Pressed orange marigolds and yellow cosmos between glass in a arch shaped double glassed framed. Tiffany method frame

How I became a floral preservation artist!

Joy van Niekerk - Created with Joy Art flower preservation

My name is Joy...


This is the story on how I began preserving and pressing flowers and turning them into 'pressed flower art'!

How I became a floral preservation artist!

flower press handmadeA few years ago I bought a cute little flower press for my niece. It looked simple enough to make so having access to machinery at my job I made a bigger flower press for myself. I even laser cut a cute little floral design into the top!

I started noticing flowers everywhere and picking whatever I thought could looked good flattened! I annoyed my niece ‘picking all her cosmos!’

Not everything I pressed turned out but I kept practising and researching... talking to new 'pen pals' I found on instagram and mostly just learning via trial and error. 
I learnt that botanicals sometimes do what they want. On the same page in the flower press some flowers will work fine and others might go brown a little.

Humidity is not good for ensuring flowers are completely dried out. For me that's an endless battle - as I'm writing this post the humidity levels are close to 80%... I worked out that creating art on a rainy day was not a good idea either!

What can I do with pressed flowers?
That wpressed mushrooms between glassas the question on my mind. I had an idea of providing ‘floral gifts’ that would last longer than a bouquet. I wanted them to have meaning… or provide encouragement. I decided to include simple words on my art. Like 'be still'... 'it is well with my soul'... 'beloved'... 'consider how the wildflowers grow'... 'loved'... etc.
I also found these great double glass frames at TJMAXX and started creating pressed flower art of them - with a simple encouraging word or phrase.

To mypressed wattle between glass surprise, they sold on my personal social media pages quickly! I honestly was so surprised! The first piece I sold included some wattle and the words ‘beloved’. It was quickly snatched up as a birthday gift for a sister who’s favourite flower was wattle and her name, Amanda - meant ‘beloved. How special was that?!?
The frames quickly ran out of TKMAXX and I had to work out new framing solutions. I can’t even remember where I came up with the idea of soldering them between glass. But after pricing importing frames I quickly worked out that was not an option and thought ‘I need to find a local glass guy’.
The first guy I called on google ended up being close by. He took my call and invited me over to explain more what I wanted. Dave was a ‘Saffa’ - South African - and had been a framer all his life. (My husband is also Saffa so I do have a hard-to-say last name too!) I ended up leaving Dave’s with a large haul of glass scraps and lots of tips on cutting glass. He told me to come back when I worked out what I wanted and offered to help me anyway he could! I was so grateful!

Pressed Marigolds & cosmos framed between glass, soldered frame
I then went out and brought a soldering iron and solder (the wrong stuff I might add!) and tried soldering. I’m a trained Design and technology high school teacher (woodwork, metal work etc) so I had a very vague idea of what I needed to do. But my first attempts were miserably awful. After lots of tears… practice… talking to stained glass artists… doing a stained glass course I began making pieces like a machine - if only it was that quick! 

It was a pretty amazing experience cutting my own glass frame - whatever shape I wanted - and then enclosing flowers in it and soldering it up!
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1 comment

Hello There!

Reading your story hits close to home! I’ve been a teacher for 11 years and truly loved my job. During the pandemic I had to teach remotely in my tiny apartment… home became the office, the classroom, the dining room, the gym, the sleeping quarters, and the relaxing area… aka… it wasn’t very relaxing. Not having separate areas where I could separate work, home, and leisure started to truly affect me and I needed an outlet. So, after 18 years of putting my artistic side on the back burner, I hoped on Amazon and purchased the most affordable watercolor palet, brush set, and sketchbook I could find. Every night after work I’d open that palette and paint some terrible paintings 😂 It was my saving grace and what got me through Covid… well, and I guess meeting my now husband during the pandemic helped too 😉

Returning to ‘business as normal’ at work proved to be a whole new universe of education and teaching. I didn’t realize it, but I was experiencing Covid related trauma and extreme burnout… and as the education profession loves to do, it continued to ramp up with more responsibilities, challenges, and obstacles than ever. When I got home I’d be too exhausted to even think about painting and once again my love for all things artistic was brushed aside. I painted on the weekends and during holiday breaks, and was thankful to have at least that time for personal exploration and meditation. In the spring I had reached a level of burnout that caused me to crash and sleep as soon as I got home from work and caused me to be sick during our last two breaks. When I had the flu during spring break, my husband convinced me to get outside for a walk to get some fresh air. Flowers were starting to come out and I felt a surge of happiness seeing their beauty among all of the mud and brown surroundings. Since I barely had any time or energy to paint or draw, I decided to pick flowers on each walk I took and press them in a book when I got home. It was a less time consuming way for me to connect with my creativity and cope with the end of the school year.

Unfortunately, teaching only continued to be more and more difficult. My medical and mental health was declining and affecting my relationships. Things came to a head when I had two miscarriages within 4 months. Doctors told me that my job was causing me so much stress and it could contribute to affect our ability to conceive or lead to future additional miscarriages. After our June 2023 wedding, my husband and I decided that it was time to move forward and resign from my teaching position.

After making the decision to leave my job, I started to pack up some textbooks when a bunch of pressed flowers and petals fell out of one of my French books (I taught French 🥐).

It was like a switch went off! Since then my pursuit of exploring my creativity BOOMED. I pressed and frames my own wedding flowers, made mixed media (watercolor and pressed flowers) gifts for friends and family, and put together my own little ‘studio’ in the corner of our living room.

Art has been my therapy, my coping mechanism, and my passion. What started as an inexpensive purchase on Amazon has turned into a dream to start my own business. I’m in the VERY early stages, and I’m so scared to post my work… but seeing other creators and hearing their stories has given me so much more confidence to keep moving forward. Next on my list is to figure out affordable framing! I have no idea where to start, but I’d love to give soldering my own frames a shot! I found it intimidating for a while, but reading your blog post helped me feel ready to make the leap and the investment!

Thank you so much for sharing your work with the world as well as your story. It truly inspired me. I’d love to learn more about your journey and how you got started with growing your business. You are so, so talented and I’m so glad I came across your page!


Kelsey Lademan

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