Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2005
Lay your eye level with the scales of the pinecone and you'll find that each one is as beautifully wrought as a flower petal. This resemblance inspired us to turn pinecones into lustrous golden-brown blossoms, perfect for table decorations and gift embellishments that will last not only for this Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for many holiday seasons to come.
It's amazingly easy to effect the transformation from cone to bloom. Just snip the scales off the stem, and then glue them together in the shape of a flower. The resulting blossoms may be as dainty as a violet or as spiky as a dahlia. If a variety of cone types isn't abundant where you live, look online or in crafts stores. All you'll need to coax blossoms from your finds are floral supplies: cutters, wire, and glue. When you place these adornments alongside the season's bounty, you'll likely conclude that nature has come up with some wonderful decorating ideas.
You'll need cone scales and a decorative center for each bloom; both are available at crafts stores.
1. Eastern white pinecones have long scales. Brown, natural canella berries are good centers for flat blooms.
2. The tiny cones of the Sabulosum tree are ideal for delicate flowers. Use snipped cloves or the top of a poppy pod for centers.
3. Douglas fir cones result in plump blossoms. Tamarack buds can be used as centers or as buds.
4. For zinnia-like florets, use blue spruce cones combined with rice grass as centers.
5. Norway spruce cones can be layered to create big flowers; dried weeping grass makes pretty tufted centers.
Removing the Scales
With floral cutters, remove the pinecone's base. Starting at the cone's bottom, slip one blade of the cutters behind a scale; snip it off. Continue, working upward until all scales have been removed and only the stem remains.
Assembling Pinecone Flowers
1. Fill a small bowl with scales. For the work surface, you'll need a cardboard box (at least 4 inches square) with a hinged lid.
2. Snip 4 inches of floral wire; form a small hook on one end. From card stock, cut a disk a bit larger than the desired size of the bloom's center.
3. Secure disk to box top by poking wire through both, letting hook rest in the center so the wire won't fall through.
4. Using tacky glue, affix scales in a flower shape to disk; the hook will become covered with glue. For a fuller blossom, add another layer inside the first, using smaller scales, adding up to five layers for larger blooms.
5. Use tacky glue to attach one or more cloves or tiny plant parts in the center; let dry, and remove bloom from box.
Gilding and Adding Stems
For an all-over sheen, gently press each flower face-down into a golden stamp pad. To burnish only the tips, press the edges into the pad. To create a stem, wrap wire in brown floral tape, starting at base of the blossom; or cut off wire, if desired, for a stemless bloom.
Making a Vine
1. To make buds and leaves for a vine, affix tamarack buds and large scales to 4-inch-long wires: Wrap floral tape around wires and bases of bud or scale, adding tacky glue where necessary.
2. Cut a piece of heavy floral wire as long as desired length of vine. Alternate florets with buds and leaves: Lay stem against the floral wire, wrap it in place with brown floral tape, lay the next against the wire, wrap it, and so on until vine is complete.