Many years ago I saw a picture of these trees in one of Southern Living's Christmas Books (Christmas With Southern Living). There wasn't a tutorial or anything, and I don't know if I still have the book or not. I loaned several of my collection of these books to a friend and she still has them. I wish she read my blog - maybe I could shame her into returning them to me . . .
Anyway - several years later I brought home a bunch of large pine cones that Mr Quirky's mother had been collecting from a tree in her front yard. I figured it was time to put together a few of those trees I had seen years before. Several hours and about 50 hot glue burns on my hands and legs later I had myself a beautiful pine cone tree. I have now made over 30 of these trees and still have two large Rubbermaid tubs filled with pine cones to make a few hundred more. I just love these trees.
They are just like a perfectly natural fake tree! I like them in bunches . . .
Would you like to make some of your own?
Get some BIG
Take out your not so nice needle nose pliers (not the ones your husband uses on the computer and for other special stuff). Start pulling off the bracts (or blades) one by one until you have a LOT of them. Some of these will pull completely out, some will break off - either way you're OK. You will get a bunch of large ones from the bottom and middle of the cone and smaller ones from the top 1/3 of the cone. You will use the smaller ones for the top part of the tree.
Get some tree forms. Until last year I always used the various sizes of styrofoam trees wrapped in grocery bag paper. Last year I found a paper mache tree at JoAnn or Hobby Lobby and tried one of those. They are easier, but I've only seen the one size. That's bad because pine cone trees don't all grow the same size.
Lay your foam tree down on the grocery bag and wrap it in the paper bag.
Be sure to roll the tree so that the paper extends over the blunted tip of the cone. Pine cone trees are pointed and do NOT have square tops on them. Do not be so gauche as to make a flat topped Pine Cone tree. Big mistake. When you have a cone wrapped around the form, cut off the excess paper and tape up the side. Leave extra paper at the bottom of the tree - a couple of inches.
Cut the overhanging paper every two inches or so and fold the pieces in towards the center of the bottom of the tree. Tape closed or use straight pins. Then your tree looks like this:
If you have a paper mache tree you don't have to wrap it, but paper is best for the styrofoam trees because it covers the white or green color, and also works much better for gluing than the styrofoam does. I just hate gluing on styrofoam!
Start at the bottom and glue the bracts onto the tree with hot glue. You need a bit of glue here, but not too much because then it drips down and looks ugly on the tree! Be sure you glue them on as close to each other as possible. Try to avoid letting the paper show through (like I did in the picture below). Real pine cone trees don't have paper showing through! Also - when you start the first row of bracts let the tips of them hang over the edge of the bottom of the tree. This keeps the bottom of the tree from showing and looking ugly. We don't want ANY ugly trees out there!
As you get to the top of the tree use smaller and more narrow bracts. At the tip of the tree you can insert a pine cone tip into the little bitty hole that the wrapped paper creates at the top of the tree. Use smaller and smaller bracts the closer you get to the tip of the tree. Tip: on the very bottom of the pine cone there are some miniature bracts that work really well at the top of the trees. Most of the trees below are using these small bracts for the tips.
The last and VERY IMPORTANT step is to get out your hair dryer or heat gun and melt away all the glue gun hairs that will be hanging all over the trees.
If you want the bottom of your tree to be finished off, cut a circle of vinyl, leather or felt and glue to the bottom of the tree.
You can make these trees fancy by painting the tips with snow or glitter. I have one I painted silver and sprinkled with glitter. It is really tall - and skinny. I guess the options are unlimited, but I kinda like mine plain. They're just pretty that way.
Hope your Christmas decorating adventures are going well. This spattering of trees on the mantel is about all I have completed - and I'm not even sure these trees will stay here. We'll see. I have about 30 other trees (I collect them) and it takes a while to figure out where to put them all.
If you are like me and don't want to shop all over town to find the right size cones and supplies for your pine cone trees I am including links for you to browse supplies you might need.
SHOP THIS POST!
Styrofoam trees - various sizes and prices are available
Craft Paper - for covering styrofoam
Hot glue - you need lots of this!
Hot glue gun - in case yours died like mine did
Pine cones - in case you live on an island
Needle nosed pliers - these are very important!