Sunday 11 December 2016

Tutorial: Pinecone Xmas Tree

Well, this is my first ever tutorial, so please bear with me! Each year I would think of how much I would have enjoyed to have a tiny xmas tree for my dolls, and take lovely pictures of them... but I never did anything about this. This year, with all the making of the diorama for my tinies, I got the perfect idea for a tree, and decided to make a tutorial to share it with you.

The goal: a Christmas tree made with a pinecone, because I wanted something easy to make a little more rustic, that would go well with my diorama. Of course, this works great as a "huge" tree for 16cm dolls, but I guess it can be a middle or small tree for 1/4 and 1/3 dolls.

Anyways, here is a photo of the finished tree, and there will be materials lists and steps-by-steps under the cut! Please be kind with the steps photos, as I took them while I was doing the tree, so their quality is not the best.


Some of this materials are optional, and I will give alternatives and more details on the Steps section:
  • A pine cone. I grabbed mine from a park (it was fallen on the ground), but I was told that in other countries you can buy them on stores.
  • White acrylic. I used regular acrylic and dimensional acrylic.
  • Spray varnish. I used both glossy and matte.
  • Star-shaped xmas decorations to make the point of the tree.
  • Beaded cord to make the tree decorations (optional).
  • Modeling clay (I used DAS and cold porcelain).


You can click on the photos to make them bigger and see them more clearly if you need them.

One of the first steps was making the base/pot. Of course you can simply buy a tiny pot, but I didn't find anything that would suit my tree. So here are the steps to make a tiny pot. I used uncolored DAS clay because it is way easier to sand. The following numbered steps correspond to the photo:
  1. Got clay and made a ball. Then pressed it until it had to plain sides. Consider that my sculpting skills are null, so the next blurry step was to fight the clay while trying to shape the inside. As you can guess I have long nails, so the inside was completely marked by them. However, it won't be showing at all, so I didn't bother about it.
  2. Let the clay dry (if it is air-dry), or cook it, if it applies.
  3. Sanding time! First I used a strong sandpaper, and sanded (in order) the curvy side, the base, the diagonal edge between the side and the base, and then turned the pot and sanded the top, so that it would be even. Then, I finished it with a softer sanding paper.
  4. Painting time! I used simple white acrylic. I needed three layers to get a nice coverage.
  5. Spray varnish. I used matte spray varnish. Two layers where enough.
I bet you can see how it went from pathetic to decent, all because of sanding. That is why I used DAS for this part. Sanding makes miracles.

Next step was making the decorations! You have two options in here:
  • You can use the beads cord as decorations. To do this, simply cut bead by bead from the cord, until you have all the ones you will need. This is easy to do!
  • Make the beads yourself! I did this because I couldn't find a cord with beads tiny enough.
As I did the second option, here are the steps:
  1. I used cold porcelain for this because it is lighter than DAS, but sturdier enough. Grab a little clay and make tiny balls in different sizes, according to your pinecone size.
  2. Let the balls dry or cook them, depending on your clay.
  3. Painting time! I grabbed a big enough plastic and painted the would-be-ornaments with red acrylic. I managed to get them "stuck" on the plastic by painting a little of it too. It was impossible to hold them in my hands while painting them.
  4. Once the painting is dry, varnish the ornaments. I used glossy spray varnish for this. Three layers and they were glossy enough.
  5. Once the ornaments are dry, put them in a container. It makes manipulating it easier.

Now that the ornaments where done, let's start with the tree.
  1. As I grabbed a fallen pine-cone on a park, it was a little dirty. Because of that, I started by cleaning it with a slightly wet cotton and qtip, drying it with kitchen rolls to not damage it.
  2. After it was clean and dry, I used the regular white acrylic to add a little snow effect on the edges. Let this dry enough time.
At this point, please excuse the stupid me. I took some photos of the process but then realized the SD card was not on the camera!!! *facepalms*

Now we are finally near assembling!! Here are the steps:
  1. Get the pot ready! Now I got a little cold porcelain, and filled the inner side of the pot. I used cold porcelain because it is sticky.
  2. Get the pine cone, and put it on top of the cold porcelain. Press until it gets on the desired pose. Take in mind that pine cones may not be symmetric.
  3. Remove the cone. Grab glue, and add it to the cold porcelain. I also added some fake moss on the base, put more glue. and got the cone on top.
  4. Let this dry, you will need the tree very firm.
  5. Here comes the fun part! I wanted snow everywhere, so I got a bottle of dimensional acrylic. With all the patience, I added dimensional paint on top of the white acrylic from Step 2. I tried to make it look like if it was falling, or dropping from one "leaf" to another.
  6. Let this dry again. It make take a little more.
  7. I put three layers of matte spray varnish on top, in order to seal the painting.
  8. Now grab glue again. You will want this glue to be clear, because you will be adding the ornaments to the tree, on top of the snow!
  9. Let this dry again. This hobby cultivates patience.
  10. Now put the star on! I removed the lace part, then spray varnished twice on each side to prevent the glitter from falling.

Additionally, you can also make the tiny gifts! I used a cube box pattern and printed it on a thick paper. Then made the boxes and completed them with shiny paper and some ribbons... or you can purchased gift-shaped ornaments and get them easily!

Anyways, I will be doing a better photo-shoot of the tree soon, hopefully in front of the diorama. Hope you will find this useful! I wish I had time to share this earlier! Any plans for this Xmas? Have a great weekend!!


  1. Well, this was a very good and detailed tutorial! Had no problems at all to understand or get confused and the photos is very good! I need to see if I can find some cones over here. The ones I have found are so tiny. More suited for a Christmas tree for a table and in a doll house.
    Thanks for sharing this tutorial!

    1. Thank you!! I would love to see your pinecone tree, hope you can find one in the correct size! :D It took me some time to find one this big, to be honest!

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial. What a neat idea for making a doll size Christmas tree.

  3. Well Musume aren't you a clever little bunny! A simple, but fun tutorial for us all to make and enjoy, thank you!

  4. What a great tutorial, I really love this idea for dolls and it seems to fit dioramas just perfectly! :D Thanks so much!

  5. Me encanta el resultado, y la idea muy original!!! Por supuesto Merry y Cookie no pueden tener un árbol dentro de la casa porque la casa es el árbol XDDD pero esto les va perfecto!!! Que paciencia para hacer hasta las pelotitas! te felicito~

    Los pasos están muy claros y las fotos están re bien, aunque te entiendo, cuesta mucho sacar "buenas" fotos del paso a paso en un tutorial porque uno está mas preocupado de hacer el asunto bien de que andar sacando fotos con buena luz y encuadre ajaja

    1. Me alegro que te guste!!
      Es cierto, estaba más enfocada en hacerlo cuando tenía tiempo y que el árbol quedara bien, que las fotos de los pasos son cualquier cosa =S

  6. This is such a cute idea :D And the result is so great!
    I like how it's original and creative as opposed to just buying a tree (if you can even find them)

    1. Thank you so much!! I couldn't find such a small tree, and the potted one I have is way too big for dolls already xD

  7. ¿Que hermoso te ha quedado el árbol de navidad! Muy claro el tutorial y muy bien explicado. Cookie y Merry se verán fascinantes junto a él. ¿Merry abrirá algunos regalos antes o podrá esperar la nochebuena?

    1. ¡Muchas gracias! Me alegro que guste :D

  8. Thank you so much for this tutorial! Our workplace has fantastic pine cones in some trees in their yard and I'm sure I can take few! >w< I'll definitely give it a go, I love your little tree, it is super adorable with the diorama and dolls!

    1. Happy you liked it this much! If you do, please share the results, I would love to see your tree! <3

  9. I immediately wanted to try this when I saw it! It's so cute, and your pictures are so festive! I love to see sharing crafts trending on doll blogs!