Posted by Anne Nelson
Dorodango (literally “mud-dumpling” or “mud-ball”) are small lumps of mud that have been dried and then polished to a high shine and perfectly spherical shape. They tend to be between the size of a golf ball and a billiard ball, and they can very quite widely in color (it depends on the source of the soil), but it is the depth of the dorodango’s finish that makes it so intriguing. Dorodango are lovingly buffed until they are as smooth as marbles. The finish, however, has an interesting depth and luminosity that is often compared to the glaze on pottery or the patina on highly polished leather or wood. Dorodango are well known in Japan, where children have long crafted them at recess or after school. However, the art has become reinvigorated in recent years and many adults now practice the pastime as well: the hobby is meditative, cheap, and the time invested is rewarded with a lovely, one-of-a-kind conversation piece. Photographs of very sophisticated artisinal dorodango are easy to find on the internet, as are instructional videos like the one below.