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Design Cornhusk Dolls

Turn corn husks into make-believe people.

Ranger Rick
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Average Rating:
Participant Age: 7 to 12, 12 and up
Approximate Cost: Under $10, $10 to $100
Duration: Over an hour
Difficulty:
Physical Challenge:
  • Husks from two ears of fresh corn or Indian corn. (Corn husks are also sold at craft stores and garden shops.) You'll need seven husk "leaves."
  • White glue (or use a glue gun with an adult's help)
  • Paper clips (optional)
  • Leaves, seeds, pieces of grass, corn silk, seaweed, and other plant parts (for clothing and hair)
  • Scissors
  • String or raffia
Prepare the corn husks
If you bought ready-to-use husks, they are already dry. But if you want to use husks from fresh corn, you'll have to dry them first. Peel them off the corn and lay them on newspaper to dry for about three days.
Soak the husks
To soften the dry husks, soak them for a few minutes in a sink filled with warm water. Then take them out of the water and lay them on a towel.
Stack and tie the husks
To make your doll's head and body, stack six husk leaves on top of each other. With the string or raffia, tie the husks together an inch (2.5 cm) from one end. Tie this knot and all others tightly and cut the string off close to the knots. (Drawing A)
Fold down some husks
Hold the tied end in one hand with the leaves sticking up. Flip three of the leaves in one direction over your hand and three of them in the other direction. (Drawing B)
Make the neck
Make a neck by tying the leaves tightly an inch (2.5 cm) from the top end. (Drawing C)
Make the arms
Roll the last husk leaf lengthwise to make the arms. Slide the rolled husk between the three front and three back husks of the body. (Drawing D) To make arms that bend, straighten out a big paper clip and slide it through the middle of the rolled husk. Tie ends of the rolled husk to make hands, and then tie the middle of the doll to make the waist. You can also make the arms from bent sticks.
Make a skirt or pants
Cut off the bottom ends of the husks evenly to make a skirt, or cut partway up the middle of the skirt to make pant legs. Add a paper clip to each leg if you want it to bend, and tie the ends of the legs to make feet.
Decorate with items from nature

Now comes the best part. Take a walk outside and look around you. What can you find that's just right to bring your cornhusk doll to life? Maybe you'll find a leaf that looks like a vest, wings, or part of a skirt. An acorn top could make a hat or a basket.

Dress your doll by gluing on some of the plant parts you've collected. Try different combinations until your cornhusk character looks just the way you want it to!

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