Apple Dolls
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“Apple Dolls,” New Era, Sept. 1984, 30

Apple Dolls

Old apples never dry, they just gain personality.

These craggy characters may look like 19th-century pioneers, but they are, in fact, ten-inch-high apple dolls, examples of an old and surprisingly simple handicraft. Apple dolls consist of a shrunken apple “head” on a padded and clothed wire armature “body.” With these ten basic steps—and some assistance from Mother Nature—you can make them yourself.

Supplies you will need include—

  • Ripe, firm apples. (It’s a good idea to carve more than one.)

  • Peeler.

  • Paring knife.

  • A few kernels of popcorn.

  • Ink and colored pencils.

  • Coat hanger or sturdy wire.

  • Fabric scraps.

  • White glue and (optional) rubber cement.

  • Unspun wool or roving (available at craft stores as a weaver’s item).

  • Clear varnish or shellac.

  1. Peel the skin off the firm, ripe apples. Carefully shave off any bruises with the paring knife.

  2. Carve exaggerated facial features. Make the eye sockets large but not so deep that the seeds are exposed.

  3. Put the carved head in a warm, dry spot to shrink. Apple heads may mold if the air is too humid. The head is ready when it is completely shriveled and dry. This may take from four days to two weeks.

  4. Add color to the cheeks and lips of the dry, shrunken apple head with the colored pencils. Apply ink to the popcorn kernels, and set them into the eye sockets.

  5. Dip the head (complete with eyes) in clear varnish or shellac. This seals the apple from air so that it won’t decompose. Daub off the excess varnish, and let the head dry.

  6. Using a thin coat hanger or sturdy wire, construct a simple body armature, leaving about an inch of wire at the neck. Be sure to scale the armature appropriately to the size of the head.

  7. Wrap and pad the armature with fabric, leaving the wire at the neck exposed. Again be sure to size the body to the head.

  8. Using the fabric scraps sew clothes on the doll body. Since each body is different, every outfit will be custom fitted.

  9. Apply white glue to the neck wire and the bottom of the apple head. Poke the wire into the head. Put pressure on both ends of the doll and allow the glue to dry. Drying should be complete in about 12 hours.

  10. When the head is on securely, apply white glue or rubber cement to the “scalp area” of the head and press on the unspun wool or roving for the hair.

Photos by Michael McConkie