What are Kokeshi Dolls + an Artist Trading Card Swap (ATCs)

Kokeshi Dolls - Artist Trading Cards

I’ve participated in a great deal of artist trading card swaps, and most recently, I had the chance to add Kokeshi doll art to my collection. While most swaps follow a 3-for-3 arrangement, we had the choice to make either 3 or 6 cards for this swap. I chose the latter so that I could receive more dolls, and really, creating these small pieces of art for this theme was pretty addicting.

What is a Kokeshi Doll?

Considered a lucky charm in the Japanese culture, Kokeshi started out as handmade wooden dolls typically dressed in kimono-styled designs. The most distinguishable characteristics of Kokeshi dolls are round heads (often larger than their smaller, limbless bodies). Other features include distinct hairstyles, rosy cheeks, the absence of arms, and intricate detail.

What are Kokeshi Dolls

The Cards I Made…

Kokeshi Dolls Swap

Materials Used: glitter gel pens, metallic gel pens, fine-point Sharpie pens, and colored pencils

Each of my Kokeshi dolls either wears a flower in her hair, or has flowers incorporated into her wardrobe. The majority of the dolls feature Zentangle patterns. Although you cannot tell from the photos, all of the doll’s hair either glitters or shines in some way.

After participating in the swap, I had to make a couple more because I could not part with two of my cards. I kept the dolls featured at the top of this post for my own personal collection of cards.

The Cards that I Received

And, here are the Kokeshi dolls that I received from artists hailing from Pennsylvania, Vermont, Ohio, North Carolina, Seneca Falls, NY, and Rochester, NY:

Kokeshi Doll Art Swap - Returns2

JuliaRyo’s ‘Rainmother’ reminds me of classic Japanese ink drawings – I love the black, blue and white color scheme.

Kokeshi Doll Art Swap - Returns

I love the hairstyle of Kimmie’s doll…and her purple outfit too. The last card is made by prex79 (I love getting her cards). This one has hints of shiny gold pen that you can’t really see, and I think she’s a master with alcohol ink pens.

Artist trading card swaps are organized by individual hosts, who collect everyone’s cards and make sure you receive an equal amount of art in return. CiCiCreates was the swap host, and she sent everyone a unique mini Kokeshi doll card as a ‘thank you’ for participating. How thoughtful!Mini Kokeshi Doll Art

Kokeshi Doll Art


20 thoughts on “What are Kokeshi Dolls + an Artist Trading Card Swap (ATCs)”

  1. Donah Davila says:

    These are beautiful, great details. I love are and love to draw too! I just wish I had more time in the day for it 🙂

  2. Carolyn says:

    I love those dolls and my daughter just saw this screen over my shoulder and she said she wanted some of those pretty dolls. Such great artistry.

  3. Mandy Carter says:

    These are really cute and so colorful. I love how they are detailed yet simplistic.

  4. You must be one heck of an artist. I used to do some artwork, but it never looked that good. What a great job you did!

  5. I didn’t know artists traded cards like this, what a great idea. Your cards are my favorites. They remind me of some wall art my dad had brought back from his business trips to Japan, I never knew the dolls symbolized good luck!
    Tanya @ Mom’s Small Victories recently posted…How are YOUR Grades? Plus 5 Epic FREE Resources to be a Successful Blogger NOW!My Profile

  6. These are really cute. I’ve never heard of them before though. The details on them are so nice.
    Krystal // The Krystal Diaries recently posted…I Just Want to Travel (Plus a Giveaway)My Profile

  7. Caitlin says:

    You are so talented! Your work is lovely. I’ve seen these dolls before, but never knew much about them… it was nice to learn a bit of their history.

  8. Misty Nelson says:

    I love all the little details! It’s always so fun to see the things people cherish and collect. These are beautiful little works of art.

  9. Marisa says:

    These are so adorable. I’d be afraid to mess it up because i’m not the best artist! You must be really good at art! I love how each one is so different! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Tereza says:

    Oh my I haven’t heard of Kokeshi dolls for years! When I was younger (I mean like 15 years younger!) I went through a period when I was obsessed with them. They are so beautiful! x

  11. Lydia says:

    These cards are so pretty! I LOVE all the colors and details

  12. Melissa says:

    The Asian cultures have so much to give to us in the west. I am interested in more of these swap events and what other type of art can be exchanged.

  13. Charlotte says:

    These Kokeshi dolls are so cool! I haven’t heard of them before and your trading cards look awesome, wish I was that artistic!
    Charlotte recently posted…Ways To Make Swimming More InterestingMy Profile

  14. Allison says:

    These are beautiful! I love the colors and the details on them. I love the idea of the swap!

  15. these are so pretty! I love your designs and that you themed them with flowers in their hair. I love the black, white, blue design, as those are my favorite colors!

  16. Marcie says:

    These are sooooo cute! I got a Kokeshi doll when I was younger and didn’t know much about it. I love your trading cards! What a fun idea!

  17. Jessi says:

    how awesome. I have a good friend who has always been obsessed with Japanese culture so I need to show her this. She is actually going on vacation to japan this summer.

  18. They certainly are very beautiful crafted. I’ve always wanted to participate in a artist swap myself but never found any to trade with.

    1. Yona Williams says:

      ATCs for All (http://atcsforall.com/) has a forum filled with swaps with so many different creative options: stamping, painting, drawing, collage, mixed media, fabric, clay, and other things.

  19. robin Rue says:

    Wow, those are all so beautiful. I love all the intricate details on them. So pretty.

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