Tips for Preparing Acorns for Decorating and Crafting

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My friend mentioned to me that there just had to be something she could do with the garbage can filled with acorns she had just raked up from her yard…aside from starting an oak forest.   You too?

Recently, I shared the first of several upcoming ideas for creating home decor with acorns here.

 

Tips for Preparing Acorns for Decorating and Crafting

 

Can you imagine living in a virtual oak forest and never having crafted anything with acorns?  [guilty]

This year…I’m making up for lost time.  There’s a county park within walking distance and I’ve filled up a couple of bags of assorted acorn varieties.  Some with fat wide caps and others with tall oriental style caps, tiny ones and jumbo ones.  It’s so fun to discover their individual uniqueness.

Last year I gave up trying to score acorns (I guess the deer beat me to them.) and moved on to pine cones.  I knew that I had to think about bugs and such and I needed to dry them out…so I did a little experimenting with my pine cones and wrote this popular post.

With that past experience, I knew I needed to learn more about oak acorns.  I know nothing about oak trees….even though I have a Master Gardener certificate.  (I guess I dozed off during the oak tree lecture. [wink])

There’s so much to learn…but today…

 

A few helpful tips for preparing acorns for decorating and crafting.

 

Try to pick up acorns early in the season and after a good wind storm.  You’ll have fresher ones and more to choose from and the picking is easier.  Squirrels, chipmunks, and deer are pretty quick to scarf up their treats.

 

Tips for preparing acorns for crafting and home decor

 

If you’re planning on using acorns in your home decor, it’s a good idea to wash your collected acorns and bake them to kill their insect residents.

The first thing you want to do, once your get your treasures home, is to clean them.  Place several handfuls in a large bowl and using the faucet’s aerator, fill up the bowl with water.  Then agitate the acorns in the water, with your hands, briskly to remove the dirt.

Next, remove the acorns from the water and place them in a colander and dispose of the dirty water.

Repeat this process until the water is fairly clean….as many as four or more times.

 

Preparing Acorns for Crafting

 

If you want to eat your acorns or grind them into a flour…place a few handfuls at a time in a clean bowl of water.  If the acorn sinks…it’s bug free and edible.  If it floats…there are little beasties lurking behind that acorn’s pretty facade. (Most of mine floated even though many had little holes from which their inhabitants had already exited.)  Those will need to be baked for sure.

 

Cleaning and Baking Acorns for Crafting

 

Once you have completed this process, lay your acorns on a foil covered jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) and allow them to air dry before putting them in the oven to bake.

 

Tips for Preparing Acorns for Crafting and Decorating

 

Set your oven for 175 or 200 degrees.  (In my haste I set mine for 250 degrees, but some of them darkened a little too much.)  Bake your acorns with the oven door ajar for several hours to dry and debug them…turning them (stir them around) several times.

Remove them from the oven and allow to cool.  Some will have shrunk and will need to have their caps glued on.

So there you have it!  My tips for preparing acorns for decorating and crafting!

 

Tips for Preparing Acorns for Crafting and Decorating

 

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with oak trees.

The home we built in Michigan had two oak trees and my neighbors had scores of them down the street.  Our neighborhood was a virtual oak forest.

After cooling us with their lovely green canopy all summer long, and finally after 14 years, growing tall enough to shade our dining room from the hot sun in the west, they seemed to maliciously shed their leaves and corns come fall and winter.  Some years they even had the audacity to hang onto their leaves until there was plenty of snow on the grown and then in the midst of all that pristine whiteness they would drop their leaves.  The nerve!!  Anyway…that’s all I know about oak trees, their leaves and nuts.

This year as I walked a local county park I discovered some very tiny pale tan round balls.  Littering the ground. They looked like they were made of wood or clay.  I picked up a few, examined them, and looked around for their source.  As I carefully scanned the giant oak above my head, I spied tiny little tan balls clinging to the twigs midst the leaves.  What were these little balls?  Another oak fruit or nut I never heard of?

 

Tips for Drying Acorns for Crafting & Decorating

 

After a bit of Googling, we discovered those tiny balls were first year acorns.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I cannot believe that after years of oak trees in my yard and tromping through the woods and scavenging for leftovers from Mother Nature’s bounty, I never ever saw them before now.

These tiny acorns will grow a cap and increase their size many times in their second year.

 

Tips for Drying Acorns for Crafting and Decorating

 

You know how you hear that there will be a bad winter when there are lots of acorns?  If that’s the case…we’re in for a doozy.  The poor photo above is of acorns along the side of the road where I walk.  Just a few….

Last winter was the worst I’ve known, and there were hardly any acorns in my neck of the woods… so I guess the tale is just that.

I think the production of acorns is more in keeping with the kindness of the growing season.  If the summer is harsh and dry, those first year acorns probably won’t make it the first year, let alone hang on and mature to the second year.  This was a good growing year.  There was plenty of moisture and it wasn’t overly hot, which was helpful to the tree.  So, the second year corns were able to grow and ripen quite nicely.

 

How do you decorate or craft with acorns?

Do you have any tips for preparing your acorns?

 

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Best wishes for An Extraordinary Day!
Diane

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Comments

  1. Wow…..now I know what those odd but cute balls are! And I agree with you– it’s been a great year for trees and the colours this fall (and all those acorns) is proof of that. I knew about the sinking acorn deal. Since I like to use nature’s gifts to scatter around when I decorate it really matters that the bugs don’t get a free ride.

    • I love taking in Mother Nature’s beauties….but those little hitch hikers can take a hike right out my door! 😉
      Now only if the color would stay around and the temps choose not to drop….fall is just tooo short!

      • Theresa Klyne says:

        My acorns are still green , do l just let them sit outside , to get them brown,? the squirrels are very hungry so had to pick before all gone.

        • Sorry about those pesky squirrels. My acorns never fall until they are mostly brown… and it’s much later in the season. When they’re brown they’re ripe inside and their shells are dryer. I’m guessing that if you dry them in the oven at a lower temp for longer it may work. It’s worth experimenting.

  2. Thanks for the info on preparing the acorns.

  3. Tonya Gambin says:

    Thank you for this post, it was beautiful.
    I have always loved acorns, nature gives us so many beautiful things if we only take the time to notice them.
    In this world people often miss the simple pretty things god gives us.
    This was beautiful, unfortunately they are not in my area, but they are in my grocery/craft store some times 🙂

  4. OK, I’m late for this party, but my email has not been getting all my blogs I subscribe to for several months!! I’ll not complain anymore, since you are back, and hopefully for good! As for acorns, being raised on a ranch in Northern Californing (way northern, 80 miles or more above Sacramento) I had tons of acorns to play with. Now that I live in AZ, I have yet to find a cactus that has them (sigh). I’m so envious of you! In a good way. Wish I could have a couple pounds of them!!

    • I’m sorry for the hit and miss on the emails Dona. I discovered that many of my favorite blogs end up in my spam folder. So…check there and then add me to your email contacts…that should help. What does Mother Nature give you in AZ to craft and create with? I so take for granted living in the verdant eastern midwest. Good to see you again, Dona! Thanks so much for taking the time to say “Hi!” Hope your week is extraordinary!

  5. Jann Olson says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips Diane. I love acorns! Don’t have any in my yard, but I gather them on trips and walks. I have been lucky and not had any bugs. I have some in a 2 tiered wire basket in my little bathroom off the garage all year long. I had a friend that put some in a bowl and later discovered little worms crawling all over. EEK! From now on when I gather I will roast in the oven. I had wondered about doing that or freezing them to kill any little critters that might have taken up residency inside. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  6. Great tips Diane! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks for linking your extra-ordinary tips and projects up at our party @FineCraftGuild.com. It’s really fun having you party with us!! See you again tomorrow! ~ Rose

  8. Oh, and btw. I know this is going to happen as a result of reading your post… I will keep my eyes on the ground at my park walk this morning, looking for those acorns! I used to collect them in a vase for display. An easy Fall decor idea.

    • Haha! You’ll be finding acorns everywhere now, Rose!!
      Acorns are such an easy idea for decorating. Funny how we like them so much. 😉
      Thanks for popping by! Hope your week is filled with extraordinary creativity!

  9. Great tips! Lots of cute things to do with acorns. I actually just read that you can eat them too! Made my way here via the Sew Can Do Craftastic link party. I’d love it if you stopped by my blog sometime!

    • Awww…thanks Courtney! I wonder what the acorns taste like. You’ll laugh, but just like ants and crickets, I’m not brave enough to try them yet. 😉
      Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope your week is extraordinary!

  10. Living in the South, we have loads of buggy critters. I learned the hard way to prepare my acorns for decorating when I looked at my beautiful centerpiece and saw a glass vase full of little white wormy things! EEEEWWWW!!!!!!
    Now, I microwave my acorns (spanish moss too). Placed in a zip-lock bag with a small opening for “breathing room,” I zap them for several 15-20 second intervals.

    BAM! Bugs be gone and welcome to festive fall!

    • I so rarely use a microwave, I never would have thought to do that Leslie Anne. Nuke those little buggers!! 🙂
      Thanks so much for sharing that!!

  11. I am an acorn collector/hoarder and this year I have seen tons of acorns! There was a lot of rain this week and I am hoping that it doesn’t ruin all of the hoe ones I have yet to pick up yet.

    Marie @ In Our Happy Place

    • Oh there were lots of acorns this year. I think if you can pick them up and dry them in the oven… they’ll be fine. 🙂
      Thanks for popping by Marie. 🙂 Good luck with your collection. 🙂

  12. Great post! I didn’t know about first year acorns and am going to share what I’ve learned with my 6th grade science students when we study plant reproduction.

    • I found that so fascinating. I think of all my plant studies and realize we always have something new to learn.
      Thanks for your kind words, Paula! Have fun with your class. 🙂

  13. So just how long do you mean by several hours?

Trackbacks

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