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By: Nancy Dooley
Re: Pine Cone Help...Please!

I used to make trees, compotes, baskets & wreaths every Christmas for a local
Thieves' Market, and usually made somewhere between $500 and $1000 a season.
Now, I don't have the time to pick up cones, but here are the instructions for
trees (small ones, not floor-standing ones). Of course, I don't know what
you've seen, and this may not be what you had in mind.

Purchase a small footed candle stand or other footed dish (I used to buy
these a "Flower City" shop). Purchase styrofoam cone tree shapes in whatever
size you want. Purchase a can (from a flooring shop) of linoleum paste (much
preferable to a glue gun!).

Glue the shape into the footed candle stand, and let dry. Starting at the
bottom, wind medium-weight florist's wire around the base of the pine cone and
dip it in linoleum paste (straight from the can). Insert the wire into the
base of the foam. I use wire that is stiff enough to insert into foam, but
light enough to work with my fingers. Continue inserting wired cones into the
foam shape until you are close enough to the top to find the perfect cone for
the top of the tree. Fill in the small spaces with un-wired small cones the
bottom of which you have just dabbed into the paste, and sort of "squish" them
into the bare spots. When dry, spray all over with a clear polyurethane
varnish (away from pilot lights/fires!!), either glossy or matte finish, as
you wish. Decorate with small red velvet bows or other ornaments.

Addendum: Sorry, I accidentally hit "Enter" on the previous posting, without
finishing: Before you spray the tree, drill holes and wire some assorted nuts
(in their shells) and poke those in, too. It adds a lot, and they can cover a
multitude of small spaces. I have used spruce cones (they have little furry
seeds curled out of the top), tiny balsams, and big balsams (WITH GLOVES ON,
twist the cone apart - they make little flowers) mostly for these small tree
projects. White pines and Scotch pines are better for larger projects. My
favorite collecting spots were by a river and various small-town cemeteries
around the area. I also became very adept at knocking on doors and collecting
cones from people's yards.

The compotes I made were similar to the trees, but I used round styrofoam
balls instead of tree shapes. For the baskets, paste a rectangular or square
block of green foam into the bottom of the basket. For wreaths (mine were
from 12" to 48"), use a wire wreath form - use white pine cones for the
outside and inside edges, and Scotch pine cones and other varieties for the

Before using cones that have a lot of sap in them, bake them - on foil sheets
on cookie pans - in a 300 degree oven until the sap melts (and the house
smells :) - cool outside until the sap is hard. I also used to spread my
entire cache of cones in the garage on newspaper and spray with bug spray -
many of the cones are full of little nasty bugs & spiders!