Upcycled Flower Press

An Upcycled Flower Press

By Aidan Shelburne

Please Note: Due to server issues I wasn’t able to upload quite all of the photos for this post, please view the second link for all the photos and a presentation with more design tools. I’ll edit in the photos once the server cools off.

Google Drive link to my presentation:


Link to just the Google Slides, no commentary:



I was inspired by installation art because it displays the artifacts of it’s creation and makes the viewer imagine the process that was involved to create and refine the piece. In this way the art of the piece is less the object in itself, but the process of creating it. I also used kinetic sculpture as an inspiration because of the balance it has, both the literal balance of well coordinated components and the aesthetic balance of positive and negative space.


  • Break from the mold of the standard screw-press.
  • Avoid mechanical advantage for a more natural and sculptural look.
  • Evidence of construction and function in the final product.
  • Able to flatten, compress, and hold stable: flowers, small art pieces, and books
  • A flat top to avoid decreasing useable desk space
  • Stable and sturdy enough withstand moderate strain.


When I started iterating on the press and decided I wanted to suspend a rock beneath the press, I started researching and taking inspiration from absurdism. Once I realized the end product would be over-engineered and a bit ridiculous, I wanted to lean into it. I also decided I wanted the construction to reflect its function, and to do this I decided the most obvious and cohesive function/form pair to integrate would be elements of bloomcore. I incorporated a muted color pallet highlighted by floral shapes and colors, with simple structural elements.


  • A 60” x 8.5” x 1.5” patterned wood plank, an offcut from my father’s workbench.
  • 40’ of 4mm accessory cord recovered from my work’s retired rope bin
  • A  12” x 8.5” acrylic sheet found in  the CINC scrap bin
  • Flowers, three from a wilting bouquet and two all the way from South Korea that my partner had pressed for me.
  • A rock

The Manufacturing Process

I began by cutting down the plank according to my sketchbook designs and a cut list, then I clamped and glued all of the components together. Next, I sanded any components that I didn’t have to individually sand before gluing and finished all parts that I could, rounding out edges, cleaning burs, and correcting wavering lines.  Once I had all the components I assembled them together, tieing the acrylic on and hanging the rock. Lastly, I pressed the flowers on top to complete the decoration and the piece.



In physics, I don’t often get to make things, or if I do the primary concern is always the fine details of electronics or alignment, so this was a breath of fresh air.



Things that went well

  • It’s a functional press, it works
  • It’s more sturdy, balanced, and durable than I was expecting.
  • I was able to incorporate the aesthetics I took inspiration from, without making it too busy.

Things to improve

  • The acrylic warps slightly for thicker flowers, it would probably be best to bind it along all four edges.
  • I would like to do a bit more sanding and apply a stain once I have the time.

Figures and Citations:

  1. Hanging rock kinetic mobile, from Art Propelled by Ken Unsworth
  2. Ladder inspired installation art: No Medals, No Ribbons  by Jesse Darling
  3. Screw Press design from Tom Nardi at Hackaday
  4. Ideation sketch, from my sketchbook, 2-5-23
  5. Bloomcore aesthetic example: Bloomcore Window Designs on Pinterest
  6. Absurdism: Anna Daniells at Oslo National Academy of Arts
  7. Cutting down the wood slab, 2-12-23
  8. Gluing cut pieces together, 2-12-23
  9. Sanding and finishing components, 2-12-23
  10. Tieing and construction, 2-18-23
  11. Using the press, 2-19-23
  12. Top View of the flowers and acrylic, 2-19-23
  13. Final Product, 2-19-23
  14. Cut List, from my sketchbook, 2-11-23
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