Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gift from the Nature

For last couple of years, I made some wreaths for each season. I started with a plain grape vine frame, added some seasonal objects either natural or artificial, then put a bow if I wanted... This fall, I wanted to go more rustic, and thought of pinecones.

Once pine needles start covering the yard, pinecones also start falling. We take bags and bags of pine cones for yard waste every year. I was supposed to easily get enough material in the yard even I get very picky. This year, the pine trees are taking a break. I barely fill up one grocery store bag in two weeks. I started collecting them in September. They are still not enough for one small wreath. "Houston, we have a problem."

The help was actually much closer than Houston. Back in September, Deb, my horse back riding teacher, asked me what I would do in the weekend. We chat all sort of things during the lesson. I said that I would go to a park to pick up some pinecone to make a wreath. She kindly offered I could pick ones in her property. After the lesson, she walked around and picked pinecones with me. She also gave me ones she picked last year. They were more than enough for one wreath.

My first pinecone wreath went to Deb. She put it on the entrance door in the porch right away. I made two more for her. One of them is for a raffle to raise money for her farm.


White Pine Pinecones

White pine pinecones tend to be covered with pitch. It can be taken care of by heat. But, I still recommend to wear Latex gloves from start to finish. Also, don't forget to cover the area you work.

These are before the bake. Some white spots of pitch are shown at the tips.

After the 20 minutes bake in 300 degrees, pitch is crystallized. It gives pinecones a shine, but no more sticky. The heat also kills all unwelcome things living in them.

I think 300 degrees is the highest you can bake them safely. I remember somebody I know baked them with 350 degrees. The pitch turned to smoke irritating eyes, the house got smokey, and the smoke detector went off... To be worse, she started baking them during the party she was hosting. It was not pretty.

Once they get cooled down, I give them a bath. This process get rid of dust and etc. Then, they are ready. Stick wet pinecones to the wire frame. You don't need wire or thread.

Fill all space. It's pretty simple. Then, let them dry for a week. The pinecones start opening as they get dry.

Once they are completely dry, it's time to hang it. This is for indoor since they hook themselves to the wireframe. Once they get soaking wet, they close themselves, lose their hooks, then start falling apart. Deb's entrance door is under the covered porch. Her wreath won't get wet.

If you'd like to give it a try, Bernice Rocque gives you detailed instructions: How to make a beautiful PINE CONE WREATH – without gluing or wiring!

Red Pine Pinecones

For a red pine pinecone wreath, you need various sizes of pinecones. I went to the park a couple of times and got some small ones. Also, some of them are prickly. They poke your fingers. Be careful.

I also baked some of them to kill whatever lives in them. It seems they just dry out and get brittle. I don't recommend to bake them.

You need wire to hold them on a frame. Fill the outside and inside rims first, then fill the space in the middle. That's why you need various sizes.

As long as both rims come out nicely, it's 95% success. The middle ones can face anywhere. If they point different directions, that creates the movement and adds some interests. You want to avoid bunch of them don't face the same direction in one area.

I saw some colored ones, but I like as they are. They have so many shades of brown. For the Holidays, I would mix with some gold and silver painted ones. They would bring the Holiday cheers.

This one can go either outside or inside. This takes much longer than the other one. A needle nose pliers come handy for this project.

This is for Val's late birthday gift.


Catching Up the Production

My plan is to list a couple on my Etsy store. Unfortunately, white pinecones ran out. Tim also offered ones in his property, but I need to wait till next spring. Yup, they are covered in snow now. I should have enough red pinecones to make a couple. Once they are ready, most likely after Christmas, they will be listed on the store. This is going to be a good project to keep me away from cabin fever for a while.

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