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Do you dorodango education resource

From soil to work of art

Dorodango or ‘Mud Dumpling’ is a Japanese process favoured by schoolchildren which involves the creation of spheres of mud which are then highly polished. It is a simple yet repetitive process that can be undertaken by participants young and old, utilising the soil beneath your feet.

Remnants of past industry can be found in the soil beneath our feet. From agriculture to mining, textiles to iron works; the soil of the Clyde and Avon Valley has played a strong part in the history of the area. Similarly, mysterious neolithic stone balls have been found in Carnwath and Biggar in Clyde and Avon Valley, which suggest our ancestors connection to the earth.

Transform local soil samples into intriguing polished objects by following the steps and watching the How To film below, or by downloading the PDF under 'Related Resources'.



  • Step 1. Make the mud
    Step 1. Make the mud

    Step 1. Make the mud

    Take a walk and gather dirt from a specific area you’re interested in, and make a note of the place so you can record it later. Choose dirt with no stones or twigs (you can use a sieve to filter unwanted material out of the dirt). Split the dirt into two sets - one for the wet process and another to use for the dust process in Step 5. A little tip - compost doesn’t work!

    Add a small amount of water; mix, and slowly add more water until the mud reaches an even consistency, similar to dough. When thinking about size we suggest you need roughly 10 cups of wet soil. This should make the Dorodango roughly the size of a tennis ball.

  • Step 2. Create the core
    Step 2. Create the core

    Step 2. Create the core

    Grab a handful of mud and begin to shape it into a sphere with both hands, applying light pressure to allow moisture to come out on your hands.

    Remove any lumps and bumps from the mass by gently shaking it. The vibration removes holes from inside the sphere.

    As you shape/shake the mud, clay will move to the surface, forming a slip layer. Making it easier to smooth the mass into a sphere. When the ball becomes tacky you’re ready for step 3.
  • Step 3. Add a layer
    Step 3. Add a layer

    Step 3. Add a layer

    Holding the ball in one hand, grab handfuls of dirt with the other and sprinkle it over the ball.

    Hold the ball in one hand and gently sweep the excess off, rotating the ball as you do so. Use the outer curvature of your thumb, near the base, to do this; using the space between your finger and thumb to roll the ball with your other hand to take the excess dirt off.

    The new dirt will absorb the surface moisture quickly. Work the ball to point where it retains its shape but isn't so dry that cracks begin to form.
  • Step 4. Take the moisture out
    Step 4. Take the moisture out

    Step 4. Take the moisture out

    Put the ball into a plastic bag. You’ll only need to do this for 20 minutes or so. Lay the ball on something soft to prevent a flat edge from forming. Water will condense on the inside of the bag and the surface of the ball will become wet again.

    Remove it from the bag and repeat Step 3. Return the ball to the bag before cracks begin to appear.

    Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the ball begins to feel leather-hard to the touch. You will find that it takes longer for water to condense on the inside of the bag - you can accelerate the process at this point by putting the bag and dorodango in the refrigerator.

    Note: This will cause the water to condense very quickly. Be careful to remove it before too much water condenses out as it will dissolve the ball where it gathers at the bottom of the bag.
  • Step 5. Dust your dorodango
    Step 5. Dust your dorodango

    Step 5. Dust your dorodango

    You need super fine dirt for this final layer in order to polish your dorodango. This could be done through sifting dirt through a fine mesh or using ash as your final layer. The dirt should be fine enough that if you pat your hand on to it, it creates a fine layer of dust.

    When you feel your dust is right, rub it into the ball. Continue this process until the surface moisture of the ball has been completely absorbed - it should look and feel powdery.

    Insert the ball into a new plastic bag until condensation forms within. Repeat this step as many times as possible to create a thick capsule. When the fine particles no longer stick to the surface of the ball you're ready to start polishing.
  • Step 6. Polishing
    Step 6. Polishing

    Step 6. Polishing

    Remove the ball from the bag and let it dry for 20 minutes. Polish with a soft cloth - carefully at first to see if it’s completely dry.

    Polish or buff more vigorously once the ball is dry. Now you are ready to label your Dorodango.


Keep up to date with further projects and share your ideas online using #MakeYourWay




Make Your Way is an arts, heritage and active travel campaign, focusing on the communities of Carluke, Glassford, Lanark, Larkhall and Stonehouse, in 2016 – 17. It was delivered by icecream architecture and SYSTRA, with support  from Smarter Choices, Smarter Places grant and is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership scheme.