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Ohio woman turns apples into doll heads
"I can't keep up with the demand," says doll artist Peggy Asman, Genoa, Ohio, who has been making and selling apple head dolls for the past six years.
When Asman first hit on the idea of using apples for doll heads she had to devise her own techniques because she couldn't find anyone else doing it. Now she says she's perfected her methods, using Golden Delicious apples because of their large size and non-brittle skin which stays intact when carving without snapping off. Unlike other varieties, Golden Delicious also have the advantage of turning flesh-colored when dry.
Only simple tools are used. First Asman peels the apple and then removes the core with an apple corer before carving features into the face of the apple. She makes the dolls' hands in a similar way out of pieces of apple. Female dolls have no ears but male dolls are curved with oversized ears, bigger noses and high cheek bones, Asman explains.
Once carved, heads are bathed in an ascorbic acid solution to retard discoloring (one teaspoon to one cup water) and then removed and coated with table salt. Salt promotes fiber breakdown and begins the dehydration process. After about an hour, Asman rinses the salt off and inserts a wooden clothes pin through the center of the apple and then places the heads in a dehydrator.
"When I first started I didn't have a dehydrator. I just put the heads on heat registers," says Asman, noting that you can also put the doll heads in the oven on low heat.
Once dried, Asman puts rouge on the cheeks before preserving them with a clear epoxy of the type used by woodworkers. You can also use any kind of water resistant varnish.
To make the body of the doll, Asman extends the clothes pin out the bottom of the head, gluing it into place, and attaches heavy florists wire to the pin to form the body and fashion flexible legs and arms. The apple hands attach to the wire and then the figure is clothed in white cotton fabric. Dolls can be individualized at this point by gluing on different color hair (synthetic fiber purchased at craft shops), inserting different colored beads for the eyes, and perhaps making eyeglasses out of wire.
Asman says she can sell nearly all the dolls she can make for around $25 each.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Peggy Asman, 803 West St., Genoa, Ohio 43430 (ph 419 855-4146).


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1987 - Volume #11, Issue #1