Double Page Spread

Facebook: There are two ways to do this:

  1. Upload a photo of your DPS to your own Facebook page and add the tag @tinkerlab so that the group can see your work
  2. Upload a photo of your DPS directly to the Tinkerlab Facebook page 
  1. Upload a photo of your DPS with the hashtag #tinkersketch
  2. My username is tinkerlab, in case you’d like to follow me
Google +
  1. Start by following me on Google+: Personal:  Tinkerlab page:
  2. It may seem like there’s nothing happening over on G+ right now, but it promises to be a happening spot in the near future.
  3. Upload your DPS photo to your own page. Tag me @rachelle doorley  and/or @tinkerlab .
  4. Add the hashtag #tinkersketch


Here’s my first DPS — we were painting rocks with paint markers, so I used what we were working with to quickly put this together. 3-year old N encouraged me to add green stems to the “flowers”.




1-year old R’s sketchbook

If you’re doing this with your kids, feel free to add just your own DPS or your child’s as well — it’s up to you!


I’ll post prompts on my site at the beginning of each week. Some of you requested them, others did not. Feel free to use them if they work for you, or ignore them completely.

Prompts for this week (from yesterday’s post):

  • Draw small objects that you collect on a nature walk.
  • Wrinkle and flatten tinfoil. Glue into sketchbook and color with Shaprpies.
  • Cut out and glue magazines images that make you happy.
  • Make an all-over pattern of flowers, dots, circles, stripes, waves, etc.
  • Find an image or pattern on a favorite shirt/hand towel/sheet and draw or repeat it.
  • Stamp it with rubber stamps and found objects
  • Make a version of whatever your kids are doing

Let’s get started

Working along with you will keep me motivated to show up and I look forward to getting to know this community of like-minded souls.

Have I missed anything?

Tinkersketch Challenge

Why should kids have all the fun?

I’m starting the week off with a little challenge to open up a sketchbook and create a double page spread every day. I find that my kids are more creative when they witness my own passion for creativity, and this strategy is a manageable and inspiring way to walk the talk.

You don’t have to accept the challenge, but I’m throwing it out there in case it’s something that you need too.

double page spread

I’ve heard from some of you that it’s hard to find time to make time for yourself. I certainly fall into this category.

I used to make a lot of art and had no trouble making time for it. I prioritized it, in fact. I had a studio, a daily art making practice, showed art in galleries, and co-founded an art collectiveMaking art wasn’t my full time job, but I was successful at committing myself to a ritual of creating.

And I’m about to say something that I’m sure will make me sound like a victim that I’m not…

Having kids changes everything.

Do you feel the same way? Making time for our own creative pursuits can be tricky with little kids who need our constant attention and a home that never seems to be clean.

Making time to make art has become almost impossible for me. I know parents of young children who don’t have this problem. But I also know that if running an art studio meant so much to me I could easily trade the hours I spend writing for the hours I used to spend creating. I don’t want my old life back, but I do love the feeling of pouring visual images onto a piece of paper.

Getting started is easy

I first wrote about the Double Page Spread in my 2012 New Year’s Resolution post: 5 Resolutions for a Creative New Year. The idea is simple, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part.

Every day you’ll open a sketchbook and create anything you want on two facing pages, or the double page spread (DPS). That’s it!

You can draw on the paper, smear it with play dough, attack it with your 3-year old’s dot makers, cover it with Thomas the Train stickers, or paint it with watercolors. The objective is to get your creative juices flowing and build the ritual of making into your life. No one will judge your creations, and you may start out on shaky ground, but I guarantee that if you follow a ritual of creating on a daily basis your comfort level will grow and your ideas will flourish.

The sketchbook can be large or small. Store bought or homemade. I prefer a spiral-bound sketchbook that’s at least 5″ x 7″  because it can lie flat, and I like to use heavier paper because it can withstand water, paint, and whatever I may dream up along the way.

My plan

I have a lot of projects brewing at the moment (and hope to share some exciting news with you soon), so I hardly feel like I have time for one more thing, but nurturing my creative journey is important to me and I think a Daily DPS will be easy to accomplish if I work on it while my kids are creating at their art table. I’m setting my expectations low — my kids are young and often demanding of my attention, so I’ll do as much as I can and not worry too much about the results.

My kids like to do everything I do, so to make this easier for me I bought us all matching sketchbooks. That way, if they want to jump in and do what I’m doing, my book won’t be commandeered by them.

Start today

So let’s get started. Find an old sketchbook with some blank pages in it or take a trip to the nearest art store and find a book that will get you excited to show up every day. You don’t have to create a double page spread, so don’t let that get in your way. Some people prefer to use a single page, loose paper, recycled paper — I’ll leave these details to you!

Sketchbook Prompts to Get us Started

  • Draw small objects that you collect on a nature walk.
  • Wrinkle and flatten tinfoil. Glue into sketchbook and color with Shaprpies.
  • Cut out and glue magazines images that make you happy.
  • Make an all-over pattern of flowers, dots, circles, stripes, waves, etc.
  • Find an image or pattern on a favorite shirt/hand towel/sheet and draw or repeat it.
  • Stamp it with rubber stamps and found objects
  • Make a version of whatever your kids are doing

If this sounds interesting to you, please let me know, and I’ll share my sketchbook with you.

And if you’d like to take on the same challenge and join me, I’d love the company and we can figure out a way for you to share your sketchbooks too. Maybe through Facebook or Instagram? Or you could send me your images to be included in a weekly post? What are your thoughts on this? 


Wow! The response to this prompt has been huge! Click on over to the next post, #Tinkersketch (Day One), for information on how you can share images of your journey on the DPS Challenge.


Painting Birdhouses

The last time my in-laws visited, they left my girls with these cute little wooden birdhouses. I tucked them away to paint on their next visit, but my 3 year old couldn’t wait that long. In fact, about a month after I stored these, and an hour before leaving the house to meet friends in the park, my daughter suddenly remembered the birdhouses that were, as far as I could tell, out of mind.

“I want to paint birdhouses today!” she said. After explaining, for the 80th time that starting a sentence with “I want” isn’t okay with me, I further shared that there was no way we could get the materials out, set up, paint, clean up, and be out the door in time.

Well, in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation, it can almost be done. We were ten minutes late.toddler painting birdhouse


  • Wooden birdhouses. My MIL found these at Michael’s, and I think they’re very reasonably priced.
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper Plates
  • Bird seed
  • Funnel or paper + tape for a DIY funnel

toddler painting birdhouse


Squeeze paint onto throwaway paper plates. Paint as desired. The challenge of painting a 3-D thing is entirely different from painting a flat surface, and there’s something magical about it. If you have a child who doesn’t normally enjoy painting, I’d suggest you try painting something with width and depth and see what happens.

By the way, acrylic paint will almost never wash out of clothes, so be sure to cover up properly.

birdhouse materials

Fill with Seeds

Unless the paint is quite thick, acrylic paint dries really fast and you could move on to this step within an hour. When the paint dries, the bird house is ready to be filled. If you don’t have a funnel, you can easily make one by spinning a piece of copy paper into a cone shape and taping the side shut.

filling birdhouse with seed


The last step is to hang it. If you have squirrels be sure to hang it somewhere that squirrels won’t reach it. Our squirrels are sneaky and go almost anywhere birds go, so unfortunately our seed has been poached…once again. But I’m determined to attract some cute little songbirds around our house one of these days.

More Bird Feeder Inspiration

Juggling with Kids made these cool cookie cutter birdfeeders

If I were a bird, I’m not sure I’d venture close to this feeder

Biodegradable Orange Bird Feeder from the lovely Rhythm of the Home

Recycled bird feeder, made from a plastic bottle and a couple wooden spoons, over at Heck Fridays

Finding Flow: A Journey Toward Happiness

Have you ever been so deeply involved in something that you lost all sense of time? How did you feel in this moment?

It happens to me all the time, often when I’m writing blog posts like this late into the night. Oops, it’s 2 am. How did it get to be so late? Or when I’m building or painting something that requires my focus and attention. Maybe it happens to you when you’re training for a big run or when you’re baking your favorite recipes. It’s a great feeling, right? You lose all sense of yourself and probably create something incredible that amazes even you. And maybe you thought, “really, did I make that?”

And guess what…this happens to kids as well. 

When I pay attention to what my children are interested in and how they get wholly absorbed in meaningful activities (pouring and mixing water in the bath, imaginative play in forts, or mastering a drawing game, below), I notice that these moments happen all the time. At the root of these moments are the elements of curiosity, exploration, and imagination.

I recently facilitated a cloud dough station at my daughter’s nursery school. A handful of children surrounded the table, asking good questions., squishing dough in their hands, and laughing. One of the boys who arrived at the table late couldn’t keep his hands off the dough; it reminded him of snow.  He was captivated by the feel of it and stayed rooted at that table, running his fingers through the silky dough and enjoying the phenomena of its texture. Witnessing this enthrallment in a child other than my own reminded me of the growth, comfort, and exploration that children can find through meaningful hands-on experiences.

Csikszentmihalyi flow with kids

Watching young children engage deeply in an activity (some to the point that they stopped talking and forget that the world is moving around them) made me think of the concept of flow, coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his seminal book,  Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

The idea, simply, is that people are happiest when they’re deeply absorbed by whatever they’re doing. In a 1996 Wired Magazine article,  Csikszentmihalyi explained flow as…

“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

In his books,  Csikszentmihalyi explains that reaching a true state of flow can takes years of experience and practice, but you can see moments of it in children of all ages, learning how to focus their attention by exploring the things that they’re passionate about. Have you seen these moments in your own children or students?

An interesting point to note about flow is that it can’t happen if the task is too easy. If the child (or adult) isn’t challenged to test their new skills,  they become bored. You’ve witnessed this transition away from flow if you’ve ever tried setting up a “favorite” activity, only to find your child is no longer interested in it.

In the photos I’m sharing here, my daughter just learned the dots and boxes game, and wants to keep at it (over multiple days) to figure it out and test her knowledge. She’s in a state of 3-year-old flow. But as soon as she’s mastered the game or feels like it’s too simple, she’ll no longer be in that state.

Csikszentmihalyi flow children

I’d love to hear about your own observations of flow, either with yourself or your children. Can you think of a time that you experienced this? And what about your children?

And if you can’t think of any off the bat, I’d like to challenge you to look for these moments over the next few days. Take some notes and report back with your discoveries.