Fancy a simple craft to while away a wintery weekend? A clove and orange pomander is a lovely thing to make; perfect for the Christmas season. Plus it will make the house smell gorgeous and festive too.
I first shared this tutorial over on Instagram, but it was so popular I thought I’d post it here on the blog.
Quick View of What You'll Find on This Page
What is an Orange Studded with Cloves Called?
If you’ve seen oranges studded with cloves on Instagram or on the internet you might have wondered what they were called! A citrus fruit — oranges, lemons and limes — studded with cloves, is otherwise known as a pomander.
They were first created in medieval times and used as air fresheners. They were also worn around the neck or waist as it was thought that the scent could repel the black death. I wonder if they’d have thre same effect on Covid?!
These days, they’ll still perfume the air with a spicy, zesty fragrance and make really lovely Christmas decorations too.
Different Ways to Make Orange and Clove Pomanders
The internet is full of lots of simple and effective ways showing how to make an orange pomander.
Some people use a darning needle to pierce the skin, then push the cloves into the holes. Others use ribbons to decorate them further. They can be placed in a bowl or hung from a mantel or even on the tree.
My friend Cerys even turns her orange and clove pomanders into tealight holders.
You can make your orange studded with cloves as simple or as complicated as you like; pressing cloves into the skin until the entire orange is covered. Or creating swirls and patterns with the cloves.
I like to etch the skins of my oranges, to make my clove and orange pomanders look really special. It’s really simple to do and very, very satisfying!!
The only problem is, you’ll not want to stop; etching an orange skin should come with a warning as it’s highly addictive!!
I got through two full packs of oranges and still wanted to do more!!
The easiest way to do it is with a lino cutting tool. They’re really inexpensive — I used this lino cutting kit from Amazon. It comes with various blades; some thick some thin. And it’s perfect for creating beautiful orange and clove pomanders.
How To Lino Cut Your Orange Pomander
Firstly, choose the width of blade that you prefer. I like a medium blade as the thinner versions just take the top layer of skin off and don’t etch too far into the pith or the flesh of the orange.
Simply place the blade of your lino cutter onto the surface of the orange and — using a firm but light pressure — start to etch your design. Mind your fingers though! The lino blade can give you a nasty nip if you’re not careful.
You can draw a design first using a biro or sharpie, then cut away the design, but I definitely found it really fun (and very satisfying) to do mine freehand.
How To Make a Spiced Orange Pomander
- Lino cutting tool
- Cocktail stick
- Create patterns and swirls in the skin of the orange using your lino cutting tool.
- When you're happy with your design, take a cocktail stick and pierce the orange where you'd like to put your clove.
- Then take a clove and push the stick end into the hole.
- Repeat the process until you're happy with your design.
How Long Do Orange and Clove Pomanders Last?
The last thing to mention is how long an orange pomander lasts for.
Some of mine have dried completely over time — the outer skins go really brittle and hard and they feel really light.
But some have only lasted a week before they begin to go mouldy.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the ones with more etching — or more cloves — seem to last the distance!
If they have less exposed skin, the orange pomanders seem to dry and harden faster; and last longer.
The bottom orange in the image below has no cloves — just etching; but it’s drying beautifully.
Whether your clove and orange pomanders last a couple of weeks — or a couple of years — they’re a lovely, festive craft to make.
Plus they look — and smell — really Christmassy.
Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.