Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Corn husk dolls

    Today's post was going to be on a completely different subject... until I went up to the attic to find some fabric. I did not find the blue and pink striped material I was searching for in the many bins stashed beneath the eaves. What I did find was something that had been buried in my  attic for nearly 15 years. An appropriately rediscovered treasure box for an
Autumn day such as this.

 A box full of corn husk dolls I had made so many years ago.
 Poor little dollies were in quite a state of neglect and disrepair.

 Evidence of savaging  mice was reflected in the missing locks of corn-silk hair and the cracked, tattered and torn sleeves and skirts of my little ladies.
 The state of one particular farm maiden was quite shocking... nearly all her hair gone AND her bonnet in shreds; her apron  full of corn had fallen past her knees in brittle defiance and she, being sprinkled  in dust, with tiny cobwebs stretched across the pleats of her once flouncy skirt.
       Poor "Mother Nature" was completely bald, having once had a glorious mane of blond flax. I suspect wee mice babes spent cozy evenings nestled in a woven bed of her stolen locks.
 The pathetic little garden gal still had mud on her face, but her hair and hat were long gone.
 The one hopeful  thing all the dollies did have in common, was the sweet smile each lady wore upon her corn husk face, despite her bedraggled appearance. This brought to mind a long forgotten memory. As a child, I had a Raggedy Andy book in which one page showed Andy  lying all alone on the attic floor, his stuffing strewn across the floor as bits of cotton fluff. Being a sensitive little girl, I used to skip that page, because it frightened me; but Andy was wearing the same happy smile across his face as my cornhusk dolls wore on this day.

    There was nothing for it but to bring the ladies  down from the attic and rescue them from the dreadful fate of total disintegration.  How do you repair a corn husk doll?  Lots of warm water and glue.
 It wouldn't hurt to have some extra cornhusks on hand, and I repeated my trip up to the attic to find a nice supply of dyed husks that had also been put away  those many years ago.
  I used to make these  corn husk dolls  to sell at fairs when my children were young, literally hundreds of them, and these 6 are the last of the last. I once wrote  and illustrated an article on making this type of doll for Early American life Magazine back in 1986 or thereabouts. I must find that old magazine, I know it's around here somewhere...

 I was delighted,  amongst the dolls to find, (well preserved in a thick plastic bag), dozens of little faces I had painted.... for dolls I never completed.

Silly little faces!


 This set of "Potted Ladies" was in the best condition of all, and I only needed to re-glue a flowery hat of petals upon the "Zinnias" head.

 I've always loved the idea of creating things from cast-offs, and what is more cast-off than a corn husk?! Making  a simple corn husk doll is quite an enjoyable task and quite easy. An early American doll would be very much like this little primitive group below.
   I set about restoring each of the ladies.Most needed completely new skirts and sleeves and bonnets and ALL needed new hair. The supplies needed for this repair work are: strong thread, lots of straight pins and T-pins, tacky glue and warm water to soften the husks and make them pliable.

The straight pins hold everything in place as it dries.
For hair I used Sophia's lovely wool (she is a Lincoln-Finn sheep), flax, dark wool roving and bits of dyed cornsilk.. It took all day to repair the dolls, but the results were quite nice.
New bonnets were needed for all ladies.

 The "Peace-maker"is quite contented with her new woolen hair and a fresh new bonnet.
Her hand-painted "quilt" was a bit chipped here and there, but easily refreshed with acrylic paint.

The little garden gal got new sleeves, apron, bonnet and flax braids. She required the most repair work.
I am very fond of her somewhat 'homely" face.


My cheerful farm maiden has gathered all the corn back into her new apron.
  I was able to re-use her red cornsilk hair, I really liked it's darling frizz.

This lovely lady is still a bit crackly here and there, but otherwise is in good shape and only needs her "quilt" to be painted.
This piece was entitled "Windy Wash Day".
(It seems a wasp has landed on the "blowing" quilt..)
I will hand-paint the quilt blocks directly upon the corn husk with acrylic paint.
  "Mother Nature" has returned in all her glory with a mane of hair made from  my Sophia sheep's curly silver wool.

Ah... that's better!

 Now everyone really does have something to smile about.

 That was fun! I just might have to make some more of these.
 If you would like to make a corn husk doll, I am sure Youtube has lots of directions. This is especially fun for little girls. Have you ever made one before? I will look for that article I wrote, and when I find it, I'll add the instructions to this post.


  1. Jeri I love the sweet little details of these corn husk dolls you made.
    They really are darling.
    I even liked them when they didn't have any hair .
    You certainly livened them up and put them back together beautifully !
    I look forward to seeing the article.

  2. This brings back memories. I use to make corn husk dolls to many many years ago and sell them at craft shows, Your dollies are adorable:)

  3. Jeri!
    I am now sure that there is nothing you cannot do.. I LOVE your cornhusk dolls. I am particularly in love with the Farm Maiden and Mother Nature.. I am going to assume that you also hand painted the patterns on their dresses.. You are mind baffling... What beautiful work!
    I remember making corn husk dolls in school one year when I was young..
    I am sure these dear treasures you found in the attic brought back many found memories...
    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful dolls... You are a woman with many talents..

  4. Sorry about the delete, typo..
    p.s Will we find these dolls on your website one day soon? I hope so

  5. Penny, I don't think I will sell them. I just want to put them in my studio to enjoy their cheerful attitudes!

  6. Jeri, the dolls are just beautiful! I like how you've decorated with them, it looks very festive.

    Thank you for your visit today! I'm happy you liked my pie, I got the cutters from Williams-Sonoma. I LOVE them!


  7. Bonjour,

    Oh ! je suis éblouie et fascinée par vos jolies poupées de maïs... Elles sont merveilleuses. Comme j'aimerais pouvoir en créer une mais je n'ai aucune idée de la technique... J'aimerais bien apprendre !
    Je viens de passer un excellent moment. Je suis heureuse d'avoir poussé la porte de votre blog.
    Gros bisous

    1. Je publierai les instructions sur ce poste semaine prochaine, il est facile de faire une simple poupée et à partir de là, vous développez pour plus de détails les poupées.

  8. JERI LANDERS, you are one inspirational human being....first of all, that you even found these dolls again is one "miracle" but to be able to restore them, only YOU would have the resource, the vision, the patience and the skill to bring them back. Isn't it a wonderful story in the making about restoration, salvation and so much more? THE PEACE-MAKER and her bonnet - what a change and her bonnet is so bright and perfect! The texture of the corn husks lends so much character to these pieces, and SOPHIA- WHEW! What a husky lady! tehehehehehe

    BRAVO MY DEAR. There are so many of YOU inspirational friends out there that blow me away, every time I see what you share. Thank you for coming by to visit and I have been seeing so many Canadian geese crossing the busy roads and feeding in the fields...makes me think of Hamish my friend. Give him a squeeze for me! LOVE, Anita

  9. Oh what a beautiful post-I felt like I was right beside you in the attic...I love your gals--such a lovely, lovely post.....

  10. Oh my gosh Jeri ~ These ladies are all wonderful. The fact that they still had lovely smiles on their faces after being through some rough times, made me smile.

    Anything you put your gifted hands to comes out quite lovely and exquisite.

    Thank you for sharing these lovely ladies with us.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  11. How wonderful that you were able to do this restoration on your vintage corn husk dollies. You definitely have a beautiful collection now that all show your wonderful imagination and creative skills.


  12. Dear Jeri - love these little beauties - I have never made them before but will look forward to your instructions...just might have to do some gathering of corn husks...sounds like a wonderful way to spend a cool chill November day! Take care and have a great week-end.

  13. Oh Jeri, yours are the cutest I've ever seen. Never a cuter bonnet either. I was going to make some with my grandkids last year, and would you believe, I couldn't find any cornhusks. This year, I saved some of mine from the garden and my Bella is coming tomorrow, so I think, I'll get some stuff out to make one. Thanks for the memories.

  14. These dolls are priceless,so happy you found and restored them.
    I do recall making one many years ago with my grandmother.
    Thanks for sharing. I sent you an email earlier answering some questions you asked.Let me know if I can help further. Hugs Amy Jo

  15. Oh, I grew up with dolls like these in my house! I had completely forgotten about them until you posted this! :) Yours are much prettier than mine were though!

  16. Oh gosh, you give the best face lifts of all. Extreme makeovers has nothing on you.

    Yes I made a doll or two many years ago. I didn't keep with it, I liked soft fabric between my fingers better.

    Your work is AWESOME!

    You rock ladies.

  17. Love them dear Jeri. Fond memories and of course, they're a part of our history. Sending love,


  18. How precious and beautiful they are, dear Jeri! Your works of art always put a big smile on my face, and inspiration in my mind and heart....just splendid!!
    And the book arrived yesterday, Jeri...thank you SO much!!! I am thrilled and very honored to have your art in my home....I can't wait to sit down with a cup of tea and explore every little gorgeous nook and cranny....stunning!!
    Thank you for signing it too, that was so kind of you...and the extra goodies....
    (Happy dance!!)
    Have a fabulous Sunday...
    - Irina

  19. oh these are so beautiful! I like the garden girl, of course! I may have to learn how to make these! Have a great week.

  20. these are absolutely wonderful - so happy you were able to discover them and bring them back to life.

  21. I love your corn husk dolls. When I was a child we made dolls with corn fresh out of the field before the husk dried. I remember I always wanted mine to have red hair.

  22. Oh Jeri ~ They are so delightful and charming...and such personalities...only
    you could.........Had to giggle at "bazoomy" Mother Nature....
    I have every Early American published, so if you need a copy of your article,
    I could manage to locate it for you....
    Bountiful blessings to you and your Beloved ~
    Our Mary

  23. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has a box of dyed cornhusks in her attic, lol.

    Your potted ladies are adorable and your bonnets are cute enough to make me want to create a new lady with a sunbonnet!

  24. Jeri this was a delightful post! Your corn husk dolls are a work of art. I have NEVER seen a corn husk doll like yours. I hope you can find the article you wrote about them. I was chuckling all the way through your post imagining the little mice so excited to find a treasure trove of corn silk for building material. Such a cute picture! Thanks for the fun today.

    Blessings, Edie Marie

  25. Oh my goodness :) I just stumbled across your blog and I am in awe of your amazing talents. Oh, if I lived close I would bake a cake and come knocking on your door for afternoon tea and a chance to sit and get to know you better. Your corn husk dolls are a delight to the soul and your art is so enchanting. Can you tell that I am excited? . . . your newest follwer, Connie :)

  26. Jeri,
    I just read your message... I tried to access your new post, but could not..
    I do see your followers list here... All seems ok on my blog.. I hope all gets resolved soon for you..

  27. Jeri, Your creativity astounds me.. Your girls are out of this world... a long time ago I used to make corn husk dolls, only the very simple ones and what fun they were. You have taken them to a whole new level. they are fabulous!

  28. oh you are so like me! Christie knew you would be :) She is a dear <3

    I've been wanting to make corn husk dolls. I tried to find something to help me, but it was too mind boggling. I'll try again. (unless you found your directions) There is a corn field near us, too :) ... my youngest daughter and 2 of her friends are reading Little House in The Big Woods because I told them they could have a Little House sleep over when they finished. I'm thinking Corn Husk dolls would be perfect for them to do for the craft :)

    I was sure when you said red hair that you'd have made an Anne of Green Gables corn husk doll lol


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