Local business brings new life to pressed blooms.
After a warm mid-summer afternoon spent picking dandelions in their yard, the two eldest Torrez boys, ages 3 and 5, raced through the backdoor, a bounty of blooms in hand. Settled with their favorite books, the boys flipped through familiar pages, pressing each bright yellow flower within equally colorful stories.
“They thought they’d be like me,” says Caitlin Torrez, a White Bear Lake business owner and mother of three whose job is to do just that—though on a much grander scale.
Torrez owns and operates Pressed Flower Shop, an in-home company that specializes in pressing wedding bouquets and memorial flowers, preserving and transforming the beauty of each bloom via hangable and wearable art.
Reflecting on her children pressing dandelions stirs memories of Torrez’ own path to pressing flowers. It all began with a pressed-flower birthday gift for her mother. By high school, she pressed flowers for friends. And by college, she sold her work on Etsy while pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.
Today, it’s a passion that’s blooming out of control.
“I have more bookings than I can handle, but I hate saying no,” Torrez says.
Pressing flowers is an art form that’s been around since the Victorian era. And for Torrez, it seems like that long since she got her start. But the true craziness started about three years ago, after she posted an image of her work on Instagram.
“A lady in New York saw it and sent her bouquet overnight,” she says. As the months went by, friends of the New Yorker sent their own bouquets. And so on, until Torrez’ budding passion became a flourishing business.
The bouquets themselves are deconstructed one flower at a time. Sometimes, Torrez takes them apart petal by petal. Each reconstruction takes on a life of its own.
“You can see a flow and movement,” says Torrez. “My favorite part is adding layers and depth.”
Torrez says the typical project, often in 10”x10” or 11”x14” frames, takes 10 to 20 hours to complete. But it all depends on the type of flower and size of the bouquet. Some flowers, like orchids and lilies, require more attention. Some, like dandelions, are nonstarters. “They’re just hard to press,” Torrez says.
Each project is meaningful to Torrez, who recognizes the significance of each client’s bouquet—a memento of an important day in a stranger’s life. There’s a story in every petal, though a few projects do stand out to Torrez.
“Bouquets and memorials are all so special, but one of my favorites was a wedding bouquet made of yellow daffodils,” Torrez says. “The bride chose daffodils because they were her grandma’s favorite.”
The pressure of working with these little bits of history isn’t lost on her. Though, because Torrez completes about 75 pressed-flower projects each year, she feels confident and comfortable going into each new piece.
“Brides spend a lot of time picking out their flowers. Their bouquets are pieces of art,” Torrez says. “But I’ve done this so often, it’s become routine.”
Along with her pressed-flower flat art, Torrez also transforms wedding and memorial flowers into necklaces, ornaments and jewelry holders.
“It’s not like a photo album that might get looked at on an anniversary,” says Torrez. “When you display art in your home, you can look at it every day.”