Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Trendtjie 2 - Kokeshi dolls

Not too long ago, I picked up this little Japanese doll from the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Salt River. Intrigued, I googled "Japanese wooden doll" and discovered the marvellous world of Kokeshis, which have been traditional gifts of friendship in Japan for centuries.

Ever since, I've seen them all over the place, to the extent that I think I can start calling Kokeshi a mini-trend or... trendtjie! Look at what I've found:

These little darlings are from the British shopping site DoIreallyhavetogotoworktoday? So cute!

I love this kokeshi fabric by Alexander Henry. The design is called Yui Kokeshi and can be found at fabulous online fabric shop, Volksfaden.

More Kokeshi-inspired fabric, this time from Swedish fabric designers Bantie , who used these little dolls... inspiration for their Kokeshi fabric (via Decor8).

Urban Outfitters is stocking the sweet little Momiji message dolls designed by manga artist Joanna Zhou, which are also available directly from online boutique Momiji.
This Kokeshi was painted by amazing illustrator, Matte Stephens. He made it for a show of customised Kokeshis, curated by Christine Conway at Subtext in San Diego.

There were heaps of beautiful customised Kokeshis at this show, which is soon to open in LA (see here for details). I've picked the ones I liked best, and there are lots more pics of the show on flickr.
This one, by Canadian illustrator Julie Morstad:

... and Swedish illustrator, Camilla Engman made this:

The more you look, the more you find. These little prints are made by Etsy seller, Mirabel. She has loads of sweet Kokeshi cards and prints in her Etsy shop.

If you enjoyed this little taste of Kokeshis, you're sure to be a Matrioshka fan too, so check out the recent Print & Pattern Matrioshka doll trend report here for more wooden doll loveliness.


g. said...

I have one Kokeshi dolls from Japan but I must tell you the ones from Camilla Engman [the link doesn't work] and Julie Morstad are really adorable!

Anonymous said...

I love Matte Stephens work! He does amazing paper sculptures also!

Taryn said...

Lovely! I saw Yellena's kokeshi (who has an Etsy shop under that name) the other day and must say that it is my absolute favorite! The Camilla Engman one is equally as great!

JP.Brouard said...

I think there may be something bigger here with this little trendjie you've picked up on. Kokeshi dolls, making an appearance, everyone using bamboo. Saw some Japanese figurines in the window at Cecile and Boyds, must pop in to see what they're all about. Maybe there's a bit of a move to Asian influence, who knows?

Biti Averbach said...

A friend of mine is doing amazing felter dolls with the kokeshi concept, maybe you would like to take a look:

the dolls are not for sale but for "adoption" (you pay for the clothes, instead) and the buyer receives a card to make a wish.

That wish can be published (if the person wants, of course)in the Garden of Dreams of the Milkokeshis (and this is a micro blog, a twitter)

It's a very interesting concept, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

There is a brand called Ann-onym that does some really kawaï necklaces with kokeshi dolls. You can take a look at them at

temple 7e said...

I LOVE kokeshi dolls! I make many kokeshi in my own style...please check out my ETSY shop at :

the kokeshi clan loves you!