Monday, October 24, 2011

Pine Cone Wreaths - A Tutorial

After you've reviewed this tutorial, you might want to see some of my new 2015 wreaths here.

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.

Supplies
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.

57 comments:

  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 :)

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

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  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.

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  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

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  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

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

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  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.

    Ruth

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

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  9. Love it!

    Love for you to link up at:
    "Made by ME" Linky Party at JAQS at http://www.jaqsstudio.com/2011/10/made-by-me-4-linky-party-and-features.html

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  10. Definitely inspiring! Beautiful!

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

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  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

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    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!

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  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

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  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!

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  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.

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    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!

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

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  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.

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  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.
    Deirdre

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  19. http://www.amazon.com/Wire-Wreath-Frame-12-Green/dp/B004BPTGUU
    Where do you buy frame in this tutorial? Is it 12" or bigger?
    A great tutorial!

    Pierre

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    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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  20. what did you use for the frosted effect? spray on?

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    1. It's all glitter, not fine glitter but coarse glitter. I used spray glue then sprinkled the glitter on.

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  21. These are so pretty. I love the green one. My favorite. Thank you for sharing these. : )

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  22. Thanks, Ellaruth. I love making these. In fact, I have been making some for the last few weeks but they are being sold to friends before I can even list them in my etsy shop! I'm going to post some here as soon as I get a minute.

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  24. HI Felicia, about how many cones do you use to fill in a whole wreath? I saw online how you can bleach pine cones too, I am good g to try that and male a wreath from your fantastic tutorial. Thanks so much.

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  25. Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting. That's a tough question to answer - it depends on the size of the wreath form and the size of the cones. I never counted, but it appears an 18" form would take anywhere from 80-100 medium to large cones, and if I use tiny cones for fill-in they would probably be around 30 or so. The good thing about pine cones is that they are usually free for the picking!

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  26. Love your wreaths! Do you spray paint the whole wreath after its put togetehr or spray the individula cones before assembling?

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  27. Have you used the screw-in eyes to wire your cones to the frame? The eyes screw into the bottom of the pine cone and provide an attachment for the wreath.

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    1. I have used screw-eyes on pine cones for other projects where the pine cones hang, such as for a swag. However, I don't believe they would work to hold on as well to the metal wreath frame. The wrapping method I use securely attaches the cone to the frame, as well as pulling it tight to the adjacent cones and the frame itself.

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  28. I had no idea you could make a wreath with pine cones!! I love this idea! I found your post on Pinterest, and I think I want to try this next year. This year, I only have pine cones and no money for the rest of the supplies....but next year, this is happening! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Juana! You must try it next year - you'll love it!

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  29. Is it better to paint your cones before you assemble the wreath? or just glam it all up with paint/glitter after it's been all assembled?

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    1. Thanks for your question, Mrs. Porter. I prefer to assemble the wreath first and paint and glitter the wreath afterward. I would be afraid that if you painted the cones first, with all the twisting and handling of the cones while assembling the wreath you would very likely scratch off some of the paint and the cones would get a little beat up. I suppose you could always touch it up afterward. That being said, there's no law that says you can't paint them first. If you try it, let me know how it works out.

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  30. Thank you for this very informative and easy to follow tutorial. Your wreaths are absolutely gorgeous! Do you think it would be possible the next time you make one to post pictures of the backside of each completed step? I tried making a pine cone wreath and became frustrated with not being able to get the cones to stay on the frame, so I gave up. Needless to say, I have several bags of cones that I don't want to throw away. Any tips will be very appreciated.

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  31. Evelyn, thanks for writing. That's a good idea to post pictures of the backside of the wreaths. I'll have to remember that for the next time. I found that the key to get the cones to stay on the frame is to really push them hard into each other and to the frame, and to pull the wires around the cones very TIGHT. That's why I use the pliers to pull them. I hope you won't give up. The first wreaths I made several years ago were pretty pitiful! But they got better.

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  32. This is the best tutorial I have found. It takes time and patience, but the quality of the attachment is superb. I like the cones natural, and add buckeyes from my farm. I pick up the cones from behind a warehouse. They are dormant when I get them after the first frost, so I keep them inside for a while so they open up. No bug issues. after it's finished, I poly the whole thing and top it with a muted gold bow. I don't do bling. My name is Karen and I live in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Thank you so much for this post!

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    1. Karen, thank you for your kind words. I too like the natural look, and also leave them natural sometimes.(In fact, I'm working on some rustic grapevine wreaths right now!) I have also occasionally added nuts and acorns when I can find them. I like to pick my cones up in the spring when they are the freshest and prettiest. I would love to see some of your wreaths when you have them finished. Feel free to send me a photo if you like. Thanks again.

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  33. I love this tutorial. I hope to make a wreath for myself, and also hope it will come out half as good as yours. They are beautiful!

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    1. Donna, thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you will try it - it's a bit addicting! I'm suffering withdrawal now because I'm out of cones and have to wait til spring to collect more. Please let me know how your wreath works out.

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  34. Ok so I need to soak them first or bake them ? And if so do I just soak on water and how long then air dry or oven and if oven what temp & how long ? Also I understand the glitter part. But you also spray paint cones after you put them on correct ? Hand you ever painted cones and then make wreath so you can have different colors ?

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  35. My name is Lynette it says Unknown sorry

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    1. Hi Lynette,
      Thanks for your questions. I'll attempt to answer best I can. First, I do NOT soak the cones. It's not necessary. Just put them in a 200 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes. This will dry them out if they have any moisture in them and it will kill any critters that might be on the cones. The cones you see in this post are sprayed after I have put the wreath together. I prefer this method; it's easier than spraying individual cones and I think it makes the wreath look more complete since it also colors the wreath form itself.
      I have done some wreaths with cones that were different colors. I just dusted the cones with spray paint for a softer look then put the wreath together. There's some samples in this post. http://feliciakramer.blogspot.com/2015/11/wreaths-wreaths-and-more-wreaths.html


      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. Thanks for visiting!

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  36. These are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing the tutorial :)

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  37. These are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing the tutorial :)

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    1. Thank you for visiting and for the nice compliment, Susan. I very much appreciate it!

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  38. Thanks for sharing your tips and photo's. You give really good explanation's on making the pine cone wreaths. I made these back in the 70's and now that I'm retired am planning on giving this a go once again. My sister in law just retired her's that I made in the 70's last year. Making well takes time but pays off!

    Wonderful blog post and writing. Thank you Felicia!

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    1. Karen, thanks for your kind words. Made my day!! Would love to see the wreaths you make!

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  39. Hi Felicia, Are you keeping the wire one the roll while you are attaching to the form or are you cutting pieces of wire? If yes, how long would you recommend so I can prep

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  40. Hi Mary Beth, thanks for visiting. I cut the wire off the roll. I never measured, but I'm guessing I cut about an 18-24" piece. That's usually enough to attach 3-4 cones to the wreath and then tie them off to the wire form. If it's your first time making the wreath, I would cut just a few and see how they work, then you can adjust shorter or longer for whatever is comfortable for you. Would love to see one when you finish. Thanks again and good luck!

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