How To Make Pine Cones Look Like Lilacs: Spring Handicraft Treats

Paul West/ Backyard Ornamental, Backyard Handicraft

The arrival of spring brings with it the blooming of beautiful lilac flowers. Their sweet fragrance and vibrant purple hues herald the changing of seasons. If you love decorating your home with these seasonal flowers but don’t want to keep buying new ones, try crafting realistic lilacs using pine cones!

In this comprehensive tutorial, you’ll learn how to make pine cones look like lilacs, transforming them into gorgeous floral creations that resemble real lilac blooms. With just a few simple supplies and following the steps outlined here, you can make lovely lilac decorations to display in your home year after year.

Gather Your Pine Cone Crafting Supplies

To begin your faux lilac project, you will need to gather the following supplies:

  • Pine cones in various sizes
  • Acrylic paint in lilac, purple, and green shades
  • Craft paintbrushes
  • Hot glue gun + glue sticks
  • Fake lilac flowers
  • Floral wire in green
  • Scissors
  • Container to hold finished pine cone lilacs

Tip: Look for pine cones of different shapes and sizes. Cones with clusters of petal-like edges resemble lilac blooms more closely. Pick tightly closed pine cones as well – they’ll open up nicely when painted.

It’s also helpful to have a work surface covered in paper or cloth for minimal mess while painting. An apron can protect your clothes too.

Choosing the Right Pine Cones

When selecting pine cones for this project, keep an eye out for:

  • Tightly closed cones – Closed cones will open up when painted, resembling lilac blooms. Avoid already opened and damaged cones.
  • Clusters of petal-like edges – Pine cones with clustered, ruffled edges along the scales look more like flowers. Cones with smoother surfaces won’t have the same effect.
  • Variable sizes – Collect pine cones in small, medium and large sizes. This adds realism as lilac blooms also vary in size.
  • Undamaged and unbroken – Pick pine cones free of holes, tears or breakage for longevity. Broken tips can be trimmed but avoid excess damage.

Gather more cones than you need so you have plenty to choose from. Keep them in a bag or box while collecting. Don’t wash them yet – washing comes after painting.

Prepping Pine Cones for Painting

Before painting your pine cones, follow these preparation tips:

  • Wipe away any dirt or debris using a dry cloth or paper towel. Remove loose scales or splinters.
  • Using gardening shears or scissors, trim away any damaged sections on the pine cones, like broken tips or torn edges.
  • Optional – For closed pine cones, gently pry open the scales using your fingers. Don’t force them too wide open.
  • Set aside your best, intact pine cones in a dedicated container. Remove any excess debris or particles before painting.

Proper prep ensures your pine cones will hold paint well and resemble lilac blooms once the transformation process begins!

Painting Pine Cones in Lilac Hues

The painting stage is the real fun – seeing your pine cones transform into blossoms! Follow this step-by-step painting guide for the most realistic results:

1. Choose Your Paint Colors

Select at least 2-3 lilac shades for the pine cone flowers. Aim for lighter and darker variations, like:

  • Pale lilac
  • Lavender
  • Vibrant violet
  • Deep purple

Acrylic craft paints work best as they offer bright, durable color. You’ll also need green paint for the stems.

2. Set Up Your Work Area

Cover your work surface with newspaper, disposable tablecloth or plastic sheeting. This protects the area from paint spills and drips. Have your paints and brushes ready nearby.

3. Base Coat the Pine Cones

Use a thick flat brush to apply the lightest lilac shade as a base coat on each pine cone. Paint in sections – don’t coat the entire cone in one go or the paint may pool unevenly.

Let the base color dry completely before moving to the next steps.

4. Add Darker Accents

Use a small detail brush to add touches of the darker purple and violet shades. Apply these paint accents near the edges and tips of each scale.

This mimics how the centers of lilac petals are often darker than the edges. Don’t overdo it – a few well-placed accents will look most natural.

5. Highlight Raised Areas

Once the darker accents are dry, use an almost-dry brush to gently sweep over any raised/ridged areas on the pine cones. This picks up excess paint and highlights the natural texture.

6. Paint Pine Cone Stems

For the last touch of color, use a narrow brush to paint a “stem” along the bottom of each pine cone using green paint. Make the stems approx 1-2 inches long.

Set aside the painted pine cones and allow all the paint to dry fully before assembly.

Assembling Realistic Pine Cone Lilacs

After the painting is complete, it’s time to assemble your pine cones into floral bouquets! Here are some tips for making them look like real lilac arrangements:

1. Group by Size

Organize your painted pine cones into small, medium and large groupings. Try to use pine cones of varied sizes in each bundle for realism.

2. Add Lilac Accents

Use hot glue to attach store-bought faux lilac blooms among the pine cone flowers. Aim for 1-2 real flowers per bundle. This adds authenticity.

3. Wire Stems Together

Take a small bunch of 3-5 pine cones. Wrap floral wire around the stems to bind them together into mini bouquets. Repeat for all pine cones.

4. Create Full Arrangements

Use hot glue to assemble the individual bundles into full pine cone lilac arrangements. Group together bouquets of different sizes for depth.

5. Shape the Bouquets

Gently bend and arrange the stems to shape the bouquets. Lilacs have a rounded, dome-like shape. Mimic this natural shape.

6. Display in Vases or Pots

Place each completed pine cone lilac arrangement in a vase, pot or basket. Glass vases show off the colors nicely.

With that, your crafted pine cone lilacs are ready to impress! Adorn your home with these handmade blooms and enjoy their beauty.

Displaying Your Pine Cone Lilac Creations

Now comes the fun part – finding perfect spots to show off your crafty floral creations! Here are some ideas:

  • Kitchen island or dining table centerpieces
  • Coffee tables or side tables in your living room
  • Nightstands or dressers in your bedroom
  • Shelves, mantels or tabletops
  • Front porch accents or patio decor
  • Office desks to brighten your work-from-home space

Pine cone lilacs look beautiful anywhere you place them! Their colors and natural vibe complement both rustic cottage decor as well as modern minimalist homes.

For outdoor areas, use weather-resistant paints and sealants so your creations can withstand the elements. Place them in covered areas for longer lifespan.

Caring for Your Crafted Lilacs

To make your pine cone lilacs last for years, follow these care tips:

  • Keep them away from direct sunlight to prevent fading.
  • Gently dust with a soft brush periodically. Avoid excess moisture.
  • If placed outdoors, bring them indoors during rainy spells and winter months.
  • Check for damage or looseness. Make repairs with hot glue as needed.
  • When not on display, store in boxes in a cool, dry spot.
  • When the pine cones start drying over time, lightly mist them with water to rehydrate the scales.

With occasional maintenance, your faux lilac arrangements will stay fresh and vibrant for seasons to come!

Wrapping It All Up

Transforming humble pine cones into stunning floral bouquets is an extremely satisfying DIY project. With this comprehensive guide, you now have all the know-how needed to craft realistic faux lilacs from foraged or purchased pine cones.

Feel free to get creative with your own color schemes and design ideas too. The beauty of natural pine cone crafts is you can customize them to suit your personal style.

So gather some pine cones on your next woodland walk, ready your craft supplies, and breathe new life into these unassuming cones. Before you know it, you’ll have beautiful floral decor to show off indoors and out!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Paint Works Best for Pine Cones?

Acrylic craft paint is ideal for painting pine cones. It adheres well to the textured surface, offers bright colors, and dries quickly. Look for acrylics labeled non-toxic if crafting with kids.

Can I Add Scent to My Pine Cone Lilacs?

For added realism, mist your completed pine cone lilacs lightly with lilac essential oil or fragrance. You can also place potpourri inside the arrangements. Avoid over-spraying since moisture can damage the pine cones.

Is There a Difference Between Crafting with Fresh vs. Dried Pine Cones?

Fresh pine cones from trees work too but may be harder to paint. Dried pine cones are ideal as they readily absorb paint. Look for undamaged dried cones without mildew or decay.

What are Some Alternatives to Hot Glue for Assembling?

Instead of hot glue, options like craft wire, floral tape or strong white glue can attach pine cones. Hot glue is fastest and most secure, but test alternatives if needed.

How do I Dry Pine Cones Quickly After Painting?

Speed drying by placing painted pine cones on a baking sheet in a low heat oven (180°F) for 15-20 minutes. Air drying takes longer – allow at least 24 hours before assembly.

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Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!