Hobby Riding

From youthful excursions into flower painting will surely come a greater sensitivity to the lovely colors and patterns inherent in gardens. And perhaps a few of tomorrow's famous botanical illustrators, floral artists and tex­tile designers.

Modeled after the bright Mexican patio strings (also known as charm strings) these colorful hanging baubles can be put together by almost any youngster. Anything he fancies as decorative enough may be strung together. From his own gar­den, and occasionally from yours, he can find such suitable materials as Chinese lanterns, small gourds, strawberry corn, squaw corn, long red peppers, everlasting flowers in variety, attractive grass seed-heads, rose hips, and large seed pods like those of wisteria, okra and unicorn plant. Many of these can be grown in his own garden.

The ingredients should be laid out in string formation and arranged and rearranged until the composition is pleasing. Then, with a length of heavy twine or braided raffia as a foundation, the various objects are tied on with raffia. The materials should be closely grouped, and the spaces in between wound neatly with raffia.

With most of the makings straight from the cornpatch, corn-husk dolls would be a particularly appealing hobby for little girls with nimble fingers. Indians of New England tribes taught pioneer children to make these playthings in early settler days. They are still being made in New England and in some mountain districts of the deep South, both as family toys and for tourist sale. Anyone who has ever seen corn-husk dolls in gift shops knows how ingenious and engaging they can be.

The cob, cleaned and dried, is used for the body. Husks gathered while green in late summer are dried and used for face covering, costume and hat. For easier manipulation the dried husks are moistened while the doll is being constructed. They may be cut with shears into needed shapes. Corn silk, gathered in midsummer when it is brown, is dried and used for hair.

The only non-cornpatch materials needed are scissors, ink for marking the features, and string or heavy thread, for tying or winding around neck, ankles, wrists and waistline. More detailed instructions for making these dolls are often contained in children's craft books. But with these few hints many a little girl will be able to make her own original creations.


Almost all youngsters get a smattering of basketry princi­ples in the primary grades and know about over-and-under weaving, braiding and sewn raffia work. And often through later instruction the basic rules of more advanced basketry and weaving are no mystery to many older children.

      (c)2003-2008, gardening-with-kids.com