Pinecones for a Winter Wonderland

I love decorating for Christmas. I hate removing decorations that I just put up a month earlier.

It’s a tension every year. Is it worth all the trouble to decorate if I’m just going to take it all down again?

(Understand—I despise wasted effort. As in, I feel like the shower should stay clean for six months after I clean it and resent the fact that it doesn’t. So, pointless, short-lived decorations, however adorable they may be, are not my favorite thing.)

That’s part of the reason I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these pinecone ornaments! Judge me if you will, but I’m leaving these babies up all winter long. They’re “winter” decorations, not just for Christmas.

These can be made as ornaments to hang (or give as gifts!) or they can just be pretty baubles to fill a vase or a bowl. They’re easy to make, hard to mess up, and super inexpensive!*

Basic Instructions

Here are the simple steps for this craft:

  1. Bake pinecones at 200° for 45-60 minutes.
  2. Fill a small cup or bowl with acrylic paint.
  3. After the pinecones cool, dip them in the paint. (You’ll need to tip the cup and spin the pinecone.)
  4. Lay them on wax paper to dry. Sprinkle on glitter (if using) while the paint is wet.
  5. If you’d like to make them into ornaments, wait for the paint to dry and then glue an ornament hook to the top using a hot glue gun
  6. Enjoy!

That’s it!

For more details and tips, read on.

Baking

I picked up my pinecones for free from my parents’ backyard. Since they were straight out of the woods, I had to bake them first to get rid of all the bugs and to dry them out. If you have a stash of cinnamon scented pinecones sitting around and want to skip this step, feel free.

To bake the pinecones, place them on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 200°. (I would recommend putting them on aluminum foil because they’ll drip sap as they’re heated. I didn’t have any foil, so I just sacrificed an old baking sheet that is now my official “non-food crafts” pan.) Bake the pinecones for 45 minutes to one hour; mine were pretty damp starting off, so I went longer with mine.

Winter Wonderland Paint-dipped Pinecones
Here are the pinecones before baking them. you can see how they’re still closed and tight.
Winter Wonderland Paint-dipped Pinecones
After baking, the pinecones “bloom” a bit, spreading out and opening up.

Yay! Now all the creepy-crawlies are neutralized, the sap has set and isn’t sticky anymore, and the pinecones have a beautiful, “full bloom” shape. However, they are pretty fragile, so be careful. Allow the pinecones to cool completely before proceeding.

Paint Dipping

I chose to use acrylic paint for this. I would guess you can use something else, but I was very pleased with how the acrylic turned out. Grab a small cup or bowl (I used disposable, but acrylic does wash off with water if you get it before it dries).

Winter Wonderland Paint-dipped Pinecones
My tools: pinecones, acrylic paint, glitter, glitter glue, and a paper cup.

I found the best method for dipping was to tip the cup and let some of the paint run up toward the top. Then I would hold the pinecone in my fingers, dip it in the side, and spin it. You can play around and see what works best.

I also wanted a little sparkle, so I added some glitter glue on a few of the gold cones. Honestly, I’d recommend glitter over glitter glue, but I didn’t have any. (Continue reading below for “the rest of the story.”)

Winter Wonderland Paint-dipped Pinecones
Here’s one that I made with gold acrylic paint and glitter glue. Glitter would probably be a better option but I didn’t have any. If you use glue, just spin and shake the pinecone around some to get rid of the strands.

DIY Glitter

While I really thought glitter would look great on my pinecones, I had no glitter sitting around my house and I didn’t want to run to the store (or spend more money!). I did have about one tablespoon of sequins that have been in my craft stash since…honestly, I think they’re from a Princess Jasmine costume my mom, sister, and I made when Aladdin came out. So, yeah—these sequins needed to be used.

Anyway, I decided to see what happens to sequins in a smoothie cup. The result? GLITTER!! Haha- glitter that’s a little funky and uneven, but that makes me like it even more. The blender chopped them up just fine. I think this would work even better using more than just a tablespoon, but if you ever find yourself in a pinch with only sequins on hand, now you know. It can be done.

I also thought about using Kosher salt, but I didn’t get a chance to try it. If you dip your pinecones in white paint, I’d guess that salt would look pretty cool on that. Just saying.

Winter Wonderland Paint-dipped Pinecones
“Homemade” sequin glitter.
Winter Wonderland Paint-dipped Pinecones
I really like how the homemade sequin glitter looked on these 🙂

 

Uses

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are lots of ways to  use these. I chose to make all of mine into ornaments by hot gluing a hook to the top. Some I’m giving away as gifts and others are staying up in my house for a while.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this fun craft!

Winter Wonderland Paint-dipped Pinecones
Here are the gold and blue pinecones.
Winter Wonderland Paint-dipped Pinecones
And here’s how I used them! I stuck some branches in old decanters of my grandpa’s (a few are bright blue, hence my choice in paint color), added a few yarn poms and hung them up. Voila! (I don’t have a photo of the table because, as lovely as these are, there’s a huge mess all around them. Oh, well.)

 

 

*Note: While these are easy to make, I wouldn’t recommend these as a preschooler craft unless you have immeasurable patience (or at least way more than I do!). I think you could do this with kids ages 7 and up, especially if you don’t care that much about how they turn out. Honestly, though, I don’t know any craft where that isn’t the case 🙂

Leave a Reply