I've been collecting these lovely plant specimens without much explanation as to how I'm preserving them. Well, here it is. My homemade press, key, and workspace.
Plant press in it's storing place in our living room. Two 24x36 pieces of wood with clamps. When it gets full, I sit on it to get the clamp get it as tight as possible. Also pictured are some gourds. Oh how I love gourds.
Specimens are put between pages of newspaper and then squished (pressed) in above press. If I was a better botanist I'd also place the specimens between sheets of corrugated cardboard. Perhaps I can excuse it by saying cardboard is harder to acquire than newspaper.
The plant is then 'keyed' out. Meaning I look up what it is based on certain characters and traits. I'm wrong a lot, so I usually check myself using various internet databases. I'm getting better at it. Especially since I can usually tell what family something is in without the key. It's a huge time saver. Practice makes perfect. I'm also expanding my anatomy vocabulary... so I can nerd out even harder.
For smaller samples I press them directly into my sketchbook. I've found that I like the final product of this process slightly better than the larger press. I think it's due to the paper in the sketch book. The paper is thick, slightly absorbent, and has a moderate tooth. The book is also kept closed using a strong elastic band. I'm a bit picky about my sketch books... I press plants and draw/paint/collage in them.
Where the 'magic' goes down. My 'desk' is an old library table found in a relative's basement before I was born. It's my favorite piece of furniture in my apartment.