Kimmidolls – A modern take on a Japanese classic

If you’re reading this blog, odds are high that you’ve got at least a passing familiarity with kokeshi dolls. They are one of the most easily recogniseable traditional Japanese art forms. The simple little dolls, with their smooth bodies and big round heads, are naive and charming, while maintaining that quintessential clean-lined aesthetic.

As you may already know, I work in a toy store and love hoarding collecting action figures and art vinyl toys. So imagine how thrilled to bits I was when I came across Kimmidolls. They are made in Australia, and remain true to the spirit and aesthetic of traditional kokeshi while also reflecting modern aesthetics and collecting. While they all have the same smooth body and blunt bob hairstyle, each doll has a unique facial expression and kimono. Rather than being carved of wood, they are made of a heavy and durable stone resin. They are all individually named, and each doll represents a positive emotion or personality trait. They are incredibly adorable and appeal to both my kimono fascination and my urge to collect things. There are four sizes, from the tiny key-chain models to the limited-edition extra-large ones, often decorated with Swarovski crystals.

My collection is small, but I only discovered these beauties late last year.

 

 

I’ve got a wishlist, and hope to keep my collection growing. They’re an affordable little indulgence, especially when I am too broke and too big to wear kimono as frequently as I’d like to.

Kimmidolls can be found frequently in Australia, Asia, and Europe, but may also be available in smaller art/collectibles shops in North America, and are easily available from online retailers such as Tokyo Otaku Mode, Chesterton Manor, City Lights Collectibles, and eBay. There is also the Kimmidoll International fanpage on Facebook, where they engage with fans and post about upcoming collections. And if you are lucky enough to find yourself at Walt Disney World, the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot has a huge selection. It’s where I got Airi and Chikako.

Art Gallery – Chibi Kokeshi

This adorable little kokeshi doll is by Linda Kentie of Oranda Kitsuke. Several years ago, she was creating these precious little gifts for facebook friends whenever their birthdays rolled around. I’ve been meaning to share mine for years, and I finally remembered to do so! She did a wonderful job of re-recreating my first-ever kimono outfit. She also knows how much I love all things cephalopod and included the sweet little pink octopus on my head! I love this art so much. <3

Art Gallery – Memento Mori

This is a very special piece. My friend Olga K, an incredibly talented and creative illustrator, decided to draw something inspired by my kimono obsession, but with plenty of room for experimentation and personal expression. I love this piece so much, all the depth and colour of it, and how Olga put her own personal twist on the outfit while still keeping a very clear stylistic connection to traditional kimono and Japanese arts. Every time I look at it, I notice new details that I hadn’t seen previously.

It may not be typical kimono artwork, but I think it’s all the more special because of that.

Art Gallery – Sherlock Fan Artwork

This is a bit of a departure from my usual content in this section. Typically, the Art Gallery posts are reserved for traditional art or art I’ve received of myself in kimono and you’ve probably noticed this is neither ;)

One thing you may not know about me is that I am a huge fan of Sherlock, the BBC’s modern Sherlock Holmes remake. A while ago, a fan group I’m in arranged a challenge to re-imagine the main characters in a different time or cultural setting, so I did both. I had fun trying to keep the general feel and colour scheme of their clothing without making it feel overly anachronistic. And of course John Watson’s Sig Sauer P226R has been replaced with a set of swords.

And yes, that is my tumblr URL along the side. Feel free to follow me, but it’s a very incoherent blend of personal posts, fandom things, cute animals, and food posts. Nothing remotely like this blog.

Art Gallery – Vintage Woodblock Prints

A few years ago on my birthday, I went to dinner with my folks and some family friends. I had a wonderful time, the food was delicious, and I got some lovely gifts.

Leslie is the daughter of my father’s godmother. Bear with me, I know this is starting to sound like the beginning of an urban legend, but it is well and truly relevant. My grandmother and I share a birthday, and I believe inherited a lot of my fascination with the Japanese aesthetic from her. Her apartment was so tastefully furnished and had a lot of beautiful Japanese antiques and art pieces. I think they had a profound impact on me when I was a young girl, more so than I realized until recently. Kay, Leslie’s mother, was my grandmother’s dear friend when they were young, and was my father’s godmother. Leslie is family, even though not related by blood.

 

Kay purchased these beautiful woodblock prints while travelling in Japan with my grandmother many years ago. As far as I can tell, they were carefully lifted from a hand-bound book, each one has holes along one end of the page. The labels on the backs of the frames credit them to Utagawa Kunisada and date them to the mid-1800s. I have been unable to find other copies of these two prints anywhere on the internet so I can’t back the veracity of the claims, but they seem reasonable.

Imagine my shock when Leslie passed these on to me for my birthday, knowing how touched I would be, and how much I would appreciate them. All the gifts I got were incredibly thoughtful and I appreciated them all, but I was well and truly flabbergasted by these two simple but beautiful prints, due to the way they tied so many facets of the relationship between Leslie, her mother, my grandmother, and myself together so beautifully.