Growing up as a child is was always fun to be creative with our shrunken apple heads. It was a project for the whole family young and old. The kids could use their ready imagination and the adults could tap into their inner child and let their own imagination run wild. The younger generation may not even know about the shrunken head creation, made from dried apples.
Shrunken apple heads can be used for any occasions from, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Easter and so on. For this project you will only need a few items. The items needed are as follows:
- Unblemished apples, (any kind will do), but the bigger the better.
- A sharp knife for peeling (Children please ask an adult for help with the knife!)
- A butter knife or a plastic knife any will do for carving.
- Enough lemon juice to bath your apple in to prevent browning
- 1/4 cup of salt
- 2 to 3 cups of water, enough to soak the whole apple in
- Chop sticks, popsicle sticks (to stick you apple on from the bottom)
- A paint brush or basting brush or spoon
- A bowl or very large wide cup (just make sure it is large enough for your apple, so you can get it out. (This is used for soaking your apple in.)
- Beads, marbles, and rocks (anything you would like for the eyes).
- Rice if you would like to give your apple head teeth or anything else (just use your imagination).
- Your most important tool is your creativity!
Peeling your apple and bathing in lemon juice
With your apple in hand, peel the apple all the way around, you may choose to leave a little peel on the bottom and top. Most people will peel the whole thing and decorate it later. This is the time to coat your apple in lemon juice (you can take a brush to coat your apple in lemon juice or if you have enough lemon juice you can soak your apple for 15 or 20 minutes in the lemon juice (this helps the apple to not turn brown while you are working on the face features.
Carving your apple
Now you are ready to carve your apple using your knife (a butter knife, plastic knife will do fine). You can start anywhere (many start with ears). When I start with the ears, I carve a square on the side for the ears; then I remove the fruit from around the outside of the square, doing this makes it look like the square is sticking out. You can then move on to carve out the eyes, nose, mouth, dimples, and other features you want on your apple face. You can carve out lines, creases in your apple’s face also. You can do your nose for your apple the same way you did for your ears to make it stick out more. If my apple is big enough and I can make my nose big enough I like to take a pencil, pen, or something to poke holes in my nostrils of the nose (these really show up once the apple head is dried.) For your lips you can make them big or small. You can cut a slit between your apple’s lips, so when it starts to dry your mouth will start to separate. After you have carved out all the features you want on your apple face, it is time for a salt bath.
Pour some warm water into your bowl or other container), and add your salt, (make sure your apple head will fit into and come out easily whatever container you use. Soak your apple head in the water and salt mixture for at least 24 hours. Soaking your apple head in salt water will pull the apple juices out and will help speed up the drying process. After you apple head has soaked 24 hours you are now ready for the drying process.
Drying your apple and decorating it
Before you start the drying process, take your popsicle sticks or whatever you decided to use, and stick it up underneath your apple head slowly up through the apple. (Don’t shove it fast; you may split your apple.)
At this time you can also put the marbles, beads or what you choose for eyes into your eye sockets you carved out. You apple head will dry and close in around your object or you can choose to wait and do this after the drying has taken place.
If you want to speed up your drying process you can put your apple head in the oven on a temperature of 150 degrees for an hour or two. If you have the temperature too high you will cook your apple head and we don’t want to cook our apple heads, just start to dry them out. If you don’t want to use the oven you can go on to the last phase of drying. Take your apple head and sit it up to dry in a warm place (a window, over a heater vent anywhere it is warm and dry.) The bathroom may not be a good place because of moisture from hot showers and baths. You can stick the popsicle in a flower pot or anything that will allow your apple to sit straight up for air to circulate all around the apple. Now you wait. Give your apple head around 2 weeks. Keep checking it to make sure it is drying. If you notice mold starting to grow on your apple head you can take some peroxide and put on a cotton ball and wipe down your apple head and it should be fine.
It is at this time you can also put the rice in for teeth. Taking the rice, and sticking them into the upper and lower part of the mouth. When making my apple heads I will sometimes paint the faces. You also can create a body for your apple head with clothes, hats, and yarn hair to fit any festive mood for any season or holiday.
Have fun and get creative with your apple heads.