My title says Pine Cone Wreath because that is what we are familiar with. Especially at Christmas time; stores sell a variety of pine cone wreaths, both decorated and un-decorated. The primary base of those wreaths are made from pine cones, with different cones (normally spruce) sometimes mixed in.
I made a pine cone wreath last year. Even though it’s beautiful, it required more work and an insane amount of glue, both hot glue and carpenter glue. $$$
Her wreaths are made from pine cones. The long slender ones that come from White Pine Trees. We do not have that type of Pine tree here in the Northern BC Interior. We have the Lodgepole Pine tree. Their cones are far more short and stout compared to the long slender cones of the White Pine. Will Lodgepole pine cones work for a DIY no-glue wreath? I am unsure. I’ll have to look into it one day.
Why I chose to make another tutorial for a DIY no-glue wreath is because compared to her tutorial, I have to use what is available to me – the small, slender spruce cones of the White and Hybrid Spruces of our region.
Here in the Omineca region of British Columbia, Canada, it is ‘cone’ season; especially for the spruce variety. White, Hybrid, Englemann and Black Spruce cones litter the forest floor. Even in town, spruce cones litter sidewalks, driveways and pathways.
The first five spruce cones starting from the left are from Hybrid Spruce most likely. Perhaps they are White Spruce cones, it can be difficult to tell. Here in the Northern Interior, most of our Spruce trees are the Hybrid Spruce, which is a hybrid between the the White Spruce and the Englemann Spruce.
The one on the very far right is a Black Spruce Cone. I do not have an example of Englemann Spruce cones here. However they would make a great choice for these wreaths as they are long; typically longer and wider than a white spruce cone. They would fill in the wreath nicely. Google “Englemann Spruce cones” and get familiar with their characteristics and the properties of the tree they come from.
As the snow melts away and exposes the cones in April, you will find the cones are wet and closed up. As Spring time progresses, the cones start to dry and open. You can collect them anytime you find them really. However, if you collect them now, they are much more visible on the forest floor without all the greenery and foliage that comes with Spring and Summer. Plus, they are easier to wash and clean. Also within the city, most people and businesses haven’t started their yard work yet, so the cones haven’t been all raked up. Go help your neighbor and go gather their cones!
So, this is why some of us wildcrafters call it “cone season”. Go grab buckets or bags and start collecting! For one wreath you will need approximately 250 cones!
So what is involved with Spruce Cone Wreaths?
The idea is to insert the closed cones between the wire metal wreath frame and as the cones dry, they open up and get lodged and stuck in the frame. No gluing required!
These wreaths can be be stored for later use, like Christmas for example. However, use your imagination and make some Spring, Summer or Occasional Wreaths!
Above is a sample of my Spring/Summer wreath. I spray painted it yellow. I plan on making a sign; something colorful for the middle to display. Perhaps a “Hello Spring” on one side of the sign and a “Hello Summer” on the other side? Get creative!
Here is a Step-By-Step Guide to making your own Cone Wreath:
Step 1: Gather Cones. Most White and Hybrid Spruce Cones will be anywhere from 1-2.5 inches long on average. Get a variety of sizes. See Fig 1 picture. Oh…if you come across Douglas Fir Cones, get those too! Black Spruce Cones tend to be be small-only about an inch long. I collect those too. I typically dry those and glue them on to ‘fill’ in bald spots of the wreath. You’ll see what I mean later in the post.
Step 2: Wash Cones with warm soapy water. Place on Tea Towel to help absorb extra moisture.
NOTE: If you keep wet cones in a bucket for too long, they will mold. If you keep them out for too long, they will dry and open. Sticking dry open cones into the wire wreath frame, is difficult and results in breakage of the cones. Partially dry open cones are ok, and can be helpful for the cones to stay in place.
Step 3: Obtain a wire wreath frame. I get a 14 inch diameter wreath frame from the dollar store for $1.50.
Step 4: Choose your method of ‘drying’ your wreath. Let me explain.
You can dry your wreath in an oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 6-8 hours (maybe more depending on how wet your cones are) OR you can place your wreath in a spot where it will not get disturbed and let it air-dry naturally for 3-6 days (again, could take longer depending on humidity, temperature and the wetness of your cones).
If you choose to do your in the oven, get a oven safe tray that can hold the complete diameter of the wire wreath frame. I used a Pizza Stone myself. Placing it in the oven will help kill any ‘bugs’ that may be tucked inside the cones. I’m not sure if this is an issue when you collect them while they are closed. But if you are the squirmish type, perhaps put your wreath in the oven!?
If you choose to let your wreath air-dry, find something solid and rigid to put your wire wreath frame on, like a piece of plywood or large cutting board. Again, make sure the whole wreath diameter has something underneath it.
Step 5: Start putting your cones into the frame. Use the longer, larger cones on the outer ring of the frame. I found that it took on average 12 closed cones for the outer ring. In the middle ring, I find it’s best to also use the longer, larger cones but, with a mixture of medium size, shorter cones. I found that it took 15-16 cones. Then on the inner ring, use a mixture of the medium and shorter cones. I found that I needed 15-18 cones for the inner ring.
Now, you will find it a bit annoying that the cones may slip or fall out of place. Use your hand to help keep them in place. Or, this is when I find using partially-open-cones to help keep the other cones in place. When I had my cones lined up in their ‘section’, I would use smaller cones and stuff them into spaces to make the grouping of cones tighter. Do whatever works! Your end result is to get the cones to stay in place.
Plus, adding a mixture of various sizes of cones, will help gives your wreath more dimension. Just be sure when you stick your cones into the frame that the 1/3-1/2 of your cone is below the frame line. As the cones dry, they will open and get stuck in place.
Step 6: Let dry via the oven method or the air-dry method until the cones are fully opened. Check on your wreath occasionally; you will find that a few cones will want to ‘pop’ or jut out. Push them back in.
Once your wreath is fully dry, you may find that some cones still manage to become loose, or fall out. I found this hiccup in a few of my cones on the outer ring of some of my wreaths. See if you can push them back in. If you can’t, just add a few wet, closed cones (or partially open cones) and allow them to dry and open. Or, there is always glue!
Here are a few pictures of wreaths being made with a Douglas-Fir cones:
Step 7: With your finished, fully dried wreath, add decorations if you wish. Or store them away and and add decorations later. You will see exposed wire frame in a few places, despite the open cones. Either, decorate those exposed places, or glue some small open cones in those exposed places. This is where I find those Black Spruce cones very handy; there small size fits into those small bare and exposed places!
For $1.50 and some time, you have a lovely wildcrafted wreath that you can decorate and display on your front door or give away as presents to others!
Happy gathering and creating!