Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

July 9, 2013

Traditional toys tell a history tale

ANDY GOODELL
Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — There's a real history behind corn husk dolls.

Kelly Halbert, curator at Nelson Pioneer Farm, along with her daughter, Kamrai Orr, were on hand Saturday at the farm to show how corn husk dolls are made.

Halbert explained that when pioneer children needed toys to play with, corn husk dolls were often one of the few options they had.

“Making toys is just what you did,” said Halbert, who also noted that the practice of corn husk doll making was done by Native Americans, as well. “You didn't waste your money if you could make it yourself.”

The process of making a corn husk doll isn't complicated. All one needs are large corn husks, a bucket of water and some sturdy string. It takes about 15 minutes to soak the husks so they're pliable enough to make the doll, said Halbert. From there, the dolls are formed using string and let dry.

“They don't take that long to dry,” said Halbert.

The practice of making corn husk dolls went through a revival period in the 1970s, said Halbert, who noted that many other craft activities were popularized at this time, as well. These days, corn husk dolls don't usually serve as toys for children, Halbert said.

“The detail you can get with the corn husk dolls is just phenomenal,” said Halbert. “They're just beautiful. It's something that we do now just for fun and decoration.”