Crafty Cathy

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, 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.

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

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

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


  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.

– 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.

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.


Lilac Facial Toner

by cathym on May 14, 2019

by Cathy Monrad

Mother’s Day is here. And in Rochester, especially, lilacs are synonymous with this special day. I decided to make a large batch of this lilac facial toner to give as gifts to all the special mothers in my life.

This toner can also be added to a bath, used as a hair rinse, or spritzed on bed sheets for a lovely scent. 

Quart size wide-mouth glass jar with lid
1/3 cup lilac blossoms
1/3 cup organic witch hazel
2/3 cup distilled water
Spray bottle or clean jar for storing final product

To Make Toner

  1. Dry lilac blossoms overnight on a paper towel until they are slightly wilted. 
  2. Place blossoms in a jar, then add witch hazel and water to jar. Be sure the blossoms are completely covered by liquid. If not, add more witch hazel.
  3. Place lid on jar, then store in a warm location out of direct sunlight.
  4. Let the mixture infuse for two weeks, occasionally shaking gently to mix.
  5. Strain the mixture and pour face toner into a clean jar or spray bottle. The spent blossoms can be composted. 

To Use Toner: Apply lilac toner with a cotton ball or spritz on face after washing. Keep refrigerated if desired. Since the alcohol in the witch hazel acts as a preservative, the toner can simply be stored in a cool place. 

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


Glassware Mushrooms

by cathym on April 6, 2019

by Cathy Monrad

Chances are, you have the materials required for this project either sitting around gathering dust or packed away in storage. Thrift stores and garage sale are great places to find the bud vase and bowl needed to create this whimsical addition to your garden. 

I spent some time experimenting with various bowl and bud vase sizes until I was happy with the look, and decided to make a grouping of three with differing heights.  

Materials for each mushroom
1 glass bowl
1 glass vase

Painters tape
Water & weather proof glass adhesive for outdoor use

To Make Each Mushroom
1. Clean bowl and vase throughly, and let dry overnight. 

3. Mark the placement by lightly pressing small pieces of tape on the bowl about ¼ inch from the vase lip. 

2. With bowl rightside up and vase upside down, dry fit the “mushroom top and stem” together by centering the vase in the bowl. 

4. Remove vase and run a bead of glue along the top of it. Press the vase onto bowl within marked area.

5. Inspect for glue seepage. Remove any tape that has glue on it, otherwise, leave tape in place until glue has dried completely—about 24 hours.

Although the glue is formulated for outdoor use, the project will last longer if placed in a shaded location.  

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