The apple doll has traditionally been one of the favorite folk apple craft ideas, dating back over a hundred years. And it’s very easy to make, (but is done over a time frame).
This project is really fun for all ages, including making them with kids. It’s one of the senior activity ideas that can be done individually, or in a group – bringing together and sharing fabrics, beads, trim, types of hair, and other decorations. You can make this doll mostly from items you have around your home.
Those with elderly issues that may restrict hand activity may need assistance with some parts – but it’s so fun, do give it a try! And see more special projects at Senior Activity Ideas.
It is best to do this project either in fall when it ‘s not humid out, or else in a very dry room in your home. If you try to dry the apples near humidity, they could mold.
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The Granny Apple Doll
You will need:
A large sized, firm apple (or two)
Bottle of lemon juice
2 Tbsp of salt
Small knife for carving the face
Long wire or wood skewer
Beads, seeds, or cloves for eyes, or googly eyes from craft store
Doll’s wig for hair, wool, or cotton
Empty, dry water bottle (16 to 20 oz.)
Fabric or craft glue (as needed)
Fabric for clothing, cut in a 12” x 14,” to 16” rectangle.
Apple doll head
Peel the apple. Scoop out two hollows with the u-shaped end of a peeler utensil, for eye sockets. Then cut slits within the hollows as well. For the nose, cut a U shape, and then cut wedges out around the nose area so it sticks out.
Make a smiley slit for the mouth. If you want to go all out and really get into carving, you can cut a little wedging out under the cheekbone area, so the cheeks look slightly full. You can also cut a little wedge under the lip area, so the chin protrudes slightly.
Be bold with your carving, since the shrinking will cause some of it to diminish. Since this is a granny, cut little laugh lines in the corners of the eyes, and wrinkle lines across the forehead.
Soak the carved apple(s) in a bowl of lemon juice with salt, for an hour, to keep it from browning. Remove the apple and insert the wire or wood skewer.
Drying the apple doll
Hang it to dry. (To dry on its own can take several weeks). An alternative is to heat the oven to 200 degrees F. Put the apples in the oven for 4 hours.
Then dry for two more days in a non-humid area. The fast way is to use a dehydrator, if you have one. This will take 3 or 4 days. It is ready when the apple is totally dry and feels a little spongy. It will have also shriveled somewhat, which gives these apple craft ideas the “golden years” look!
If some of the lines have slightly disappeared, you can always re-cut them. And also pinch the cheeks to plump them up!
Apple doll face
When you’re sure the apple is thoroughly dry, you can coat it with a thin layer of Varathane. Add the beads into the eye slots and affix with a little craft glue. Apple seeds or whole cloves work well too. Use a thin, red marker or paint to fill in the mouth line. Paint in pink cheeks with diluted watercolors. Attach the hair.
Apple doll dress
It’s really meaningful if you can use fabric from a garment or apron with this apple craft, that was either special to the person making the doll, or to whom the doll will be given.
With a needle and thread, stitch (you can do this by hand if you’d like) a simple line across one edge of the fabric, about ¾ inch from the edge.
Gather the fabric and knot the end of the thread to secure it. You can hem the bottom of the dress by folding the fabric over and adhering with fabric glue. Or just use a pinking shears to finish the edge. Gather the fabric tight enough to fit around the neck of the bottle. If it is not possible to sew, you can simply wrap the fabric around the bottle and put a rubber band around the neck to secure it (as I did in the sample).
Decorate the apple doll
This apple craft is lots of fun to decorate. Tie lace or a ribbon around the neck to finish it off. If you’re really good at sewing, you can make a shawl of lace to drape around the neck. You can also glue on small squares to look like pockets.
Other small touches can be sewing on buttons, or sewing a small apron. Remember, you can make many items with fabric glue instead of sewing them. Craft stores have all kinds of cute doll items too, including granny glasses.
You can also hang a piece of special jewelry (like an old earring or necklace item) around the neck on a ribbon. This is especially nice if you’re giving the doll as a gift, you can hang or attach a special heirloom or keepsake that you’d like to give away. My doll has a favorite pin from my own grandmother. Really use your imagination to decorate!
Assemble the apple doll
Fill the empty, dry water bottle about half way with small pebbles to weigh it down. To position the apple head on the bottle, gently stick the wire or skewer down into the bottle through the pebbles. You can add more small pebbles as needed.
If possible, it also works well to drill a small hole into the cap, screw on the cap, and then insert the apple head on its wire into the hole in the cap.
The granny apple doll makes really cute keepsake gifts, particularly if you’ve used meaningful fabric or jewelry items. And it’s also a fun craft for Halloween – you can dress them as witches! Just add a pointed witch hat on top. In fact, We’ll include a pattern here that you can print out and use.
Also check out Easy Crafts and Gifts You Can Make, and find out about lots more easy yet quality craft ideas for many seasons, reasons, ages and ability levels; plus free templates you can use for a variety of projects.