Shining mud ball

             Early drying white ball method
                                             by Kayo, Fumio
                                     ・・・・2002/3(Japanese version)
                                        2003/12(English version)
                                               translated by MES




                   tomato                    miracle

                          CLICKThe three mysteries
                           an irrelevant report by Kayo:::BHSL:a video clip
                                                a report
How to make dorodango

  [Items you must have]

   1.Nice weather of 2-3 days duration, completely dry soil, a small quantity of water, and your trustful hands.
   2.Company with whom you can chat and work together.

   3.A soft material such as a dry dust cloth (a safe place on which you can rest the ball)
  [Items you will find it convenient to have]
   1.Plastic bags (cheep transparent bags for cooking)
   2.Polishing cloth (Jersey or cheap stockings are the best)


How to make
 Making the core
  Wet the soil as shown in the picture, compress it hard with the hands, and make a ball that serves as the core.  Squeeze the ball to wring water out.  Try to shape the core into a regular sphere as you squeeze it.  If the ball does not stick together, remain soft, or crack while you keep squeezing, the soil contains too much clay.  Add some sandy soil.----link to video-1


 Shaping of the ball
The principle is to forget about shining and to concentrate on making something round. Complete absence of roughness anywhere on the surface is an important factor. Theoretically, its shape may be oval or triangle with rounded corners, but making such shapes with no roughness on the surface would be very difficult. So, try to make a nice round ball. If you have succeeded in making a round ball with no surface roughness, you have come about 90% of the way to making a shining mud ball. Your objective for the time being is to make a round ball. 

     During <the first 2-3 minutes> the surface of the ball is sufficiently wet, and occasional rough handling is permitted.  Sprinkle the ball with dry soil (it may be slightly moist at this stage), squeeze it, push or rub off protruded parts with the fingertip or nail, fill up depressions, and what not.  (Such rough maneuvers are impossible in <the next 30-40 minutes>!)  The important thing is to get a round shape.  Make the ball into a regular sphere without a protrusion here or a depression there.  This is an absolute necessity.  You must shape the entire ball carefully using the sprinkled soil.  This is a stage of preliminary shaping before you can eventually attain a perfect sphere.---link to video-2  

   <The next 30-40minutes> is the stage of making a smooth surface. The procedure is as follows. Hold the core mud ball on the left hand and sprinkle dry soil over it with the right hand, and you get a heap of soil. Then, carefully remove this heap of soil little by little by rubbing it with the right thumb and the area near its base and make a smooth spherical surface (Photo: below left). Roll the ball, sprinkle soil over it, rub it to remove it,.... Just repeat doing this (for more than 30 minutes), and you will get a ball like the one shown in the photo to the lower right. Note the smoothness of the surface. We call such an object a smooth sphere.
-----link to video-3

Points of caution here are: (1) Make the spherical surface by rubbing the sprinkled soil off, and don’t try to polish it to make it shiny. (2) Rub 2-3 times each time you sprinkle soil over the ball. Rubbing 5-6 times is a little too much. (3) In rubbing the ball, run the curvature near the base of the thumb along its surface rather than the fingertip. 


                          a variety of roughness

                                        click to Good soil

       In <the end>, if you work with soil for 30-40 minutes, the ball usually become a smooth sphere as the one shown in the lower photo. In this stage, soil sprinkled over it does not attach to it any longer. If you blow the ball, all soil sprinkled over it is blown away. If you get a ball like this, the work is finished for the time being.

                          a smooth sphere

 Resting the ball(early drying)
However good soil (soil with diverse components) may be used, there may be the misfortune of having cracks the next day (two photos below). The secret to avoid it is to remove the moisture (drying) in the interior of the ball to an appropriate degree before preparing the capsule. When dried, the ball slightly shrinks. Before dressing the ball nicely with a capsule, we put the ball on a diet to make it trim. However, if you dry the ball too much (overdry it), making of the capsule that should follow becomes impossible. 


   <How to rest the ball>  (i) After a smooth ball has been made, put it on a soft material such as a dry dust cloth (Photo: lower left) and allow it to dry in the shade. How long should the ball be rested is an important problem, but it varies with the humidity of the day, size of the ball being made, and quality of the soil used for making the core (how much hygroscopic clayey soil it contained). Therefore, the below is only a general guideline, but about 1 hour is considered to be an appropriate duration of resting (for the basic level) if a ball 8-9 cm in diameter is made on a clear summer day using soil probably consisting half of sand and half of clayey powdery soil. 

      More time is needed for “drying” on a winter day than on a summer day, and the time should be shorter for a small ball and longer for a large ball.  If the core has been made using less hygroscopic sandy sail, it should contain less water, so that the time needed for drying should be shorter. 

     Also, regardless of the above factors, if more time than necessary has been taken in preparing the sphere, drying is considered to have progressed in the mean time, so that resting may be unnecessary.  In such a case, be careful since resting with resultant excessive drying may make the subsequent processes impossible and ruin everything..
 (ii) If the ball is left unattended, the degree of drying may differ on the upper and lower sides of the ball. If such a difference has occurred, it produces mottles on the surface of the ball in capsule making and impairs the beauty. To avoid this by allowing the ball to dry evenly, i.e. to make the humidity distribution uniform, you may seal the ball in a plastic bag (Photo: lower right) as an extra precaution. This process is not absolutely necessary unlike (i), and it is an additional guarantee for success. If you seal the ball, you may resume the following processes on the next day, the day after the next, or even after a week..


 Making of a preliminary capsule
...(i) Since a ball that has been left to dry or removed from a plastic bag is more wet than it appears (Photo: Lower Left), continue the making of the sphere by sprinkling it with soil and rubbing it off (Photo: Lower Center) for 2-3 minutes. When the surface has become harder,... 

(ii) gently plane the surface off with the hands until the coarse surface becomes a smooth one.  Rubbing for about 20-30 seconds will change the color of the surface all at once (Photo: Lower Right).


 Capsule making and polishing(basic level)

 The shining capsule is prepared using a powdery component of soil.  It is dust raised by beating the ground.  It consists of micro particles less than 1/1000 mm in diameter.  Actually, it is dry clayey minerals usually contained in common soil.  We rub these minerals into the surface of the ball. 


 (i) If you rub the ground with your hand (Photo: Left), it becomes whitish as it is covered with this powder. Rub this powder into the surface of the ball (Photo: Center). Rub the ball along its curvature first gently and carefully but gradually with increasing force. .---link to video-4
   Rub the entire ball evenly without concentrating on particular areas. Otherwise, you will get mottles

 (ii) If you continue this for 30 minutes to 1 hour (assuming that the ball is 8-9 cm in diameter), the ball begins to look good.  Then, polish the ball with an appropriate material (jersey or women’s stockings are the best) (Photo: Right).  Avoid polishing too long.  It may cause cracking.  The ball is nearly complete when it starts shining.

 (iii) To this point, the net duration of work is about 1 hour and 30 minutes.  However, if you want to make a ball of even better quality, try the following “white ball method” to make your permanent shining ball. 

 White ball method(advanced level)
 If the ball that has begun to shine by polishing loses its luster on the next day, it’s because the moisture remaining inside comes out to the surface and breaks the precision structure of the capsule that has been completed. If so, we should <use this remaining moisture to make the final capsule> rather than <allow the moisture to come out after completion of the capsule>. Make the capsule as a double structure with the outer final capsule prepared with the moisture remaining inside the ball; that is the idea of the advanced level.

      The advanced technique is a double-capsule method.  The time you spend in “resting” and “capsule making (by the basic method)” differs slightly depending on whether you are content with the basic level or aim to pursue the advanced course from the onset.  If you try the advanced method, shorten the time of “resting” to about 2/3.  Shorten the usual resting time of about 1 hour to about 40 minutes.  This is to save sufficient moisture for the preparation of the final capsule.  Also, shorten the time of “capsule making (by the basic method)” described above and stop it at an appropriate point (about 10-15 minutes).  Stop it at the stage where something like a capsule has been formed.  Stop polishing with cloth halfway, too.  Polish it just to remove the dust and smooth the surface rather than to make it shine. 

 (i) Use the same quality of soil as the basic method.  Rub the ground with the palm, make it whitish, and rub the dust on the palm into the surface of the ball.  However, instead of forming a capsule by rubbing the dust into the surface, try to cover the capsule that has been temporarily finished with another capsule like, in oil painting, layering colors over those painted in advance.  Slightly weaken the force of rubbing and attach the dust by stroking.  If you do this, the part of the ball that you have stroked becomes whitish.  You are making a half-dry outer capsule that has not been infiltrated by the moisture inside.  If this process is successful, the surface of the ball turns white, and you will get a white ball like the one shown in the photo below ---link to video-5  

      You can judge whether things are going well or not by checking whether you can feel the surface becoming smoother and smoother as you go on with fine unevenness on the surface being leveled. 


  (ii) After the surface has turned white, a condition in which no more change seems to be occurring continues.  However, as you keep stroking further, the white capsule becomes darker as it is infiltrated with the moisture remaining in the interior.  The change occurs of itself.  What is important is to have the new capsule infiltrated (to put it metaphorically) chemically by the action of water that oozes out from inside to evaporate rather than to force water to infiltrate into the capsule by the mechanical force of rubbing and squeezing.  The course of whitening and infiltration may take nearly an hour, or even almost 2 hours in some cases, but the ball gets darkened in the palms and begins to shine of itself without polishing with cloth.  Look at the photos below, which show the time course.  This capsule endures permanently, because it has been completed eventually by the action of water.  The “white ball method” may also be called the “natural infiltration method”.

      A point of caution is where to stop smearing dust after infiltration has begun to occur.  If you continue until the ball begins to shine, you will get a better finish, but the risk of cracking also increases.  The principle would be to stop when you have confirmed the occurrence of overall infiltration even if the ball is not so shiny yet.  Continuing powdering the ball to the stage shown in the photo to the extreme right, for example, would be a risky gamble. 


 (iii) After the work, wrap the ball with dry cloth, which may be a towel or dust cloth and allow it to dry slowly. A ball prepared by the white ball method begins to shine a few hours after the end of the work, perhaps in the evening of that day. It begins to shine as drying progresses. If the surface is cloudy around this time, gently rub the surface with any kind of cloth to clean it. Rather than polishing, stroke it for a few seconds as if to remove stains on the surface. Mottles will disappear, and the ball will become shiniest probably on the day after the next. Until the day after the work, or the day after the next, when the moisture completely evaporates, turn the ball every few hours or gently wipe the surface with a hand or cloth, so that drying progresses evenly over the entire surface. (Warning: Excessive polishing to make it shine induces cracking! Understand that the ball is not made to shine by polishing.)  
After the ball has completely dried, it becomes slightly paler as shown in the lower photo, but its luster is never lost.  It is permanent. 

       If you use red soil, you get a red dorodango.