Walnut Boat Ornaments

by Wendy Copley on November 30, 2010

Thanks to Scotch(R) Double Sided Tape for sponsoring my writing about crafts. Add your comment below to be entered for a chance to win free sample rolls to help with your upcoming holiday needs.

Edit: the giveaway is now closed, but the tutorial is still there for your use!

Walnut Boats

I picked up a bag of whole walnuts at the grocery store last week and as my family cracked nut after nut after nut, I knew I needed to do something with those cute little shells. The boys were enamored with them too and spent a good half hour  putting Lego guys in them and floating them in our bathroom sink. Watching them gave me the idea to make walnut boat ornaments!

Walnut boats are an idea that had been around for a very long time, of course, and I knew there was no reason for me to reinvent the wheel so I looked around online for some ideas to get me started. There are lots of lovely walnut boats out there, but I particularly loved the ones I found here, here and here.

Walnut Shell Boats

Here are the materials I used to make my boats:

  • Festive patterned paper
  • Scotch tape
  • A glue gun and glue sticks
  • Toothpicks
  • Glitter
  • Walnut shells
  • All-purpose glue (not pictured)

Walnut Shell Boats

Start off by squirting a big blob of hot glue into the bottom of a walnut shell. You don’t have to fill the whole shell up, but I recommend making the pool of glue about 1/4-3/8 inch deep because you’re going to use the glue to hold the toothpick and you’ll want it to be pretty secure.

Walnut Shell Boats

Center a piece of Scotch tape across the top of the walnut, poke a toothpick into the middle of it and then push the pick down into the hot glue. The tape will hold the toothpick in place until the glue dries. Make sure the toothpick is standing straight up or your boat’s mast will be crooked. You have a little bit of time to fiddle with this before the glue starts setting, but not too long so try to work quickly when you’re doing this part.

Walnut Shell Boats

Repeat this gluing process with all the walnut shells you’ll be using, then let your walnut armada sit for a bit while the glue sets.

Walnut Shell Boats

Once the hot glue has set up in the bottom of the boat and the toothpick isn’t moving around any more, gently pull the tape off.

Walnut Shell Boats

Run a thin line of glue around the top edge of the walnut.

Walnut Shell Boats

Sprinkle glitter onto the glue. Keep in mind that if the hot glue in the bottom of the boat isn’t completely dry, the glitter will stick to that too.

Walnut Shell Boats

Tap off the excess glitter and let the boat stand for a few minutes while the glue dries.

Walnut Boats

Next, trim your paper into smaller pieces to make the sails. The optimal size of the pieces will vary depending on how long your toothpicks are. The ones I used were 2 inches tall and 1 3/4 inches wide. Play around a bit until you find a size you like.

Walnut Boats

Poke two holes in your piece of paper with a pin. These holes will be used to thread the paper on the toothpick.  I played around with this a bit and the placement I liked best ended up having one hole centered 1/4 inch down from the top edge and another centered 1/8 inch up from the bottom edge.

Walnut Boats

Push an extra toothpick through the starter hole and twirl it around a bit to open it up. This will make it easier to thread it onto your mast.

Walnut Boats

If you like, you can trim the sail into a rough triangle shape. They look nice as squares too. I opted for a mix, but the shape pictured above ended up being my favorite.

Walnut Boats

Run the sail over something round to give it a bit of curve. I’m using a glue bottle here, but you could use a pen or a pencil or something too.

Walnut Boats

See? Nice and curvy! You can almost feel the tiny wind in your tiny hair, can’t you?

Walnut Boats

Thread the sail onto the mast.

Walnut Boats

Stick the mast through the top of the sail too.

fancy flag

Cut a little flag out of scrap paper to add to the top of the mast. I made mine by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting a triangle. It is about 1/4 inch tall at the fold and about 3/4 inch long after it’s folded.

Walnut Boats

Add a few drops of glue to the inside of the flag and spread it around with the tip of a toothpick so that the glue covers the paper in a thin layer. If you use too much glue on the flag, it will goosh out when you close it and make a mess on your mast.

Walnut Boats

Wrap the flag around the top of the toothpick and pinch it closed for a minute while it dries.

Walnut Armada

Keep going until you have a tiny little Walnut Armada!

I had fun playing with different papers and shapes for the sails  and flags and I even added a little Santa sticker to one. Cute!

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  • I am totally digging on the Christmas crafts this year. I intend to do a Gingerbread House, some felt stockings, and some paper ornaments. I love these walnut boats, and might have to make them too!

  • These are such a cute idea! We are planning to make gingerbread houses, some simple beaded ornaments, and tissue paper trees to hang in the windows. My son’s so excited about all the upcoming crafts!

  • Hollystar

    aw! super cute! i have my cards ready and i’m working on a few mini albums to gift to family and friends!

  • I’ve got grand plans to make ornaments to hand out to fellow Nutcracker cast members. I’ve done it in the past but the last few years just didn’t get there. I keep seeing lots of little basic ornaments in the stores and my brain is working away on ideas….

  • One of my favorite ornaments is a walnut shell and a gold Santa inside. Santa is molded from a replica chocolate mold from the 1800’s.
    I’m crafting a few gifts and sewing paper pieced Christmas ornaments. Removable tape is helpful in repairing the paper when I have to “unsew” a section.

  • Sweet, Wendy! And your tutorial is, as always, so comprehensive and clear. I do hope to have time to do some crafts of a non-jam nature this holiday season. 🙂

  • Monzie

    We are going to do a gingerbread train. I need to make a new stocking for myself. After 39 years I think it may be time to retire the stocking that I came home from the hospital in in favor of a sturdier model that is a little more kid proof and easier to hang. We will also be making snowflakes to hang all over and decorate the windows and refold some of our origami ornaments that have been loved to pieces by little hands.

  • Erin

    I’m trying to do all handmade gifts for my kids this year so I am up to my neck in crafts. Today I have been working on canvas artwork for the kids’ rooms, which uses similar printed paper that you used in this tutorial. I love your walnut boats and I think I might try my hand at some!

  • Whitneymoss

    The kids and I made a Thanksgiving “bunting” out of unhemmed strips of fabric. We went through my stash and just selected fall colors, cut strips and fastened them to a piece of bias tape. It looked like rags, but they seemed satisfied. Now I’m going to look for something to make with them this afternoon, because a playground does not sound like fun in this cold. (Remember, I’m from LA.)

  • Alicia

    I have some blank puzzles me and my boyfriend are planning on coloring on and swapping for one of our christmas presents 🙂

  • So very adorable, Wendy!!

    We will definitely be doing a lot of fun crafty activities using gingerbread and candy. And ribbon and glitter, but not all together at the same time. 😉

  • Celeste

    I love these! I’ve never seen walnut boats. Anything with glitter wins in my book! We are going to make handprint ornaments for grandparents. Then I have my eye on a few crafts out of the Usborn 50 things to make at Christmas time book. There are a lot of fun ideas in there!

  • Carrie

    WOWWW! I’m inspired! love it!

  • Nancy

    Very cute! How do you hang them? (is that a dumb question?)

  • You are so creative! I love the walnut boats – too cute!

  • I am going to make family picture ornaments out of my used canning lids! Might make some into fridge magnets too.

  • Yiran Chao

    Hm… definitely the requisite gingerbread house. But I’m also thinking doing something walnut shell related as well; perhaps a little christmas tree made out of walnut shells?

  • Short arms

    These are adorable! We decorated gingerbread houses already, and I fear that’s the extent of our crafting shenanagins this season. Maybe we’ll shovel the 3-8 inches of snow expected tonight into fun patterns?

  • I’m planning to tie some fishing line above the sail and below the little flag. I made sure to glue my flags on really well, so I’m pretty sure they’ll hold the weight of the rest of the ornament, but I may put a drop of glue where the fishing line meets the toothpick just to be sure.

  • That’s a great idea! I might have to try that too.

  • Crafts this year are jade ornaments, clay nativity with the six year old, and clay handprint for the two year old. But don’t tell my folks! Gonna have to try these too. Though they will probably be used as a real armada by the Boyo! Thanks Wendy!

  • Your walnut boats are lovely. My problem is that my walnut shells always crack in several jagged pieces, so it is just a mountain of slivers. Since I don’t celebrate Christmas, I don’t do particular crafts for this time of year, but I do like seeing all the creativity out there among fellow bloggers!

  • I like your walnut boats. My problem is that my walnut shells always crack in several jagged pieces, so I end up with a mountain of slivers rather than a nice half of a shell. Oh well. Since I don’t celebrate Christmas, I don’t do particular crafts for this time of year, but I do love seeing the creativity among fellow bloggers!

  • Tasha

    So super cute! My boys would love this craft, great one to do over Christmas break!

  • Ana

    WOW these are gorgeous!! My craft list is growing by leaps and bounds… I’m like Stretching My Imagination too (feel your pain!), my walnut shells like to explode. Yours are perfection, especially with the glittery rim.

  • This is really cute, I am going to make some of these with my son. Thanks for this great tutorial.

  • This is really cute, I am going to make some of these with my son. Thanks for this great tutorial.

  • Anonymous

    These are freaking ADORABLE! And what a great how-to. Thank you so much!

  • Deanna

    Thanks for the giveaway! your boat is super cute!
    we will make a gingerbread house – usually on new year’s eve or day – depending on what we have going on the 1st.

    nothing else super exciting other than the normal every day craft.

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