To me, a pinecone and nut wreath is a gift direct from nature. It looks just as beautiful on an outside door as it does hanging in the house or in the garden. In the dining room, place these wreaths on the table with candelabras in the center for a striking visual effect.
You will need:
- Pinecones of varying sizes and shapes (you will use anywhere from 25 to 100 pinecones, depending on the size of the wreath. Prewashed pine cones are available at your local florist)
- Old towel
- Baking sheets
- Used aluminum foil
- 1 roll of light-gauge florist wire
- Wire cutters
- Wire wreath frame (For best results, use a size 2 or 3 wire base, available in any craft store around the holidays. You also can use a wire hanger, but the wreath will not look as full.)
- 20 to 30 nuts in their shell, such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and chestnuts
- Nontoxic-glue gun
- Gloves (garden or rubber, optional; if the pinecones are prickly, gloves make handling easier)
- 24-inch/61-cm piece of used ribbon or raffia (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF/90ºC.
2. Wash the pinecones. Fill the kitchen sink or bathtub with 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) of lukewarm water. Place the pinecones in the water and swoosh them around to remove any dirt or bugs. Drain the water, rinse the pinecones, and dry them with an old towel.
3. Line the baking sheets with the used aluminum foil, arrange the pinecones on the sheets, and bake for 30 minutes. (Baking the pinecones dries them out, removes the resin-and makes your home smell extra Christmasy!) Note: wash and bake the pinecones only if you're using pinecones you collected outside. Skip this step for pinecones purchased at a florist shop. Be sure to ask the florist if they have been cleaned.
4. Cut as many 7- to 8-inch (17- to 20-cm) pieces of light-gauge florist wire as you have pinecones. Fold the wire pieces in half.
5. Wrap a folded wire piece around the first pinecone and twist the loose ends tight around the pinecone to make sure the wire is secure. Repeat with the remaining wire pieces and pinecones.
6. Starting with the larger pinecones, and working from the inside of the wreath frame out and the bottom to the top, attach each pinecone's wire securely to the bottom wire of the wreath frame. Wire the second pinecone snugly next to the first, and repeat with each successive cone, keeping the pinecones snug against one another.
7. Once the wreath is as full as you want it, take the nuts and glue them to the pinecones. Make sure you find secure grooves in the wreath where you can easily attach the nuts.
Take the ribbon or raffia and make a bow. Cut one 6-inch (15-cm) piece of florist wire and loop it through the back of the bow. Twist the loop of florist wire around a pinecone near the top of the wreath. Cut the ends of the bow to the desired length.
Exerpted with permission from I'm Dreaming Of a Green Christmas: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that Use Less and Mean More (Chronicle Books)