Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kokeshi Doll Tutorial

For my daughter's
Japanese Themed Birthday Party
I knew I wanted each girl to have a kokeshi doll. I searched online, and in local Asian markets for a cute doll at a good price. The cheapest I found before shipping, was $6 per doll. These dolls were small, and not very cute. I knew I could make one. I used the the printables I found for the party as my guide for how I wanted the hair, body, faces, and basic proportions. You can see the printable source by clicking the link above.

This is what I started with:


HEAD - Ball Knobs 1 1/4"; 3/16 hole
(I tried it with the 1 1/4 " dowel caps. This doesn't work, as you need to screw the head to the body. The dowel hole is too big.)
BUNS - 1/4" dowel caps, and 3/8" round balls
BODY - 1 1/4" 5/8" hole candle cups
E600 Craft Glue
Craft Paint
Floral Foam, Craft Paint, Paint Brushes, Dowels, and Toothpicks


It has come to my attention, that some of you may not have be able to find these supplies. So, if you need to order them online, I have tried to make it easy for you, and here is the link. You can just click on each one to take you to the item on their website:





Place the ball knobs on dowels, and stick the dowels on foam (from the dollar store.)

Paint the faces first. That way if you mess up, you can paint the hair over the messed up face. I did many times! I bought paint pens, thinking that would work, but it didn't. The paint pen ran, and it looked like a mess. My friend Tiffany told me to paint the faces with a toothpick dipped in craft paint. That was a great tip! You can visit Tiffany's etsy shop here. She has darling, darling things, and is very talented!

Paint the Hair. I used the toothpick the make the basic hair lines, and then a paint brush to fill in the rest.

Glue the buns on wherever you want them. I thought it was fun to put them in different places on the head. It added nice variety. You may need to hold them in place as the glue dries. I glued the buns on after painting, to insure that all you see when you look at the doll is black hair, and not unfinished wood under the glue. I didn't know if the glue would be very paintable.

Paint the Buns after the glue is completely dry. I also filled in the empty glue spots with a toothpick full of glue, so the glue would take up the empty space. I even added more glue after painting, then painted again. I just used a brush to paint the buns.

Here are all the doll heads.

I didn't paint mouths. I did a few with mouths to begin with, and I thought it distracted from the overall look and cuteness.

Screw the head and body together. My husband used his vice when he did this for me, but it left little marks on some of the dolls faces even thought he put a towel between the doll and the vice. You know how husbands are :) I think he really was excited about using his vice. I don't think it would be necessary. He was nice to do it for me though.

Here is one with a mouth. The mouth is cute on this one, but wasn't cute on all of them, and I ended up having to paint over it enough, that is wasn't even worth it.

Here are some of the finished dolls:
(Like I said in my Japanese Party Post, I wish I would have sprayed them with spray varnish after the girls painted them, but I got too busy at the party, and didn't remember :(

You can see the eyes are all different, and not perfect. The girls had a great time choosing the doll and hairstyle they liked best.

I loved the metallic paint they painted the bodies with - so cute! The girls were great little painters, and I think... the messier the better.

If you like this post, PLEASE leave a comment!
I love and appreciate comments, and read every one.

Have a Happy and Creative Day!!


I am linking!


love.boxes said...

I just think they all turned out so cute!

Emily said...

these are so adorable!! you did an awesome job!

Andrea said...

These are the cutest things I have ever seen. I want to try to make some ... And I will be contacting you as I fail miserably. I love them!!!!

Unknown said...

So cute. I love their little eye lashes.

Brad Kami and kids said...

I LOVE these Risa! So creative and what a fun idea for a party!

shelley said...

so stinkin' cute!! i want one :)
original and classy!

Valerie said...

oh my gosh....SO stinkin' cute!

Unknown said...

Son preciosas.

Inspiration for you.


crochets4preemies said...

You came up with an adorable and thrifty idea! The girls did a precious job painting the little dolls,too. So many ideas are going through my head now. Wouldn't they make sweet little angels, grandma dolls with the bun in the back, and baby dolls wrapped in a small piece of flannel? Thanks for sharing your talents with us! On my to-do list already!

goldberie said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing this.

The Busy Coconut said...

I am from Hawaii and we celebrate Girls' Day here with the Kokeshi dolls and everything. I had been thinking that it would be fun to do a Girls' Day party. You did an awesome job with it. Love it! I will definitely be using some of these ideas.

Anonymous said...

Love it!!! We just celebrated my daughter's 9th birthday! We borrowed some of your wondeful ideas. The Kokeshi dolls were the biggest hit! Because it was close to Xmas, we used snow flakes ornaments @ Target($1.00 for 4) and clear plastic cups to turn the dolls into ornaments. Thank you so much for sharing your creativity! Anne

Anonymous said...

Adorable! Lots of ideas when I look at Asia in homeschool w/ my girls. Thanks!

Jill said...

Super, super cute!!

Anonymous said...

These are so lovely, thank you for providing your style, I am going to have a go at developing these. I am about to perform in a version of the Miakdo and have been looking for the ideal provides for my other performers, these will be perfect! I just wish I can go with your enchanting stitching.Just ordered it from PIJ and can't wait to get this.

Unknown said...

So darling! I love these! I have been put in charge of doing the craft for the family reunion and can't wait to get started on some of these! Thanks so much for the tips!

Unknown said...

Love these! I'm Pinning you, now. :)

Meems said...

These little dolls are just about the cutest thing ever. What a great idea. My kiddos are all grown up, but I could still do something like this for the grandkids and neighbors. Wouldn't they be cute on a cake...ideas are 'em said...

I can't believe you MADE the kokeshi dolls!!! These are sooo adorable. Thank you for sharing!

restlessrisa said...

Thanks Alysa! sorry I am just getting to this. We have been out of town. I am glad you found the tutorial. :-)

Selena said...

we just went to Japan for Spring Break now my daughter is fascinated with Japan and wants a 7th Birthday party, OMG your dolls are soooooooo cute!!!! I am going to try hard to get on this cuteness level....all of your ideas for this party are AMAZING!!! I am thinking i might get the girls paper lanterns and let them decorate some how we shall see!

Selena said...

we just went to Japan for Spring Break now my daughter is fascinated with Japan and wants a 7th Birthday party, OMG your dolls are soooooooo cute!!!! I am going to try hard to get on this cuteness level....all of your ideas for this party are AMAZING!!! I am thinking i might get the girls paper lanterns and let them decorate some how we shall see!

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