Monday, October 19, 2015

Who Doesn't Love A Walk In The Woods Adventure and Woodland Crafts - Pinecone Baskets

While shopping in the Fall over 25 years ago with hubby we happened to venture into one of those seasonal Christmas decoration shops - just to see what they had.

Well, I was immediately drawn to a pine cone basket that was on the floor. It was pine cones in a large basket that was decorated with berries, ribbons, lace, and assorted dried floral.

I thought it was really pretty and would make a great Christmas decoration until I looked at the price. They wanted close to $180 for the basket which I thought at the time was outrageous.  But, the basket was lovely and I thought it would make a wonderful Christmas decoration.

So, I decided to make my own.  After all, I had pine cones all over my lawn from the white pine and evergreen trees that had fallen that year. Why not use them and create my own pine cone baskets? I certainly had plenty of pine cones of different sizes and types.  And, they were free.

So, hubby and I set to picking up all the pine cones in the yard and sorting them by size and type. I happened to mention to my Mother that I was going to make pine cone baskets and she mentioned this to one of my brothers who decided to have my nieces and nephew collect the fallen pine cones in his yard and give them all to me. I think you can imagine where I'm going with this story. Needless to say I had way more pine cones then I'd ever be able to use in a lifetime. But, I appreciated the effort and the thought.

I decided that I didn't really want to take the time that was required to properly dry my pine cones in the stove as it would take way too much time and would not be worth the effort. So, I decided to store my pine cones in a box for a year and let them dry that way.

Of course I had a LOT of boxes in my basement, but I didn't mind that. To my surprise my pine cones actually dried fine in their boxes and had opened up beautifully by the following year.

I had been collecting baskets on sale during the year along with various other decorations for the baskets - all of which were on sale either after Christmas or before. To my delight I had even found a wooden crate that I thought would make a lovely pine cone basket.  I had also bought various types of wire ribbon which I wanted to use on all the baskets along with various sizes of Christmas tree bulbs.

So, I decided which baskets I was going to spray paint, which baskets I was going to leave as they were, how many pine cone baskets I was going to make, etc. I laid all my baskets out on the floor so I could decide which pine cones to use for which basket, which wire ribbons I was going to use, which dried floral filler I wanted to use, which Christmas tree bulbs I wanted to use, and which decorations I wanted to use.

Given that I never do anything in moderation by the time I finished I had quite a few baskets to make.  Well, make that MANY baskets to make.

Oh, well! I LOVED creating them and had plenty of relatives I could give them to so it was a win-win.  At least that's what I tried to tell my husband when he saw the number of baskets I was making. My sister keeps telling me I'm married to a saint.  Given my over abundance for creativity and desire or lack thereof  to do anything in moderation I'd have to agree he is a saint.

I spent a couple of days spray painting the baskets red, gold, and blue and then proceeded to make my first basket.  Of course I didn't make a small basket first.  Oh, no! I went for the largest basket I had spray painted.  I had visions of this beautiful gold pine cone basket decorating my front foyer and wanted to make this first.  If it came out okay I'd make the rest.

The first basket that I made is the gold one shown above.  It's a very LARGE basket.  I selected different sizes and kinds of pine cones for this basket, large (3") red Christmas bulbs, dried green eucalyptus floral, dried green pine floral, dried red berry floral, dried jade green berry floral, cinnamon sticks, and gold/green/red 1" ribbon.

Since the basket was really large I decided not to fill it completely with pine cones but to line the bottom with  green florist foam.  For a more realistic woodland feel first I placed enough Spanish moss along the inside of the basket so as to cover any openings in the sides of the basket.  Then I packed the bottom tightly with green foam so that it filled the basket to within 4 inches of the top.  Once my basket was firmly packed I glued my first layer of pine cones to the foam.  For this layer I used some of the uglier pine cones I had collected and some of the broken ones.  It didn't matter as no one was going to see them anyway.

Next I arranged the largest of the pine cones I wanted to use and large red Christmas bulbs (turned upside down) and arranged them within the basket until I was happy with the arrangement.  I glued them in place and added smaller pine cones to fill in the gaps.

When I was happy with the way the arrangement looked I sprayed the basket and pine cones with varnish to seal everything.   Then I proceeded to add and glue the various dried floral I had selected for this arrangement. I cut the cinnamon sticks into various sizes and glued them throughout the basket.   Then I created two large bows with multiple loops and wired them to the sides of the basket.

When it was finished I decided I really liked the way the basket came out and proceeded to make a bunch more.

 By the time I was finished I had spent less in supplies for my baskets than the decorated basket I had seen in the Christmas store would have cost and had close to 25 different baskets made that I could give as presents that year.  I was happy with that and everyone who received the baskets seemed to like them.  In fact, I know they liked them because every year they put them out with their Christmas decorations.

With twenty-five years in age and counting the pine cone baskets are still going strong and to their credit I'd have to say they were well worth the time and effort it took to make them. A walk in the woods picking up pinecones turned out to be very economical for sure.

I  still have several boxes of pinecones in the basement and have been collecting woodland crafts on a Pinterest board.  Perhaps some of these pinecones will be put to good use when I have the time to make some more woodland creations.

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