Corn husk dolls have been around for centuries. Early arrivals to the United States admired the beautiful, simplistic dolls that Native American children made from corn and fashioned to resemble members of their tribe. Some of the first Americans were taught how to construct these tiny, colorful playmates at the first ever Thanksgiving dinner. Since then, thousands use corn husk dolls for decoration and play. They’re a perfect craft and activity for children of all ages, and make for unique and lively decorations.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
9-12 pieces of green corn husk
String or twine
Bowl of water
A WORD ABOUT CORN HUSK
The corn husk you use to construct your doll should be green and not dried. Green corn husks can be purchased from any craft store. You can also use green corn husk you peel from a corn cob yourself. If you must use dried husks, before beginning the construction phase, soak all corn husks in a large bowl of warm water to make them more pliable. Corn husks that are purchased or fresh can be treated in this manner also, though it isn’t usually necessary.
- Take a small handful of husks and bunch them together so that they are of equal length. Once this is done, use twine or string to hold them together. Approximately 1/2 inch from the top of your husks, wrap two layers of twine and knot tightly. This will serve as the body for your doll. Once you’ve completed this step, set aside.
- Take 1 or 2 small pieces of husks and roll them together to form a ball. (If husks are too dry or stiff, soak them for about 30-minutes in a large bowl of warm water.) This “ball” will serve as your doll’s head, so you can play with its size until you are satisfied you’ve created the look you want.
- Once you have the right size for your head, take a single piece of husk and drape it over your head, gathering the two loose ends at the base of the head. Pull the single piece of husk tightly around your ball (so that you can draw or design a face on it later), and twist the loose ends once and tie tightly with a single piece of twine. Set aside.
- It’s time to make arms. Grab your first group of husks (which you’ve already tied together on one end in step 1). From the loose end, gather one husk and pull upward (as if peeling a banana). Cut two small pieces of twine. Use one piece of twine to tie the arm off near the center stalk of husks. (This will help to keep it separated from the body of your doll.) Use the other piece of twine or string to tie the loose end of the husk, forming a wrist for your doll. Repeat on the other side so that you have two distinct arms on your doll. If the arms appear too long or disproportionate, cut the husk to the proper size or find a husk more to your liking.
- Take your dolls head and position it on top of the body so that your two loose pieces of twine drape themselves over the neck of the doll. Using a small piece of string or twine, attach the head to the body. (If the head does not seem to want to stay in place, you may dribble a small amount of glue on the underside of the head before securing it with twine to the body or add a pipe cleaner to it. Allow glue to dry completely before proceeding.)
- Take a small piece of twine and tie a waist on your doll. It will be located near the center of your stalk of husks. Tightly knot the string or twine.
- To make the legs for your doll, split the husks which have not yet been tied off, in half. (Right below the waistline you’ve just made.) Use several small pieces of twine to tie off the legs on each side. Make one knot just below where the legs separate and a second knot near the foot of your doll. Repeat on the other side until you have formed two distinct legs.
DECORATING AND DRESSING
Your new corn husk doll can be decorated to your liking. Small children will be able to decorate with colored construction paper, crayons, and markers. You can attach paper clothing, jewelry, facial features, and other items with a small dot of household glue. Older children and adults can make clothing from fabric, additional pieces of corn husk, or many other items.
Facial features, such as eyes, ears, noses, and mouths can be drawn on with permanent markers or crayons. Craft eyes, yarn mouths, and more can also be attached to your doll with glue.
TIPS, TRICKS, AND HINTS
MAKE A SKIRT for your corn husk doll out of a fresh piece of husk. Simply wrap around the waistline and tie off with a piece of twine or colored yarn. You can decorate your skirt beforehand with markers or crayons.
COLORED yarn can be bent in the shape of a smile or ears and glued into place for instant facial features.
CORN HUSKS can be soaked in food coloring to make colored clothing or skin. Soak husks for 30-minutes in a large bowl containing warm water and several drops of your desired color. To make vibrant browns, soak husks in a large bowl of coffee or tea.
DIP the feet of your doll into a small bowl of acrylic paint to make brown or black shoes. Allow to air dry and repeat, if necessary.
USE small doll clothes to decorate your corn husk doll.
SEQUINS, buttons, glitter and other craft supplies can be glued to your corn husk doll to make jewelry, eyes, colored clothing and more.
INSERT a pipe cleaner into the back of your doll to put them on display, help them bend into a variety of positions, or hang them.
MAKE instant hair for your doll with corn silk, yarn, or twine. Attach with glue.
WATERCOLOR paints will soak into corn husks, and give a deep, rich color to your doll.
USE a plastic bottle cap for a doll hat.
YOU can make a perfectly round head for your doll by placing a few cotton balls inside a piece of husk, instead of rolling husks. Decorate first, and then attach to the body using the above instructions.YOU