At my housewhen I was smallwe had these playful dolls, full of art and creativity! It is amazing to know that from a corn husk leaf, you can create something so beautiful!

It is also a great idea to recycle!

Both in Mesoamerica and with Native North Americans, corn husks have been used for different crafts since 2500 B. C., and some of these are still being made today! The rigid leaves can be used to cooked tasty meals, weave mats or make creative dolls! 

According to Valerie Petrillo in the book “Una Guía de Chicos para Historia Latina,” corn husk or corn leaves dolls was a skill adopted by the children of the Spanish colonists when they arrived to America. The original dolls, representing both women and men lacked details. However, the modern versions are made with decorative and colorful fabric, lace, accessories, and detailed facial features.

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The pale golden color of the corn leaves is the result of exposure to the sunlight, which results in a drying process. Since corn is traditional in America, these creative dolls were developed here! And the designs can be found in El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. However, as the Spanish colonists carried the idea to the old world, you can also find other versions in Europe and even the Asian continent!

Today, we are going to learn the basics to make corn husk dolls! Give free rein to your creativity and add any material or design you can think of!

To make these cute dolls, you will need many corn leaves! So, each time you buy corn, don’t throw away the leaves! Wash and dry them in the sun. Then store them for a future date.

This is what you will need:  

  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels
  • Fibers
  • Water
  • Fabric, lace and whatever other material you would like to decorate your doll!

Once the corn leaves are dry, rehydrate them in a little water to make it easier to mold.

Start with the trunk, head and body. Take 4 to 5 large leaves and tie with a bit of thread as the picture shows.

Flip the leaves over the thread.

Straighten the leaves and tie with a piece of thread a few centimeters below to form the head.

For the arms, use a large leaf and cut two slots on one side of the leaf. Then cut two slots on the other side of the leaf as the picture shows. Tie both sides and use thread to tighten them. Cut the ends.  

Open the base of your doll and place the intertwined arms at an equal distance from the body. When you do the arms, you can use wire to shape them better! Use more thread to tie the waist and secure the arms.

For the skirt, use multiple leaves that you will wrap in layers around the waist. Always tie to secure with thread. Cut the edges to make the skirt.

On the skirt, you can add pieces of multicolor fabric or you may choose to dye some of the leaves with aniline or coloring. The same process applies to the chest area. You will need two leaves. Intertwine one of them behind the body. Tie with thread and remove the excess.

Using fibers, draw your doll’s facial features.

You can also include lace, ribbons, wool or yarn to make hair, accessories, and improve the design of your doll! Happy Crafting!
Until the next time!