Kokeshi Doll Party Part I : Preparation for 9th Birthday

1:24:00 AM

For the past couple of weeks, granted it was off and on, I've been pre-paring for my little girl's 9th birthday party. The theme : Kokeshi Doll.

Round 1 Design

Apparently the tradition of the doll began from the Tohoku region of North of Japan. It dates back as early as the 19th century as the local woodworkers who were skilled at making things such as bowl and trays, began to use their skills to make souvenir dolls to sell at the hot springs.

A kokeshi doll is simple in design, characterized by the round head and cylindrical limbless bodies. The traditional doll was usually made from wood and painted on kimonos. Today, what they call creative kokeshi, is probably what you see in the stores today. With the elaborate hair, color, and designed kimonos.

Round 2 Design

Design & Invitation:

As you can see above, I began to play around with the design of different kokeshi's for the invites and the ensuing party paraphernalia that was to come. It was interesting, I hadn't done hands on graphic design in quite a long time and was out of practice with the new versions of my beloved software. They changed the location of my tools for goodness sakes! So... the effort took me a day to perfect with the help of wonder hubby (he is a wiz at photo realistic rendering so simple vector software is a breeze...). Once I was happy with some illustrations off I went to design the invites.

Goody bag items:

When the invites where ready and out into the internet ether, ready to reel in the guests. I then began to think about the items that would go into the goody bags. I originally thought about making necklaces, but after I bought the gem part, I realized the holes were a bit too small to fit any traditional chain. So I decided to opt for making them into a cell phone charm or in our case, a kids's backpack charm.

Here are my supplies. I never made jewelry in my life. So when I was in the section of beads upon beads at our local craft stores, I was a little like a deer in headlights. After a bit of digging, I was able to find the charms I wanted use, but decided I didn't need any needle nose pliers... the small ones jewelers use, because you know... I had pliers at home. Who doesn't? Bah... after gingerly trying to pinch the sides in of the base of the charm over onto the sides of the glass bit... and pinching my fingers once or twice, I then wished at 11pm at night, I had gotten those darned needle nose pliers.

Ah well, regardless the little baubles were finished after a few unfortunate expletives late at night. The kids were soundly asleep in their rooms of course ha. At first I made a loop on the bottom to attach the charms onto the chains, but then realized as I attempted to attach my daughter's charm that the zipper was too fat. So I flipped it around with the hook side attached, and the loop part is what I used for the zipper attachment.


The dolls actually took more time than I thought they would. Part of it was the hunting of the pieces. Of course it would have been easier to buy pre-made ones online, but why do that when you can spend a few hours making your own right? Ha... actually the thinner one piece wooden dolls are easier to find online, but we decided we wanted the larger heads.

I thought it would be a simple process, but the varying head sizes and holes on the bottom of the balls made things a little more difficult. The thin dowel rod I bought were fine for the smaller heads, but the mid-sized heads it did not quite work because of the large bottom holes. It was fairly late, and after hunting for the pieces at a few different stores I was in no mood to head out again. So I improvised... in comes those wooden take out chop sticks. Yeah for take out!

Reinforced with craft glue, the chopsticks saved the day and the dolls were finished and waiting for the girls. 

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  1. One of the projects on my to-do-list is to paint kokeshi dolls using wood balls and bases like the ones in your picture. I like your idea of using chopsticks. I couldn't figure out what to use to fit into the larger holes. Genius!! Are you going to post pictures? I'd love to see them!

    1. Hey Vicki, I think they probably have other dowel rods the right size, I was just tired of going out. Ha... had to back and forth to stores just to find the right pieces. Ultimately though, if you have them lying around they work, with a little elbow grease ^_*.