Make a Corn Cob Doll

Learn to make an adorable doll from a corn cob and a few simple supplies.

| September/October 1976

Click on the Image Gallery for Step-by-Step Illustrated Directions.

In "Cornhusk Dolls for Fun and Profit", Nancy Bubel told us how to make and market two kinds of dolls traditional and contemporary from nothing but the paper like shucks taken from ears of corn. And they're dandy little dolls too. "But wait a minute," says Charlene Berryman. "Down here in Texas, where I live, my family makes another kind of doll ... from the whole ear of corn. And here's how we do it."

Here's What You'll Need

To make our country dolls you'll need first of all some well-formed and filled out ears of corn complete with shucks. The best time to gather them from the field usually runs from late August, through September and October, and into early November. After that, the husks (on any corn that still hasn't been picked) sometimes starts to get a little ragged looking. If your ears have any evidence of weevils, wrap them in plastic and store them in a freezer for two or three days.

In the meantime, you can round up the other materials and tools you'll need: a paring knife, an old towel, scissors, soft lead pencil, heavy twine, white thread, clear varnish, tempera or acrylic paints, a small jar, large paper cup, old toothbrush, and a pan (large enough to soak an ear of corn in).

Step One: Soak the Corn

When you're ready to begin the construction of a doll, start by soaking an ear of corn in warm water for ten minutes. Then once they've softened gently pull its shucks back (one at a time), and thoroughly clean them. Tear off and discard any of the outer husks that are tattered or discolored and scrub the kernels underneath with the old toothbrush. The ear can then be laid aside (six hours outside or 24 hours indoors) until it has completely dried.

Step Two: Remove a Band of Kernels

Remove a band of kernels (approximately one inch wide) from both the "neck" and "waist" of the ear of corn. (Use the paring knife, if you have to, to pick the grains away from the cob ... but be careful!) Then spray or brush clear varnish over the remaining kernels to preserve them and protect them from insects. Do not paint the shucks. When you've finished, hang the ear up by its husks and let it dry. (If possible, all of Step Two is best done outside or in a workshop.)

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