Apple-Head Puppets

You or your whole family can enjoy making apple-head puppets. Drying the heads takes several weeks, but it’s great fun to watch them slowly shrink into their own unique faces.

For each puppet you will need: firm, medium-size apple (Granny Smiths work well), newspaper, peeler, table knife, large-headed nail, and string.

  1. 1.

    Peel apple over newspaper.

  2. 2.

    Choose smoothest side for face, and carve with stem side up. With nail, poke holes for eyes.

  3. 3.

    Carve away some apple to form bump for nose; gouge out wide deep grin (see photo 1).

  4. 4.

    Tie string firmly to stem, or if stemless, insert nail and tie string to nail (see photo 1).

  5. 5.

    Hang apples in dry, warm, airy place for six to eight weeks.

Now comes the waiting, but it’s fun. Air currents will slowly revolve the apple heads, and the moisture in the apples will gradually evaporate. Every week you will notice a difference, not only in the size, but in the faces. The eyes become deep-set and smaller, the bumps look more like noses, and the mouths pucker up into surprising expressions. The faces can be changed a bit by using a nail to enlarge the features while the heads are still soft. The apples should become rubbery but not rock-hard (see photo 2).

To complete each puppet, you will need: 2 whole cloves, glue, small pieces of yarn or dried moss, Popsicle stick, 5″ (13 cm) square of fabric or 3″ (8 cm) circle of felt, straight pins, nail, and 8″ (20 cm) square of fabric.

  1. 1.

    Stick cloves into eyeholes. Glue on yarn or dried moss for hair.

  2. 2.

    For girl’s kerchief, fold 5″ (13 cm) square of fabric in half to form triangle, and tie it in place on apple head. For boy’s hat, pin felt on head to resemble hat.

  3. 3.

    Poke nail in blossom end of apple, then remove. Push Popsicle stick part way up hole in apple made by nail. Wrap 8″ (20 cm) piece of fabric around Popsicle stick and glue or pin in place. This will help hide hand of puppeteer (see photo 3). Now you are ready to put on your own puppet show.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney

[photos] Photographed by Elinor D. Titus