One of the most natural and economical ways to add beauty to your home is by using mother nature’s gifts. Indoor plants and flowers are most definitely the best way to infuse life in any corner of the house. But, even the most independently growing plants, like the popular ‘Money plant’ (Epipremnum aureum) requires some attention and care. The other alternative to decorate the house naturally is by using pine cones. These little wonders of nature not only look beautiful, they are easily available for free and the perfect craft item to create decorative pieces for yourself or others.
Generally pine cones are used for the fall season look or winter decoration, but I have kept my pine center piece all year round now (zero maintenance factor) and it never seizes to get compliments.
All you need to do for this beautiful decor piece is :
Get pine cones:
You can buy them from craft stores.(If you buy from craft stores they are already cleaned and treated) or collect them yourself , make sure to dust them to remove bugs (this can be a fun family activity specially if you have children). I collected mine from a park during a picnic. We were accompanied by people who found my solo collecting spree amusing at that time!
2. To clean the pine cones:
Water method or Oven drying
Water method – I used this method, for this you simply need warm water in a bucket or in the sink, add 1 cup of vinegar, soak the pine cones for 20-30 mins.
Clean the dirt with hand or brush, rinse in fresh water and repeat till its no more sticky (sap free). Leave it to air dry on a water proof surface in a warm area for 3 to 4 days.
NOTE: When you soak the pine cones in water, they close up and shrink in size drastically. No need to worry, once they completely dry they open up themselves and you can gently open them back to original size .
Oven drying– Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place the cones in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep checking the cones in the oven as soon as they open up,remove cones from the oven and allow to cool completely before using.
NOTE: Check for smoke from oven, wear gloves while handling cones to protect from heated sap.
Washing v/s Oven drying :
Washing will remove the sap completely but is a less risky process as there is no oven use required. Oven drying is quicker and leaves a beautiful natural sheen because of the sap, but it has to be under continuous supervision to avoid a fire.
3. Get Spray paint or a can of paint in the color of your choice. Pine cones are porous so you can use a primer before applying paint to enhance the application and vibrancy of the color you use. They are easily available at any of the craft stores, stores like Home depot, Walmart etc.
NOTE: I used both kinds of paint without a primer. The spray paint spreads evenly without much hassle while the normal paint needs to be applied by a brush, and often leaves some patches. The rustic look created by this paint is also a desired look by many. It basically depends on the look you are creating.
4. To make it easier for yourself use toilet paper tube as a holder for the pine cones . Cut a tube in half and place cone on this. Shake the spray paint can before use and spray over the cone.
NOTE: It is advised to use spray paint in a well ventilated area with gloves and mask, cover and protect the surrounding surface before starting.
5. Let the paint dry for a day or more. Arrange the dry cones in different ways for different occasions and create magic at home!
One more way to decorate with pine cones is by bleaching them. I have not tried it yet but it is on my ‘craft things to try’ list, when I get around to trying it I will definitely make it a “Dear Diary” entry here similar to my canvas art blog 🙂