Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Pines in the yard?

Then you have the basics for many crafty ideas

Knight Ridder Newspapers

The ordinary pine cone. It can be a simple symbol of winter, in a plain basket dressed with a bow.

Or it can be coated with wax and glitter to give it a snowcapped look.

Or roll one in peanut butter and bird seed, and hang it from a tree as a winter present to the birds.

Cones can be scented, spray-painted or wired to a wreath. You can even make a string of garland with them.

To celebrate the pine cone and the winter season, we offer these ideas on collecting and displaying pine cones for your home.

Pine cone bird feeder

This is a great project for kids that also helps the birds.

Wind a cotton string around a pine cone and loop the end so it can hang from the tree.

Next, apply peanut butter to the pine cone (you can thin the peanut butter with a little vegetable oil to make it easier to spread). Fill a paper plate with birdseed and roll the pine cone in it.

Hang it from a tree and watch the birds enjoy.

Snow-covered pine cones

What you’ll need:

• White candle wax

• Empty metal can

• Old saucepan

• Small and medium-sized pine cones

• Fine wire

• Pan or dish of cold water

• Waxed paper

• White glitter

Directions: Break up the wax and put it in the empty can. Fill the saucepan about one-third full with water. Put the can with the wax in the water and heat the water to boiling. Watch the wax closely as it melts. As soon as it is melted, turn off the stove and leave the can in the water.

Loop a wire around a pine cone. Dip the pine cone into the wax. Next dip it into a container of cold water. Keep dipping back and forth until the pine cone has a snowy effect (5 to 10 dippings). Lay the pine cone on the waxed paper and dust with glitter while it is warm. Allow to dry completely. Display in glass dish with greenery.

Pine cone tree

What you’ll need:

• Long-leaf pine cone

• Terra cotta saucer

• Spanish moss

• Spray paint, one color for the tree, one for the saucer (can do tree any color)

• Beads (from a garland or purchased separately)

• Hot glue

Directions: Spray-paint the saucer the color of your choice, and let it dry.

Spray-paint the pine cone any color you want.

Once the pine cone has dried, put a drop of hot glue on the branches” and put the beads on the tree as decoration. If you’re worried about young children using hot glue, you can use thick, tacky glue instead.

Hot-glue the pine cone into the saucer. Then fill in the edges with Spanish moss. You can hot-glue it down, too, if you want.

Pine cone window box

Worried about what type of plants will survive the winter in your window boxes? You can avoid the problem by filling the box with pine cones.

Gather pine cones of various sizes and place them on the soil in the window box. You also can do this with containers and pots around the outside of your home.

And here’s the great thing. When you start putting flowers back in the window box come spring, bag the used pine cones and store them for next winter’s display. Try doing that with dead flowers.

Scented pine cones

Scented pine cones are one of the hot items in stores. You can buy a bag for $2 to $10. Or you can scent your own.

There are several methods. Here are a few:

• Method 1: To scent 2 pounds of cones you’ll need 3 ounces of cinnamon oil, 1/2 pound cinnamon chips, 1/2 pound cinnamon sticks and one large plastic garbage bag.

Brush each cone with cinnamon oil (available at craft or floral shops). Put cinnamon chips, sticks and pine cones in the garbage bag. Sprinkle any leftover oil on top. Seal bag tightly and leave mixture in bag for 8 weeks. Shake and toss the bag once a week to blend the mixture.

• Method 2: Mix 1 part glue to 1 part water and brush onto pine cone with a foam brush. Then roll the cone in a mixture of ground cinnamon and cloves.

• Method 3: Pour cinnamon oil into a spray bottle with a little water, and spray pine cones until they are damp. Place the cones in a plastic bag and seal for 24 hours.

• Method 4: Place the pine cones in a plastic bag you can seal, add several drops of cinnamon oil, close the bag and shake several times to distribute the scent. Let it sit overnight.

Once the pine cones are scented, toss a couple into the fireplace and enjoy the aroma, or keep them in a basket where they work as both an air freshener and a decoration.

Cleaning the cones

Some insects like pine cones, too. Take a good look at the pine cones before you carry them into your home. Make sure they’re not damp, moldy or growing moss.

To be sure they’re bug free, you can place them on a cookie sheet and put then in a 200-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Then turn the oven off, leaving them in there for about two hours for them to dry out.

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