Corn Dollys – Old Traditions

My morning drive sees me traveling passed fields of wheat and canola each morning. I remember seeing Corn Dollys as a child in the UK and wonder how easy they are to make. They are made by weaving and plaiting wheat. I did what anyone in the modern age would do to learn something new and did a Google and YouTube search. And down another rabbit hole of craft I go!

I pulled over this morning to a spot where the harvester had missed. The roadsides are often planted in the mid north, to keep down the weeds in the crops and as a generous fundraiser for the local sporting clubs. Please do not remove anything from a farmers field without asking first! Our farmers have a hard enough time right now. I will be returning my Dollys to the roadsides in the hope that if the spirt is in the wheat it will return to the field for a bumper crop next year.

Not made out of corn or being a dolly as the modern meaning of the word. The word ‘corn’, once referred to all grains and dolly comes from the word idol.  They were made from the last of the harvest and once mechanical reaping came the tradition waned.The belief was the spirit of the field resided in the ‘corn’ so by making a corn dolly the spirit could resided there and be returned to the field for the next crop. Corn Dollies were used to thank Mother Earth for the Harvest and also as a symbol of good luck and fertility.

They were also worn at hiring fairs to indicate the trade a person could be hired for. Also a token of love, given to many a young girl.

I found some great instructions here at The Eden Project website this looks an easy place to start. The wheat I collected has a very short stem, so I will have to add straws as I go.

I began by striping the leaves. I broke the wheat just above the closet node to the ear and slipped the straw out. Then I popped the wheat straws to soak in warm water. There are some good YouTube how to videos too. One of the simplest to follow is this one Wheat Weaving Love Knot By the Woodland Elf.

I started with a simple plaited version, tied to a loop. Then tried a couple of Love notes as demonstrated by Woodland Elf.

Then I decided to get a bit fancy and tried Weaving with 6 stalks together as demonstrated by Sally Pointer. The website too is a great source for ancient crafts.


So tonight on my way home I will stop and deliver a Corn Dolly to the field to hopefully ensure a bumper crop next season.




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