Decorating with Pine Cones

Earlier this week we were raking leaves in our yard (oh, the joys of being on a wooded lot!) when I noticed a nicely formed pine cone on the ground.  I found several more behind the house and started a little collection in the garage.  They were really cute – not to mention free – so I did some Pinterest perusing to look up how to preserve them, make sure no bugs come out, they don’t get gross, etc…

Pine Cones

There were two main methods I found – baking them on a cookie sheet at a low temperature of about 200 degrees, OR soaking them in hot water and vinegar for about a half hour.  A few comments mentioned that their pine cones burned in the oven, so I decided to go the water/vinegar route.

Pine Cones in Water

After placing the pine cones in a large bowl with hot water, I poured in a generous half cup of white vinegar.

white vinegar bottle preserving pine cone

We went grocery shopping afterward, so I ended up leaving the pine cones in the water/vinegar mixture for longer than suggested – about two hours.  I figured it couldn’t hurt for sanitation purposes.  One thing I didn’t know was that when in a hot water bath, the pine cones actually close back up!  When we returned home, I carefully dumped out all the water and let the pine cones dry… for four days.

Pine Cones Dried Preserved

As you can see in this photo, the pine cone needles slowly opened back up as they were drying.  Today I decided to spray them Krylon non-yellowing clear acrylic in a satin finish.  I got this from Walmart for under $4.  It has a very fine mist spray, the button is easy to depress, and the finish is very natural looking.  This spray is Moore Approved!

Krylon Clear Acrylic Spray Satin Finish Preserve Pine Cones

To avoid inhaling fumes, I sprayed the pine cones in the backyard and used a very glamorous Pizza Hut box covered in tin foil to set them in. First, I set the pine cones upright and sprayed as much surface as possible.

Pine Cones Outside in Pizza Box preserve

Dried Pine Cones Preserve Pizza BoxDried Pine Cones Preserve Pizza Box

This spray is quick drying, so a few minutes later I rearranged the pine cones and set them on their sides to spray the bottoms.  Then repeated, but rotated them 180 degrees to get the underside part.

Dried Pine Cones Preserve Pizza Box

Once they were dry to the touch, I brought the pine cones inside and arranged them inside a crystal vase.
Decorate with Pine Cones Vase

This was a very easy “craft” project and only cost the $4 for the acrylic spray.  You could easily do this in a few minutes stretched over a few days.

Decorate with Pine Cones Vase

Helpful hints: Do not rush through the drying time if you go through the vinegar soaking route.  Wait until the pine cones are fully dried and the needles have opened back up.  If you don’t, the clear acrylic spray will not be applied properly.  Also – handle the pine cones very carefully – they are extremely fragile and you don’t want your hard work to be wasted with broken pine cones.  I sprayed seven pine cones, but with a single can you could easily do dozens.

If you live in a wooded area where pine trees are native – go out and find a few beauties of your own!  They’re free and make great natural decor in the home.

– Jennifer


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