I love bleached pinecones. They look beautiful in almost any settings from farmhouse to modern. They are especially gorgeous additions to fall and winter decor, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations.
However, so many of us are sensitive to bleach. Exposure to bleach can irritate the eyes, nose, lungs, and skin. There might also be negative environmental impacts when we dispose bleach.
Another challenge of bleaching pine cones is that you have to wait for a few days to let the pine cones soak in strong bleach, and let them dry. The results can vary quite a bit depending on the varieties of pine cones. So how do we make beautiful “bleached pinecones” without using bleach?
After testing on a bunch of pine cones, I think I have found a really simple and easy way to make natural looking “bleached pine cones”. Ready for the secret?
Here’s the real test: “Dad, look at these white pine cones, they are from a rare species of pine here!” If you get an answer like “Wow! ” you have succeeded! 🙂
How to use whitewash to create bleached look on pine cones.
In simple terms, whitewash is diluted white paint. It creates a soft look while still showing some natural variations and textures of wood, brick, or in this case, pinecones.
Although it is super quick and easy to whitewash pinecones, there are a few tips and tricks to make them look very natural, almost like real bleached pinecones (instead of painted white pinecones). I will share with you all the secrets in this tutorial!
If you are interested in how to whitewash wood, here’s a detailed tutorial with 3 simple techniques.
Materials and tools to make faux bleached pinecones.
( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
- pinecones: after collecting some pinecones, dry brush them clean using an old tooth brush, or wash them and let dry. Some pine cones will close up after they get wet, and open again once they are dry, so plan ahead if you decide to wash them.
- non-toxic acrylic or craft paint: here’s one of the secrets: THIS “Buttermilk” paint color makes the pinecones look like bleached.
- container to mix paint and dip the pinecones in, and (optional) rubber gloves
Step 1: mix paint to whitewash pine cones.
The paint color and consistency are keys to make the pinecones look like they are bleached pinecones instead of just painted white pinecones. This “Buttermilk” paint, as you can see, is not a pure white like white plastic container.
Mix 1 part water with 1 to 2 parts paint depending on how thick the paint is. Experiment with a couple of pine cones first, you can wash them clean if you don’t like the consistency. I used 1 part water to 2 part paint ratio for this “Buttermilk” acylic paint.
Related: Another great non-toxic pine cone decorations DIY- 3 minute DIY snow covered pine cones, branches, and berries in 3 easy ways, detailed tutorial here!
I used these DIY snow covered pine cones & branches in our enchanting snowy DIY mason jar centerpieces, tutorial here!
Step 2: dip pinecones in whitewash paint.
Wear gloves ( do what I say, not what I do…) and dip each pinecone in the diluted paint. Keep rotating the pinecone until it’s coated with whitewash in all the nooks and crannies.
Lift the pine cone, let the excess paint drip off for 10-20 seconds, and put the pine cone on a sheet of plastic to dry. That’s it!
Now let’s look at some ideas on how to use our “bleached pinecones” in home decor.
For an instant winter or Christmas decoration piece, place a mixture of natural and “bleached” pinecones in a glass jar. It would look beautiful on a table or a shelf.
You can also put a mixture of whitewashed pinecones, moss, and other natural elements in a bowl or basket as table decorations.
These soft white pine cones are gorgeous in DIY fall, winter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas centerpieces. Check out the DIY 10 minute centerpiece tutorial here.
Love pine cone crafts and decor? These DIY giant flowers with pine cones will make you feel like Alice in wonderland!