Almost a year ago, when I began this blog, my very first blog post was about making applehead dolls. Last night on Andrea Currie’s Craft-tastic Live, I demonstrated how to make an applehead and even showed how I then turned my applehead into a witch’s head. Be sure to check out the awesome Poe inspired raven cards that Andrea made too!
Some suggested using a dehydrator but I don’t own one so I was unable to test that. I tried 1) using salt to speed up the drying process, 2) letting it air dry with nothing else added 3) using a microwave to dry it 4) beginning the drying process by putting the head into a low (200 degrees F) oven for a few hours. When I used the salt, I had been told to douse the head in lemon juice first and then encase it in salt. I’m not sure if the lemon juice added too much moisture to it or if the salt was packed around it too thick but this one took about a month to dry out properly.
Letting it air dry on its own worked very well and took about 2 weeks. Starting the drying process in the oven and then letting it air dry the rest of the way also worked very well and it took about a week and a half. Microwaving was a disaster – the apple turned mushy (kind of like a baked apple) and it stayed that way. By the way, drying times will vary according to the degree of heat and humidity where you are, the size of the apple, and so on. My times should just be used as estimates.
Some other important notes: when making your apple head doll, don’t get too fussy about trying to make a perfect face. As you can see in these pictures, all I’ve basically done is to hollow out spaces for eyes, I usually just cut a round shape for a mouth, and then for the nose, I cut away on either side of a sort or rectangle shape – sort of giving it sunken cheeks. You can never predict just how an apple will dry and so you just need some basic shapes there for it to work around. Then the drying process itself will add in definition and wrinkles.
I read that you can dry the apple completely in your oven – problem is the times quoted ranged from 10 to 20 hours and I wasn’t willing to use that much electricity on something like this so that’s why I simply used the oven to jumpstart the drying process. You can coat your applehead with lemon juice if you want it to stay as close to the natural apple colour as possible. This does add some moisture to it and can add to your drying time. Personally, I prefer letting it turn brown as I think it adds to the look.
I stick a popsicle stick into the appleheads as sort of a neck for them. This enables me to place them into a bottle or a can for drying. That air circulation around the head helps it to dry faster and more evenly. If you’re going to let the appleheads lie down on a surface to dry, you will need to turn them regularly for even drying. The other advantage of the popsicle stick is that then if you want to make them into a complete doll with a body, you already have a neck and upper torso to build on. I often recycle old plastic bottles (like those for dish soap) as bodies for these dolls. Things like felt, fabric, and even cheesecloth can make great simple clothing.
For the hat on Hazel, I simply cut a half circle and formed it into a cone for the main part of the hat. Then for the brim, I cut a circle and clipped a + (a cross or plus sign) into the middle of it to create an opening. I pushed the brim down over the cone and glued the points that the + now formed into place on the cone. For her hair, I cut chenille stems in half and then folded them into a zigzag fashion. I used a toothpick or bamboo skewer to poke holes into the applehead and stuck one end of each chenille stem into each hole. I then glued the hat in place on her head. To add a Halloween touch, I just freehanded a little flower out of felt. Oh and by the way, the applehead I used for Hazel is one from nearly a year ago when I did that first post – so yes, they do last and hold up quite well.