Dried apple head dolls evoke fond childhood memories for
many of us. The early pioneers
made dolls out of whatever was on hand, and apple dolls became
cherished toys for many young girls. In 1914, Mary McAboy, a
homemaker in Montana, began selling handcrafted Native American dolls
wrapped in blankets, with dried apple heads. She lovingly pinched
and carved the apple into a face, adding pins for eyes and string
for hair. Her dolls were called "Skookums", and are highly collectible
By Brenda Hyde
Children love making apple dolls, and
are fascinated with the process. I've seen ideas ranging from spooky
to silly, and everything inbetween. It's a great project for one child or an
entire group. It allows the kids to use their imagination. When you are
finished with your creations use them as decorations for the autumn
Here's the basic things you'll need:
1 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
There are so many different methods that have been developed
over the years, that you will eventually find your own once you
do this a few times. After peeling, (you can leave some peel at
the top and bottom.) the apples need to be coated with the above
mixture of lemon juice and salt to keep them from turning brown,
BUT if you want a darker skinned doll you won't need to soak
the apples. To maintain the light color soak them in the lemon mixture for about 45 minutes. You'll need
to do this with each apple, so you may need to double the amounts
if you have quite a few. This is not exact-you can soak longer or
shorter if you wish. A favorite apple to use for this is a Golden
Delicious-they are large and have a nice color. You can however
use any apple. If you have a large group of kids I would buy
inexpensive varieties by the bag to save money. Choose apples without
bruises or other markings.
After you have soaked your apple you'll need to carve it. Use a
small knife that you can have good control over. You want to
make eyes, nose and a mouth, but you don't want to cut too
deeply, this could cause rotting. Also, don't make slits in
the apple, try to carve out the spots for the features. You can
carve out ears as well. A small spoon, such as a stainless
steel baby spoon can work well for carving too.
Drying your apple heads can be done in a few ways. You can
take a large paper clip or a heavy piece of wire and carefully
run it through the middle of the apple. Bend it at the bottom,
and form a little loop at the top. You can then hang it to dry.
Choose a place without direct sunlight. It will take 2-3 weeks
to dry. If you can use a hot attic or a furnace room it may speed
it up a little. The apples can be dried on a tray or screen as
well, but be carefully not to handle them as they dry. Or try a
dehydrator at 135 degrees or below if you own one-this will
need to be checked frequently. You can also dry the apples by
placing in your oven with the door slightly ajar for 4-5 hours at
200 degrees, then leave them to dry on a tray or screen for
several days. I think it's better to plan ahead though and use
the air dry method if you can.
Finishing Your Apple Head Doll
Your apple heads are dry and now you need to do something
with them. You can use many things as a base for your doll:
a wooden dowel, heavy wire, twigs, a doll body from a craft store,
or an old one you have laying around, Styrofoam cones, or any
other base you can think of! You can make or buy doll clothes
and stuff them with batting. You could even attach little fake
doll arms and legs. Or keep it extremely simple and make a
little ornament by decorating only the head. Create a wreath
by attaching several heads to a grapevine base. You can use yarn
or fake hair on the head, paint on the eyes, cheeks and "lips".
There are many artists who create pieces from dried apple heads,
so use your imagination and items you have on hand. They are
a wonderful old fashioned craft that shouldn't be left behind!
About the Author
Brenda is the owner of OldFashionedLiving.com. She
is a wife, mom to three and a freelance writer as well.
NOTEThanks to FabulousFoods.com for the picture.
here for more apple head ideas and tips.