The Making of a Kokeshi Doll

A couple of years ago, Bob, our fearless leader, went to visit a Kokeshi doll factory and was given permission to take pictures and video tape some of the steps to make a doll.

I had these videos on our old blog but since that old blog died accidentally, I thought I would dig them up again to show how much work goes into making a Kokeshi Doll.  But while Blogspot will let you upload for free, they won’t let you recover a blog you accidentally deleted (oops).   And WordPress, while pretty in its templates, will not let you upload videos without paying.  So you see, I am at an impasse.  I will have to add the video upgrade fee to our marketing budget for 2012 and see what happens.   But in the meantime, if you would like to check out the videos, please visit our YouTube Channel.

I’ll add some still images here just to show you how much of an art form this really is.  And when you see the work and craftsmanship that goes into one, you will want to start your collection immediately!

First the trees are cut and the bark is removed.  The types of wood used are Japanese dogwood, cherry tree and chestnut.  They can’t just begin cutting it up.  It has to dry in the sun for 6 months to a year before they can do anything with it.  Then the wood is cut into thick slices.  The wood is then compressed and excess pieces are removed.

Then it is put on a lathe where the master craftsman uses a special tool to shape the head.  I would totally mess this up.

After each piece is prepared like this, they go through 3 rounds of sandpapering.

Some of the pieces also go through multiple rounds of painting as well.  The details are handpainted on each doll.

Engravings or carvings are also done by hand.  Then it’s off to be finished with two coats of a glaze to seal everything in.  They are then put on these poles that move around the room to dry.

Then the pieces are assembled and voila!  A perfect Kokeshi doll.

The factory also has a collection of many of their products throughout the years.  This company is in its 3rd generation (like us!) and the business along with the master craftsmanship have been carefully handed down.

Some of these older pieces seen here are amazing.  Unfortunately, the original owner of the factory used to make these and after he passed, they have not been able to find someone with his skill level to make these same shapes.







Some others from their collection on display only:

These last two still have their original branches intact!

A beautiful art form!  And that concludes Art Appreciation Thursday.

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