Sparkling Decorations: How I Lighten & Glitter Pine Cones

Joy Us garden
by Joy Us garden
These pine cones are a bit too dark for the look I’m going for so I wanted to lighten and glitter them to bring on the sparkle.
There’s a pine tree near my driveway of my new home and the beautiful medium-sized cones have been dropping off every now and then. Kerplunk – they make quite the sound when they hit the ground. Seeing them laying on the ground prompted me into Christmas crafting mode and inspired me to make a holiday centerpiece. These pine cones are a bit too dark for the look I’m going for so I wanted to lighten and glitter them to bring on the sparkle.
Here’s are 2 cones side by side, 1 lightened & the other not, so you can see the difference.

I grew up in the bucolic countryside of Litchfield County, CT where I collected all kinds, shapes and sizes of cones. The spruce, pine, fir and hemlock trees on our property kept me well supplied with natural and free adornments. Our house was full of cone studded decorations! I still love using pine cones for my holiday creations many years later, even though I now live in the Arizona desert.
Lightening & glittering pine cones gives them a different look. Here’s how.
The Ingredients:

Cones. I used 2 sizes

Glitter. I used3 types of clear glitters – mica flake, crystal & iridescent.

School glue.

Paint brush.

Tray, saucer or dish to hold the glue mixture.

Not shown: bleach & a pail.

The steps:

1- Shake any debris off the larger cones & put them into a pail. Fill halfway with water. Add the bleach & add more water if necessary – you want the cones to be completely submerged. I used a ratio of 1/3 bleach to 2/3 water.

If you want your cones to be lighter than mine, then use more bleach.

2- Cover the cones with a plate & then put a weight over it – I used a piece of brick edging. This keeps them fully in the bleach mixture.
3- Put your cones in a covered area (for me it was the garage) away from children &/or animals. I left mine to “stew” for 3 days & added the smaller cones midway through & a bit more bleach.

4- The cones naturally close up in the water so they need to be opened back up. To do this I let them dry a bit outdoors & then place on a backing tray lined with foil (this keeps the sap from making a big mess). Place in a 200-250 degree F until they open back up, for me this took about 4 hours. Make sure you don’t leave home when the cones are baking in the oven.
Pine cones in the warm oven make the house smell like Christmas!

5- Now comes the fun part – making them all sparkly with glitter. I dilute the desired amount of school glue with water, a ration of about 1:1, & mix it together. I brush the glue on & then cover the cones with the glitter. I leave it on a few minutes & then shake the excess off.
This is the mica flake glitter. It gives a vintage snowy effect.
The crystal glitter gives a subtle shine.
Crystalline or iridescent glitter has different color specks in it & really catches the light.

Now the cones are all ready to grace my last minute Christmas centerpiece. The good thing about these lightened and glittered cones is that you’ll be able to use them for years to come. The glitter stays on and holds it shine beautifully. How lovely they’d be running down the center of the dining table illuminated by votive candles – simple, festive and sparkling!

Wishing you a sparkling & joy us holiday season,

Joy Us garden
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
  • Regina Hemingway Regina Hemingway on Dec 13, 2016
    What tools are needed for this project

  • Laura Laura on Dec 13, 2016
    Love the glittery ones! They don't retain the bleach smell?

  • Susan Susan on Nov 25, 2019

    Why do you have to bleach them in water for 3 days? Can’t you just use them right away? I have to buy mine do I need to follow these steps also?

Join the conversation
2 of 44 comments
  • Teresa Ann Ford Teresa Ann Ford on May 09, 2020

    So glad that I happen to read what you did with your cones and thank so much for taking the time to post it. I have so many cones in my yard and now I know how to make them pretty and add to wreaths. Thank you again.

  • Joy Us garden Joy Us garden on May 09, 2020

    You're welcome Teresa! A few years later, these cones are holding up beautifully. I use them every holiday season. Nell