When Acorn Crafts Go Terribly Wrong

Ack, we’re painting the hall bathroom, and we can’t wait to finish, shoot pics, and share them with you guys! But since that’s still in progress, I thought this stellar example of things not always working out might make you guys smile. We always get asked “what happens if you try something and it doesn’t work?” and I always say “we blog about it, of course!” You know, like this and this and this. We love sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. And we can totally relate to a failed craft project or ten. So here we go…

In Richmond it has been raining men. If by men I mean acorns. Seriously, those little buggers are everywhere.


So I got a wild hair and decided – most definitely inspired by all the crafty acorn projects on sites like Martha & Pinterest – that I would do a cute little acorn craft. So I gathered up some acorns with my trusty assistants (those would be Clara and Burger, who actually worked against me the whole time by throwing/kicking/chasing them away from me) and put a few dozen into a bag.


Then I froze those suckers because I remember hearing a few horror stores about bugs or other odd things “hatching” from acorns, and those I did not want.


I left them in the freezer overnight, which I hear is all that it takes to kill off anything suspicious (although I did think to myself “self, doesn’t it get that cold outside? what is superior about a freezer that makes it better?”).

Then a day later I took them out of the freezer and let them thaw out. Later I poured some leftover craft paint (a little tube of acrylic paint that was originally like two bucks from Michaels) into a bowl. Then I took all the “hats” (you know, those little top parts of the acorn) off and dipped the end of them into the yellow paint.


Then I realized this was a terrible plan since I had no way to keep them from rolling all over the place and smearing, until I looked over at the pretzels that we keep in one of those big glass containers on the counter next to the cereal. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Yup, I totally made little pretzel stands so they wouldn’t roll around. Oddly enough it actually worked. I know, I was just as surprised as you are at this fortuitous turn of events. Don’t worry, things go bad later.


After dipping a bunch of acorns and setting them in their little pretzel holsters to dry I turned my attention to the $2 faux flowers that I’d grabbed at Michael’s (50% off thanks to those ubiquitous mailer coupons). When I got them… yeah- not so hot. But it wasn’t anything a little trimmy-trim and a cute vase couldn’t solve.

Ah, much cuter. And kinda fall-ish in that not-putting-fifty-gourds-everywhere way. Understated and easy, if you will. And then a few hours later when my little yellow tipped acorns were dry they came into the picture too. See them chilling in that glass container?

Here’s a panned out shot of the console with a few other tiny fall tweaks. I switched out the blue and gray books for some leaf-colored yellow and red ones…


… and grabbed some old vase filler from my fall tupperware bin in the form of some tiny faux apples, that I shoved into a clear cylinder vase leftover from our wedding (it’s the same one that held lemons and limes on the table).

Then I felt very chuffed (that’s my favorite English word along with “the till”) until about a day later when I saw this. What the…?

I popped the top and looked a little closer and it was totally mold. Boo! And I know you guys get a kick out of the what-didn’t-work projects just as much as the ones that did – so there ya go. My name is Sherry, and I somehow made beautiful yellow tipped moldy acorns. I’m not quite sure what went wrong, but I’m pretty sure that mold is not the new chevron, so it’s not going to be sweeping the DIY world anytime soon. Just say no to mold.

Actually, to say that I don’t know what went wrong is a lie. I totally know what went wrong. I’m just not adept enough to dabble in acorn crafts. The stakes are just too high. Glue guns? Sure. Paint? Ok. Drills and power saws? Yes please! But acorns? They send a shiver down my spine. I’m clearly not ready for them yet…

So I did the loving thing and threw those moldy paint-dipped acorns away and whipped out some fun old printing letters for a rustic fall-ish feeling without the threat of mold (we have a ton of these with all of our initials, our wedding date, and even “YHL” thanks to a sweet friend who sent these three our way).

So other than a few tiny and cheap (well almost all of them were actually free) fall tweaks in the form of some leaf-colored books, a few cut down fake-blooms from Michael’s and some cute little apple vase filler, we’ve learned one thing. I’m clearly not attentive enough to master the delicate eco-system that is an acorn. So I’m leaving them to Martha and you crafty folks on Pinterest who can manipulate them into wreaths and decorative orbs and all of those other wildly creative things without so much as batting an eye. I’ll stick to cutting down faux flowers and popping them into a bright little vase thankyouverymuch. Eh, who am I kidding, I’m totally going to try my acorn luck again next year. It’ll be like an epic annual battle that keeps no one on the edge of their seat but me.

Has anyone else mastered the acorn or done any especially cute and not-at-all moldy fall crafts? Do tell. I promise I’ll only pout a little…


  1. Brenda says

    I’ve had bread that lasted for months with no mold, but then I’ve had bread that got moldy in a week or two. No idea why. Mold is just a tricky, tricky thing. Fun idea, though!

  2. Cheryl says

    What would happen if you toasted the acorns in the oven for “a while” before the painting? Would that help kill the critters inside that eat their way out after a week or so?

  3. sarah b says

    My understanding is that freezing does not kill stuff so much as heat. So unless there are toxic fumes or explosion potential (!) I’d try baking at high heat for a short time, maybe? Disclaimer: I’ve never tried this myself. Just speculating!

  4. Dinka says

    When I saw this post, I had to laugh – I knew exactly how it was going from the second you said “acorns” because I used to bring them into our house in bagfuls when I was a little kid, much to my mom’s dismay for the same reason.

    We live in a city over on the west coast known for its amazing oak trees, and so acorns are part of the package. The thing about acorns is that they rot very quickly once they’ve dropped! So if you saw them on the ground after a couple of days, they were already probably rotted inside.

    The acorns also rot in such a way that they CAN end up leaving the outside shell mostly untouched! The inside is soft and rots first….but this also leaves an air pocket. So by freezing them and then leaving them out to dry, you were probably letting in some moisture that sped up the process.

    I LOVE the idea of using the acorns, tho! Here’s what you can do instead: firstly, try to gather them as soon as they fall from the tree! The longer they are on the ground, the more likely they’re already bad. And don’t even bother with the ones with holes in them (although Clara would probably love her new worm friends! lol)

    Then lay them out on a cookie sheet or something in the sun for a day or so (keep an eye out for animals, tho). Afterwards, put the acorn-laden cookie sheet in the oven at a low temperature (150-175 degrees) for three hours or so. Just be sure to check on them and turn them a lot so they don’t burn.

    The heat will kill any mold or lingering pests, and you should be able to use them for crafty goodness!

  5. Deborah says

    I gave up on the acorns years ago! I have frozen them, baked them, microwaved them and nothing has worked for me. Every time I get mold and once I even got bugs! YUCK! Now I just use the hats from the real thing or (if I ever find them) will spend the extra few bucks on fake ones.

  6. says

    I am totally going on an acorn hunt because those little corns were cute (before the mold of course). I may have to google a way to dry them out completely before painting them? So sad they got moldy they were totally adorable!

  7. says

    I had a major “OH NO!” moment when I read mold in the title and the first line you start talking about your bathroom. I’d take moldy acorns over moldy bathrooms anyday! Maybe next year leave them out to dry for a couple weeks after freezing them? Or just leave them in a lidless container?

  8. Kerry says

    Consider yourself lucky you only got mold. I put a bunch of acorns in a vase and ending up with maggots! IT WAS DISGUSTING. I gagged through the entire process of throwing them away, then washing the vase 10 times, then bleaching the heck out of it. I still won’t go near the vase because I can’t get the thought of the maggots out of my mind. Through my google search as to what went wrong, I think the best thing to do with acorns is to bake them at a low temp for a very long time. That will kill all the “bugs” and would probably help with the mold, too.

  9. says

    Oh man- I had the same thing happen to me last year. We get a billion acorns in our yard every year (and holy moly- when those things fall, watch out! they’re like bullets!) and I thought- “hey, free fall decor” so I threw them in a vase with some fake pumpkins. The vase was totally open- and they still got moldy. So I pulled them all out, washed them, laid them out to dry for a couple of days, put them back in the vase…and bam, mold again. I tried soaking them in vinegar to kill the mold, but no luck. I’m guessing the acorns just retain a lot of moisture and then mold in the warm inside conditions. You’d probably have the best luck with baking them at a really low temp to really dry them out- but I just threw mine out too because it wasn’t worth the hassle. Boo to moldy acorns!

  10. says

    At least you can find acorns… I always look and look and never find any. While I am totally against buying something that you can find for free, maybe ones that you buy wont get moldy?!

  11. Born and Raised RVA says

    I was going to ORB spray some acorns with the hat-a-mah-jiggies and some pine cones just the other day. I am glad that you posted this. I will let you know if I have any success, but I do agree that the moisture from freezing them in a ziplock back probably didn’t help. Paper towels, mayhaps?

  12. says

    PS- just did a quick google search. Silica packets keep them from molding!! I saw that idea on Pinterest as well to keep pumpkins from molding- aha. :)

  13. says

    Aw, that’s really too bad. They looked so cute! I think they probably had some moisture from being in the freezer, and since the lid was on them, they couldn’t dry out. I don’t think they would mold in an open container. But then, I don’t want stuff to hatch from them either….

  14. Mary Sue says

    Freeze them for at least 72 hours, then dry in an oven at 120F for 4-6 hours. That’ll kill off anything they brought in from outside and won’t crack the shells.

    You’re supposed to freeze any grain/legume you bring into your pantry for 72 hours, so nothing nasty hatches out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *