Deejavu Blog

Creating angels

How to make a unique Christmas angel


Angels start life as paper mache doll templates in three different sizes. Once face paint has been added they go on to have their character created.

Packs of coordinating angels can be purchased in my Christmas shop, due to the length of time required to create only limited numbers are available each Christmas. Check out current stock here


Every angel is hand decorated using acrylic paint and a very fine brush to give each one their own unique character.


Each outfit is handcut, their angel wings are sewn to felt jackets and each angel is given a pretty fabric dress before putting on their coats and wings.

Finally each one is lovingly decorated with various sequins, given a felt base and hanging ribbon ready to adorn your Christmas tree.


A Painting in the Making

On occasion I think it would be a great idea to make a photographic record of a painting in the making. However, it does not always turn out as planned . . . . . . . . . . .

I find in the early stages stopping to take a photograph every once in a while is easy, I often take breaks to stand back and consider the work and where I want to go next, it is just a case of having my camera to hand and actually remembering to take the picture. The problem is at a later stage, once I am in the zone as it were - time just disappears and the momentum of the artwork takes over . . . . I am sure there must be other artists out there that know what I mean. It is at this stage that the thought of photography is completely forgotten and it becomes not so much time-lapse photography as 'time-gap' photography!

Below is one of my more successful attempts at capturing the progress on a piece. This is a 16 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas titled 'Oxford Train', inspired as you can probably guess by a train journey to Oxford and some silly photos I took whilst keeping my daughter amused (she is featuring in the piece). The painting was created in 2008 and I love looking back at these images as a fascinating view on how my mind works when building up the layers and colours to make the finished artwork.

You will notice that the previously mentioned 'time-gap' occurs between pictures 3 above and 4 below, it is not so apparent with this painting which is why I have shared this older work of art with you. It is also something that is not a typical composition for me, though I hope you agree that it still shows my recognisable style.

'Oxford Train' 2008 . . . I hope you have enjoyed the insight into my artistic mind. 


So what is a traditional Japanese Kokeshi Doll ?

I love traditional Japanese Kokeshi Dolls, and if you know of my work you will have seen that much of my original artwork and craft products are variations on these lovely figurines, but where did they originate . . . . 

The traditional Japanese Kokeshi Doll is made of wood, has a cylindrical body and a round head, usually with the head disproportionally large when compared to the body.
These beautiful wooden dolls originated in the Tohoku region of Japan at some point between the 16th to 18th centuries. They were made by woodworking artisans (known as Kijiya) to sell to tourists, and because they were handcrafted and hand-painted, no two traditional dolls are the same.
Traditional Kokeshi Doll shapes and patterns are particular to a certain area and are classifed under eleven types:

  • Tsuchiyu (土湯系)
  • Yajirō (弥治郎系)
  • Tōgatta (遠刈田系)
  • Naruko (鳴子系)
  • Sakunami (作並系) or Yamagata-Sakunami (山形作並系)
  • Zaō Takayu (蔵王高湯系)
  • Hijiori (肘折系)
  • Kijiyama (木地山系)
  • Nambu (南部系)
  • Tsugaru (津軽系) or Nuruyu (温湯系)
The most common is the Naruko type. The main street of the Naruko Onsen Village is known as Kokeshi Street and has shops which are operated directly by the Kokeshi carvers.
Kokeshi Doll beauty is in their simplicity, typically they have very simple facial features, sometimes literally only a few basic lines depicting eyes and mouth, and simple patterned themes on the body (commonly simple floral designs). Antique dolls originally were decorated in red and black, occasionally yellow.
Kokeshi Dolls are still being handcrafted today,  new designs tend to be more brightly coloured but are still based on the same simplistic design and can be found widely in craft shops and online.


A contemporary form of these traditional Japanese dolls can be found in the popular and collectable Momiji Dolls. These dolls are different from Kokeshi Dolls in that they contain a small space in the base for a secret message card to be hidden, for this reason they are also known as Momiji Friendship Dolls and are often given as a gift to show friendship and love. The giving of a small gift is part of the culture of Japan and is known as omiyage.

You can see many of my Kokeshi Doll inspired artwork and craft items on this website and also on my artist pages at