Kokeshi: From Folk Toy to Art Toy

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

(Isobel & the Pearl Forest by Catherine Brooks)



(Grouping by Phoebe Washer)




Most recently my sister Anna and I visited the Japanese American National Museum here in Los Angeles to see their current Kokeshi doll exhibit.

Kokeshi are traditional Japanese dolls, usually made of two pieces of wood. Generally characterized by a long trunk of a body and a round head. Very simple and almost modern in their design. They also have few thin painted lines to define the face and hair. Originally the dolls were toys for the children of farmers and later became souvenirs for visitors and today are largely used as a sort of home decoration.

The new exhibit is a combination of traditional dolls along with hundreds of examples of contemporary and (my favorite!) custom Kokeshi’s created by American and international artists solely for the exhibit.

It ends October 4th so be sure to stop by soon if you’re in the neighborhood!

(Below) Close-ups of many of the dolls made for the exhibit courtesy of Twinklings, the curator's official blog. Also, many of the dolls can be purchased through the museums site *HERE*.



(Forest Friends by APak)



(Pin by Red Nose Studio)



After the exhibit my sister and I felt completely inspired to create our own Kokeshi dolls. These are the wooden pieces we put together for the experiment. We bought the wood at Michael's and screwed them in together using an electric drill (power tools are scary fun!). See, this is what happens when your computer breaks. Will let you know how it turns out by the end of the week!



*Besos*

25 comments:

michellehendra said...

all of them are cute!!! :)
really!

xx

boots said...

WHOA that pin head is so cool!!! <3 it - thanks for your sweet comments about my card! i am glad you like them! good luck!

natalie said...

These dolls are really interesting, ranging from cute to creepy! Sounds like a great exhibition, can't wait to see your own creations! One of the advantages of a broken computer I suppose! xoxo

miriam said...

would have love to see this exhibition!

Hanako66 said...

how cool! I am going to have to look up how long the exhibit will be here!

LENORENEVERMORE said...

what a wonderful tradition with a twist nevertheless... I love your post, learning new things is always so gooood! LUV!!

xo*

Rebecca said...

These are so neat! And it's cool that you're going to make some.. just be careful with those power tools! :)

Couture Carrie said...

Fabulous exhibit and photos! I didn't know what these dolls were called before, so thanks, Gabbi!

Also, loooooving your new profile pic!

xoxox,
CC

Stephanie said...

Great post!!! These dolls are so interesting looking. I love the way their heads are so much larger than their bodies. Very neat. :)

drollgirl said...

oh, this is so cool! i have never been to janm, and i would love to see this show! and, like you, i would like to make my own!!!!!! how fun!!!!

p.s. LOVE THAT YOU KNEW Anita Ekberg!!!!!!

Leah said...

Interesting dolls... but more importantly I can't wait for your own hand-made dolls. Keep us posted.

Mondo said...

My goodness what amazing pieces - there's an exhibition of early Japanese sculpture Dogu, just round the corner from where I work - I must pop along and see it

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/future_exhibitions/the_power_of_dogu.aspx

TERI REES WANG said...

I had been wondering if and where we might find blank Russian nesting dolls and Japanese Kokeshi doll for all of us to adorn on our own....and then trade..?

Clorivak said...

Wow...I love them!!! Can't wait to see what you create!! Very cool..

Elizabeth Marie said...

How awesome!! I haven't been to that museum but it's on my list! I can't wait to see what you come up with, I'm sure it will be great! XO

Keith said...

Wow. Those are so amazing. I love them all. I really do. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Diana said...

It boggles my mind that these are handmade. We are so used to seeing something mass produced and these are so detailed and beautiful.

Iva said...

Gabbi this is so beautiful! I wish I could go visit! ..hmmm its only about a 7 hour drive, hmmmm? ;) So unique, I really think they are lovely! The hand painting is so detailed, I love the mouths, each one is so expressive! I can’t wait to see (hear) how yours turn out, I am sure amazing! Have a great day!

Sarah said...

I love all of the different interpretations. Especially that first one-amazing!

Sam said...

These are so amazing! I look at these and feel a need to collect them! P.S. I'm a bit behind with my commenting as I've had terrible internet problems the past couple of days...I am so happy to see yours is up and running (?) dear Gabbi - it's always a treat to see a post of yours!!

Emily said...

I'd never heard of or seen Kokeshi dolls before reading this post. Thank you for sharing these pictures - the dolls are beautiful. Looks like such a wonderful exhibit :)

Just read your sweet comment. I'm so happy your necklace arrived!

down and out chic said...

pin by red nose studio is fantastic. interesting how that lines b/w function, art, play and toys blur. lovely post gabbi.

Crystal Ball said...

Your blog is honestly the best stop for amazing links to art. These are amazing.

P.S. Your new profile picture is very beautiful Gabbi.
Have a wonderful night <3

Lady Thirty said...

love this post :D

take care!

Hey Harriet said...

I adore kokeshi dolls! I have a small but ever growing collection. I really like the bobble/nodder head ones. I have a couple of those sitting on top of my fridge and each time I open and close the door their little heads sweetly knock together :)

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