Make Scale Miniature Fir and Pine Cones

  • 01 of 07

    Make Scale Miniature Fir and Pine Cones

    Three dolls house scale pine cones on a branch made from lycopodium moss.
    Dolls house scale tree cones made from paper and wire on a scale miniature tree branch made from lycopodium moss (princes pine). Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Cones are an important feature of many trees, and scale miniature trees look more realistic if some are included. Although many people use cones from alder trees to represent pine cones, they are usually wildly out of scale.

    The instructions that follow demonstrate how to make scale fir, spruce and pine cones from wire and paper. If you want to make a particular kind of tree cone, examine photographs to see how your chosen cone differs from the examples given on the next few pages.

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  • 02 of 07

    Assemble the Materials to Make Scale Tree Cones

    Materials needed to make scale miniature tree cones from paper and wire.
    Paper, wire, glue, tweezers and a circular paper punch are used to make scale miniature tree cones. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    To make dolls house or railroad scale tree cones you will need:

    • Letter Weight Paper brown or painted brown or greenish brown for cones. You will need a small piece 2 inches by 3 inches to make 6 cones.
    • PVA (white) Glue
    • Fine Pin or Needle to apply glue.
    • Fine Paper Covered Wire I used # 30 wire and painted mine brown.
    • Small Circle Paper Punch Use one that is 1/8 inch or smaller. They are available as hand or craft punches.
    • Paper Embossing Tool or rounded toothpick to shape cone scales.
    • Eraser or Mousepad to shape cone scales on.
    • Fine straight Tweezers
    • Fine Sharp Pointed Scissors If you want to make bracts for particular cone types.
    • Small Daisy Shaped Punch if you want to make bracts for Douglas Fir cones.

    If necessary color both sides of your paper a suitable brown color. Set aside to dry.

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  • 03 of 07

    Make a Simple Fir Cone in 1:12 Scale

    A paper embossing tool pressing down into paper circles to shape them for use in miniature cones.
    Use an embossing tool to shape paper circles into scales for miniature tree cones. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Prepare the cone scales to make miniature tree cones.

    Begin by punching out at least twenty circles from your brown paper using the paper punch. Place the circles on an eraser or mousepad and draw a line across them with the embossing tool or rounded toothpick. Press the embossing tool into the center of each circle to cup it gently into the shape of a cone scale. Set the shaped paper circles aside in a safe place where they will not blow away.

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  • 04 of 07

    Add the Miniature Cone Scales to Wire to Form Tree Cones

    Five pieces of wire showing the different stages of making a miniature scale tree cone.
    A wire tip is wrapped with a circle of paper, and further circles are added below it in a spiral o make a typical tree cone in miniature. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Add the Cone Scales to Wire to Form the Miniature Tree Cones

    Take a piece of paper covered or brown painted fine wire, and dab the top end with a tiny amount of glue. Use tweezers to place a shaped circle from the previous step at the top of the wire (see the wire on the left in the photo above). Roll the circle and the wire between your fingers to wrap the circle completely around the top of the wire.

    Take a second paper circle and attach it to the wire opposite the first circle. Use your fingers to pinch it gently around the existing paper circle.

    Continue to add circles around the wire in a spiral pattern. Apply glue to the wire with the tip of a pin or needle, then attach the circular cone scales to the dab of glue. Different tree species will have different patterns for their cones. Some, like spruce cones, will be flatter and closer to the wire, with less of an spiral pattern evident. Others, like the Douglas fir cones being made above will be quite curved and will spiral down the wire overlapping each other by less than 1/3. Look carefully at real cones to see which pattern you wish to copy.

    Continue adding scales to the cone wire until the cone is the length you want it to be. Douglas Fir cones are usually 3 to four inches in length. Other cones may be larger or smaller.

    When your cone is the right size, set it aside to dry and start a new cone. If you will be adding the cones to a miniature tree or a wreath, leave 1 - 2 inches of wire at the base of the cone. If you will be scattering the cones on the ground or setting them in a basket, cut the wire off at the base of the cone and paint any exposed wire brown to match the cone.

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  • 05 of 07

    Tip - Keeping Miniature Tree Cones In Scale

    A natural alder cone is shown next to a dolls house scale Douglas Fir Cone made from paper and wire.
    A natural alder cone, often used for scale pinecones, is shown next to a dolls house scale Douglas Fir cone made from paper and wire. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Here you can see natural cones from an alder tree which are often used to represent pine cones in miniature scales. To represent cones in scale, they should be the correct size of the real cone. These alder cones represent real cones six to eight inches in height, which are large tree cones. As they are an open shape, they can easily be modified with Acrylic Paint Mediums to more closely resemble pine cones.

    The smaller Douglas fir cones are 3 to five inches long on real trees, and cones from other fir and spruce species may be even smaller. The size of your miniature cone will depend on the size of punched circle you use and the spacing you use on the wire. Spacing the circles closer together will make a fatter cone.

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  • 06 of 07

    Making Miniature Tree Cones for a Specific Species - Douglas Fir

    A dolls house scale cone with the typical bracts identifying it as belonging to a Douglas Fir.
    A miniature Douglas Fir cone made from paper in dolls house scale, shows the mouse shaped bracts typical of this species. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Douglas Fir tree cones have a peculiar extra piece or bract, which resembles the rear end of a mouse. These bracts stick out from the cone stem, centered on the round cone scale above.

    To make bracts for Douglas Fir cones, use a daisy punch to cut out several small (about 1/4 to 3/8 inch) daisies. Separate the daisies into separate petals by cutting into the center of the daisy. Use your sharp scissors to cut a notch into both sides of the wide end of the daisy petal, about 1/4 of the way up the petal. Trim the centre of the petal into a narrow tail above these notches, which represent the feet of the mouse as they appear on the Douglas Fir Cone Bract.

    When you have cut several of the bracts, dab a little glue on the base of the bract with a pin, and set it in between two cone scales, so that it is centered on the cone scale above it. Place these bracts on most of your cone scales for each Douglas Fir Cone.

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  • 07 of 07

    Finishing Your Miniature Tree Cones

    Three dolls house scale pine cones on a branch made from lycopodium moss.
    Dolls house scale tree cones made from paper and wire on a scale miniature tree branch made from lycopodium moss (princes pine). Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    To finish your miniature tree cones, run a colored pencil or a fine brush over any unpainted edges if necessary. Some cones naturally have a lighter colored edge.

    Set the cones on tree branches in groups or patterns that match how they grow in nature. Some cones will hang down (including douglas fir) some will sit straight up on the tips of the branches like candles (most of the true firs). Setting your cones on branches in correct way will make your cones (and trees) look more realistic).

    To use your cones on wreaths or in floral displays, you can curve them using the wire to make them a more natural shape.