I'm fortunate to have friends who enjoy making things as much as I do. I'm even more fortunate that one of these friends is a teacher* who has an appreciation for nature and a plethora of cool projects to make. Plus, the aforementioned projects are designed for elementary school children, and therefore are achievable for me. A few months ago we did some seaweed pressing at the beach and I absolutely loved the results so I thought I would share them here. Keep reading to see how to create your own at home.
* Her name is Dana and she's great. She has a wealth of knowledge and helped me with all the tips at the end. I'm excited to share that she is thinking about doing some workshops for adults in the near future - if you're interested you can email her at email@example.com
Materials you'll need:
- fresh seaweed. The thinner, more translucent types seem to work better.
- heavier weight watercolour paper
- cardboard and blotting paper
- cheesecloth (or similar absorbent mesh fabric)
- a large flower press. Alternatively, you can use two thin pieces of wood, or something with a hard, non-porous surface to put the paper and cardboard between. Plus some large, heavy books to weigh down the prints as they press.
- thin artist's paintbrushes
- an aluminum roasting pan, or some sort of shallow bucket or tray.
step 1. Go to the beach. Get some seaweed. Bring the seaweed home in a container of saltwater.
step 2. Transfer it into a large, shallow container with about 2-3 inches fresh water. If you don't have a container, your kitchen sink will work too.
step 3. Dip the paper in the water underneath the seaweed. Lift it up a little bit so there's just a thin layer of water covering the page. Arrange the seaweed on top of the paper how you want it to look when it's pressed. You can use the paintbrushes to spread out the seaweed fronds and brush away any debris that comes off the seaweed on to the page.
step 4. Carefully remove the paper from the tray. If the seaweed shifts, use the paintbrush to reposition the seaweed.
Step 5. Place the paper in your seaweed press (or version thereof)
To make the seaweed press, put a piece of cardboard on a hard surface, then layer it with the blotting paper. Put the print on top of the blotting paper, cover it with a few pieces of cheese cloth, another piece of blotting paper and piece of cardboard - in that order. Keep layering until all your seaweed prints are in the press. Cover the last piece of cardboard with something heavy to weigh it all down - making sure everything is flat so the prints don't get warped.
step 6. Leave the prints in the press for a week or so to dry. When the prints are fully dry, remove them from the press and display them how you like! You can put them in a traditional frame, a floating frame or even just on a clipboard.
- I looked up the types of seaweed I used and wrote their names on the page in pencil. I chose to only use one type of seaweed per page, but you can use your artistic license and to create a design using different types of seaweed.
- Like flowers, seaweed is seasonal so certain times of year are going to be better for finding more varieties. There are also beaches that are better for finding different varieties than others.
- As I briefly mentioned, some species of seaweed work better than others. Avoid common rock weed and other thick seaweeds, as they are more likely to mould in the press.
- You can position a fan towards your press if you're concerned about excess dampness, or want your prints to dry more quickly.
A word of caution: Like all wild foraging there is an etiquette to seaweed collecting. Never take a living specimen still attached at the holdfast. The fronds we collect contain valuable spores that help produce more seaweed, so be careful not to over-harvest or collect too much seaweed from one area.