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visual artist and writer marisol diaz

i am a self-defined Nuyorican creative (that is a Puerto Rican who is from both the isles of Manhattan, NYC and the Caribbean). I share daily in the joy of education and live in a cute port town in New York, in a 'teensy-weensy' apartment with my two dogs and canary named Valentino. Check out my Etsy shop for purchasable pieces. Please do not reproduce imagery off of this site without explicit credit and no derivatives may be made of my original imagery- Thank You.

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The Kokeshi Doll Trend & Make Your OWN!

Traditional Kokeshi dolls from JANM

What is Kokeshi?? Well, according to Japanya site:

Kokeshi dolls originate from the Tohoku region of Northern Japan, an area well-known for its onsen (hot spring) resorts. These handmade wooden dolls are thought to date back to the early 19th century when kijiya (woodworkers), accustomed to making bowls and trays, began using their woodworking skills and lathes to make simple dolls to sell as toys and souvenirs to the onsen visitors. The dolls may originally have had a spiritual significance with the kokeshi representing a wish for a healthy child.

Usually you can find the artist signature under the doll.

This trend is hot! Right now on Etsy you can find some diversified Kokeshi inspired wares such as; Aprons, Bags, clothing, Customs, shoes, etc., just check out some of these creative Etsy Sellers!

Pocket Mirror by seller Pinkytoast handpainted shoes by seller JLPerillo dress by Holycrapclothing Kokeshi bookmarks by Zou Zou designs A Momiji Lucky Doll - The one I own!

Contemporary Kokeshi dolls have found their way into the Urban Toy market, on the internet and in hot crafty corners like Etsy.

The company Momiji is based in Warwickshire, England and has gone international with their Kokeshi-like dolls. They have cleverly incorporated little secret message space in their Momiji dolls and have been selling them in Art and Design, Museum Gift shops, Comic and music stores around the country too! Momiji has received a lot of press too in magazine's such as Dazed and Confused, POP Magazine, Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Observer and Computer Arts Projects too.

I thought it would be fun to write a post about the interesting history of Kokeshi dolls and inspire you to try to make YOUR own since you can even find Kokeshi ORIGINAl Hand-painted Artist Kokeshi dolls AND Do it yourself KITS on Etsy these days too!

Handpainted Kokeshi by seller Dandelionland Handpainted Kokeshi by seller Zombuki

>>To see a wonderful gallery of exhibited high-end Contemporary Artist painted Kokeshi that range from sweet, to dark, to sublime, to creative, to extravagant go to the Japanese American National Museum Site and check out their info on the PAST exhibit (it was from July 11th - Oct. 4th 2009)- but They still have many of the customs available in their shop and they are amazing to look at!! The prices range from $200-$650 (as far as I can tell) - the link is HERE!!

But here's the best part of this post- In the US you can currently go to most craft shops like Michael's or A.C. Moore (or any other that you know of that sells wood pieces or parts) Or if you're anywhere (even outside the US) you can buy the assembled parts from an Esty Seller like Zombuki and MAKE YOUR OWN!!!

From JANM by artist Amy Huddleston a DIY Kokeshi doll from Etsy seller Zombuki

If you get inspired to try your hand at designing and painting your own Kokeshi doll from this blog - PLEASE let me know I would love to SEE it and Post about it!

P.S. Its not too late to enter my April 4th basket GIVEAWAY!!!-

Ciao Amarettogirl

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Reader Comments (26)

They are beautiful, I real like the two by the Etsy artists. I bought a very similar yet very old doll at a Flea market in Baltimore last spring.

March 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTai

HI there!
I love this little dolls...I made a few of those pretty girls...maybe I can show you some pics in the future :D

These look fun & easy to make! I might just give it a try... ^-^

March 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBunnyKissd

awe they look adorable! I want one! haha. Maybe it will become my next project after this indie biz course! Great post! Keep 'em coming! xo

March 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSalmezan

I am loving this trend right now too. I have a few kokeshi dolls that I picked up on my trips to Japan. ADORABLE! Great post.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterREDSTAR ink

These dolls are always so pretty, their bright colors really pop on their small figures.

Now I just have to find out where to buy one in a shop...

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHanna


March 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterisabella

YOU'RE GOIN' DOWN IZZY. hi ms. diaz, thank you for representing us japanese girls and not blonde reese witherspoon look-alikes.

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteremi

1. thanks for commenting on my blog! it was SOOOOO nice to see all those comments. totz made my night.
2. i want to make my own! (reese-lookalike)

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterisabella

Thank you for introducing these cutes lovely dolls. This is the first time I meet them ( I'm not really 'au currant').
Thank You

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpapijorj

i love these, it would have been such a cool project to do when we did woodwork last year, also, these remind me of russian dolls!

March 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterB

That is so cutte! I LOVE EVERYTHING YOU POST UP! LOL p.s. sry this comment waz so late, school was preventing me etc. :3

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRina

yuppers... sorry i just wanted to add in my url lol :)

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRina

I am accounted for......Day 3 woooooo-hoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTital

Sounds cute! I might try this. But we don't seem to have kokeshi dolls sold hereabouts..

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterClare

Kokeshi dolls are awesome and it's so cool that you can make your own. Thanks for the tip!

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBlue Eyed Night Owl

I LOVE the momiji lucky doll (yours!) Were these orginally made for children to play with? I'm not familiar with the history. Some things are made just as figurines

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi pumpkin pie

Cute dols, i really want one, and then give here à cute makeover to look just like me. Hahaha

i always want to have à mini me hihih


March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSammie

These dolls are amazing! I love the different creative examples and can't wait to see what you come up with. I also really like the idea of wish for the healthy child.

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStainboy

Wow! I love all japanese art, and the Kokeshi is a dream!
I had a very little one but I lost it.
your site is amazing!

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLilian

i love the variation of the koheshi dolls. i am not as creatively savy as you but would like to take a crack at creating my own. one of things to add on my list of creative projects!!! if its successful i'll share the pics with you. ;D

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSharon <3

I LOVE kokeshi dolls! Their elegance, design, simplicity, and beauty are irresistable!!

Kokeshi dolls remind me of my childhood...growing up in midwest America and receiving a package from relatives in Japan with a beautiful wooden doll inside! Now as a grownup, I create and craft handmade greeting cards, all inspired by Kokeshi dolls!

Love the blog--great work and fabulous pics!

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYouko

will you be making one? I would love to see one of your designs

this reminds me of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daruma_doll.

you dot one eye for a goal and once you fulfill the goal you dot the other eye. It makes me sad sometimes to think that there are some goals that are not completed and the doll is missing one eye. If I had one I would be motivated to do everything to fulfill that goal

April 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLi Lian

wow!!! I loved them all...

April 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Ferreira

I love to collect KOKESHI Dolls! And put them together and name it "The KOKESHI Dancers". Wew

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranneleah

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