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How to Make Corn Husk Dolls

Updated on February 11, 2015
Corn Husk Dolls
Corn Husk Dolls | Source

Attractive corn husk dolls can be made with the dried husk and 'silk' from corn-on-the-cob.

These dolls are traditional in Czechoslovakia, and usually represent women and children in country situations.

What You Will Need

  • Dried husks & 'silk' of corn-on-the-cob
  • Natural raffia
  • Stranded embroider thread in natural & red
  • Non-hardening modeling clay in white or stone
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Cotton wool
  • Scraps of wool & straw for accessories
  • Black ink or felt pen
  • Fabric adhesive
  • Piece of twig
  • Thread - Cardboard

First strip the husks from the cobs and allow drying until papery and crisp.

Figure 1
Figure 1 | Source
Figure 2 (left) & Figure 3 (right)
Figure 2 (left) & Figure 3 (right) | Source
Figure 4
Figure 4 | Source
Figure 5
Figure 5 | Source
Figure 6 (left) & Figure 7 (right) & Figure 8 (top)
Figure 6 (left) & Figure 7 (right) & Figure 8 (top) | Source

Make the Female

  • Cut a piece of corn husk for the body about 10 inches by 4 inches with the grain along the length.
  • Flatten it as much as you can.
  • With your fingertips gather it across the center (Figure 1) and tie tightly with cotton thread.
  • Fold over.
  • Roll some modeling clay to form a ball about the size of a small marble.
  • Push this up close to the gathered fold.
  • Tie tightly underneath the ball and flatten one side for the face (Figure 2).
  • Cut a piece of husk for the arms, about 4 inches wide by 6 inches long.
  • Cut a 3½ inch long piece of pipe cleaner and wrap cotton yarn around the center.
  • Place it near one edge of the husk (Figure 3) and roll it round.
  • Tie tightly with thread 3/8" from each end, for the hands.
  • Trim ends neatly and bind raffia over the cotton.
  • Puff sleeves to make full, and tie with thread again, about ½ inch above the wrist.
  • Push the arms through the body, just below the neck, and tie tightly underneath (Figure 4).
  • Cut a piece of husk about 6 inches by 8 inches for the skirt.
  • Fold in half-length ways across the grain, then open out flat again.
  • Gather with double cotton thread along the fold.
  • Fold again.
  • Draw up the gathers tightly and secure.
  • Fit the skirt round waist and join at back.
  • Trim the lower edge of the skirt evenly.
  • For the bib, apron and bundle for the figure on the right of the photograph, cut a piece of husk 7 inches by 1¾ inch, along the length of the grain.
  • Split the husk length ways for 4 inches (Figure 5).
  • Pass the two strips over the shoulders and cross them at the back (Figure 6).
  • Tie round the waist with thread and tie a bow with the free ends of husk.
  • Gather up the other ends at the front and tie it to the left wrist (Figure 7).
  • Fill with bits of straw.

Finishing Touches

Make the hair with strands of the corn 'silk' or stranded embroidery thread.

  • Cut 2 inch lengths and stick to head with fabric adhesive.
  • Indicate center parting with white cotton thread.

For the scarf:

  • Cut a piece of husk along the grain, about 4 inches by 3 inches.
  • Fold in half-length wise and place round the head.
  • Gather the ends into the neck and tie with raffia. With black ink or felt pen paint in two dots for the eyes.

Make the central figure in the same way.

  • But for the apron, cut a piece of husk the same size as before.
  • Fold under 1½ inches from the end and stick. This makes a double thickness apron.
  • Attach to the doll as described.

For the scarf:

  • Cut a triangle with sides 3 inches long.
  • Put on the doll's head, tie the two side corners at the back, and tie to the neck with string.

The young mother's apron reaches to the hem of her skirt and is not folded back. Otherwise the instructions are the same.

Have you ever made corn husk dolls?

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Corn Husk Dolls
Corn Husk Dolls | Source
Figure 9 (left) & Figure 10 (right)
Figure 9 (left) & Figure 10 (right) | Source

To Make the Baby & Butter Churn

To make the baby:

  • Cut a piece of husk 4 inches by 2 inches.
  • Gather it at the center, tie as before and insert a small ball of modeling clay.
  • Tie beneath the ball to make the head.
  • Stick on a few ¼ inch strands of corn 'silk' for the hair and stick a strip of husk 1½ inches by ¾ inch across the head.
  • Fold over at the back and tie round the neck with thread.
  • Make the baby's shawl from a piece of husk 2½ inch by 1½ inch.
  • Fold under ½ inch at the top (Figure 9) to frame the face.
  • Tie round with red thread.
  • Indicate the eyes with 2 black dots.
  • Tie the baby in the mother's arms with thread attached to her wrists.

The child figure is made to half the scale of the adults, i.e. the main piece cut for the body is 5 inches by two inches.

Follow the general instructions given for the other dolls, but for the child cut strands of silk 1½ inches long and stick across the head from side to side.

Mark a center parting with white thread and tie in 'bunches' with red cotton.

For the milk pail:

Cut a piece of twig about 1¼ inch long, trim away the front portion and drill a hole through the middle (Figure 8).

The Butter Churn

  • For the butter churn:
  • Cut a circle of husk with a 2½ inches diameter.
  • Snip round the sided, ½ inch (Figure 10) in.
  • Bend back the tabs and stick to give a dish with a diameter of 1½ inches.
  • Cut a strip 5/8 inches wide by 5 inches long and stick round the edge.
  • If you have a darker color of husk, stick a narrow, ½ inch strip in the center to represent a copper band.
  • For the handles cut a strip 3/8 inches wide by 3½ inches long.
  • Stick underneath the churn and up both sides.
  • Cut the ends in points.
  • For the paddle, cut a scrap of thin wood 2 inches by 5/8 inch and snip away at both sides of the top for the handle.

Figure 11 (right) Figure 12 (left)
Figure 11 (right) Figure 12 (left) | Source

Make the Farmer

The picture (Figure 11) shows a handsome straw farmer.

The materials you will need are:

  • A used cork
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Thin dowel or old knitting pin
  • Piece of hardboard or cardboard about 2½ inches by 2 inches

Instructions for the farmer:

  • Roll a marble-sized ball of modeling clay.
  • Cut 1 inch on the cork for the body.
  • Heat the skewer and bore one hole into the top of the cork and two at the bottom.
  • Cut the stick into one 1 inch and two 2½ lengths.
  • For the arms bend the pipe cleaner in half, twist together and bind with raffia.
  • Pull it in tightly for the wrists.
  • Push the sticks into the clay ball and the cork (Figure 12).
  • Cut two strips of dried husk 11 inches long by 1½ inches deep.
  • Using them double, fold over the top of the head.
  • Stick the sides together round the clay ball and tie firmly round the neck.
  • Tie arm piece to stick, bring husk over and tie above the cork.
  • Now separate the two thickness’s and twist each one over a stick for the legs.
  • Bind below knee level, tightening at the ankles.
  • Make the hat from a strip of husk 3 inches by 1 inch and stick on the head.
  • Stick a length of thread for the hatband.
  • Mark in eyes and mouth with a felt pen.
  • Cut a spade shape 3½ inches deep from doubled husk.
  • Paste the two thickness’s together and spread clear adhesive over them for extra firmness.
  • Stick feet to the board or card and support until adhesive has set.
  • Curl snippets of husk for leaves and stick in place.
  • Tie spade to one wrist.

Now you have an entire family of corn husk dolls.

I hope you have enjoyed this craft and found it useful and informative!

Thanks for stopping by & Happy Crafting!

© 2012 Dawn


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    • krillco profile image

      William E Krill Jr 5 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

      Thanks, this how-to was great!