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Project Tutorials >

Spun Cotton Citrus and Banner Lemons ~ A Painting and Embellishment Tutorial


In this tutorial we customize spun cotton lemon, lime, ball (orange), and egg (lemon or lime) shapes to create an orchard of delight.  Simple painting techniques paired with specialty glitters and millinery leaves yield stunning fruits that can be made in scores of ways to suit any taste.  Go a step further and create a Banner Lemon as a sweet memento or keepsake. We've fashioned a printable sheet of banners inspired by the Amalfi Coast with different text, plus four empty banners for you to juice up yourself.

Supplies: Spun Cotton Lemons, Spun Cotton Balls (50mm, 40mm, or 36mm), Spun Cotton Eggs (doubles as a lemon or lime), Orange Blossoms, Velvet Leaves, Foil Leaves, Glass Glitter, Deco Beads, Mica Flakes, Wire Stems, Paints, Paint Brushes, Clear Drying Craft Glue like Alleene's, Scissors, Skewers or Pipe Cleaners, Banner Lemons Printable, Paper like Parchment Stationery Paper, Glove for Sprinkling Glass Glitter, Paper Plate to Work Over When Glittering

Printable pdf: Click here to download a free pdf of Lemon Banners (Print at "actual size.")

Step 1: Using a pipe cleaner or skewer as a "handle," paint your spun cotton pieces. Let dry.

Apply paint straight from the bottle in a juicy citrus hue; pearl colors add extra shimmer and dimension while flat colors cover evenly as a great base for embellishing.

Mix colors together to achieve a custom hue.  We mixed "Mother of Pearl" with a few drops of color for a pastel effect.  Don't be afraid to go fantasy, like the blue lemon below.

To get a dappled look, water down paint and apply in varying intensity.  The goal is to achieve a tinted look so the pieces look like they grew in nature.  We recommend starting at the top of the fruit near the hole and working downward for a semi-gradient effect.  This painting style is particularly striking when further embellished with deco beads, as we'll see below.

Paint Note: The colors we used are shown below right. Top row L-R: Pumpkin, Wild Salmon, Tiger Lily, Scallion, Scottish Highlands.  Bottom row: L-R: Duckling, Light Yellow, Mango, Mother of Pearl, Jet Stream.

Step 2: Embellish with glitter, deco beads, mica flakes, or shimmery paint

2a.) Apply colored glass glitter. Colored glass glitter applied in a graduated sprinkle looks vintage and gorgeous.  Apply a color similar to the fruit's paint color: gold glitter on yellow paint, sage green glitter on green paint, pumpkin glitter on orange paint.  Or try silver glitter over any color, like on the petite lemon below, left corner.

-- Paint an even coat of glue on the whole fruit. 

-- Wearing a glove, sprinkle glitter over the fruit, concentrating at the top and allowing some to fall organically onto the lower areas.  Continue to add glitter slowly, going over areas as needed, until you are pleased with the result. Let dry, then brush off any excess with a dry paint brush.

2b.) Apply clear glass glitter. Clear glass glitter gives an irresistible sugared look.

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

-- Spoon glitter over glue and tap off excess.  Let dry, then brush off any excess with a dry paint brush.


2c.) Apply clear deco beads.  Deco beads are a favorite embellishment for a reason: when the light hits, their shimmer and shine is luminous.  Clear deco beads enhance any color painted underneath so dappled paint styles are accentuated, like the orange below in the lower left corner.  Evenly painted pieces take on a jeweled look.  Our preferred size for bold texture is 1mm deco beads (like the oranges below left) and for subtle but visible texture we like the .5mm size (used on the lemons and limes below left)

-- Paint an even coat of glue in 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.

2d.) Apply colored deco beads.  Colored deco beads give a juicy and bright result.  Because the deco beads themselves are colored, they largely obscure any painted color underneath and take center stage.  They can be applied on unpainted fruits but painting the fruit a similar color serves to enhance the color of the deco beads and allows for further customization if you choose to only place the colored deco beads in localized areas.

The large lemon and lime below are painted yellow and green respectively then embellished all over with 1mm yellow and 1mm green deco beads. The result is bright and the colors have depth.  The small lemon below is left unpainted and embellished with 1mm yellow deco beads.  Its look is also bright but more simple looking than its larger under-painted counterpart. The orange is painted orange then 0.1mm orange deco beads are applied in a graduated scatter with more concentrated toward the fruit's top.  Because these deco beads are very fine and powdery, they give a more dappled texture look that very loosely resembles orange skin and is particularly charming when illuminated.

-- Paint an even coat of glue in 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.  For .1mm deco beads, it will seem like a lot is on the surface but most will not be adhered and will brush off when dry brushed.



2e.) Apply mica flakes.  Mica flakes are a lovely choice for achieving a sparkly vintage texture.  Each flake is slightly different and, as a natural mineral, has a few dark flecks and flakes mixed in that yield a look we love.  These darker pieces can be pulled out prior to application, or pulled off of a mica dusted fruit before the glue dries, if you prefer a more uniform flake color.  We used the flakes as-is but they can also be ground with a mortar and pestle if you want a finer texture.

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

-- Spoon mica over glue and tap off excess.  Let dry, then brush off any excess with a dry paint brush.  Any flakes that stick out too much can be gently pulled off.

2f.) Use pearl paints.  We love the colors and finish of the Pearl paints by Martha Stewart Crafts. To achieve shimmery pastel hues, we mixed other pearl colors into "Mother of Pearl".  We found that a ratio of about 6:1 yielded beautiful light colors with good coverage, but experiment and adjust to create your own shades.  The small lime with gold leaf, below center, is a mix of three colors: Mother of Pearl + Scallion + Jet Stream = a pale minty blue.

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


3. Add leaves and flowers.

Adding leaves and flowers provides countless ways to customize your fruits.  Nine different leaf and flower examples are pictured below right.  The texture of velvet leaves pair wonderfully with all embellishment techniques detailed above, while foil leaves can look both vintage and modern depending on the fruit they adorn.  Orange blossoms are a high impact addition and work for oranges, lemons and limes alike.  Additionally, add a touch of whimsy by including a tiny lady bug into the mix.


Three basic leaf configurations are shown below left: 2 leaves with elevated stem, 1 leaf with elevated stem, and hanger with leaf and flower.  These three examples are the jumping off point for all leaves we employed in this tutorial.  Use paper-covered wires that loosely match the leaf stem colors: white wire with white leaf stems, brown wire with brown leaf stems, green wire with green leaf stems.  In our example below, two shades of brown twist together to make an interesting variegated stem.

To fashion "2 leaves with elevated stem" follow these steps as illustrated below right.

-- Twist a paper-covered wire at center around a paint brush handle.  Twist 2-3 times to make a hanger, leaving tails free.

-- Stack two leaves under hanger, lining up base of leaves with bottom of the hanger twist.

-- Twist all wires tightly together.  Twist portion should be 2-3" long.

-- Bend leaves downward into desired position.

-- Determine desired stem length and cut off excess.  Remember that part will go into the hole on top of the fruit, so a longer stem is better (you can trim more off but you can't add any back on).

To fashion "1 leaf with elevated stem" do as above, but with 1 leaf instead of 2.

To add leaves and flowers individually or in groups: fashion a wire hanger by twisting a paper-covered wire around a paint brush handle, trim ends, trim stems from desired leaves and flowers leaving enough to glue into the fruit (3/4" to 1").  

To add any hanger, leaf and flower configuration to the fruit, apply glue into the top hole then place desired pieces in to hole, adjust placement and let dry.


4. Add a banner to further customize a lemon ornament.

Take a handful of lemons to the next level by adding a banner to create a custom memento, keepsake, party favor or souvenir from that Italian vacation.  These would also be charming as wedding favors for guests with the bride and groom's names and wedding date on the banner. 

-- Print out the Banner Lemon pdf on the paper of your choice; we used parchment stationery.  Cut out desired banners.

To add banner to an elevated stem like below right, top:

-- Curl end of banner so it will easily sit around the stem.  Lightly bend and curl the section with words so it appears unfurled.

-- Place curled end around stem to judge positioning.  Adjust as needed, then glue end in place around stem.  Let dry and display proudly!

To add banner to a leaf and flower style like below right, bottom:

-- Depending on leaf size, trim end of banner to desired size.  Lightly bend and curl the section with words so it appears unfurled.

-- Place banner under leaf to judge positioning.  Adjust as needed, then glue in place to back of leaf with 1-2 dots of glue.  Let dry and again display proudly!




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Brown Paper Wrapped Craft Wire ~ 0.6mm ~ 8" long

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

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Green Paper Wrapped Craft Wire ~ 0.6mm ~ 8" long

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White Paper Wrapped Craft Wire ~ 0.6mm ~ 8" long

White Paper Wrapped Craft Wire ~ 0.6mm ~ 8" long

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12 Green Velvet Leaves ~ 1" Long

12 Green Velvet Leaves ~ 1" Long

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12 Green Velvet Leaves ~ 1-1/2" Long

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12 Mixed Green Velvet Leaves ~ 1" Long

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Set of 12 Small Velvet Pear Leaves ~ DARK GREEN

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

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

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Set of 12 Small Foil Pear Leaves ~ GREEN

Set of 12 Small Foil Pear Leaves ~ GREEN

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5 Spun Cotton Fruit Craft Shapes ~ Lemons ~ 1-1/2"

5 Spun Cotton Fruit Craft Shapes ~ Lemons ~ 1-1/2"

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

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Set of 12 Foil Paper Rose Leaves ~ PALE GOLD

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