I was able to gather a big bag of pine cones for free a few weeks ago to craft with (and they also served the purpose of keeping me awake on the drive as I pulled off and had to get out and walk around a few times). After baking them to get rid of bugs and extra sap I then had to decide what to do with them.
One project I decided on trying were these beautiful Pine Cone Fire Starters by Something Turquoise.
|Photo and Tutorial by Something Turquoise|
Aren't they gorgeous! While down in the Phoenix Valley I was able to go to a Hobby Lobby and gather the supplies I needed and save on Amazon shipping (the prices were pretty comparable on the actual items though, so if you have Amazon Prime you wouldn't have to go to the store to get the supplies). With the pine cones being free my project supply total came to $24, with some of the supplies ending up with leftovers because I couldn't buy just one block of wax coloring.
I read through the instructions three times and then jumped in. As I only was doing one 2-lb bag of wax flakes, I knew I needed a smaller container to melt the wax in than the big glass mixing bowl, so I dug through my pantry, found a large can of baked beans, transfered the beans to a bowl in the fridge, washed it out, and had it ready for use. The pine cones fit perfectly in the can and it meant I had to melt much less wax at a time than I would have in the large dish.
This is my water bath setup, with our cast iron pan and the baked beans can.
Without wax flakes in it the can floated, but once you added the wax flakes for melting it settled in. I only used 1/2 the flakes for the first set of cones so I could do two different colors.
All seemed to go well, and then it came time to add the color. I wanted a peachy color to match my photography branding so I added a whole block of yellow in first and then slowly added in red 1/8th of a block at a a time. That method worked...or it would have had I been patient. Following the instructions I dripped a dot of the hot wax on the waxed paper to see the color, but it seemed to light and yellow to me still. I forgot that I needed to wait for that dot to cool to see the true color of the wax. I added in 1/8th too much red and went from a peach to a coral. Still pretty, but not quite what I wanted. This wasn't a project buster though, so I pushed on. Lesson #1: Patience.
Next came the dipping. I'd wrapped my wick around 6 pine cones and had them waiting.
|How big are the pinecones? That big. 2 1/2 to 3" on average.|
I wanted this to be as time efficient as possible, so I waited the specified 30 minutes of cooling for the melted wax before dipping the pine cones, and then the 15 minutes in-between subsequent dips. All seemed well until one dip when I thought, "Hey, that looks like the wax is too cool, but I bet it works, I can just shake off the excess so I don't have to reheat and let it cool all over again." Nope. It clumped and lumped and stuck WAYYY too much to the cones. Great. Lesson #2: Patience.
So I heated the wax back up and tried dipping the cones while the wax was hot rather than waiting the 30 minutes. Didn't get much build up. So then I warmed the wax up hot again and let the pine cones sit in the wax for about 10 seconds to see if some of the excess build up would melt off. It did...but not great. I thought about just leaving the cone in the hot wax and keeping the heat on until all the wax melted off and basically starting over again. But I didn't want to spend the time, so I kept on dipping in hot wax layers.
It sorta worked...but finally I stopped because they weren't getting any better.
I ended up with two okay pine cones and 4 "I don't think I want to give those out" pine cones.
|One that worked.|
|Two that never saw their gift bags.|
I put it all away for two days, and then decided to try the 2nd batch.
I did the same set up, with the same techniques (only this time chickening out on the coloring-I was worried in my attempt to get a sage green that I'd end up with a lovely shade of puke and waste the last of the wax). But then I decided to deviate from the original instructions a little. She had her cooling times set for all 2lbs of the wax and a larger container. I decided with my smaller container that it might be better to not wait so long. Or that's what I hoped and decided to try.
I did my first dip immediately with the hot wax.
My second dip was done 20 minutes later.
My third dip was done 12 minutes later.
My fourth dip was done 12 minutes later.
And then it was time to reheat the wax so I didn't run into the clumping issue I had last time.
Once the wax was hot and 12 minutes had passed from the last dip I dipped again. I followed this pattern, dipping in the hot wax rather than letting it cool as per the instructions until I had the build up I wanted. It did take more dips, but I like the look of it so much! I did a total of 10 dips for the white cones, and I LOVE how these turned out.
Success finally! They smell so good and look so pretty!
So sometimes a project just takes a little tweaking and plenty of patience to get it to work for your circumstances. Adaptation is the key to survival...or so I'm told.