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Dorodango (Happy Mud balls in Japanese) are perfect spheres of crude soil (yes, ball of mud!) made by hand following an antique Japanese method that require both patience and concentration.

One can feel serenity, surprise and a great joy in the fact to make from his bare hands such desirable & pure object from pure mud.

To make Dorodango help you to enter a meditative state that give a material result, for each instant of distraction your Dorodango will likely show a defect, so the end result will clearly show you your progress (or your lack of attention)!

You will anyway be pleasantly surprised at your progress when you make your second, then third Dorodango

jardin zen

jardin zen
By their perfection, fragility and the very patient and repetitive work they involve, Dorodango remind me a lot of meditation Zen gardens

Making Dorodango was originaly an ancient Japanese kid form of play, that was mostly forgoten until a few years back when professor Fumio Kayo made it popular again in Japan and worldwide

The Dorodango making process has been recently raffined by some artist and has become the art to make Hikaru Dorodango (Shiny Dorodango!) or some time Dorodango with a paterned surface!

Since i noticed there is no internet pages explaining how to make Dorodango step by step with images, i made this page on this subject and hope it will help more people to discover this wonderfull quiet and ecologic occupation

But first thing first, i want to make one thing clear : To make Dorodango, you dont need to buy anything at all! The earth you will collect in your garden or on the nearby dig will do just fine!

Please ignore some websites that advice you to go and buy clay and sand and even suggest to varnish your Dorodango (HORROR!)

Such websites have likely been writen by the owner of some art shop in need of more customers or by some "compulsive buyers" from whom what is free simply cant be good.

How to make Dorodango

Take some earth, dry it and filter it (the more thin the earth you obtain, the nicer the Dorodango you will obtain), you can use an ordinary kitchen strainer as a filter, it work fine

Any earth will do fine, you dont need pure pottery clay to make Dorodango!

Addwater to obtain a firm paste, if you add too much water you will not be abble to make balls with the paste, if you dont add enought water your balls will have no cohesion and will crack very fast.

Be carefull not fall head first in the bowl please

Take a good handfull of mud and make a ball between your hands, you have to squeeze it for the first 2 or 3 minutes to make it as compact as possible, do not knead it or it will crack

Make the ball as perfect as possible by gently rolling it between your hands, the idea is at this step to extract humidity from the ball, for example by regularly dry your palms.

Once you have made a perfect sphere, it is possible to accelerate the drying process by gently rolling it in a dry clothe. Some people prefer to place the ball in a plastic bag, then to place the bag in the fridge to make the water condensate on the bag...well, i dont like this method, but you can try it and see how you like it.

You have to CONCENTRATE on the ball, it is very fragile at this step

Once the surface is dry enought (it take TIME, one full hour minimum), you have to leave the Dorodango to rest for some time, minimum one hour, but i suggest one full night. Place your Dorodango in a plastic bag, at room temperature, on top of a piece of cloth or on some dry earth, to avoid to flatten its bottom.

Next step is to pour some dry filtered earth on the surface of the Dorodango so that little by little a shell will form around the original core because some earth particules will adhere due to the surface moistness.

BEWARE : If you start this step too early you will see your Dorodango crack...and earn the privilege to start again from scratch

At this step the surface of your Dorodango is mostly dry, but core remain made of mud

When you start this step the shell will first form fast, then the dryer your Dorodango, the slower the process become

Pass the Dorodango from one hand to the other, pouring slowly dry filtered earth on it

Carry on and be carefull at what you do, or you will see some crack appearing...

If you start to make the shell too early, it happen that the core will dry and shrink a bit, causing later the shell to break, in such case 3 options :

- Start again from the beginning
- Remove the shell and start to make a new one from the same core
- Hara-Kiri with your earth strainer

After a few hours the shell is ready and no more earth adhere, it is the time for the next step

This step consist to polish the surface of the Dorodango with some VERY THINLY FILTERED dry earth.

The idea isnt to polish by removing anything, but to add some earth by having some micro-particule in the interstices of the surface to make it smoother

After a (long) moment, the surface is smooth and you can then carry on with a piece of clothe (use THIN clothe or you will ruin your Dorodango if you use something to rought!), do not polish your Dorodango too much with the cloth, because you will then take the risk to remove too much of the shell surface and see it crack...

The result of too much polishing...

On this picture you can clearly see how thick the shell is on a Dorodango

Now this Dorodango has a surface almost comparable with a snooker ball, and its made only from ordinary garden earth, water and lots of patience

On those 3 Dorodango, only one survived until the end...

Others ended in the Dorodango graveyard, before to end their short carrer back in the garden

After a few days of work...VOILA, this Hikaru Dorodango look like a sphere of hematite!

Another Hikaru Dorodango made from another type of earth

This one is bigger, but clearly not as nice as the two others, its surface show a lot of imperfections & scratch.

Remember: once finished a Dorodango is still very fragile!

Our 3 first Dorodango

Nicely finished Dorodango, 100% made from ordinary garden earth

This one is not a real Dorodango, i just made a ball of clay, then dried it and baked it in my woodstove before to polish it...

Result is a baked Dorodango, almost unbreakable!

This is the technique i use to make the Qi-Gong balls i offer on this website, soon i think to also make similar health balls made of earth collected in Holy places both of The Buddhist and Druidic tradition.

If you are very patient (and a bit Masochist), it is also possible to make some giant Dorodango


Dorodango.com show the wonderfull realisations of Mr Bruce Gardner.

On this page you will find some more explanation on how to make Dorodango

On the blog of a Japanese girl, a full day spent making Dorodango

To see the Qi-Gong balls please click here

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