US 3852891 A
Drying agent is placed on the bottom of a press having upstanding sidewalls. A soft, thin, sponge-like material layer is placed over the drying agent; a thin sheet of tissue paper is placed over the sponge-like material; flowers or plants are placed on the tissue; a second tissue is placed over the flowers or plants; successive layers of sponge-like material, tissue, flowers, tissue, sponge-like material are placed one on top of the other in close fitting relationship with the sidewalls of the press. The final upper sponge extends upward above an upper rim of the sidewalls of the press; a porous container holding drying agent is mounted within an airtight fitting cover. The cover and tray press downward on the sponge-like material, compressing the successive layers as the cover is closed to its airtight sealing position. The flowers and plants quickly dry with moisture quickly passing through the papers and sponge-like layers to the drying agent, preserving the bright colors of the specimens and avoiding color destructive oxidation.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
waited States Patent [1 1 Stephan Dec. 10, 1974 FLOWER PRESS Barbara B. Stephan, 4334 Round Top Dr., Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 221 Filed: on. 3, 197-3 21 Appl. No.: 403,266
* US. Cl. 34/95, 34/71  Int. Cl. F261) 13/26  Field of Search 34/71, 69, 70, 95, 143-146, 34/80; 100/92, 233, 234, 113, 114, 115;
Wertheim 34/95 Primary Examiner-Kenneth W. Sprague Assistant Examiner-James C. Yeung Attorney, Agent, or Firm-James C. Wray 5 7] ABSTRACT Drying agent is placed on the bottom of a press having upstanding sidewalls. A soft, thin, sponge-like material layer is placed over the drying agent; a thin sheet of tissue paper is placed over the sponge-like material; flowers or plants are placed on the tissue; a second tissue is placed over the flowers or plants; successive lay ers of sponge-like material, tissue, flowers, tissue, sponge-like material are placed one on top w of the other in close fitting relationship with the sidewalls of the press. The final upper sponge extends upward above an upper rim of the sidewalls of the press; a porous container holding drying agent is mounted within an airtight fitting cover. The cover and tray press downward on the sponge-like material, compressing the successive layers as the cover is closed to its airtight sealing position. The flowers and plants quickly dry with moisture quickly passing through the papers and sponge-like layers to thedrying agent, preserving the brightcolors of the specimens and avoiding color destructive oxidation.
13 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PAIENTEDHEHO 19M 3.852.891
SHEET 1 0F 3 FIG 2.
FLOWER PRESS The secret of making good botanical specimens is rapid drying. The more rapidly they are dried, the better the color is preserved, and the less likely the leaves are to drop off, or the specimens to get moldy or decayed.
F. R. Fosberg. Plant Collecting Manualfor Field Anlhrupologirts, p. 15.
The traditional method of drying plants consists of placing plant material between sheets of newspaper or blotting paper, covering the paper with heavy weights or strapping tightly in a press to exert pressure, and waiting until the specimens dry. Depending on the type of flower, the moisture content of the leaves, and the temperature and humidity of the surrounding atmosphere, the drying process may take from I to 6 or more weeks. Unfortunately, the pigments of many-- perhaps mostplants cannot survive unharmed for this length of time in a semimoist environment. Long before the drying process is complete, the colors of flowers and leaves are likely to have altered or to have turned completely brown.
Botanists, who require superior specimens, employ various refinements to speed drying. Ventilators of a material such as corrugated cardboard are placed between plant layers to increase air circulation, and damp blotters are changed often during the drying'process. To cope with the difficult problem of equalizing pressure on plant parts of different thicknesses, cotton batting is often inserted over the plant specimen. Under ideal conditions, the plant press is exposed to the warm, circulating air of an electric dryer, thus speeding the drying and improving the preservation of plant color.
Even botanical techniques, however, have certain drawbacks. When blotters are changed the plants are in a flaccid state, and fragile materials are likely to wrinkle or tear when being moved. The cotton padding used to equalize pressure is timeconsuming and awkward to apply; it also becomes misshapen quickly. When an electric dryer is unavailable,'the collector is forced to resort to such unsatisfactory expedients as suspending the press over an open fire or fastening it to the side of a moving car. The weight and bulk of the plant filled press'along with fresh blotters and other materials which must be kept on hand greatly limits the mobility of the collector. The drying process is very much dependent on weather conditions, and even under ideal circumstances may take a week or longer to complete.
Methods for plant collecting and drying are described in publications of the British Museum (Natural History) Department of Botany How to Collect and Preserve 'Plan'ts, November, 1951, DS 99730/4/44 lm 1 1/51 TL, and Suggestions and Points to Remember When Collecting Plant Specimens Intended for a Herbarium. RR/CUT 9.1269
A heavy flower press using a parallel screw-driven rigid platen forced downward on loose particulate drying agent packed'above and below paper wrapped flowers is described in Japanese patent application Sho 44-30169 (1969). A small quantity of flowers are loosely laid in a heavy laboratory-type press, which requires great time and effort to open and close.
Disclosures of drying methods and apparatus are collected in Class 34 of Official United States Patent Office Classifications of inventions.
A need persists for light weight field-portable presses which are capable of drying a great quantity of flowers, which are easily accessible for inspection throughout a drying process, and which retain as closely as possible their original flower color.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The method and apparatus proposed involves the use of airtight containers, drying agents, and layers of a porous, compressible, soft, sponge-like material such as foam rubber or polyurethane foam. Drying agents are placed in bottoms of presses, and enough foam layers are stacked on top to reach well above the rims. Plants to be dried are placed between adjacent layers of foam. When desirable, sheets of thin, porous material such as facial tissue or tissue paper are placed above and below the plant specimens to ensure smooth plant surfaces when dried. The presses are closed, compressing the sponges, and flattening the plant material. When the presses have separate lids, straps or clamps hold the lids in place. In the case of hinged tops, latches hold the presses closed without straps. Y
The foam rubber or other sponge-like materials which hold plants in place in the press have the unique advantage of conforming to the shape of the plant material. Thick and thin parts, even if closely juxtaposed, receive equal pressure, resulting in flat, unwrinkled specimens without the use of cotton or other padding.
Thick stems or other plant parts are never crushed, and
thin or fragile materials dry without bruising or injury. The sponges resume their normal shape when the plant material is removed, and do not need to be replaced or renewed. The sponges are sufficiently strong to permit lifting one or more layers without breaking or severely bending plant specimens.
Moisture is'not retained in blotters next to the plant material but is drawn away by the drying agent. There is thus no need to-disturb the specimens by changing papers.
The drying action begins as soon as plant materials are inserted, and continues irrelevant of the temperature or humidity of the atmosphere outside the press.
.No elaborate ventilators or heaters are necessary.
The press is extremely lightweight and portable, and can be easily carried into the field on collecting trips.
Since the sponges do not collect moisture, they need no drying out period. Fresh material can be inserted in the press as soon as processed material is taken out. When the drying agent is no longer absorbent, it is reactivated by heating to expel the moisture. The agent is thus indefinitely reusable. Insect life apparently cannot survive the dry atmosphere of the press; thus finished specimens are insect free.
A great advantage of the proposed press is the speed with which drying takes place. Many plants dry within a half day. Few require more than 2 or-3 days in the press. As a result, the preservation of natural color is far superior to color preservation when traditional methods are used, and the whole process of drying and pressing the plants is greatly speeded.
.T he press is made of metal, plastic, wood, or any other nonporous, preferably lightweight material. The press has a relatively tight fitting lid to prevent absorbtion of moisture from the environment. The lid is held in place by a strap or other similar device, or it is hinged and self-closing and locking.
Various thickness of foam rubber. polyurethane or other sponge-like material are used depending on the thickness of the plant material to be pressed. 3/8 or 1/2 inch foam has proved suitable for even the bulkiest specimens. US to 1 inch foam pads are useful.
Silica gel, Drierite (calcium sulfate), activated alumina or any number of other drying agents may be used. The drying agent may be inserted loose in the bottom of the press. Preferably, the drying agent is packaged in a porous, heat resistant packet. Rigid drying agent carriers constructed of foraminous metallic materials are preferred. Wire mesh or woven fiberglass cloth containers may be used. Used packages are inserted into an oven to be reactivated. For particularly deep containers containing a large number of sponges, the drying agent package are inserted between layers of sponge medially in the stack to help increase drying power. A package of drying agent holds a quantity of the drying agent at the top as well as the bottom of the press-In one preferred embodiment soft foam sponges are compressed around specimens in a press which is open for hot air or sun drying.
One object of the invention is the provision of quick drying presses and pressing methods for botanical objects, particularly flowers and plant specimens using multiple layers of foam compressed in a substantially airtight press with drying agent at the bottom of the 'press and at the top of the press and porous flexible packages.
Another object of the invention is the provision of closed presses which compress soft foam sponges to firmly hold plant specimens without crushing during drying in the press.
These and other objects and features of the inventionare apparent inthe disclosure which includes the specificat-ion with the foregoing and ongoing description and the claims, and which includes the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Referring to FIG. 1, a press is generally indicated by the numeral 1. The press has a lower portion 3 with a flat base and surrounding upstanding sidewalls. A cover 5 fits over the lower portion. The cover has a substantially flat top with downward extending sidewalls which tightly surround the sidewalls of the lower portion to retard ingress of air. The cover portion and lower por- I tion are easily assembled and disassembled 'so that sponges and plants and drying agents may be placed in the lower portion and may be removed therefrom. A strap 6 surrounds the lower and cover portions. The
strap 6 is constructed of fabric webbing or other flexible material. A hook 7 is connected to one end of the strap, and the hook engages bar 9, which is linked to a pivot 10 fastened to the opposite end of the strap. The link pulls bar 9 and hook 7 to the left, as lever 11 is moved to the right. An over-the-center locking arrangement holds the hook 7 and bar 9 in the left most position, with the handle of the lever 11 pressing downward on the top of cover 5.
The press lower section is filled with multiple layers of sponge-like material 14 which fit closely within the sidewalls of the lower section 3. Drying agent 15 is disposed within packages 1 6 which comprise porous metal containers or fabric sacks preferably made of a high temperature resistant material. Non-corroding foraminous metal containers are preferred. Fabric made from glass fibers is acceptable.
Plant materials 17 are interposed between successive adjacent layers of sponge-like material 14.
The sponge and interposed plant materials are stacked well above an upper rim of the sidewalls on the lower portion 3. The top is pressed downward before closing to slightly compress the soft sponges and to place pressure on the plant materials, without crushing the materials. Preferably the plant materials 17 are placed between thin sheets of tissue paper before being placed between the sponge-like members 14,50 that the plant materials may be easily lifted from the sponge materials when drying is completed.
Experience indicates that the sponges and tissues permit movement of moisture toward the drying materials 15 through multiple layers.
When there are many materials in a box, a packet of drying materials may be placed atop the uppermost layer of sponge-like material to promote quick drying. In some cases, it is useful to interpose a packet 16 be tween sponges medially located in an array of sponges to further promote'quick drying and to insure an adequate supply of drying agent in the press.
In FIG. 3 a field-type collecting press is generally referred to by the numeral 30. The press 30-is similar .to press 1 shown in FIG. 1.
A unique portion of press 30 is upper package 31 which has a wire mesh or perforated metal bottom 32 for holding a quantity of drying agents above the upper-v most layer of sponges. The container is constructed of a heat resistant material so that the entire package 31 may be removed from the press and may be placed in an oven for heating, drying and reactivating the dessi- 1 cant material.
Container 31 is mounted in the lid so that the closing of the cover creates a uniform downward force on the sponge array. The cover portion of the box is equipped a latch which is used to hold the cover downward. Sidewalls 41 have lower rims which mate. with upper rims of corresponding bottom portion sidewalls to form a seal, which retards flow of air and moisture into the box when it is closed. Hinge 47 is constructed as a piano-type hinge which assists inthe sealing of the container as well as in the connecting of the cover portion and bottom portion.
Soft, flat, sponge-like materials 50 are stacked in layers, with plant specimens and flowers 51 arranged on tissue papers between the sponges. A number of the sponges with interposed botanical objects are stacked above the uppermost rim of the bottom portion, so that the closing of the cover portion compresses the sponges and exerts pressure on the plant material.
A latch 53 is provided on bottom portion 55 to cooperate with the sponges and plants under pressure. A light pressure of from a few ounces of up to several pounds is successful in drying the plants in such a press. Pressure may be varied by adding or removing sponge layers. Preferably, before any sponge layer is placed in the press 30, a thin layer of drying material either loose or preferably in a packet is placed on the bottom.
As an example, using inch thick sponges, in a press 4 inches deep with a /2 inch layer of drying agent on the bottom, good compression is achieved if the sponges extend about 1 or 1 /4 inches above the rim or /1 inch above the rim if another /2 inch packet of drying agent is held within the lid.
FIG. 4 is a cross sectional detail ofa packet 35 of drying material such as used in a press, for example, in the press of FIG. 1. The packet is constructed of a porous heat-resistant fabric 63 such as a fabric woven, knitted, or matted from glass fibers or strands of fibrous material. Edge portions 65 are overlapped and stitched with similar strands or bonded or fused to form the completed packet. Drying materials 60 within the packets are of a mesh size just larger than that which will pass through interstices of the fabric 63.
FIG. 5 is a cross sectional detail of a flower with a bulky center and thin petals compressed between two layers of sponge. Since the sponge conforms to both thick and thin parts of the plant, the flower dries without shrinkage or crushing.
While the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that modifications and variations may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The scope of the invention is defined in the following claims.
1. A quick drying flower press comprising a bottom portion with a base and sidewalls, and having a cover portion with a top and complementary sidewalls fitting with the sidewalls of the bottom portion 17 a tight relationship, a plurality of thin, flat, porous material, sponge-like layers stacked in the container and fitting closely within the sidewalls of. the bottom portion and superimposed upon each other and extending upward beyond an upper rim of the bottom portion sidewalls, botanical objects disposed between the superimposed thin sponge-like layers, and fastener means mounted on the bottom and cover portions for urging the portions together in compression of the thin sponges whereby the botanical objects are pressed and dried while the container is closed.
2. The quick drying press apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a drying agent disposed in the bottom portion of the container, and wherein the plurality of sponge-like layers are stacked on the drying material on the bottom portion.
3. The quick drying press apparatus of claim 2,
wherein the drying agent is encapsulated in a gas permeable material which lies flat on the base in the bottom portion. 7
4. The quick drying press apparatus of claim 3, wherein the material is a rigid foraminous metal container.
5. The quick drying press apparatus of claim 2, wherein the material is a glass fiber fabric.
6. The quick drying press apparatus of claim 1, wherein the drying agent is encased in a thin wire mesh element which lies flat, with the sponge-like layers within sidewalls of the press.
7. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a removable foraminous metal container positioned within the cover portion for holding a quantity of drying agent and exposing the quantity of drying agent to the sponge-like layers.
8. The quick drying press apparatus of claim 7, wherein the container fitting within the cover comprises a removable tray having a rigid wire mesh bottom for uniformly pressing downward on sponge-like layers and the tray having an upper means for pressing against the top of the upper portion, whereby the sponge-like layers are compressed when the press is closed.
9. The quick drying press apparatus of claim 1, wherein the sponge-like layers are thin polyurethane foam layers.
10. The method of quickly drying botanical objects comprising placing a thin, flat, soft, sponge-like material in a press having surrounding sidewallswith the sponge-like material closely fitting the press, placing a porous paper material on the sponge-like material, placing botanical objects on the paper, placing a second sheet of paper over the botanical objects, placing a second sponge-like member on top of the second paper and adding successive layers of paper, botanical objects, paper and sponge material on lower elements until an uppermost sponge protrudes above an upper rim of the sidewalls of the press, covering the press and compressing the sponge-like materials, fastening the press in compressed position and maintaining the press in compressed condition. l1. The method of claim 10, further comprising placing drying agent on the bottom of the press.
12. The method of claim 10 further comprising placing a container of drying agent on the uppermost layer of the sponge-like material before covering the drying agent container and the sponges and compressing them.