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Japanese Are Polishing Dirt Balls and Foil Balls To Perfection, And The Result Will Blow You Away (38 Pics)

The making of ‘dorodango‘ is a traditional pastime for Japanese schoolchildren, that has grown into an art form in its own right. The dodorango is actually a ball made from mud and dirt, and now people are painstakingly and methodically refining these balls into “hikaru dorodango” (literally: ‘shiny dumpling’), perfect, polished spheres that can take days to complete.
The process is meditative and deeply satisfying, and is seen by many as the primary motivation for the art. Layer upon layer of fine dirt is applied to the mud core, forming a hard outer shell. This is then polished with a cloth to give the dorodango an appearance similar to that of a snooker ball, perfectly round and shiny to an unbelievable degree. How can simple dirt become so lustrous?
 While in America kids are eating Tide Pods and poisoning themselves, Japanese kids learn the value of patience and perfection from constant refinement, by creating these beautifully simple pieces of art.
Making dorodango was actually a forgotten pastime until recently, when professor Fumio Kayo, a psychologist who specializes in children’s play, made it popular again in Japan and worldwide. Bruce Gardner has become a master of the art, and experiments with the many different soils he finds around Albuquerque, New Mexico. He first encountered dorodango in an issue of TATE magazine, entitled “Shiny Balls of Mud: William Gibson Looks at Japanese Pursuits of Perfection.” He has been a devoted enthusiast ever since.  “I am always working on two or three pieces in various stages,” Bruce told. “They can take weeks to finish. It is more than a hobby for me – it’s a weird amalgam of art, compulsion, and meditation.”
“Different soils have varying amounts of silt, clay, sand, etc. Every soil sample has unique properties and requires adjustments to my process. I work within a certain sample of soil until I have one or two pieces that I’m happy with.  Sometimes that happens right away; other times it takes several attempts.”
Despite the ultimate goal of polished perfection, Bruce’s favorite pieces are actually beautiful for their imperfections. “Years ago I created three pieces from a sample of Albuquerque soil; all three formed tiny little cracks on the surface, so I put them on my ‘seconds’ shelf to later be crushed up and attempted again,” he told us. “After a year or so, they all started to oxidize in amazing ways and the cracks became the feature rather than the flaw, similar to Raku crazing.”
Bruce has given several workshops and demonstrations over the years, and has recently presented to a group of soil scientists at the USDA. You can check out how he does his work in the video below, it will make you want to try it yourself! And if you find it too challenging but still want a dorodango, you can buy one of Bruce’s. Contact him via his site for details.

It all starts with collecting the soil

Then the rocks are separated from the soil

And the shaping begins

More layers are added over time

This process takes at least 30 minutes

And it’s where people relax more and more, as they shape the ball to perfection

This step is very tricky, because the ball can easily crack and break

Then it’s left to dry in a plastic bag for at least 20 minutes

After repeating the process a few times, the polishing begins

Lots and lots of polishing…

And it turns into something like this!

The color varies because of the different soil types

People have fallen in love with this oddly satisfying DIY project

And are sharing their own creations on various social media platforms

It’s a perfect activity for meditation groups, classes or camps

Watch the video for an in-depth look how artist Bruce Gardner makes his perfect “shiny dumplings”

Aluminum foil looks pretty boring. It is used for packaging, insulation, cooking… and making really shiny balls that appear to have no real purpose, apparently. That’s right, thanks to a Japanese jeweler, the whole country became obsessed with refining these metal leaves, and we aren’t sure how to react.
According to Twitter user @puchuco709, they took a whole 16-metre (52-feet) long roll of the federal government brainwashing-blocking material and started abusing it – hammering, polishing it. After probably a gazillion repeats, the ball was finished. People instantly fell in love with this low-budget DIY project, flooding Japanese social media with their very own versions. 

It all starts with an aluminum foil ball like this one:

Then, with incredible amounts of determination…

…lots and lots of repeating the same tedious task…

…and hours of polishing to perfection…

It turns into something like this!

People instantly fell in love with this low-budget DIY project

Flooding Japanese social media with their very own versions

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