Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Corn Dollies

I have wanted to make corn husk dolls for about as long as I can remember (going way back to my childhood when I would have much preferred life in a covered wagon to our green stucco bungalow). A couple of years ago I saved a bunch of corn husks from a summer dinner, but I didn't dry them properly and they developed gross dark mold spots. That was the extend of my efforts until last week, when after buying a surprise half dozen late-season corn ears from a nearby farm, I piled the husks on a cookie sheet and placed them in the oven--still warm from cooking dinner--to dry. I turned them a couple of times over the next 24 hours or so, and the oven got rewarmed with toast-making, and within a couple of days the husks were mostly dry (and mold-free).
Saturday afternoon, spying the pile of husks on my counter and noting the restlessness of my children, I set to work, pulling a page of directions I had printed out several years ago from the filing cabinet (from that last statement you might mistakenly surmise that I am of an organized nature--but you would be wrong--it is a freak occurrence indeed for me to know where something is and actually find it there on the first try).

Making the dolls was much easier than I'd imagined it would be (we followed these directions), although it was one of those "watch while Mom does all the work" kind of craft projects, at least as far as E and Z were concerned. No matter; they were content to stand on the learning tower cutting corn husks into shreds with their scissors. M joined the fun after a while and made a soldier (of course) corn husk doll, complete with walnut shell helmet (E and Z added walnuts to their dollies too) and combat boots, which we fashioned, after much trial and error from hemlock cones stuffed into folds of husk. M had just been talking about wanting to make a soldier doll on our (very long) drive to soccer that morning. "I want to make it out of all natural and recycled stuff," he said, "That's much healthier than going to the Wal-Mart and buying a G.I. Joe, don't you think? Oh dear, I believe I'm rubbing off on him. I have to say though, that the rebel in me delights that he bucks both the consumer/plastic culture by making his own soldier toy and my Waldorfy tendencies by making his corn dolly a soldier.

After our dolls were complete, we hit the trail in search of accouterments (it was a beautiful day--I believe these are the days Thoreau referred to as "washing days"--although I know that only second-hand because I am far too mentally lazy to read Thoreau. I assume he's talking about how quickly laundry dries when the sky is gloriously blue, the air dry and breezy and the sun shining down as if winter were not breathing down it's golden neck). In addition to laundry, washing days are ideal for walks in the woods--completely bug free.

E took a break to build a fairy house.

I collected some autumn leaves.

And admired some fungi:

(The white one, of course, was declared a fairy umbrella). M collected a ball of clay from the riverbank and Z fell in the river, which was our cue to head home, where we decorated our dolls with sticks and pine cones and flowers (which I collected as we went since everyone else seemed much more intent on enjoying the hike than gathering doll decor).

M's soldier is the one on the far right (he later added a twig rifle which adds quite a dynamic dimension to him).

I went out to get the mail, leaving three boys behind happily playing with dolls, congratulating myself on what enlightened males I have the privilege to live with, and returned not ten minutes later to find all four of them (yes, Papa had joined in now) throwing balls, running, jumping, shrieking, kicking and generally carousing around the house. Sigh.


  1. Gorgeous pictures and muy cool dollies - you are the grooviest mom ever! Though I think it is important to remember that walnuts are, well, Satan. And must be destroyed.

  2. I love that M made the statement about natural things being better than stuff bought at big box stores. Sometimes they do listen to us, huh?


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