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She crafts dolls and flowers from cornhusks
Esther Kruser, Hazel Green, Wis., has a hard time keeping up with the demand for the unusual products she hand-crafts from cornhusks and silk products including dolls, wreathes and flowers.
Kruser, who displays and sells her wares at art and craft fairs, specializes in finely-detailed cornhusk dolls and realistic, multi-colored flowers. She makes 12 different styles of dolls and 10 different styles of flowers. She gets most of the husks and silk she needs from an acre of corn.
The hobby has become a full-time job for Kruser, now that she has a growing market for her products. During fall, she works from 6 a.m. until nearly midnight to craft enough dolls, wreathes, floral arrangements and other creations to sell at fall and winter craft shows. She can sell all the products she can make by attending only five shows a year.
Kruser creates her own designs, and rarely makes anything the same way twice. She wants each doll to be unique, so she tries to do something a little different each time she makes one. She never follows a pattern.
Now that her hobby has become a successful business venture, Kruser needs the help of her husband to get the job done. His main responsibility is dyeing the cornhusks into the 17 different colors used in her creations.
"Cletus also collects the little vines that we use for our heart wreathes, and puts them on a heart form and bakes them in the oven," says Kruser. "I definitely wouldn't be able to put out as many items if he wasn't helping."
One unique feature of the dolls is that everything is sewn with cornhusk thread which Kruser says is unbelievably strong. To make it, she simply tears off thin strips of cornhusks.
"People have really noticed that aspect of my products," she says. "Almost every-thing on the dolls is cornhusk. Some people put styrofoam cones inside the bases of their dolls, but I use only cornhusks in there, too. I even use corn silk for the dolls' hair."
The dolls range in price from $15.95 for miniatures to $45 for her most elaborate creations. She says it's difficult to estimate how long it takes to make a doll, because there is so much variance in detail between each item. But including collecting the husks, dying them, cutting and putting everything together, she says it probably takes four or five hours to make an average doll.
Kruser says that although cornhuskery is beginning to make a comeback as a craft, she doesn't expect lots of people to begin doing it. "It has come back somewhat for those who have the time, but it's certainly not for everybody. I couldn't do it if I had my children at home. You need lots of time and also some creative ability."
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mrs. Esther Kruser, Rt. 1, Box 275, Hazel Green, Wis. 53811 (ph 608 748-4676).
Story and photos reprinted with permission from The Country Today, Eau Claire, Wis.

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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #3