decorative pine cone using paper recyclables

November 22, 2010 § 4 Comments

About two weeks ago, I was approached by Reena, the owner of, requesting my permission to feature my butternut squashes on the eco-artware-notes blog site for this week of Thanksgiving.  I was very flattered.  Thank you, Reena.  Eco-artware has some of the most wonderful sustainable art and décor you could find online, and a long list of very intriguing, creative artists and environmental advocates.  With all my wonder came guilt.  I often craft without bringing to mind the impact my work makes on the environment, especially with my significant use of paper.  The topic of sustainability was an emphasis in my architecture training, and today, I am reminded and shamed of how little it’s been in my consciousness in recent years.  I hope to get some reprieve for the less ecological crafts I’ve made and will be making in the future.  Today, I want to take a greener approach to a fun holiday craft: making a large decorative pine cone out of paper recyclables.

This summer, I had my first encounter with giant sequoia trees while hiking in Tuolumne Grove in Yosemite.   O.T. and I took the time to scour the grounds for the most handsome fallen giant cones to take home.  It occurred to me that since my “real” home is Toronto and not San Jose, I would require a clean pass through customs.  I would never risk consequential penalties with the law for a couple of mammoth cones, so I let the experience of these amusing novelties remain south of the border.  There are no sequoia trees anywhere near Toronto, so a homemade version will do.  *Edit: I thought O.T. and I had picked up sequoia cones, but as Suzi commented, these are in fact sugar pine cones.  Thanks, Suzi!

For this project, I repurposed a used paper towel core cut to about 7″ long and a few kraft paper bags.

1. Cut strips of the kraft paper bags in decreasing size, from about 8″ wide to 2″ wide.  They don’t have to be exact.  Fold each strip in half so that the print is hidden inside.  You will have folded strips about 4″ wide to 1″ wide.

2. Cut each strip into several slices, each being no more than 2″ wide.  Continue for all the strips, each time getting narrower, but no less than 1″ wide.

3. Fold each piece in half, and cut a curve on the open side.

4. Open each piece and cut a slit from the bottom, up to about 1″.

5.  With the crease facing upwards, fold the bottom sides up with a slight angle away from the crease.

6. Slit your paper towel core in four quadrants and tape the sides to form a peak.

7. Start taping the pieces to the paper towel core, starting from the peak of the paper towel core, and using the smallest pieces first.

8. Continue adhering all the strips, working towards the widest pieces, until you reach the bottom.

9. Once you reach the bottom, tuck and tape the last pieces into the paper towel core.

I decided to use my 7″ wide hurricane vase to display my giant paper sugar pine cone, but it’s up to you to place it wherever you feel it brings life to a room!

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