Saturday, December 3, 2011

How to Make a Pinecone Garland

Being totally enchanted by the photos of pinecone garlands circulating on Pinterest it became absolutely essential that I create my own version. Apparently my fondness for pinecones knows few bounds this season as I actually made two, quite different, versions of a pinecone garland. Pinecones are a natural to go with the evergreens that most of us bring indoors at Yule. They are rich in symbolism from fertility to eternal life to the sacred geometry found in the arrangement of their petals.

Regardless of the style of garland you choose to make, the first step is the same: prepare the pinecones for indoor living. Pinecones are outdoor things, complete with the bugs and sap that are natural to their outdoorsy nature. But fond of the outdoors as one may be, bugs and sap in the house are unfun. Baking will kill any bugs and crystallize the sap. So:

1) Turn the oven to no higher than 220F.
2) Cover a baking sheet in tin foil and spread pinecones on sheet
3) Bake until the sap has melted completely—30 minutes or more (quite a lot more in my case)
4) Remove from oven and allow to cool fully before doing anything more with them.

Life-or-death note: Do not leave the oven unattended. The baking pinecones will fill your kitchen with a lovely pine scent, but lest they decide to fill your kitchen with smoke and flames, keep an eye on them. If they start smoking, take them out of the oven!

My Garland #1: I collected the long, skinny pinecones that are on my mantle with my sisters and niece over Thanksgiving. These pinecones have little stems on their butts, so making the garland was as simple as tying them to hemp twine at regular intervals. That’s it. Garland made.

My Garland #2: I had the elongated hardwood hearts in my craft stash, and I wanted short, fat pinecones as a contrasting shape—which I found at the dollar store. So un-green of me, I know. Sometimes one just has to put aesthetics first.

Materials: Pine cones, solid wooden heart cutouts (not plywood), hemp twine, small eye screws (in the fastener isle at Home Depot), electric drill, pliers

1) Drill holes through the tops of the hearts and the butts of the pinecones using a drill bit that is just slightly smaller than the eyescrews.

2) Screw in eyescrews, using pliers if needed

3) Paint wooden hearts with a watered down wash of white acrylic craft paint and allow to dry. Water the paint down enough that you can still see the natural grain of the wood.

4) Optional: Seal hearts with beeswax & olive oil wood polish

5) Tie eyescrews to hemp twine at regular intervals, alternating hearts with ‘cones.

I didn’t use either of these garlands on my Yuletide tree, but you certainly could. I bet it would be very cute.

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