Friday, June 20, 2014

A Tutorial for a Hornet's Nest Ornament

I photographed my hornet's nest ornament outside in the crab apple tree. I think it looks pretty convincing. The next time I see it, it will be hanging on a pine tree instead.
A European hornet or a "bell hornet" nest
under construction. To read more about 
this type of hornet go here.
       Many years ago when my husband and I were first dating, we took a fall walk in the woods and came upon a large, abandoned hornets' nest. We were so excited to find one and in such marvelous condition too. My husband pulled down the branch the nest was hanging from and plucked off the nest to take home to his mother. She was absolutely over-joyed to see it!
      This is the memory I thought of when I found a large, dead hornet on my front walk last year. It was perfectly preserved and I believe that it may have been a queen because of it's size. I carefully removed it and tucked it into a drawer for later use. In our family, ornaments are frequently given to remind each other of a particular event. The event doesn't need to seem special to anyone other than ourselves. Today, I made a hornets' nest from paper, dryer lint, a twig and the hornet that I collected last year. I think Doug will enjoy the memory that it brings to mind.

Supply List:
  • old egg carton
  • twig
  • dryer lint (or cotton batting dyed grey)
  • a hornet or two (You can purchase fake ones from a silk flower supply.)
  • A bronze colored Sharpie
  • white school glue and super tacky glue
  • masking tape
  • newsprint, any kind
  • thin wire
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Select a strong twig from outdoors to "hang" your hornets' nest from.
  2. Twist a piece of newsprint and a couple of thin wires around the center of the twig. Leave a good quantity of the paper to dangle below the twig. Set this aside.
  3. Cut up an old egg carton and tape a few pieced together to serve as the walls of the hornet's nest.
  4. glue and tape the tail ends of newsprint inside the egg cup and then wrap the whole form together as one shape in masking tape.
  5. Lay out flat a thin sheet of dryer lint. Coat half of the "hive" with white school glue and lay the lint sheet, randomly gathered onto the tacky surface. Repeat the same for the remaining backside of the hive.
  6. Now glue into the layered lint, shredded egg carton scraps. Let the hive dry. This may take a day. I didn't cover the entire surface of my hive with paper shreds; I wanted to expose some of the nice textures and colors of the dryer lint.
  7. Use a bronze colored Sharpie to draw horizontal lines on top of the shredded egg carton scraps.
  8. Glue your wasps down firmly anywhere about the hive with tacky glue. 
  9. Fill in cracks where the insects meet the hive so that these will attach well.
  10. Coat the finished ornament with a watery glue layer.
Steps 1 - 4. The inside of the hornet's nest will be covered entirely with masking tape when completed.
After you have completed step 5., your hornets' nest should look something like the one pictured above.
Here you can see how I have added shredded egg carton to my hive in order to make it look more realistic. I also use a tacky white glue to attach my real hornet to the hive before drawing stripes onto the paper pieces with the bronze colored Sharpie. I found this hornet on the front walkway of my home, a dead queen bell hornet perfectly preserved, very curious.
Here is my completed hornet's nest. It looks so lifelike. Perhaps my husband will be startled when he unwraps his gift? I hope he doesn't throw it!
     "Watch a European hornet nest with the founding queen in the center of the video. Notice the size difference from the working hornets"

    1 comment:

    1. I never thought of using my dryer lint like this before! Who knew that something so ordinary could be made into something so beautiful?