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Project Tutorials >

Spun Cotton Mushrooms and Pine Cones ~ A Painting and Embellishment Tutorial

Spun cotton is one of our favorite materials for making ornaments because it can be customized in countless ways and is a great base for achieving a wide variety of looks.  In this tutorial we explore a variety of simple painting techniques paired with a mix of glitters and snow to create several different woodland ornaments.

Supplies: Spun Cotton Mushroom and Pine Cone Ornaments, Pine Sprigs, Deco Beads, Snow, or Glass Glitter, 24 Gauge Wire, "Liner" and "Flat" Paint Brushes, Paints, Clear Drying Craft Glue like Alleen's, Scissors, Skewers or Pipe Cleaners, Straw, Cling Wrap

Step 1: Paint your Spun Cotton Pieces. 

1a.) Add color to mushroom caps and pine cones. Let dry.

Use paint straight from the bottle; metallic or pearl colors add extra shimmer and dimensionality.

Mix colors together for a custom look We mixed a little "Chipotle" with a lot of "Purple Gerbera" to get a deep magenta hue that matches nicely with both shades when used unmixed on other pieces. 

To make pieces look vintage, water down paint and apply in varying intensity.  The goal is to achieve a tinted look, not solidly painted, so pieces look like color has faded in sections over time.  Keep in mind, you can add more color, but can't take it away.  We recommend starting at the top of the mushroom near the hole and working downward to get a feel for how this technique works -- the color spreads out as it's absorbed into the spun cotton depending on watery-ness.

1b.) Add snow to pine cones. Let dry.

Use a small flat brush to add snow to pine cones.  Dip into opaque white paint, wipe brush off and dab paint onto pine cones as though snow has fallen: more at the top and some on "scales".  We prefer a dabbing and pressing motion as opposed to making a brush stroke.  You can think of it as scraping the paint off the brush to deposit it.



1c.) Add spots and decoration to mushroom caps. Practice on a piece of scrap paper first to refine your technique.

To make an iconic toadstool, create a bent wire loop to make irregular accents like on an Amanita Muscaria.  Dip the edge of the wire loop gently into white paint then dab and draw small lines and accents onto the mushroom cap.  Looking at a photo of the real deal can help with spot placement -- some have fewer spots near the top and a lot more near the cap edge.  This technique also allows for creating slight texture with the thickness of the applied paint.

To make perfectly round spots, use a drinking straw as a stamp.  Dip straw into paint and press onto mushroom cap.  Circles can be left as outlines or filled in later with a brush.

To make handpainted spots and dashes, use a small liner brush.  A brush allows for a beautiful handmade look -- even the most steady hand will still deposit a trace of the artist.

To make quick polka dots, dip the handle-end of a paintbrush in paint and dot onto cap.  The lighter the touch, the smaller the polka dot.  Try making a mix of dot sizes on the same cap, or make all similarly sized.


1d.) Add gills and grass to mushrooms. This step is optional; mushrooms look perfectly charming if this step is skipped.

Gills: Use a light grey or pale brown (we used "Rose Chrome") and water paint down to almost "tinted water" thickness.  Make several long, quick strokes under the cap and shorter dashes around the stem.

Grass: Use watered-down paint to make a subtle suggestion of grass on the base of a mushroom.  Blend color upward onto stem in an irregular way for a vintage look.  Alternatively, use long strokes to make grass blades of varying heights.

Paint Note: The colors we used are shown below right.  Top row L-R: Chipotle, Habanero, Purple Gerbera, Pink Taffeta, Scallion, Summer Linen.  Bottom row L-R: Rose Copper, Rose Chrome, Rose Gold, Yellow Gold, Rust, Gold Mother of Pearl.


Step 2: Embellish with Textured Snow, Glitter, Deco Beads, or Shimmery Paint. 

2a.) Apply textured snow.  Textured snow gives a retro and dimensional look to mushroom caps and pine cones. It can be used to enhance the look of an Amanita Muscaria, add dimension to spots or highlight snow on pine cones.  Here's how to apply it:

-- Carefully pour a small amount into a paper lunch bag (or other semi-closed vessel). This stuff is ultra lightweight and will want to fly everywhere.

-- Apply glue to mushroom cap and dip it into the snow.

-- Place a piece of cling wrap (or other thin plastic) across the palm of your hand.  Press the freshly glued snow into the cling wrap to make it adhere closely to the mushroom cap.  Press edges as needed.

-- Use the handle-end of a paint brush to "move" the snow into its desired positioning.  Let dry.

-- If needed, pluck and press to refine any loosely adhered snow pieces.

-- Optional: Repeat for stem and gills.

Use the same method to add snow to pine cones.

A tip: To keep the edges of mushroom spots crisp and defined, apply glue slightly within the edges of the spots and make sure any applied snow stays within the lines.



2b.) Apply clear glass glitter.  Clear glass glitter is icy and classic and we love the frosty sugared look it provides.

-- Paint an even coat of glue on the areas you wish to glitter.

-- Spoon glitter over glue and tap off excess.  Let dry.

-- For a light or localized application, gently sprinkle glitter as opposed to applying with large spoonfulls.


2c.) Apply deco beads.  Deco beads are one of top favorites for adding an extra unique finishing touch.  When the light hits, their shimmery, dewy beauty is unrivaled.  Clear deco beads allow the color underneath to show through; opaque deco beads can be used to highlight an area (like spots on mushrooms) or as a scatter over a similar color (like the green + green mushroom, below center).  Our preferred clear size for all over application in this project is .5mm -- it's the perfect mix of subtle yet visible texture.  For accents the .5mm and .25mm size work nicely.

-- Paint an even coat of glue on the areas you wish to apply deco beads.

-- Pour deco beads over glue and tap off excess.  Let dry then brush off any excess with a dry paint brush.

To apply a scatter, like the green + green mushroom below, paint glue in downward strokes starting at the center hole.  Pour very lightly so deco beads concentrate near the top hole and fall away into the lower glue areas.  Let dry then brush off excess with a dry paint brush.

2d.) Add Mother of Pearl Paint.  We love the "Gold Mother of Pearl" paint from Martha Stewart Crafts.  It's transparent enough to let the below color show through but elevates pieces with a gorgeous shimmery glow.

-- Simply brush on 1-2 coats and let dry.

Keep in mind that the more coats you add, the more the under color will start to change.  The bronze mushroom, below right, started out as magenta.



2e.) Add no embellishments.  To achieve a time-worn look, let your painting technique stand alone.  The watered-down paint technique looks especially vintage and Metallic or Pearl paints look soft and interesting straight out of the bottle.  We especially like the simplicity and paper texture of the ornaments below left.

Step 3: Add hanging loops and greenery.  It's only natural to pair a pine sprig with a pine cone, and the extra wire stem can be used to make a matching hanger. We used the 1-1/2" long sprigs.

For pine cones: trim pine sprig so wire stem measures about 1/2".  Twist extra wire stem around a paintbrush handle to make a loop.  Add glue to top hole, insert pine sprig and hanger.  Let dry then bend sprig to adjust as desired.

For mushrooms: Cut a 3-4" length of 24 gauge wire.  Twist it around a paintbrush handle to make a loop.  Add glue to top hole. insert hanger and let dry.




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Silver German Glass Glitter ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

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German Glass Glitter in Forest Brown ~ Medium Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

German Glass Glitter in Forest Brown ~ Medium Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

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German Glass Glitter in Gold ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

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German Glass Glitter in Ruby Red ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

German Glass Glitter in Ruby Red ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

Out of Stock!

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Ribbed Spun Cotton Berries or Pine Cones for Christmas Crafts ~1-3/8" tall ~ 8 pcs

Ribbed Spun Cotton Berries or Pine Cones for Christmas Crafts ~1-3/8" tall ~ 8 pcs

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Ribbed Spun Cotton Corn or Pine Cones for Vintage Crafts ~ 2" tall ~ 8 pcs

Ribbed Spun Cotton Corn or Pine Cones for Vintage Crafts ~ 2" tall ~ 8 pcs

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Spun Cotton Pine Cones for Christmas Crafts ~1-1/2" tall ~ 8 pcs

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Bundle of 12 Green Fabric Pine Sprigs  ~ Austria ~ 1-1/2" Long

Bundle of 12 Green Fabric Pine Sprigs ~ Austria ~ 1-1/2" Long

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Bundle of 12 Green Fabric Pine Sprigs with White Accents~ Austria ~ 1-1/2" Long

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German Glass Glitter in Sage Green ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

German Glass Glitter in Sage Green ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

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German Glass Glitter in Spruce Green ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

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Bundle of 12 Green Fabric Pine Sprigs with White Berries ~ Austria ~ 1-1/2" Long

Bundle of 12 Green Fabric Pine Sprigs with White Berries ~ Austria ~ 1-1/2" Long

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Bundle of 6 Green Fabric Pine Sprigs  ~ Austria ~ 2" Long

Bundle of 6 Green Fabric Pine Sprigs ~ Austria ~ 2" Long

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German Glass Glitter in Pearl White ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

German Glass Glitter in Pearl White ~ Fine Grit ~ 2 oz in Jar

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Mixed Set of Spun Cotton Mushroom Ornaments with Top Hole for Christmas Crafts ~ 24 pcs.

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Large Spun Cotton Blank Mushroom Ornaments with Top Hole ~ 2-1/8" Tall for Christmas Crafts ~ 6 pcs.

Large Spun Cotton Blank Mushroom Ornaments with Top Hole ~ 2-1/8" Tall for Christmas Crafts ~ 6 pcs.

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Small Spun Cotton Blank Mushroom Ornaments with Top Hole ~ 1-1/2" Tall for Christmas Crafts ~ 8 pcs.

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Spun Cotton Blank Mushroom Ornaments with Top Hole ~ 1-1/2" Tall for Christmas Crafts ~ 8 pcs.

Spun Cotton Blank Mushroom Ornaments with Top Hole ~ 1-1/2" Tall for Christmas Crafts ~ 8 pcs.

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German Glass Deco Beads in CLEAR ~ 1mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

German Glass Deco Beads in CLEAR ~ 1mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in CLEAR GREEN ~ .5mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

German Glass Deco Beads in CLEAR GREEN ~ .5mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in CLEAR ~ .5mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

German Glass Deco Beads in CLEAR ~ .5mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC BROWN ~ .5mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC COPPER ~ .5mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC GOLD ~ .5mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC GOLD ~ .5mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC GREEN ~ .25mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC GREEN ~ .25mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC PINK ~ .25mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC PINK ~ .25mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC ROSE ~ .25mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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German Glass Deco Beads in METALLIC TEAL ~ .25mm size ~ 2.5 oz in Jar

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Faux Snow Retro-style Christmas Decor or Craft Embellishment ~ White ~ 40g in Bag

Faux Snow Retro-style Christmas Decor or Craft Embellishment ~ White ~ 40g in Bag

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