Yellow, white, blue-black and red corn have a multitude of descendants in the many varieties grown in this country today. Years of research at the State Agricultural Experiment Stations and by corn fanciers have produced new types, the result of crossing one variety with another. Now corn of almost any color is available, with kernels of different colors sometimes growing on the same cob. Since the corn varies widely in color and shape, it offers many possibilities as a craft medium. Anyone blessed with an eye for design and color plus a dash of imagination can have unusual and inexpensive costume jewelry, and corncraft projects will have a special appeal for girls.
The first step in making corn jewelry is to pierce each kernel from side to side ready for stringing on wire, dental floss or thread. This may be done easily with a large darning needle, awl or small drill. If a darning needle is used, a thimble should be worn to protect the fingers, or the eye end of the needle may be covered with a small piece of wood. The corn should be held firmly on a table or in a vise while the piercing is being done. Very dry corn, which is difficult to penetrate, may be softened by soaking it in water for an hour or two. If the kernels are sorted by colors, it will be easier to determine what designs can be made with the materials at hand.
A simple necklace may be made by stringing a single row of kernels and mixing the colors. Three single strands twisted into one and fastened at the ends with a metal clasp make a more elaborate chain (Figure 25). In stringing the kernels, graduate them by color and size from pale colors and small kernels at the ends down to deep shades and large kernels at the center of the necklace. You will notice that kernels are small at the top of the ear and large at the bottom.
A daisy pattern is shown in the diagram (Figure 26). Use large kernels for a necklace, small ones for a bracelet, earrings, or any small piece of jewelry.
The daisy design is particularly attractive when dark blue corn is used for the flower petals and yellow or white for the centers. If metal clasps are not available, or rustic ones are preferred, a strip of scrap leather may be used as a fastening.
Corn may also be appliqued or fitted into an embroidery design (Figures 27 and 28). For this work, kernels should be pierced lengthwise and sewn on flat. A design suitable for a handbag (Figure 27), and a belt or headband pattern (Figure 28) are illustrated.
A variety of buttons can be made by using wooden moulds and decorating them with corn as shown (Figure 29). A loop of leather at the back attaches the button to the garment. This is made by pulling the two ends through the hole in the center of the button and knotting them in front. The mould is filled with plastic wood, which covers the knot, and the kernels are pressed in while the wood is still soft.
Corn also makes attractive lapel gadgets for a spring coat or suit. Kernels strung on thin wire are best for this purpose. A daisy design with two or three grains used intermittently to decorate the leaves is shown (Figure 30). Corn husks are dyed with Tintex or any good cotton or silk dye (they should first be soaked in white vinegar to remove the natural oils, which are resistant to dye), cut in various appropriate shapes, and then glued or sewn into a spray formation to make a good background and give the trinket body. The craftsman's imagination will suggest many other interesting and unusual types of lapel ornaments that can be made from corn husks and kernels.