- Half day workshop: Thurs 30 March 2023, 10am-1pm ($90 + $10 materials)
- Full day workshop: Sat 15 April 2023, 10am-4pm ($140 + $10 materials)
Learn a rare and endangered craft
Join expert Elizabeth Woodroofe to learn about the tradition and practice of straw plaiting and corn dolly making, using local wheat. Choose from half day or full day workshop.
In this workshop you’ll have the chance to learn about the history and cultural significance of corn dollies, and then practice aspects of this endangered craft: how to prepare wheat for plaiting, several basic plaiting techniques and how to use these plaits to construct a variety of traditional corn dollies to take home.
Corn dollies can be made from different cereals: ‘corn’ is generic for all cereals, and ‘dolly’ derives from the word idol. In this workshop we will use local wheat.
Straw plaiting and corn dolly making is a traditional craft that has been practised in many parts of the world for centuries. Corn dollies are symbolic objects, originally made from the last sheaf of grain to be harvested since it was believed that the spirit of a good harvest retreated into that sheaf. This spirit was then woven into a corn dolly and kept safe until the following year or could be burnt, planted or given to the best cow to eat. In this way, good harvests were secured. More recently, corn dollies have been associated with fertility and good luck and are hung as decorative items.
About Elizabeth Woodroofe
Elizabeth grew up in a small village in Herefordshire, UK. During her childhood she learnt the art of corn dolly making by watching and helping her mother as she demonstrated the craft at country shows and festivals. After graduating from university Elizabeth spent many years living and working overseas before settling in Australia and raising a family. She now lives in a gold rush era farm property in Central Victoria.
Elizabeth continues the craft using wheat and other cereals grown locally and is passionate about the passing on her knowledge as straw working is now on the Heritage Craft Association (https://heritagecrafts.org.uk/) red list of endangered crafts. Elizabeth can be found demonstrating at the Lost Trades Fair (https://www.losttradesfair.com.au/) in Bendigo each year and is also working with the Centre for Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades (https://sovereignhill.com.au/raretradescentre) at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat.
Elizabeth is a member of the Guild of Straw Craftsmen. See more of her work on Instagram @corn_dollies