DIY Kokeshi Dolls featuring The Washi Tape Shop

Washi tape comes in so many beautiful and versatile designs, and is an important part of any Japanophile crafter’s arsenal. While most often used for journaling, scrapbooking, and wrapping gifts, there are so many other ways you can feature the gorgeous designs of traditional washi tape.

Today I’ve teamed up with The Washi Tape Shop to bring you a quick, affordable, and fun DIY project. If you’re stuck inside the house (aren’t we all nowadays?) this is a great way to spend an afternoon, and is easy and safe for kids to do as well! Many of the designs available at the Washi Tape Shop are clearly influenced by traditional Japanese textiles and patterns, so I figured what better way to feature them than to make your own kokeshi dolls?

Keep reading for detailed instructions!

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O is for Orizuru

Orizuru, 折鶴, origami (lit. folded) crane

I’m feeling somewhat under the weather again today, I’m afraid. I was going to create a coordinate using some pieces in my collection with the origami crane motif but I’m just not up to it.

Instead, I thought I would share some quick and easy instructions for a really charming little mobile. This piece was made over a year ago and I never thought to take photos of the process, but I promise it’s incredibly simple.

I had the cranes already; a couple I made myself but the bulk of them were included in packages from friends or as little gifts with kimono purchases. I really wanted a way to show them off, rather than have them all languishing in drawers.

All I did was carefully pierce holes through the centre of the body of each crane and feed through some very fine beading wire, I used a small jewellery crimp beneath each one so they wouldn’t slide down to the bottom of the wire, and interspersed a few tiny orgami lucky stars for some visual interest.

I made several strands of varying lengths, and attached them to the solid piece from an embroidery hoop set, again using the crimps to fix the wires in place. Another wire to form a hanging loop and voila, your own pretty little flock of orizuru!

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K is for Kintsugi

Kintsugi, 金継ぎ, golden joinery

If you’ve ever seen a beautiful piece of Japanese pottery or ceramic shot through with a line of warm gold filling a crack, you’ve seen kintsugi. It’s the art of using lacquer and gold dust to repair an item, giving it a new life and a new purpose. Kintsugi exemplifies the Japanese qualities of mottainai (regret over waste) and wabi-sabi (the acceptance of impermanence and imperfection). Rather than throw out and waste a broken item, it is a way to give it new life, and create something unique.

You can buy kits to do your own real kintsugi repair, but they are expensive and hard to find. If you’d like to do an inspired DIY version using things you may already have at home or that can easily be bought online from places like Amazon, keep reading! You can follow this tutorial to repair an already-broken item or use it to create a new, unique item like a coaster or trivet. Instructions for both are below.

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D is for Daruma

Daruma, 達磨, lucky doll representing Bodhidharma

Daruma are those rounded, roly-poly little dolls (usually red, but other colours exist) with a grumpy-looking face. Often one or both eyes are left blank. They’re said to represent the bearded face of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Nowadays, they’re used to set goals and encourage perseverance. When you set a goal, you paint in the right eye in. When you accomplish the goal, you fill in the left. At the end of the year it’s common to return the daruma to the temple where it was purchased, for it to be thanked and set ablaze. You would then buy a new one to set a new goal for the upcoming year.

As I mentioned, the traditional colour for daruma is red, but it’s becoming more common to see a whole host of colours used to represent different goals. There are varying opinions as to which colour represents what, but some of the most common meanings are as follows:

Red – Luck & fortune
White – Marriage & harmony
Gold or yellow – Finance
Green – Health
Blue – Success
Pink – Love

If you’d like to make your own daruma, keep reading! However, this one is not made of fragile papier maché and should absolutely not be burnt!

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Review – Pagoda Lantern kit from One Man One Garage

Since we’re all trapped inside for the foreseeable future, it feels like a great time to share this fun little DIY project I found from a wonderful Etsy shop, One Man, One Garage! I purchased this back during the great bedroom flood debacle and assembled it when I needed a meditative little break; it was absolutely perfect.

One Man, One Garage creates laser-cut wood craft kits. All you have to do is carefully pop the pieces out of each board and assemble them, following the numbers etched into each piece. Instructions are provided online, but I honestly didn’t need them. This kit, despite looking incredibly intricate when complete, was very intuitive and smartly-designed. While not all the designs in this shop are Japanese in nature, this pagoda lantern caught my eye immediately and I knew I wanted to share it with you! Look how beautiful it is once it’s all lit up! The shop says it’s safe to use a tealight candle, but I’ve used an LED one here just in case.

It arrived tightly sealed, which helped keep all the pieces snug. This way there’s no risk of breakage. There was also a sweet little hand-signed postcard included, which is a personal touch that I really love when dealing with small artisan shops like this.


The only flaw I found in the kit was a very minor one, and I suspect a one-off issue. One of the laser cuts didn’t seem to have gone fully through the wood, which resulted in a bit of difficulty removing a piece. A tiny fragment broke off one end, but it wasn’t enough to impede assembly and it’s not even visible now that it’s all put together. I’m sure if I had contacted the shop they would have worked with me to sort it out, but it was such a tiny problem that I didn’t feel like it was worth bringing up. I just wanted to mention it here in the interest of being thorough.

Overall, this was a very fun, quick, and relaxing little craft. I love how it looks with the light in it, and I’m definitely going to be buying the Zen Garden kit (how utterly adorable is the little maneki neko?!) once I’m back at work and have some cash to spare. 🙂

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.