How to Paint Acorns for Crafts

2 Materials
4 Hours

With Fall approaching, I’m trying my hand at acorn craft. Today I’m sharing the most effective way to prepare and paint acorns!

Late August, for me, if the best time of year to harvest acorns from oak trees. They’re still green, so aren’t quite mature yet, and haven’t fallen to the ground. So we pull them right off the branches. Only gather in a year when there is a bumper crop of acorns; our wild and furry friends rely on them as a food source! Leave behind any that have obvious pin holes; that means there are critters inside. I gathered our acorns in a plastic bag. That’s ok, but if you don’t plan on preparing them for a few days, transfer them into a mesh bag so they can breathe. If you leave them in plastic, they can start to go mouldy.

If you gather acorns from the ground, you should wash them first to remove dirt and debris.

Add some vinegar into a bucket of water. Swish the acorns around and change the water if they’re overly dirty. Then drain and allow to dry completely before moving onto the next step.

Dry Acorns

Drying acorns is essential; it kills off any critters that may be hiding inside. Heat will effectively destroy the risk of future insect problems.

As soon as you have enough acorns for your project, place a piece of tin foil on a cookie sheet or fashion a tray from the foil. Because you don’t want the acorns to roll away, be sure to fashion a lip around the makeshift foil tray. I have a toaster oven I specifically use for crafts.

Set the oven temperature to 200 degrees. I let them bake for anywhere from 2 – 3 hours. Initially, you can leave the door open a crack for the first hour to help dissipate any moisture. Once done, let them cool.

If you’re tempted NOT to remove the caps from the acorns now and glue them back on later in the process, they will eventually fall off anyway. So you might as well spend the time to do this upfront.

Pull the caps off the nut. Using a permanent number, write a corresponding number onto each cap and nut so you can easily pair them up later. To organize, a plastic tray with two compartments is ideal for this step. Put the caps in one end and the nuts in the other. If the nuts won’t release from the cap, wait a day or two and try again.

Prepare to Paint

I hand painted the acorns, but used a spray can to clear coat and preserve them. You'll be preparing 4 ft cedar strips (for spraying with clear coat) and paint sticks (for hand painting). The method explained below is the same for both.

Tear off two short pieces of masking tape and set aside. Pull out a strip of tape (sticky side up), keeping it attached to the roll. Take one piece of the short masking tape and attach it onto the end of the strip still attached to the roll. When you attach the shorter to the longer piece, put the sticky sides together. Wrap it underneath the stick so it attaches securely as shown below. Roll out the tape, tear the tape just beyond the end and do the same with the other side.

Paint Set-Up

Below is the paint stick set-up with masking tape. Onto the sticky tape surface, line up a row of acorns. Leave room in between to allow access with the paint brush.

Start painting the acorns with a 1/2″ flat brush. Start at the top, then move to the middle, then finally paint upward from the bottom for full coverage. The flat brush is ideal for maneuvering around the acorn. Tilt the stick to ensure you have paint coverage along the bottom; you can even turn it around to see all the angles.

If you find an acorn becomes unstuck as you are painting, keep an ice cream stick handy. Press it down onto the pointy top of the acorn and you’ll be able to continue painting with no problem.

Let the painted acorns dry 24 hours before top coating them.

With the longer cedar sticks prepared earlier, attach the flat bottom of the acorns onto the sticky surface. Also, I find it easiest to pair the acorn and cap side by side – with the numbers, this part is easy!

Hubs just holds the stick in his hand as he sprays. When one side is done, he turns the stick around and sprays the other side. Again, let dry overnight.

Glue Caps Back On

Gorilla contact adhesive does the trick to glue these back together. It provides a permanent bond that won’t fail, as long as you follow directions on the package.

Squeeze out a ring of glue around the nut and corresponding cap. Place them into an egg carton to set up for a full two minutes before bringing the two pieces together. I find it best to leave the caps in the lid (they're easier to grab once the glue sets up).

Keep an assembly line going in this manner until all the acorns have their corresponding caps.

Gorilla glue is pretty smelly so wait several days before using the acorns in your acorn craft to let them off-gas.

Crochet for a Cure

If you haven’t heard, this year we launched a pattern shop, where we’re donating 100% of our proceeds to Alzheimer’s. You’ll find patterns, like our signature Kayla Pillow, Air Planter Pods and Tooth Fairy Pillow (shown below), available to purchase as a donation to our Alzheimer’s fundraiser.

Come   visit us to purchase a pattern; with 100% going to charity, it’s a win-win!

Happy Fall everyone!

There are more tips and tricks on our website, so head there for more info (at the link below where you see our logo)!  While you're there, you can follow us so you don't miss any upcoming crafts.

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Suggested materials:

  • Acorns   (Oak tree)
  • Paint   (Had on hand)

Birdz of a Feather
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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6 of 13 comments
  • Susan Slawson Susan Slawson on Oct 07, 2021

    Our Oak trees in south Texas just don’t produce those big beautiful acorns. But I do love them and I love what you did.

    • See 2 previous
    • Sandys SYCmail Sandys SYCmail on Nov 14, 2021

      I live in central Texas and our acorns are smaller & kind of oblong shaped. I still think I might try painting some of them - I found a tutorial that uses them for a garland and I noticed a lot of them on the ground at the park the other day. I didn't realize you needed to bake them first, so I appreciated that tip! We have a rather small (4 ft) artificial Christmas tree, and I was thinking an acorn garland would look cute on it - I might alternate the acorns so that most of them are painted with some glittered ones here & there!! Some spray-on snow might be nice, too! So many possibilities - might even try some of that gold foil stuff.

  • Jackie Phillips Roberts Jackie Phillips Roberts on Oct 08, 2021

    Those are beautiful! Wish I could get some of that size!