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How to Make a Cornhusk Doll
Cornhusk dolls are a reminder of the days of the early settlers in North America, when everything was homemade from materials close at hand, and nothing went to waste. Follow these instructions to make a basic cornhusk lady, and then experiment to create your own designs.
• Cornhusks soaked in water
• Craft glue
• Strong thread
• 3/4" styrofoam ball
• Cotton balls
• Paper clips
• Rubber bands
• Wire or pipe cleaners
• Small pieces of fabric, lace, ribbons
• Marking pens
Cornhusks have two sides, a ribbed and a smooth side. You can make your doll using either side, just be sure to expose the same side throughout.
1. Soak dried cornhusks in warm water for 5 minutes, or until pliable. Husks are always worked when wet.
2. For the head, wrap the styrofoam ball with a wet strip of cornhusks and tie it at the base with thread. Insert pins into the top of the head to hold the husk in place and shape the face. DO NOT TRIM OFF THE EXCESS.
3. For the arms, cut a piece of pipe cleaner or wire about 4 1/2" long. Roll a piece of wet cornhusks around the wire, overlapping the ends very tightly. Tie in the centre with thread.
4. For the sleeves, loosely wrap a 4" long piece of wet husk overlapping the edge of the armpiece and tie in the centre. For a ruffle, tie again at each wrist. The little bit of arm sticking out of each sleeve will become the doll's hands.
5. Anchor the arm section to the back of the head about 1/4" from the bottom of the ball, to create a neck. Tie securely in the centre where you tied the sleeves. There will be some excess husk down at the base of the head where the arm section can be tied.
6. For the dress, use 2 wide pieces of husk. Tie the narrow ends securely with thread just above the arm section. The husks that form the dress should now be pointing above the doll's head.
7. Pull the dress pieces down below the head and arms. Before tying the dress to form the bodice, stuff the front with one or two cotton balls. Then tie the dress at the waist. The waist should be about 3/4" from the base of the neck. Paper clip the sides of the dress together until dry.
8. While the arms are still wet, bend them into the desired position. Hold the bent arms in position with rubber bands. Insert a bottle under the skirt to spread it out and give it shape.
9. Let the doll dry for 24 hours. When dry, glue the sides of the skirt together.
10. When the glue dries, add your trimmings. Use small pieces of fabric, lace or ribbon to create head scarves, aprons, etc. Add facial features with a permanent marker, if desired.
11. To dye husks: You can use fabric dye to dye the husks. Follow the package directions. Husks should be dyed and allowed to dry completely BEFORE using and then re-soaked to make them pliable when you are ready to make the doll.
12. To braid a husk (for braided hair): Tear husks into narrow strips, soak in water, tie 3 or more strips together and braid.
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