Making Apple Dolls

Making Apple Dolls

apple                            apple doll

Do you have a desire to create something from materials you may already have lying about in your home? How about apple dolls? You know those delectable balls of fruit you most likely have in your fruit bowl? Let me share with you how to take one of those delicious fruits and set you on your way to creating art by making apple dolls.

Materials:

Before beginning this project–or any project–, please be sure to secure the needed materials.

  • APPLE, medium size
  • WIRE, stovepipe wire
  • STUFFING, cotton or fiberfill
  • WRAPPING, strips of rags or bias tape
  • CLOTH, cotton of various colors
  • DECORATION, felt, yarn, ribbon, lace, etc.
  • THREAD
  • GLUE, white
  • PRESERVATIVE, undiluted lemon juice, salt, or sulfur fumigating candle
  • WHOLE CLOVES

Getting Started

The apple is used to form the head of this doll. Sometimes the apple is also used to make the hands. These apples have been dried. The remainder of the doll is made from other materials, usually dressed in cotton. The apple head should have carved into it the facial features.

As the head dries, shrinkage will create wrinkles that give character and give the doll the appearance of old age. Sometimes the apple stem is left on, and occasionally the apple skin is left on to create the look of hair on top. Surprisingly, dried apple heads can last over fifty years! A similar-looking doll is the dough doll. The head is molded from a mixture of cornstarch, sawdust, salt, and water.

Possess Creativity

Because apple dolls are made in a variety of shapes and sizes and in numerous ways, it is difficult to produce a one in all pattern that will fit. For this reason, these instructions are only general. You will need to tweak sizes for your individual doll by applying the materials (fabric, wrapping, etc.) and experimenting. See what fits, what looks proportionate, and remove or cut off the excess. This will require creativity on your part, but you can do it!

Making the Apple Head

apple

Pick a nicely-shaped apple (medium size). Remember that the size of the apple will shrink 1/3 or more as it dries. Peel the apple. Select a nice-looking side to begin sculpting. The nose is the most prominent feature, so work around it as a starting point. Use a knife or sharp object to make deep slashes on each side of the nose, as well as below and above it. Make slashes and depressions between the forehead and nose, thereby creating eyes.

Shape a chin at the sides and back to the neck. Make the mouth cut deep, turning it down to form a scowl or up to make a smile, depending upon what sort of character you are creating. Finally, add several light cuts at the corners of the eyes, around the mouth, and in the forehead. These wrinkle cuts will develop during the drying process.

 

apple doll face

Preserving Your Apple Head

Preserving the apple head can be accomplished in several ways:

  1. Soak the apple in a saturated salt solution for 45 minutes. Then drain. Or…
  2. Soak the apple in undiluted lemon juice for an hour and drain. Or…
  3. Expose the apple to a lighted fumigating candle for one hour inside a cardboard carton.

Regardless of the treatment you use, it is imperative to hang the apple on a wire run through the core making sure it doesn’t touch another object. Keep it in a warm ventilated place for at least a month.

During the drying process, the apple will shrink and the wrinkles accentuated. When dry, put whole cloves in the apple at eye placements. Cloves make great eyes as well as help preserve the project. Apply a modest amount of rouge at the cheeks. If you desire apple hands, preserve and dry them in the same manner as the head.

 

Making the Apple Body

The body of an apple doll is made of a cloth-wrapped wire armature. The frame is made by twisting and bending stovepipe wire. Make the frame by bending the wire in the middle (the head spike), twisting it several times (neck), spreading it out and doubling back (arms), twisting together (chest), dropping down and twisting together again (stomach), spreading out and doubling back (legs), and anchoring near the stomach.

apple doll armature

Size the figure proportionate with the dried head. Fill out the armature by wrapping strips of rags or bias tape around the body. Use pink cloth (or a color similar to flesh pigment) for wrapping around the arms and other exposed areas. Use black cloth around the legs.

Clothes for the doll can be made and filled out with cotton stuffing or fiberfill in the bust and hip areas as it is sewed on and into place. Details can be added to the dress such as hat, umbrella, pantaloons, shoes, purse, basket, shawl, cotton for hair, and baby. A man can have overalls (made from denim scraps), a bandanna handkerchief, and a burlap straw hat.

 

Final Construction

Now for the final fun. Take the head and hands and pierce and glue them onto the armature. These dolls are delicate and should not be handled excessively if you want them to last, but they are very novel. Be sure to store them in an airy well-ventilated place.

apple doll

 

Preserve a Folk Art Tradition!

From apples growing in an orchard to an old-time work of art, making apple dolls can be a creatively fun experience that you, your family, and/or friends can enjoy together. The poor folks of old made these dolls because they are made from fragments that can be found around the house and/or farm. Truly a part of folk art tradition. So grab an apple and begin creating your very own folk art today!

 

 


36 thoughts on “Making Apple Dolls

  1. Robert- This truly a work of art
    I have never heard of apple dolls and these are just so wonderful
    You just keep inspiring me with your wonderful and artistic flair
    Thank you

  2. Wow, something new I’ve never heard of this is an art to build dolls from apples. I would have never thought of this. I do like your instruction very easy to follow. Good post

  3. This is interesting. But you can’t eat it. It will spoil, no? Will it attract fruit flies? You detailed step by step instructions on how to make this doll. Thank you for the information.

    1. Glad to provide you with information about apple dolls. You are welcome to eat the apple, but you don’t want to eat it if you want to have a doll. I suppose we can’t “have our cake and eat it too.” 🙂 Once the apple is treated in the solution and cures, it should not draw flies. Think of it similar to preserving sausage or jerky. It can last a long long time once cured. These dolls have lasted up to fifty years if kept airy, ventilated, and dry.

  4. I wanna see a picture of a completed apple doll! Looks interesting and fairly simple? Maybe? I am a craftsy type of person, and I love to create things. This one peaks my interest. I will not have to do a google search to see what they look like 🙂

    1. I am glad to provide something interesting for folks to read and learn about concerning dolls. Thank you for your input. There should be a picture of a doll on this post at the beginning and end. Take a look.

  5. Hey Robert!

    First time I am hearing about this!!

    An apple doll? Amazing! This is a fun project.

    What I like is that it uses easy to find ingredients.
    I found the ways you described about preserving the apple to be amazing.

    Especially the candle and cardboard method!…really great science there. I may delve deeper into that as I find it fascinating.

    50 years is a long time!!!

    Great article as usual!

    Ravi

  6. Hey enjoyed this post and I think you have a wonderful niche here. Congratulations. What a creative and imaginative site for the whole family, especially for the kids to follow along and have fun with it. Honestly, I would never have thought about making a doll head from an apple but that’s what I love about your post. Gosh that apple doll head really looks like an old lady!

    1. So glad you enjoyed this post and my website about dolls and animals. It is something the entire family regardless of age can enjoy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

  7. Wow, what a work of art… This would be perfect to do with your kids on a rainy day! I’ve never heard of this… Most people would shy away because of the thought of using food to play with and make dolls.

    Thank you for the information. I’m going to pass this on to my sister!

    Thank you,
    Sabrina

    1. Glad you enjoyed the article. It is meant to help people–even if they don’t know much about sewing. The simple things in life truly can be used to create novel toys and works of art. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Very informative post. I never knew that you were able to make dolls from using apples. Interesting to learn about the ways to preserve the apple as well. Thank you!

  9. Wola! This is a great read. I’ve heard of dolls but not of apple dolls. Equally thrilled to learn that apple heads can last for 50 years and that’s really incredible. Not only that, you have also provided all the materials needed for the doll and the step by step guide on creating the awesome doll which anyone can follow easily.

    This is going to be a unique niche and you are going to nail it especially for the children.
    Love the post. Keep us updated with this first kind of a niche.
    All the best.

    1. Thank you kindly for those words of encouragement. I do hope the information is practical and useful. I will do my best to keep it updated with new information regularly. Every few days to a week I post another article about dolls, stuffed animals, and fairy tales. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Wow, this is amazing, a real art, and a very good activity to do with my daughter, I like the way you explained, cause you took the main basics leaving space for creativity. This is probably the most exotic use for an apple 🙂
    I had no Idea you could do that with an apple.

  11. Haha, this is interesting. I’ve never thought of doing this. But I’ve tried making a swan using apple. Have you seen those apple swans?

    Anyway, how long can this thing last after all, despite all the preservation process?

    1. Glad you enjoyed this post apple dolls. I don’t believe I have seen the apple swans, but it sounds very interesting. I will have to look into it. Where did you see them? I may have to look into that.

      The preservation process will last quite a while if stored in a well-ventilated place that is fairly dry–up to 50 years!

  12. This is so awesome! I made witch apple heads as a kid but never thought to paint them, add hair and a body, etc. I never realized they can last so long! It’s the perfect time of year to do this craft, too. 🙂 Thank you for this.

    1. Yes, it is. But it doesn’t have to be a step back. We should promote this for children today. I think children and adults will like this, don’t you think? Thank you for your encouraging thoughts.

  13. This is great idea for making on Halloween and selling at the pumpkin festivals . The part about carving out the face does seem a little tricky, is there a YouTube tutorial perhaps on how to do the head carving part?

    1. That is a really good thought! You are right: this would be good to do and show at a pumpkin festival, etc. There might be avideo out there about this, but I have not seen one. Perhaps I will do it someday. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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