Crafts

Bleached botanical stencils

by cathym on September 15, 2020

by Cathy Monrad

Create a one-of-a-kind fashion statement using some bleach, water, and plant material. A new shirt, old dress, or thrift store find can be transformed within a few minutes. A few notes before beginning:

  • Good ventilation is key; making this project outside is best.
  • Choose a day with no wind to avoid bleach splatter and prevent foliage from moving.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes, and old clothes in case a breeze pops up.
  • If children want to help, they can safely lay plant material onto clothing, but I recommend adults perform the bleach spraying step.

Materials & Tools
– Clean shirt or other garment; if new, wash before starting project
– 3–4 pieces of cardboard; 1–2 to place inside garment and 2 for flattening foliage
– Clean, empty spray bottle with adjustable nozzle
– Bleach
– Water
– Foliage of your choice (I used rose of Sharon cuttings; foliage with large leaves work best)
– A few small rocks to use as weights
– Safety glasses 

  1. Arrange foliage on one piece of cardboard with leaves and/or flowers. Place second piece of cardboard over foliage. Lay heavy items such as books or bricks on top to flatten plant material for a couple of hours.
  2. Mix a 50/50 ratio of bleach and water in spray bottle.
  3. Place remaining cardboard inside garment.
  4. Place flattened foliage in desired collage pattern on garment. Weight any leaves or flowers down with small rocks as needed.
  5. From about 3-4 feet above your project, slowly and lightly spray bleach mixture onto garment—oversaturating the fabric will cause bleach mixture to seep under the foliage. The bleach mixture will begin to change the fabric color within 30 seconds. Wait a full 5 minutes to determine if you need to respray an area. 
  6. Once you’ve achieved the desired look, carefully remove the rocks and foliage from the garment. 
  7. Let fabric dry completely. Remove cardboard from the inside and rinse garment thoroughly with cold water before washing per manufacturer’s instructions.
Foliage laid out on shirt
Rocks placed stategically to hold down leaves; bleach mixture sprayed lightly over shirt is just beginning to change fabric color
Rocks and foliage removed after desired look achieved

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.

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Flower Press

by cathym on July 29, 2019

by Cathy Monrad

Edibles are not the only “fruits of our labor” we can preserve. Four thousand years ago, dried flowers, each chosen for a specific symbolic meaning, were presented in Egyptian funeral ceremonies. Oshibana, the art of using pressed flowers to create a picture, dates back to 16th century Japan. Modern preservation techniques include the use of silica gel, freeze drying, and molecular sieve, a material that absorbs water to dehydrate the plant.

According to floranext.com, displaying dried flowers is popular again. Arrangements and wreaths, as well as framed or shadow-box art created with dried and pressed flora are hot décor items. As a fresh spin on this trend, clear cell phone cases that can display pressed flowers are popular among Millennials.

MATERIALS
2 equal size pieces of wood
4 each: 1/4 inch carriage bolts at least 2 inches long, washers, wing nuts Cardboard
Watercolor paper (or white paper)
Paint or stain (optional)
Flowers and leaves

TOOLS
Saw (optional)
Pencil
Ruler or t-square
Clamps or painter’s tape
Drill with 1/4 and 5/16 inch bits
Sandpaper
X-acto knife
Screwdriver

Step 2
Step 3
Step 9
Step 10 – First paper layer with plant material
Step 10 – Second paper layer
Step 10 – Cardboard layer
Step 11

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut wood to desired size (your local hardware store may offer this service) or use pre-cut pieces—I found pre-sanded 8×10 inch plywood boards in a local craft store.
  2. Stack both pieces of wood, then clamp or tape together. With pencil, make a mark on top board in each corner, 1 inch from each edge.
  3. With 1/4 inch bit, drill a hole through both boards in each corner where marked.
  4. Remove clamps or tape, then set bottom board aside. On top board only, use drill with 5/16 inch bit to enlarge the 1/4 inch holes.
  5. Use sandpaper to smooth off any rough edges on top and bottom boards.
  6. If you wish to paint or stain your project, do so at this time. Let dry according to material instruction.
  7. Use an X-acto knife to cut multiple cardboard pieces about ¼ inch shorter in length and width than your boards. Repeat with watercolor paper. Each layer consists of two pieces of paper, then a piece of cardboard is placed between the layers. For example, six layers requires 12 pieces of paper and five pieces of cardboard.
  8. Use x-acto knife to notch all corners of each piece of paper and cardboard to fit inside bolts.
  9. Use screwdriver to afix bolts to bottom board until heads are snug. 
  10. Lay a piece of paper on bottom board, then add plant material. Lay a second piece of paper on top of plant material followed by a piece of cardboard. Repeat the paper, plants, paper, cardboard pattern. The final paper layer will not need a piece of cardboard on top. 
  11. Slide the top board onto the bolts, then add a washer to each bolt. Thread a wing nut onto each bolt and tighten evenly to create uniform pressure. 
  12. Leave press undisturbed for at least 30 days before removing and using pressed material.

PRESSING TIPS
– Collect plant material on dry days after mid-morning when dew has evaporated, and place in press before they begin to wilt. 
– When placing plant material, keep items from overlapping, otherwise when they dry they will be stuck together permanently.

DESIGNER IDEA
I decided to spruce up my press and display it when not serving its true purpose. Some stain and a piece of botanical scrapbook paper transformed this tool into a pretty addition to my living room décor.

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.

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Mosaic Stepping Stones

by cathym on May 21, 2016

Materials

Stepping stone mold or old cake pan

Glass tiles, sea glass, marbles

Piece of paper a bit larger than mold

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Paint brush

Stepping stone mix, found at craft stores,
or fast-drying concrete

Water

Old bucket

Trowel or paint stir stick

Rubber gloves (optional)

Tile and grout sealer

1-pattern

1. Place mold on paper and trace shape. Lay out mosaic materials in a pattern within traced shape. 

2. Using paintbrush, coat sides and bottom of mold with vegetable oil.

2. Using paintbrush, coat sides and bottom of mold with vegetable oil.

3. Per instructions on packaging, prepare stepping stone mix or fast-drying concrete with water, using trowel or paint stick to stir. Pour or scoop mixture into mold, gently tap on flat surface to release air bubbles. Smooth top with trowel, or with hands while wearing rubber gloves.

3. Per instructions on packaging, prepare stepping stone mix or fast-drying concrete with water, using trowel or paint stick to stir. Pour or scoop mixture into mold, gently tap on flat surface to release air bubbles. Smooth top with trowel, or with hands while wearing rubber gloves.

4. Carefully press glass objects into mixture until they sit flush with top of mixture.

4. Carefully press glass objects into mixture until they sit flush with top of mixture.

5. Let stepping stone cure for 24 to 48 hours before popping out of mold. After a few days, use paintbrush to coat with tile and grout sealer.

5. Let stepping stone cure for 24 to 48 hours before popping out of mold. After a few days, use paintbrush to coat with tile and grout sealer.

6. Place stepping stone in your garden.

6. Place stepping stone in your garden.

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