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Using Pine Cones to Create Your Own Vintage Style Ornaments

    Who doesn't love an extra bit of kitsch at Christmas? You know I do!

First things first, this is not a tutorial (I'd already made my latest pine cone ornaments by the time I thought of writing this post!). But I thought it'd be fun to share some things I use to hopefully inspire you to use your own pine cones and bring them to life with a little imagination and a few art & craft supplies! 

 A couple of years ago Dave and I had a lovely walk through Delamere Forest and I came across some really good pine cones. I've never had much interest in making anything from pine cones, but this was a year after I'd dived into the world of spun cotton and those mid-century pine cone elves were calling to me. I just had to try to make my own! 

Supplies I use to get started:
- natural pine cones 
- paint (I use acrylics or acrylic gouache)
-spun cotton heads  (or sculpt your own with spun cotton, like I do), or polymer clay, etc
- pipe cleaners, bump chenille pipe cleaners
- tacky glue (I prefer and have used Aleene's  for years)
-thread and an eye pin for looping your thread through to make it into an ornament (or just use thread to loop through without the pin)
- glitter (optional, but I love the shimmer of German glass glitter!)
- little extras to add as details - miniature bottle brush trees, paper or felt for hats, tiny bells, tinsel, garland, ornaments, etc etc
2 pine cones, bump chenille pipe cleaners, bottle brush trees, bottled glitter, cotton, and tinsel laying on a white wood table background

I personally like to give my pine cones a white wash after cleaning them with vinegar, but they can be kept natural if you prefer that look (or paint them any colour of your choosing!). I've made elves with glitter and without. Again, its all about preference. I usually wait until I'm finishing an ornament to add the glitter (so I don't waste any under beards - glass glitter isn't cheap and can be hard to find in the UK - of course you can use regular craft glitter, as well!). I dab on a good bit of quality glue/sealer before adding the glitter. 

As far as faces, I've gained confidence sculpting them through the years (I can thank my needle felting days for that!)..so I sculpt each of mine using my spun cotton technique. However, use whatever works for you! Comfortable with clay? Use that! Pre-painted spun cotton doll faces work, or use spun cotton balls and paint a face of your own. 

In previous years I've made beards with cotton, but this year I've returned to my needle felting past and used wool. Same with the limbs, I've made them with spun cotton but this year I just had to try the bump chenille pipe cleaners for an extra kitsch touch. I'm happy with them!

spun cotton pine cone elf ornament, held by hand against a white background with bottle brush tree in the distance

 Now for the real fun.. After gluing on your arms and legs, you get to be a bit more creative. Add those extra details! A felt or paper hat? No hat? I love using bottle brush trees, but also make my own spun cotton mushrooms, candy canes, etc. The possibilities are endless! 

Hand holding a spun cotton pine cone elf against a white background with two bottle brush trees in the distance.

Give other pine cone ornaments a shot! I went for a penguin and I'm SO GLAD I did! It's so hard to keep me from adding him to our own tree, so I'm going to make another one just for Dave and I. 

I've added more pine cone elves (and the handsome penguin above, just because!) to my Christmas collection . Pop over if you'd like to see their listings, or give one (or my other ornaments) a forever home!

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Happy Holidays! 


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