Monday, October 24, 2011

Pine Cone Wreaths - A Tutorial

 I have been making pine cone wreaths for a whole lot of years. I think probably every member of my family has owned one of my Christmas cone wreaths at one time or another.  I enjoy making them and that's probably due in no small part that the supplies are free for the taking!

Here in southeastern Michigan I just take a walk in my neighborhood and pick up cones in the spring when just fallen (or given a little help to fall by me!) - that's when they are freshest and the prettiest color.  I'll share one tip I learned the hard way many years ago: When you bring the cones home stick them in a large garbage bag, spray inside with bug spray and seal up the bag until you're ready to work with them.  You never know what kind of little crawlies are hiding in there! Alternately, if they're the kind of cones that have a lot of sticky sap, or if the cones are not fully open, spread them on a pan covered with foil and bake them in a 200 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. The sap will form a lovely glaze on the cones and the heat will cause the cones to fully open and dry out. (It smells nice, too.)

There's no right or wrong way to make cone wreaths - an online search reveals any number of techniques. Here's the one that works for me.

Wire wreath form
Floral wire
Wire cutters
Needle nose pliers
Supply of pine cones
Miscellaneous decorating supplies

 These are the pine cones most commonly found here.  I have other larger cones from other parts of the country but these are my favorites for wreaths.  The two larger cones at the top are the ones I use most often, with the other two used for fill-in.  I've had the little Cone Crafting book for about 20+ years.
 The first thing I like to do is sort some cones by size and height.

Push the cone on to the wreath form, attach the wire to the wreath form and then around the cone near the bottom of the cone.  (Note: I'm showing this on the outside of the form for photo purposes; I actually do the inside layer first, but it's the same technique.)

Wind the wire around the wreath form again and grab another cone. Push the second cone tightly against the first cone so they kind of "grab" each other.  Wind the wire around the second cone just as you did with the first cone.  I use the pliers to pull the wires very tight against the cones and the wreath form.  There's nothing more frustrating then to finish your wreath and find that the cones are loose and slipping out.
Here's the first completed layer on the inside. You can see that the cones are tight against the inside ring of the form.

I then attach the outside layer in the same way.

So far the cones have been placed straight in a line. Now the inside needs filling in, and it gets a little trickier. I place the cones a little more randomly in the middle, some straight up, some on their sides. Sometimes I use the smaller cones seen in the photo above to fill in the blank spaces.
It's a little easier to use an up and down sewing motion with the wires to secure the cones in the middle.

Add a loop of wire to the back for hanging. Here's the final result.

NOTE: If you plan to add a bow to the wreath, leave out two cones on the outside ring where you want to place the bow. Don't forget like I did!

If you're leaving the wreath as is, you can spray the cones with an acrylic sealer, add the bow, and you're done. 

But if you're like me, you want to glam it up a bit.  Use anything you like - garlands, bows, ornaments, glitter, and spray paint.  I'm not quite finished with the wreaths I'm working on right now, but here's a look at some wreaths I've done in the past.

These wreaths are spray painted and glittered, with bead decorations and a bow attached.  My niece owns this pretty in pink wreath. 

I call this one my Martha Stewart wreath - this soft green is one of her favorite colors.
 And that floppy bow - it's SO Martha!

I think this one is my favorite - love the Robin's Egg blue color and the delicate garland trim.

I know these aren't in the usual Christmas colors, but they are different and a nice spark of color.  I'm working on a few more traditional wreaths this year.

Does this inspire you to try a cone wreath if you haven't yet tried it?

Linking up to Sugar Bee Crafts and Today's Creative Blog. Also: Strictly Homemade and Carolyn's Homework.


  1. Yes, this does inspire me! Your wreaths are absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for the tip about how to get the pinecones cleaned. I had never thought to use bug spray or bake them. Cool!

    BTW, you have some beautiful photos in your etsy shop! Love the flower shots :)

  2. Your wreaths are stunning. I love the color on that last one. Great tutorial too.

  3. I have a pine tree that drops the prettiest pine cones in my yard in the fall. Now I know what to do with them. Love the colors you used.

  4. Your wreaths are 'sew' pretty! Thanks for the tip about putting them in the oven. Never would have thought of that, LOL!
    ~Kimberlee at SD

  5. Your wreaths are 'sew' pretty! Thanks for the tip about putting them in the oven. Never would have thought of that, LOL!
    ~Kimberlee at SD

  6. I love your wreaths, Felicia! Thanks for the great tutorial. I might just have to make a few this year!

  7. Your glittery wreaths are beautiful. I love them. I think my favorite is the blue one. I need to find some pinecones to make myself one. Thanks for the inspiration.


  8. These are beautiful! I'm pinning this for sure!

  9. Love it!

    Love for you to link up at:
    "Made by ME" Linky Party at JAQS at

  10. Definitely inspiring! Beautiful!

  11. These are so beautiful! Do you add the glitter when the spray paint is wet? What kind of glitter do you use?

  12. Do you tie the wire completely around each pine cone? If so how do you get it around when you are working the additional pine cones next to one another? Do you feed it completely around the bottom of the pine cone using the pliers? Are you using a floral wire that is easy to work with? Am I making this harder than it is? I would like to see a few pictures of the wiring process when getting one pine cone next to another. Thank you

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Kind of hard to explain, but I'll try. Yes, I wind the wire almost completely around near the bottom of the cone. But BEFORE I pull it tight, I push it against the wreath form wire and then against the cone next to it. The cones kind of grab each other. Then I use the pliers to pull the wire tight, and wind it around the wreath wire before I add the next cone. As you probably know, the green floral wire comes in several thicknesses and is very strong. I can't tell you which gauge I used since I don't have any on hand right now. You want a wire that is flexible enough, not too thick that it's difficult to work with. Sorry, I don't have any more photos that would illustrate this. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  13. Where can I buy one of the wreath skeletons from? I'm in the UK and would love to make one of these for my front door - they're just so unusual!
    Gemma x

  14. Gemma, I buy the wreath forms at two craft supply strores - Joann's and Michael's. I'm not sure which craft stores you have in the UK but that's where you would likely find them. Good luck!

  15. I want to add lights to my wreath do you think I can add them as I go or what do you think? I don't want them to be wrapped around at the end.

    1. Shannon, I would not add them as you go. I would create the wreath first, then tuck in the lights in and around the pine cones and hide the cord as best you can.I think that would work. I have had too many instances where the string of lights burned out but was totally wrapped in with the wreath and I had to take everything apart in order to replace the lights. In fact, right now I have a very large evergreen wreath covered with ornaments and trim. One string of lights has gone out and I will have to take it all apart in order to replace it. :( Good luck!

  16. Do u add the glitter while spray paint I s wet or do I have to get sone kind of spray glue? Thanks

  17. Hi Tricia,
    I let the paint dry and then I use spray glue for the glitter. I found that if I tried to sprinkle the glitter on the paint it tended to sink into the paint and wasn't quite as "glittery." Hope that makes sense! By the way you don't need any special kind of spray glue - any kind will work for the glitter. And work in sections when you do it so the glue doesn't dry too quickly.

  18. Great tutorial. Was collecting pine cones while on holiday so no excuse for not trying to make one. Thank you for posting.
    Love all of them.

    Where do you buy frame in this tutorial? Is it 12" or bigger?
    A great tutorial!


    1. Hello Pierre,
      The frame on Amazon is exactly the kind I use, but I use the 18" size. You can use a 12", it will just be smaller wreath. I usually buy my frames at my local craft stores. We have Joann's and Michael's here in Michigan. Thank you - I'm happy you like my tutorial.


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