Walnut Shells


There’s nothing like the sight of a sleeping baby.  I’m constantly on the lookout for natural objects that can be used as beds for my dolls. A baby can curl up in a cradle made from half a walnut-shell.


This walnut is bigger than most that you can buy in a bag at the super market. I usually pick out the larger ones during Thanksgiving season, when the stores sell them in loose bins. I am a curious sight, digging through the box, determined to find the biggest ones. To make the nuts more easy to split open, bake them in a low oven at about 200 degrees for a few hours. They start to crack along the center seam and you can then break them open with a knife. You can also cut the shells open with a fine saw. In the above illustration from my up-coming book, Pocketful of Posies (Sept. 2010), I sawed half a walnut-shell  in half again lengthwise, so that the side could be seen in relief.


This blue suited baby is lying on real reindeer moss in a walnut-shell.  He is part of an illustration from my board book, Wee Willie Winkie, on the page that says, “Are the children in their beds?” This image is available as a note card in my Etsy Shop. I edged the felt leaf with wire to give it a curvy, raised lip that fits the shape of the walnut. You can glue the shell in place or drill holes and sew it like a button.

detail from "You and Me Poems of Friendship" 1997

detail from “You and Me Poems of Friendship” 1997

15 thoughts on “Walnut Shells

  1. Ah, so THAT’s how you find walnut shells big enough for bairns!

    We have a lot of milkweeds in a corner of our pasture– the cows leave them alone and the butterflies love them–and I suspect the pods would also make lovely cradles, particularly with a bit of milkweed floss still inside. (One of our elderly farmer-neighbors sells balsam wreaths each year in which he places a pinecone angel with milkweed pod wings. Local folks love them.)

    Also, what about horse-chestnut balls? Do you suppose such a thing could be dried carefully and made into a cradle for a wee Wild Child with spiky hair?

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