Making Japanese Hikaru Dorodango Polished Dirt Balls
The Art of Polished Dirt Balls
Proving they really do have an art for just about anything you can imagine, the Japanese have perfected the art of making hand-polished dirt balls. Steady, patient, manual compression is all that it takes to make these simple, smooth forms.
Think of it as the Zen of Dirt.
If you're worried that only some sort of expert would be able to handle this, I'd like to point out that the majority of the Japanese who do this are elementary-age schoolchildren. If a five-year-old kid can do it, so can you! Making a polished ball of mud takes dirt that is moistened just right, and a human who is willing to be very patient. So patient (or curious) they might find themselves starting over a few times to get the hang of it.
Sand Only - Unsuccessful!
The Basics of Making a Polished Dirt Ball
You're going to want to use some nice clean dirt for this. Sift out any rocks or larger particles.
Using dirt from specific locations could have a strong effect on the color of the finished dorodango.
Start with your dirt and add water until you've got a really thick mud. If any water is pooling or doesn't soak in, you've got too much water and will either have to add more dirt, or let the mud sit and evaporate until it's not running anymore. The mixture should be extremely thick and pasty, almost like a dough.
Shape the mud into a ball using your hands. If it won't hold it's shape, the mixture is still too wet. Try to form as round a ball as you can. Once you get a nice sphere, put it into a plastic bag and place it somewhere slightly warm for it to dry out just a bit. This can take anywhere from half an hour to a few hours depending on your mud. If you can rest it on a soft surface, it will retain the round shape better.
Once the ball has lost some of its moisture, you take it out of the bag and begin working it again. Take some dry dirt and work it into the outside surface of the ball, being careful to damage or change the round shape as you add the loose dirt. Once you have the entire ball coated, it goes back into the plastic bag to dry out a bit more.
The next time you take it out of the bag, you'll be again adding dirt to the outer surface, but this time you want it to be very fine and dusty dirt. The ball should be very compacted at this time and the surface should be very smooth and even. You should be able to gently polish the ball with your hands at this point.
Lastly, you polish the surface of the dried ball with a soft cloth until it becomes very shiny.
How To Make a Dorodango
More Sites and Info
- d o r o d a n g o
Hikaru dorodango are balls of mud, molded by hand into perfect spheres, dried, and polished to an unbelievable luster. The process is simple, but the result makes it seem like alchemy.
- Hikaru Dorodango: Interesting Thing of the Day
Mud isn't generally considered a very useful or beautiful substance, but one of the latest trends in art (especially popular among young Japanese children) is making elegant, shiny balls out of ordinary mud.
- Shiny Mud Balls | Science and Education | Trends in Japan | Web Japan
At elementary schools, kindergartens, and preschools all across Japan, kids are losing themselves making hikaru dorodango, or balls of mud that shine.
- What are Hikaru Dorodango?
Hikaru dorodango are nothing more than spherical mud balls created from dirt and water, but they can be polished to a surprisingly high sheen.
You CAN Polish A Turd...
Ever here the phrase "you can't polish a turd?" Well, it turns out that you really can. Or at least you can if you go about it scientifically enough.
The TV show Mythbusters took on just that challenge and decided they would create dorodango using different types of animal manure. With some patience, a lot of polishing and a method for determining shine/polish, they created some very shiny dorodango in just a few days.
If you are so inspired, you can try and recreate their experiments. However, most people prefer to work with plain old dirt instead.