Drying and Painting Pinecones: Door Hanger and Basket Display

DRYING PINECONES

Our new home has tonnes of pine trees in our neighborhood.  I have been collecting only the largest and perfectly shaped ones, but the landscapers tend to pick them up before I can get them.  So the other day, I got a tonne of wet closed pinecones, then researched how to get them to open up.  I ended up drying them in my oven.  I put my oven at the lowest setting (170F).  I put them on a tin foil sheet on a cookie sheet to prevent sap from ruining my cookie pans, however this variety of pinecone didn’t drip any sap during the process.  I didn’t know how long to dry them for, so just kept monitoring them.

They started like this…

 

and ended like this 7 hours later.

It had just rained for 4 straight days (in Vegas!  Yes, Odd!) so these cones were wet, and closed tight.  In the first hour, only one started to open.  By 4 hours, about half were starting to open, by 7 hours, all of them were open!  Now some turned out gorgeous and perfect.  They were a nice wood brown colour, spines were tough and solid.  Many others had a whitish haze on them, and those ones ended up being more brittle.  Some just ended up too dry and brittle, and almost fell apart when I grabbed them.  I threw them out.  So baking does work, but my wet batch took a very long time. In hindsight, I would have checked them hourly, and removed the ones that had opened up, and left the stubborn ones in for as long as they needed. Or in an even more perfect world, only collected perfect, open pinecones from the ground in the first place!

PAINTING PINECONES

I have seen Pinterest pins with people dipping pinecones in paint.  I tried it.  Not good.  I purchased a sample size latex paint tester from Lowes to paint them.  It is way too thick and globby, and pinecones will drip for hours, wasting all of your paint.  I am sure craft paint will be the same result, and won’t have as nearly as nice of a sheen or endurance as the sample latex paints.  I REALLY liked the finish of the latex paint on the pinecones.

Next I tried thinning the paint with Floetrol.  It is a paint additive used to reduce paint strokes on your pieces.  This didn’t have as much globbing and drip time, but it did now require two coats, as I could see the brown pinecone colour too much.

Next I tried manually painting them.  I used a cheap $1.00  2″ paintbrush from Lowes.  The long bristles got deep into the pinecone core nicely.  I used circular motions to get all surfaces in the interior of the pinecone, and methodically went into each layer of the “tongues”.  This worked very well.  The paint didn’t take too long to dry. The paint still dripped out as it was drying on newspaper.  Some areas did need a second light brushing to make a deep solid red colour.  I let them dry overnight (turning occasionally as to not stick to the newspaper).  Each pinecone took about 5 minutes for a coat.

I spray painted one.  It turned out ok.  It required a few coats to get deep into the centre of the pinecone from all angles.  But with all the fumes, and overspray all over the garage, and long wait times for each coat to dry, it wasn’t worth it compared to painting them.

So, don’t dip them.  Use a paint brush.

So here are what I did with my pinecones.

DOORHANGER/WALL DECORATION

The painted pinecones went for a doorhangar.  I cut out red felt hearts.  Sewed a green interlock stitch around the edges, and stuffed them a bit.  I glued ribbon to the pinecones and hearts, and added a few extra ornaments in there, and voila!

PINECONE BASKET

The rest I just used to fill a giant metal tub, and placed a preformed bouquet of Christmas flowers into the centre.

It balanced off my front door display.

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