A Japanese Kokeshi doll is a simple stylized doll that is generally sold to tourists in Japan. The basic shape of the doll is a cylindrical base with a round head. The doll does not have any arms or legs. The size or the shape of the doll, or what material it is made from, is not that important. The real beauty of the doll is in how it is hand painted.
Making a Japanese Kokeshi doll is a fun craft for kids of all ages. The doll can be made using anything from an empty toilet paper tube to a glass bottle. The clothing and facial features can be drawn on using crayons or markers or can be painted on using acrylic or oil based paint. The age of your child will determine what materials you should use.
Before you start, you should see a few examples of what traditional Japanese Kokeshi dolls look like. This will give you an idea of style. This image shows you some small Kokeshi dolls with rounded bodies. Notice how simple the facial features are. This image shows you some tall, skinny Kokeshi dolls. They are a good example of how you can get creative with the art you paint on them. You don’t have to paint on actual clothing, but can paint flowers, animals or whatever you want.
Now, to see how you can easily paint these dolls, look at these artistic ideas: This image and this image shows how you can paint a simple body in a colorful fashion. These types of designs are good for the kids to look at to get some ideas.
To make the actual doll, you can use any cylindrical shape for the body. A toilet paper tube or a construction paper tube is good for very young children. An empty pill bottle is also a good choice. For wide dolls, you can use an empty can or plastic container like the containers that hold the little tubs of Crystal Light. You can also use glass vases or unusual glass bottles for older kids or adults.
For the head, anything round or nearly round will work. You can use a ping pong ball for small doll heads. You can also use styrofoam balls (they come in many sizes). If you want to get very creative, you could use a light bulb.
One you have your doll body and your doll head, use a hot glue gun to glue the head to the body. Then all you need to do is to make the face and decorate the body. Little kids can use markers or crayons and bigger kids can use paint. Black hair can be painted on the head, or you can use black yarn to make a little wig.
An easy way for small kids to decorate the body of a simple Kokeshi doll is to use an empty toilet paper roll, but cut it down one side and lay it flat. Then the child can paint or color the flat surface of the tube. When the art work is done, just roll the tube back up and secure it with tape. Then add a ball for the head.
Try making this doll in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s cute for a little doll to have a very big head, or for a round doll to have a square head. No matter how you make them, these little handmade dolls will have lots of charm!