Library Catalog - Kentucky Historical Society

Object Record

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Object Name Sculpture
Catalog Number 1992.2
Creator Colmer, Mary E.
Maker Colmer, Mary E.
Date 1991
Material(s) Cornshucks/Wood/Paint
Dimensions H-5.875 W-9 D-5.813 inches
Description This is a cornhusk sculpture of "Michelangelo: A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle." It is mounted on a wooden base. There are two pieces of birch glued to base. A green painted cornhusk doll with brown and black cornhusk shell is a turtle. It has orange cornhusk ribbons around eyes (for mask), at the elbows, and wrists and laces. A blue card attached has information from the artist.
Notes Mary Elizabeth Colmer made her first cornshuck doll in 1971. She was taught by Gerry Armstrong, who learned to make them from May Ritchie-DesChamps of Viper, Kentucky, USA. The style of doll Mary makes is called The Ritchie Family Traditional Cornshuck Doll. These figures are characterized by several unique wrapping techniques that are not used in other traditions.

The most noticeable difference is the use of a band of ribbon stitched through the skirt of the doll. This can be one line of ribbon or several woven together in intricate designs. The neck of a Ritchie Traditional Doll is wrapped, as are some of the European styles, but the hands are much more complicated, some even having individual fingers. The waist is held securely in place with a special knot beneath the skirt, that keeps the doll together when being played with by small children.

The dolls are completely tied together with fine linen thread, the only glue being used is to attach the hair and any objects held in the hands. The glue is a new tradition to replace straight pins.

All of Mary's dolls are signed, dated and numbered by hand, and as of 9/15/2000 she has made 8347 cornshuck dolls in 29 years. She has also written a book on how to make the dolls, entitled, "Oh Shucks."

Collection KHS Museum Collection
People Mary E. Colmer
Subjects Art
Corn husking
Search Terms Folk Art
Physical Holder Kentucky Historical Society - KHS