Cornhusk Dolls

Cornhusk dolls allow the crafter endless possibilities. They can be anything from cute and simple to elegant and refined.

You will need:

Dried cornhusks|
Thread/string
An acorn or other small round object
Wreath wire (optional)

Cornhusk dolls have their origins in Native American culture. The dolls were made as toys for children as well for more serious ceremonies. In later years, the pioneers also borrowed the tradition from the Native Americans and made dolls for their children out of cornhusks.

This project is the basic cornhusk doll. Once this is mastered, a crafter can get very creative dying or painting husks, or using scraps of cloth as clothing. To make witches for Halloween wreaths, just add a pointed hat and a twig broom. For a fairy or an angel, cut two husks into the shape of wings and hot glue to the doll’s back.

Cornhusks have to be dried before they are made into dolls otherwise they will lose their shape and fall apart. To dry the cornhusks, leave them out in the sun for a day then store them in a dry place until use.

To begin making a doll, soak the dried cornhusks in water for about 10 minutes. This will make them pliable enough to use. First take an acorn or other similar object. This will be the head. Lay two wide husks down, forming a cross. Place the acorn in the center of the husk cross. Fold the sides of the husks around the acorn. Tie off the ends below the acorn.

Next take two cornhusks to use as the arms. If you want the arms to be moveable, conceal a piece of wreath wire inside the husks. Lay the husks on top of one another, and tie them off the middle.

Using two cornhusks, lay them on the left arm, sandwiching it. Tie these two husks to the arms about a centimeter from the end of the “hand.” Fold the two husks backward over the tie, concealing it. This will form a sleeve. Tie the ends in the center. Repeat with the right side.

Slide the arms up between the long ends trailing off the neck. Tie off at the waist.

Take two cornhusks and lay them diagonally across each arm. Tie off everything below the arms. This will form the bodice and the waist.

Next take eight cornhusks. Lay four on the backside of the doll, and four on the front side. Point them up toward the head. Tie off at the waist, then carefully fold them down, concealing the tie. This will form the skirt. For a male doll, separate the “skirt” into two legs and tie them at the ankles.

To make hair, glue a bit of corn silk to the doll’s head. For a female, this can be tied off in pigtails with bits of yarn. Traditionally cornhusk dolls have no faces. This is due to an old legend about a cornhusk doll who had such a beautiful face that she grew vain. She ignored her duties and responsibilities, choosing only to stare at her own reflection. The Great Spirit saw this and punished her by removing her face. This is why cornhusk dolls are made without faces.

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2 thoughts on “Cornhusk Dolls

  1. Where can I find supplies like dyes for the corn husks or natural corn silk for the hair. I am looking for more than the basic materials.

    Thank you

    • Corn husks can be dyed with anything that will dye fabric. Craft stores like JoAnn’s generally have a selection of fabric dyes. Or you can make your own natural dyes out of things like onion skins and beet powder. I don’t know any place that sells natural corn silk. The easiest way to get that is just save the tassels when you’re shucking corn. You’ll usually end up with some dark and some blond corn silk that way.

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