In every culture around the world, children are given dolls to play with. Native America was no exception and some of their doll-making traditions and styles have in fact survived to this day. Native American dolls are now considered by many as a necessary addition to their doll collection. This is ironic because Native American tribes never meant for dolls to be a lasting keepsake. In fact, their dolls are made from perishable materials such as husks, palmetto fiber, or pine needles. Even their wooden dolls weren't built to last.
It was considered inappropriate for Native Americans to discipline very young children, so they were never given any items that they weren't allowed or expected to chew on or throw somewhere. There was even a deep meaning attached to the impermanence of their dolls. As the dolls gradually fell apart with the passing of time, it indicated that the child was growing up and will soon be too old to play with the dolls anyway. In spite of the impermanent nature of Native American dolls, they were always made with much attention to detail. Their distinctive adornment and decorative patterns are in fact the main reasons why collectors of today like to include these dolls in their collections.
You may want to get such a doll as part of your own collection. Or perhaps you'd enjoy making one for yourself. Embarking on a project to make your own set of Native American dolls will definitely make them more precious than even the most expensive store-bought doll. Here is how you can create your very own doll in the tradition of the Native Americans.
Buy seven pieces of corn husk from your local craft store. Make sure that all the husks are clean, dry, and completely free of dark spots. Soak the husks in water for about ten minutes to make them pliable. Take four corn husks and cut them into 2 1/2 x 8-inch pieces. Stack these husks together and then tie them with string about a half inch from their tapered ends. This will form your doll's body. Create the doll's head by pulling the two inner husks up over the outer husks and then down to cover the string. Make it look as if the husk of corn has been turned inside out. Then you need to get another piece of string and wrap it around the ball-shaped tip of the husks and then tie it.
Take a piece of 6-inch husk and trim the tapered end to make sure that both ends are of the same width. Twist the husk into a tube and then tie a string around it a half inch from the ends. Slip the tube between the two husks that form the body. Position it in the center just below the head so that it resembles arms that are extended sideward. Tie a string around the doll's body right below the arms in order to create a waist and secure the arms at the same time. Use your creativity in dressing up and adorning your doll.
If you wish to make legs for your doll, simply divide the body husks into two sections below the waist and then tie off the bottoms with string to indicate ankles. You may also glue corn silk to the head in order to fashion some hair for your Native American dolls.
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