Saturday, November 30, 2013

OBJECT #25: Shrunken Apple Heads

    My great aunt gave me this jar of shrunken apple heads well over twenty years ago.  And I know they were already many years old.  So these apples have to be at least 30 years old, and probably older.  They have survived two decades in various basements and attics in all the houses I have lived in.  I rarely take them out, which has probably helped in their preservation, but still, I can hardly believe what terrific condition they are in after all these years.  

    My great aunt Bea lived in California, and since I grew up in Pennsylvania I only got to see her a handful of times.  She was talented in various arts and crafts but also taught academic subjects in middle and high schools.  She and I shared a number of common interests including the making and collecting of miniatures (finely crafted items for “doll houses”) and other off-beat crafts.  At the end of her life she sent me a box of items ranging from miniature baskets to human bones.  She had also chosen me as the person in the family most likely to appreciate the apple heads she had carved.  I think my aunt would be pleased to know that I am now “sharing” them with the world at large.  I hope so.

    I recently had occasion to pull out this jar and show it around at a social event.  I also provided a bag of apples and some carving tools so people could try this craft for themselves.  It didn’t take very minutes of carving for us to appreciate my aunt’s skill!  (This craft, however, is somewhat goof-proof in that however you carve the features, they improve with age.  As the apple shrinks and dries, the facial features look more impressive.)

    I surfed YouTube for some how-to videos and found that you don’t have to core the apple.  Some people cut out the core and others leave it in.  These heads were cored.  The white stuff peaking out of them are some tissues my aunt stuffed into them to absorb any moisture that might seep out during storage.

    The nice thing about his craft is that it does not produce trash that will end up in a landfill;  they can be eaten or composted if and when you get tired of looking at them or having them take up storage space.   However, I think I will have to keep mine for as long as they will last.  They have become sort of an heirloom item at this point.  I don’t have any jewelry or expensive furniture to hand down to my kids.  But I have a jar of apple heads.


  1. Hi Ellen! I just wanted to know if you would be willing to answer a quick question about your blog! My name is Heather and if you could email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com that would be great!

  2. I have a doll with an apple head that my Grandma made 100 years ago. It even has HER hair. It is kind of creepy looking. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can see it here:
    I'm not sure I would want to eat those if I got tired of looking at them. EEWWWW! haha. They are also too much of a treasure to eat!
    Yes, I am sure your Aunt would be pleased that you have shared this.