The Van Moriand Apple Dolls
Blanche H, Elliott, War Eagle, Arkansas.
"Apples at ninety dollars a bushel, preposterousI" so you say,
but let me explain. These apples are not eaten. They are sculptured
and dried to form the heads of those clever Ozark character dolls
that Mrs Walter Morlan, known to her friends as Van, of the White
Oak community northwest of Fayetteville, Arkansas, makes, dresses
The Van Moriand dolls made their debut at the 1956 Ozarks
Art and Craft Fair at War Eagle, Several years ago, Van had
experimented with some apples on which she had carved facial features and
set them up to dry. She had been listening to some of the old-timers
relate tales of how dolls and other toys were improvised from materials
at hand by pioneer families back in the days when if they could not
make what was needed or wanted they did without. This experiment of
Van's had been laid away and forgotten only to be found again a few
weeks prior to the War Eagle fair. The dried apple dollheads were in
a perfect state of preservation, due to a few hints picked up from
her son, who had studied taxidermy for a hobby.
About the same time that the doll heads were brought out
of storage, Mrs Blanche Joyner, whose business carries her from farm
to farm over a wide area, happened by. Always on the alert and intensely
interested in handicraft, Mrs Joyner encouraged Van and the daughter
to make up a number of those dolls to show at the War Eagle fair.
No two dolls can possibly turn out alike for the drying
process makes individuality. Tiny bits of pearl buttons are used for
teeth while shiny black, brown or blue beads add life to the eyes.
Cotton used white or dyed in dark shades makes the hair.
Dried slivers of apple look and feel like hinds and feet. Of course the bodies and