September 30, 2002 - "Corn Shuck Art"

Geraldine Robertson carefully folds and ties a corn shuck as it seems to dance through her nimble fingers.

"When you work with this a long time," she says, "You learn the feel of the husks, and you know what kind of husks are going to make a head and what type is going to make a body."

Working in one of the historic houses of Vermilionville, Geraldine puts together dolls and bookmarks made from corn husks, an ancient and vanishing art -- an art that Geraldine has practiced for 50 years.

"I learned from my parents. My mother did dolls, and she did different types of weaving like the doormats, the rugs, braiding of the chairs, and I learned from her. And I have taught all my children, and my grandchildren are learning."

But even that is not enough. In addition to her regular demonstrations at Vermilionville, Geraldine takes her doll making abilities into the schools to pass her art on to as many youngsters as possible.

"You're going to tie it one time, then you're going to tie it another time so that's going to make a knot." Geraldine attempts to teach me how to make a corn shuck bookmark. "You fold, wrap it around that way, and then you're ready to tie." I never did get it right.

Geraldine will be teaching her art at the Vermilionville River Festival this coming Sunday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. The Vermilion River Festival will also feature several other demonstrations of Cajun folk art, music and crafts.