DORODANGO

By MMB

Dorodango is a Japanese art form which uses ordinary dirt and transforms it into remarkably unique works. There are many reasons why this art form is very enjoyable:

  • It is calming
  • It is tactile
  • Soothing and
  • Very inexpensive to do!
  • The results are exciting and every unique piece has its own surprises.

All it takes is some good quality dirt, some water, and two hands. Glass jars can be used for refining the process of shaping.

The Process

The process involves taking moistened dirt and forming it into a sphere. Over time as the dirt dries while the sphere is shaped and polished with the hands, a beautiful shiny ball will result. 

Please be reminded that clay, soil and dirt are three different things. The words “dirt” and “soil” are sometimes used interchangeably, but for the purpose of Dorodango, it is important to distinguish them. “Dirt” is a mixture of clay, silt and sand: it contains organic matter also, but the quantity of that organic matter is not always as much as the rich portions found in good garden soil used for planting crops.

Good “Soil” is dirt mixed with decayed or decaying organic material and many organisms.

The best dirt for dorodongo is one with a higher clay content and a low sand content. It may be what you get digging in your backyard and is unlike potting soil that you may purchase for your garden! Check out our gardening page to see the results of planting in good soil! 😍

For Dorodango, a reminder of what we said above, you should use dirt that has a good clay content, with little sand and almost no organic matter.

Every individual Dorodango piece is extremely unique. The repeated shaping, molding, and polishing with the hands can become very therapeutic. It is especially rewarding once you realize the beautiful shiny sphere that was made from ordinary dirt.

These are a few of the pieces I have made:

The book by Bruce Gardner is very helpful in my opinion. It is called: “Dorodango, The Japanese Art of Making Mud Balls (Ceramic Art Projects, Mindfulness and Meditation Books)”. He gives a very comprehensive synopsis of the art form. The technique he presents is very traditional, using only the hands and very limited tools. It is not just a how-to book. The author speaks of the therapeutic nature of the art form. He also explains his own trial and error and how even the least perfect pieces are some of the most beautiful.