I remember being a little girl sitting with my mother as she cleaned out the master bedroom closet. It was full of old picture books of relatives, my baby photos, and a box….when I opened the box there were some peculiar items that were both strange and weirdly cute. They were preserved shrunken apple heads! My mother had made them when she was in art school. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them, but I can still recall their strange features. One was smiling with a big toothy grin, and another was laughing, and I knew that one day I’d have to recreate them.
While I wouldn’t recommend this as a kids craft because it involves sharp knives, and oven use, it’s a fairly simple and straightforward craft. If you don’t have the space to carve a full pumpkin, this is just as fun. It doesn’t involve a lot to do either. While there are variants on how you can go about preparing these and drying them out, I’ll tell you what I did, and then it’s up to you to explore and experiment to get the look you desire to see.
To be honest, all you really need for this is a bag of apples, an oven, and a knife you feel comfortable carving with. I’ve also heard that people will soak their apples in lemon water mixed with salt so that they dry out better, but in this case, I did the bare minimum and didn’t use all that extra stuff. All I used was a bag of apples, a sharp kitchen knife, and my oven.
1.) I believe this would work for any apple but considering you’re trying to dry them out like you would a grape to make a raisin, I would suggest going with apples that are on the smaller size like Gala or even Fuji apples.
2.) The first thing you’ll want to do is remove the skin. I did this with a simple apple peeler.
3.) To carve the apple it might be easier to cut some light guidelines on where you would like the eyes nose and mouth to be.
4.) Start carving! Experiment with different expressions and sizes of noses, mouths, and eyes. Once you are done you can either set aside, or you can soak in saltwater and lemon to keep it from browning. HOWEVER, the apples are going to brown a little during the drying process anyway, so I skipped this step because I couldn’t really understand the reasoning behind it.
5.) Once you’re done carving, set your oven low. I suggest around 170 degrees Farenheight. I baked mine at 250 and honestly, they started to get scorched before they were really well done. You can either hang them from a shelf in your oven using perhaps Christmas hooks, I actually used a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Put them in the oven and leave them. This drying process could take as long as 48 hours, after the first 8 I would check on them from time to time to make sure they aren’t getting burned. I turned the oven off at night and whenever I left the house. Just practice proper fire safety.
6.) Once they are dried they’re going to look fantastically shriveled and perhaps even a little morbid.
7.) I took some heavy paper and colored in eyes making sure to yellow the whites of the eyes and teeth a little to make them fit the shade of the apple. I attched the eyes by just pressing them into the sockets with tweezers. For the teeth, I gave them gums but I also allowed enough of the paper so that it can be inserted into a small slit I cut in their mouths. I think it really made them look happier.
I hope you enjoyed this fun craft and that it gives your home a little spooky touch to it. If you’d like to be notified of future posts please SIGN UP HERE. Also, feel free to check out my SHOP. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day! -Heather Astaneh