Dorodango

A dorodango is a ball of mud that is carefully dried and polished, giving it a beautiful color and sheen.  The art of dorodango originated in Japan and is intended to be be a slow, soothing, meditative process.   Although the steps are simple they require patience.  You can use almost any type of dirt that will stick together.  The color of your finished dorodango will be the color of the dirt before you add water.   

You will need:

1.  Mud

2.  A plastic bag

3.  A towel

4.  A soft cloth

5.  A screen (optional)

A dorodango or
Mud mixed for a dorodango 1.  You can use most types of dirt but soils with more clay are easier to shape and less prone to cracking.  You can sift the dirt through a screen if you want a very smooth mud.  If you don't have a screen, remove any large pebbles and pieces of wood or weeds with your fingers.  Mix the dirt with water to make a thick, workable mud.
A ball of mud being worked into a dorodango

2.  Form the mud into a ball.  You can make the ball any size.  Keep gently working and shaping the mud.   You want it to form a perfect sphere. 

To begin the drying process, get your hands dusty and then keep forming and stroking the ball of mud.  Repeat.  The surface will slowly begin to dry.  This can take several hours.  If the mud cracks, dip your finger into water and smooth out the crack.

Sweating the dorodango 3.  When the surface starts to feel dry or when you are tired of working with the dorodango, you can begin to "sweat" the ball of mud.  Wrap it in the plastic bag, set it on the towel so that it won't form flat spots, and let it sit.  Water will evaporate out of the mud ball and condense on the plastic.
A sweaty dorodango ball

4.  Every once so often remove the ball from the plastic.  Get a fine layer of dust on you hands and gently rub the moisture off the ball.  Continue dipping your hands in dust, patting it onto the ball, and then wiping it off for as long as you like.  The more you do this, the faster your dorodango will dry.  You are also building a very thin crust of fine dust around the core of the dorodango.  This crust will give the finished dorodango its shine.  When you are finished, put the ball back into the plastic and let it sweat some more.

The ball will sweat less as it drys.  At first, you may have coat of moisture that forms in a half hour.  Later, it may take several hours.  Don't worry about drying off the ball at precise times.  It will be fine sitting in the plastic for several hours or even several days.

A dry durodango 5.  Eventually the ball will feel solid and the surface will feel dry.  You can give the dorodango one last long sweat or just let it sit unwrapped for several hours to make sure it is dry.  Then spend a few more minutes patting fine dust onto the ball and then brushing it off.
Polishing the dorodango 6.  Take a soft cloth and gently rub the dorodango to give it a polish.  This can take an hour.  Some types of dirt will take on a brilliant sheen and others will shine more subtly.
A dorodango or

7.  Display your dorodango.  If you enjoy making them, you can begin making a collection of different colors and sizes.  

Great Idea

Collect soil from places that you visit, or places with sentimental value, and form dorodango's as souvenirs.  Showcase the dorodango collection representing your travels!  

Hikaru dorodango literally means "shining mud ball."  Making dorodangos is a pastime for Japanese school children which is becoming more and more widely known and popular.  Making the dorodango is soothing and rewarding.  It is interesting to make dorodangos with different soil types to achieve different colors and levels of shine.

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