Monday, December 2, 2013

Craft a Pine Cone Santa Head Ornament

I made this pine cone Belznickle many years ago. He is a family favorite and is usually displayed near the top and front part of our largest Christmas tree.
      At first glance, this ornament looks complicated but it is much simpler to craft than many people believe. It is a very traditional craft. Back in the 1920s, folk artists in the Appalachia mountains made entire Santa/Belznickle figures from pine cones that they had collected from some of the surrounding pine trees. Most of the Appalachia woodlands are made up of deciduous trees but there are also some fine pines and firs mixed into the woods as well. 
       Victorians, 1837-1903,  also crafted Belznickle figures from giant pine cones. Originals of these are rare and highly prized by collectors!
       I crafted this Santa head using fur trim and a bit of silk Christmas holly. I simply hot-glued these two decorative elements to the top of my pine cone and painted the lower half with snowy white paint, glued on a bit of glitter and varnished the cone. I chose a cone that was missing some of it's pattern near the top so that I could blend into the cone a face of my own making. I sculpted this face using CelluClay. I repeated the lumpy pattern found on the cone in the shape of cheeks, closed eye lids and the nose with the paper pulp mixture. Then I let the head dry for a few days until I could paint and varnish Santa's features with acrylic paints.
      Above is a photo of my CelluClay, papier mâché pulp, both before and after I have mixed it with water. The mixture should have a sticky thick consistency after stirring the water in. It is important to mix these two ingredients well in order to dampen thoroughly the glue that is added to the pulp at the factory. Mixing the correct proportions will take some getting used to. This is a process that you do by experimentation. Don't throw out the mixture if it is too loose, just add more pulp. If it is too dry add more water.
More Examples of Pine Cone Santas or Belznickles:

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