There’s no doubt autumn is here. The chill nights and damp days are brightened by hedgerows jewelled with hips and haws; the ducks are more grateful for bird seed; and the occasional rainbow brightens the days.
The last of the blackberries and plums offer dark, comforting delights (though be warned: the devil spits on blackberries in September, according to folkore, so you may want to avoid them).
Elderberries seem late this year but are delicious in cordial or port (make a sweet cordial and let it ferment with its own natural yeast: simple and delicious).
How to Make Apple Dolls
One of my favourite autumn crafts is making apple dolls. My gran showed me how as a kid and I’ve made a fair few over the years. They have their own life: you can carve a rough shape but dehydration makes them take the form they want to…
Start by peeling an apple and removing any maggots (I dump them on the lawn). I generally use inedible windfalls to make the dolls, so also cut away bruises and then follow the shape revealed to create a loose – exaggerated – face.
You can soak it in lemon juice to prevent it darkening.
However, I like the changing skin tone so generally skip this step.
Next, put it in the oven on the lowest heat it can go on. Alternatively, use a dehydrator. These allow you to make vegetable crisps, fruit leather and loads more things, along with apple dolls.
Leave the head until it’s suitably wrinkled (a few hours). If using the oven, it’s a great time to make a slow-cooked stew, or meringues.
Next, add hair. Use wool, leather, string or whatever else you have lying around. Glue along the centre of the head using a hot glue gun or strong glue, and leave the rest loose. Add googly eyes if you want (I prefer using cloves: put them into the apple pre-dehydration)
Finally, add a body. You can use pipe cleaners, wire, stuffed tights or even cardboard.
Alternatively, you can string them together to create shrunken head garlands for Halloween.
Some people like making witches. Others like making OAPs. You can go as gothic or grannyish as you want. Apple dolls are a great decoration for Halloween or Samhain, and with a little practice, can make good gifts too.