Apr 26, 2013

How to Carve an Apple Head

Materials and Tools

Salt and Lemon Juice 
(or other fruit preservative like "Fruit Fresh")
Sharp Knife, Bowl to Soak Apples


  • You could use just about any kind of apple in a pinch, but you'll have an easier time and get the best results if you use a Granny Smith. 
  • Choose a sharp knife that is easy to handle and be careful. I use a paring knife for peeling and general shaping, but switch to a small pocket knife or potters tools for facial features.
  • Leave any "type A"/perfectionist personality traits at the door.  You can guide the shape and features of your apple head, but you can not control them.  Even if you carve a perfectly symmetrical face, it might dry contorted and misshapen.  Alternately you might carve a hideous face only to have it dry into a cute and kindly character.  Every apple is different and it's own unique internal structure will determine the finished product. 

1.  Peel the apple
I use a regular kitchen paring knife for this step, and have been known to leave the stem and skin around the stem indentation intact to show disbelievers that yes it is an apple.  My daughter says it looks like a belly button.
If you want your head to have a neck, go ahead and shape that now.

2.  Layout the Features.
If you are artistic by nature go ahead and wing it when it comes to laying out your face and carving.  Have fun, be creative and when you've finished carving continue to Step 4.

If "winging it" is outside your comfort zone, mark the basic shape and placement of features onto the apple.  Do this by "drawing" on the apple with with your knife, toothpick or skewer.  (Since the dolls I carve are "character" dolls, I don't worry about perfect anatomical proportion.  Besides, the drying process would likely undo all my hard work if I did.) 

3.  Carve the Features.
Use whatever process works for you.  If you not sure where to begin, try the method below. Remember your mistakes taste great with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.  They'll also make a fabulous pie.

  • Start with the eyes.  Carve a divot where the eye will go under the brow and beside the nose. The technique I use to cut the eye area is to insert the tip of the knife at the corner next to the nose and keeping the tip in one spot, I sweep the blade around in a circular motion.  This creates the initial shape of the eyebrow, bridge, and top of the cheek. 
  • Define the nose and upper lip by cutting a little wedge from under the nose.  If you want a more rounded nose, go ahead and cut off the corners you just created.
  • Shape the cheeks by cutting away small wedges from the bottom corner of the nose, out towards the corner of the mouth.  This along with the shape of the eyebrows helps create the expression.  If this line is straight up and down your lady or gent will seem sad, upset, or surprised if you add an open mouth.  Angle the lines higher, like a clock hands pointing to 4:00 and 8:00 and curve it upward to follow rounded cheeks, and you'll have a much happier doll.
  • Refine the features, 
  • Optional: Add ears by cutting wedges from behind, above and below the ear. Most of my doll heads do not have ears.  They are tricky to carve and the drying process always distorts them.

4.  Soak
Make a strong solution of Fruit Fresh and water, or use a cup of lemon juice with 1 T salt.  Soak your apple for a minute or so. 

5.  Dry
Method 1  Hang until dry for 1-2 weeks in a warm dry spot out of direct sunlight, and watch as your plump round apple face shrinks and wrinkles into a little old lady or gent.  If you are in a hurry, or live in an area with high humidity, try method 2 or 3 below.
Method 2  Use a food dehydrator. A dehydrator gives the most consistent results.
Method 3  Use your oven. (not ideal, but does work most of the time)

How I used to "shrink" heads in the oven.  
Place apples on a wooden board in your oven set to 170 or less for 3-6 hrs.  If you place the apples on a baking sheet, it increases the chance they will cook, if you place them on a wire rack, you'll be left with unsightly marks from the rack.  Check the apples and board frequently the first drying to make sure your oven doesn't run hot.  You don't want baked apples or a fire.  Turn off the oven.  The next day, turn the oven back on 170 for 3-6 hours checking every hour or so.  Let cool.  Repeat the process until apples are dry, but still have some give.  If they get too dry, they will break.

Apr 24, 2013

Pictures added for Project 4: Waxed Paper Mobile

Go here to see the tutorial and scroll down to see the finished mobiles as well as a portion of the mural in my daughters Koi and Dragon themed room.

Apr 11, 2013

Project 4 pt. 2: Kid's Mobile Frame Tutorial

Be sure to check out Project 4: Kids Mobiles (pt. 1)  if you missed it.

Materials for Frame

  • Metal Rings in Various Sizes
  • 2 pieces Strong Cord, Thread, etc. 
  • Scissors
  • Glue (optional)
  • Key Chain Ring or Other Small Metal Ring for Hanging (optional)

To Make Mobile Frame
I used 3 different  macrame knots/stitches: Larks Head, Vertical Larks Head, and Overhand.  If you aren't familiar with these, and want to try them there is a nice tutorial by Dorothy Hoeschenn for basic macrame stitches at Stonebrash Creative Arts.

Apr 8, 2013

The Finches Fly the Coop

I just stumbled upon these pictures from last year's finches.  These were taken the day they flew out of the nest and left us.

Apr 4, 2013

Project 4: Waxed Paper Mobiles (pt. 1)

DIY Space Mobile from

 Last week was Spring Break here in Alabama.  With the kids home for a few days, it was the perfect time to  start a project for their rooms.  A while back, I stumbled across several mobiles, on Pintrest, made of two or more sheets of waxed paper with crayon shavings melted between them.  The process is super simple and the resulting mobiles are impressive.  I'm sure better tutorials are out there, but this is how we did it.