Nature is everyday magic. Take the acorn: Within this common seed resides the genetic material for a 90-foot oak tree that will live 100 years or more. A mature tree can drop millions of acorns in its lifetime, plenty for creatures to eat as well as for humans to collect -- and to fashion into irresistible crafts with little more than twists of wire or dabs of glue. These, like the oak itself, last after many autumns have come and gone.
For the crafts here, gather healthy-looking acorns from the ground (especially important in California, where oak blight threatens the tree population and where acorns should not be collected from the tree except for propagation). The caps are often separated from the nuts, which is fine -- just make sure to pick up a good amount of both so you can find tops and bottoms that fit together to make whole acorns for your projects. When you get the nuts home, clean them with a damp cloth, spread them out to dry, and set out your crafting materials. Then reap your harvest of personal treasures.
Acorn Craft How-To
Choose a flat wooden frame wide enough to hold two to four rows of graduated acorn caps. Sort caps by size; lay out rows before gluing to see how they look. Squeeze wood glue around edges of each cap, and glue to frame, starting from the inside edge. Let dry at least one hour.
To preserve oak leaves, mix one part glycerin in two parts hot water, and let leaves soak in mixture for three to four days (let dry about 10 days). Drill two 3/64-inch holes through each of two acorn caps. Insert one end of a 16-inch length of 22-gauge wire into each; bend wire and twist. Attach nuts to caps with wood glue. Wrap wires with floral tape. Attach leaf to 8-inch wire using floral tape. Wrap leaf wire and an acorn wire together with floral tape (above right); repeat with other acorn wire, facing in opposite direction. Wrap with brown seam binding; glue at each end. Bend into ring.