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Realistic DIY Cotton Boll Stems

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Make your own Cotton Boll Branch Arrangement

As part of the Craft Destash challenge,  I was trying to think about what I could make with what I have on hand.  Last year I created some cotton bolls for a post.    There were several requests for a tutorial, so today I am showing you how I make mine.  This cotton craft project for branches is a little bit different as they have one more step and I think it makes them look very realistic.
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A large vase of handmade cotton stems in the front foyer for inexpensive fall decor. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

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Living in Canada you don’t see cotton plants so when I first saw a cotton stem I thought they were amazing,  I even took pictures and sent them to my friends.  Unfortunately, they are very hard to locate locally and very expensive.  Last year I  purchased a couple strands in and made the rest for this  fall decor post.    Time to bring them out of my stash and add a few new DIY branches to them.

The cotton boll pod is really simple to make and costs less than $5.00 for a bouquet of them.  If you manage to purchase some cotton stems it will cost significantly more.

Living in Canada you don’t see cotton plants so when I first saw a cotton stem I found them amazing,  They were so novel I   took pictures and sent them to my friends.  Unfortunately, they are very hard to locate locally and very expensive.    Last year I found a couple of stems to purchase and made the rest of this post.  Here is how I did it.

Cotton Boll Branch Tutorial Supplies

Here is what you will need:
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Photo of the supplies needed for handmade cotton stems, including pine cones, cotton balls and brown paper bags. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,.

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Bag of supersized cotton bolls, check out at a beauty supplier I found mine at Sallys.

White thread

Brown paper  bag

Large pine cones

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Branches

Clipping sheers

Hot glue gun

Brown leaves, or small leaves and brown paint and beige paint.

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This project takes two evenings  One for the preparation and then an hour or so to put them together.

Make the Cotton Bolls

Making the cotton boll pods consists of three stages.

Prepared craft parts to a cotton boll including the tied cotton ball, cut brown paper, and taken apart pine cones. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

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Create the Cotton Centers

Let’s start with the cotton balls.  Take the extra large cotton balls and fluff them by pulling them apart a little bit.  Wrap the cotton ball with the thread, hold the end of the thread and wrap the boll upwards and then sideways.   This puts four sections in the cotton to mimic the natural shape. Glue the thread in the back. Make a pile of them and set aside, you will need approximately 10 for each branch depending on how large your branch is.

Break off the Pine Cone Scales

Prepare the pine cone scales keeping only the large scales.  The smaller ones don’t simulate the cotton boll well enough.   It’s much easier to snap off the scales from the underside of the cone.  This particular large pine cone has large scones right to the bottom.   Which is perfect.  Other pine cones may have small tight scones at the bottom, if your pine cone is like that, take clippers and remove the bottom portion first, it makes the larger ones easier to take off.   To remove them just grab one and snap it off.  Set them aside.  You will need four for each cotton boll pod.
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The underside of a very large pine cone, showing how to break off the little stems. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

Paper Bag Leaves

A real cotton boll pod as a light underside and a rough outer side.    Cut a  paper bag using the pattern provided.  You will need one cut out for each cotton boll.  Set aside.

Assemble the Cotton Bolls

Take one of the tied cotton bolls.

Form the paper cutout into a cupped shape  Attach to the cotton boll with hot glue.

Glue one large pine cone stem on each side of the cotton boll, partially covering the brown paper.    Set aside.

Make several more for each branch.

Here is one natural cotton boll, along two DIY ones.  I think they look very similar.
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The stages of making a handmade cotton boll. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

Prepare the Leaves

When you look at the natural cotton boll the leaves are brown on one side and lighter brown on the other.  I had a few dried leftover leaves but they weren’t enough of them so used some dollar store leftover green leaves and painted them light brown on one side and dark brown on the other.   The painted ones take a bit longer, but you can’t beat free.

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How to paint the leaves for a realistic cotton boll art and craft project. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

 

Make the Cotton Boll Stems

Take some small branches (about 18 inches), if you can’t find them locally you can use dried branches from the dollar store.  The ones I used are natural aspen branches I gathered along the highway.

Take your mountain of  DIY cotton pods and hot glue along the branches along the branches ever 4 to 6 inches.  Glue the leaves along the branches somewhere the pods are and some more between them.

 

Attaching handmade cotton bolls to branches. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

Making the Arrangement

My arrangement has about 1/2 purchased stems filled in with my DIY ones.  Every year I add to it.    Here is a close picture to show you how real the DIY stems look.  The blue are the DIY ones and the pink are the purchased.

An arrangement of real and handmade cotton branches illustrating that there is very little difference. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

The easiest way I know of arranging flowers is using a flower frog, you can find them for less than $10 at antique stores.  Here are three different size examples that I love using.
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Three different types of flower frogs you can use to make arrangements with cotton branches. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

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The next time you see one of these at an antique store I really recommend swooping one up.  Not only do they make it super easy to arrange flowers evenly, but they also add much needed weight to the bottom of a  tall floral arrangement.

In the meantime, until you find one,  crisscross the top of your vase with tape.   Place the tape as evenly as possible and then insert your branches.
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Cheap and Easy DIY Cotton Stems Craft

 

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Let me know if you have any questions or comments, I love hearing from you.  Now let’s see what my blogging buddies have been up to this month.

Craft Room Destash Challenge

Every month, a group of bloggers challenge each other to create a new craft or project from their own stash of goodies! Check out some awesome creations you might be able to make from your own stash! #CraftRoomDestashChallenge

 


 

Handmade realistic cotton branches, in a vase. DIY cotton branches, cotton pod, DIY cotton stems, DIY cotton balls DIY, art and craft, DIY crafts, cotton branches, cotton craft, cotton ball crafts,

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59 Comments

  1. I love how you made the cotton boll branches – you are a very talented individual to makes these. They are truly realistic. Since I love horse pictures, can you please tell me where you purchased that awesome picture of the horse above your table. It is truly an amazing piece. Thank you.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Connie. Believe it or not it is a print from Home Sense. Its two or three years old. I have recently saw a similar one that is just gorgeous at Home Sense. I hope you find one.

  2. You did a beautiful job creating your cotton bolls. Thank you for sharing your excellent tutorial at Snickerdoodle. Pinned

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Sharon. That is so appreciated. I had an issue signing onto today, but I will go look for the party again. Thank you very much.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you very much for the pin Natalie, I appreciate it. Glad you like the stems.

  3. That is super creative! I love the look of the cotton stems, but faux flowers can be so pricey! Thanks for the awesome how-to!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you for commenting Megan. You have that right. I have two large flat plastic containers that I store my florals in to reuse, but it adds up every year for more.

  4. What a great idea! I got rid of most of my faux arrangement when I moved a few years ago, thinking I’d make new ones when I was moved in and ready… That hasn’t happened yet, but this might be moving to the top of that list when I am ready!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Emily. You can use the cotton boles in so many different ways. I love them for neutral fall decor. I am going t keep a lookout for dollar store flowers that have the right kind of leaves. Thank you for commenting.

  5. I know I am here for the cotton bolls, but seriously…. every time I see that horse painting I am drawn to it! It is just amazing.
    I love your cotton bolls tool.
    🙂 gwingal

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Nikki. My husband owns thoroughbreds unfortunately we don’t have the farm to go with them. I place the horses around the house as they are such amazing endearing animals.

  6. Norma Fisher says:

    Where did you purchase the horse picture? I must have one!!!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Norma. The horse picture is a Home Sense find a couple of years old. I recently saw a similar one that I love though.

  7. I love the cotton stems. So pretty. I also love the horse painting. Where did you get it?

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hello Betty. The horse picture is an inexpensive Home Sense find. Its a couple of years old.

  8. I love how these turned out. I’ve made them before as well, but I didn’t use the brown paper bag or add in leaves. I think yours look more realistic with those added. I’ll have to add them in next time.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Wonderful Chelsea, this variation does look realistic. I am proud of them. Using branches that have little branches off of them helps too. Thank you for commenting.

  9. You certainly are creative. This project ended up looking so real! I can see why you are happy with the end result.
    Your instructions were clear and I have put another project on my crafting to-do list.
    Thanks.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Your very welcome Susan. I am happy that people find the tutorial useful. I am excited about it.

  10. I can’t believe how realistic these look. I would never have imagined that you could create DIY cotton boll stems. Great project and tutorial. TFS!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Lisa. Wouldn’t you know it. I made these out of necessity because they were so hard to find and yesterday Michael’s finally got some in stock. I really love them especially for neutral fall decor.

  11. Gorgeous!! I have had these on my list of things to do forever and never seem to get there!! But your post has made me want to!! They turned out perfect and look so real! A nice decorative touch!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Sam. You will enjoy having them I am sure. I bet you have a hundred ideas of ways you could use the boles and they cost next to nothing to make. Thank you for commenting always appreciated.

  12. Such a beautiful way to decorate your home all year long. AND, easy. Thanks for sharing. I am pinning for later.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you very much for the pin Meegan. You could make just the cotton boles and use them for all kinds of different crafts. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  13. Very original idea, I am impressed by the level of detail you go into. I would never have thought of deconstructing the pine cones like that. They look so realistic. This is project I would love to tackle on a weekend while it is raining outside and I can sip on several cups of coffee and enjoy myself. Seems like it can quiet the mind, very methodical and so pretty!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Milena. It would be a wonderful project for a rainy day. It does work much better if you them a little bit like a factory. Create the pieces first, then assemble into the stems or another crafts. Thank you for commenting.

  14. Leanna these are absolutely stunning and they look so real. Pinning this one to try. And that horse painting is beautiful.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Mary: I really look forward to seeing what you make with these. It would be wonderful if you posted about it.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      They are so pretty for fall, especially with neutral decor. Thank you for commenting.

  15. I just love the cotton stems! I’ve always been tempted to make them and now that I’ve seen yours, I have to give it a try. Beautiful!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Carolann: They are really easy to make, but you need to make lots of them and a little more lol. I really recommend doing them in bits. Then assembling them another day.

  16. What an amazing DIY project and beautiful as well! I live in the South where fields of cotton abound and they soon will be bursting with the white puffy cotton!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      You are very lucky. Do people appreciate them locally? They must be beautiful, but I have no idea how tall they are, how long they take to grow, their growth cycle. I need to do some reading.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      I am with you on that Patrick. The first time I saw one I actually got excited lol. I took a pic and sent it around telling my girlfriends about it. Then Michaels in Canada quit bringing them in.

  17. I love these a lot. I have been wanting to try to make my own and your tutorial is very easy to follow. Thanks. I pinned it so I can gather some supplies! The arrangement you made is beautiful.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Great Michelle. Finding the branches is likely the hardest part. Just do it in stages and then putting them together is quite fun.

  18. Oh yes please Leanna, I love the look of your cotton bolls. Here in South Africa we normally only find cotton fields in the Free State, which is a few hours drive from where we stay so making them is a much better option and yours look so realistic. Great tutorial, thank you so much

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      The purchased ones are easier to arrange but I love the diy ones. I can afford to have a large enough bouquet of them. Everything sounds so beautiful where you are. Hugs and thanks for writing.

  19. Leanna, there are soooooo many thoughts going through my head right now: Why, oh why did I throw away the cotton boll strands this spring? How fund would it be, to make some myself! I never heard of a flower frog. Go get one asap! And I really adore your horse painting. Did you make that yourself, too? I am pinning this post for sure and am looking forward for more to come <3

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      The horse painting is a Home Sense find. My husband owns racehorses (hence why I am on a strict budget) lol.

      Flower frogs are pretty easy to find in antique shops. I would never pay more than $10 for one. I try to get them in different sizes to fit various vases. Thank you for writing.

  20. This is the best tutorial. The cotton bolls are very realistic. You came up with a great craft project.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you very much for saying so Debra. I am going to use them throughout the house once my granite is in and I can start doing fall decor.

  21. Those are so clever & look incredibly realistic. You’re right, the pinecone pieces really do the job very well. When we go on road trips to south Alabama, we see cotton & cotton plants all the time. Discarded cotton branches along the roadside. You’re going to have to come all the way down here to Alabama Leanna!!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Do they have a blooming season?? I need to look it up and see. I would really love to see that.

  22. Great tutorial Leanna!! I have a slight obsession with cotton bolls! Now I’m obsessed with your horse canvas! Where did you get it? It would look great in my bedroom, lol!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      We could trade?? lol It was Home Sense find the Canadian equivalent to Home Goods.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you very much Janet. I appreciate the feedback.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      I am so pleased you like them. You don’t see them often up here so my bouquet feels really special to me. Thank you very much.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Donna. I will someday get to see them in the fields. Its kind of like looking at a pineapple plant, its wonderful to actually see one planted.

  23. This was very interesting to me! I live in South Georgia, USA & there are fields all around me full of cotton at certain times of the year. When they harvest the cotton, you can find pieces of it all along the road side. These are very realistic looking, so great job!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Swoon. I would love to see them. What a beautiful thing to just be able to go gather. I would be really excited to see that.

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