Saturday, October 15, 2016

DIY Pine Cone Wreath

2016: I really feel the need to decorate for all the holidays this year. Maybe it's because SourPatch is old enough to appreciate the decor? Or maybe it's just an extension of my nesting instincts (a less useful one; my nursery is still a disaster.)

Yet since this is me, I also don't want to spend any money... there lies the rub. When I casually looked at wreaths online, the prices were quite shocking. $100 wreaths from Walmart?? You've got to be kidding me. Luckily, I really knew in my heart that I wanted to make my own wreath (nesting, right?), and that I wanted to make it out of pine cones.

I think pine cone wreaths are lovely. They are naturey and have great texture. There are so many tutorials out there, too! We live next to several pine trees, so over the past few weeks, I would gather a few cones every day during my walks with Patches.

Good idea: gather lots of pine cones. I was going to count how many I used, but then I didn't. You need a lot.

Another good idea: wash and bake them. I found that some tutorials wash first and others bake first, mostly depending on if they wanted them open or closed when applying the cones to the wreath (a bath in cold water will cause the pine cones to "close up" tight.) I liked the idea of putting them on my form closed so that when they opened, they would interlace together tightly. This worked great with the first wreath I ever made. It worked less well with my second. With my third? The pine cones all popped off and I had to start all over again. The lesson? Glue them on once they've reopened. It's safer.

So first, the washing: I doused and swirled the cones in cool water several times until they looked nice and clean and the water stayed clear.

I popped the cones in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees to kill any bugs and dry up any sap. (I forgot to take a picture here. All I did was line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and pile them on! Here are the rejects that for some reason didn't make it into the initial washing phase.)

 This... is where the tutorial ends. Thank you for reading. Okay look, I kind of trialed and errored my way through this wreath rather than sensibly following one of the sensible tutorials out there. Would you like a list of my bad ideas?

  • I wanted to fit my pine cones into a wire frame and let them expand to keep themselves in place. No gluing or wiring? A dream come true! It's a good idea if you have the skinny kind of cones, such as in this tutorial here. Though I knew my cones would probably be too fat, I tried it anyways. Bad idea. Some did fit, yes, but most didn't. 
  • Most tutorials with a wire frame actually wire them in place (such as this tutorial). I used hot glue. (Update: Shockingly, both wreaths I made in 2016 are still kicking one year later, good as new.)
  • Most wreath tutorials have you sort the cones by size and then put them in concentric rings accordingly. I preferred the wreaths that mix up the sizes a little more, giving it a more natural look (see the difference at this blog). However... I still should have sorted the cones so I could better created overall symmetry.
Disclaimers aside, I'm so glad I made this wreath. I had a fun time doing it, and it felt very low-pressure working with the free cones nature provided. Any frustration over my poor choices I shrugged off, knowing that I'd only invested $2 in the wire frame (and I suppose in the glue sticks.) Overall, I think it turned out actually quite beautiful. I lightly dusted it in gold spray paint and added $3 worth of berries and flowers from Dollar Tree. I do plan to spray it with a clear, acrylic sealer to better preserve it for future years on my door. Voila!

2017 Update: My glorious fall wreath I made last year held up so well! It made me happy all autumn long. Yet autumn did end, as it always does, so I thought I'd share the Christmas wreaths I made as well (one for me, one I shipped off to Chicago last year as a Christmas gift.)

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