When I lived in Japan I learned about a beautiful tradition:  the Sayonara Doll.  These wood dolls, similar to kokeshi dolls, were wrapped in paper and silk fabric.  For military spouses, these dolls were presented to people who were leaving the island.  Friends would inscribe “sayonara” messages on the paper scroll, and the person moving left with a lot of memories and a beautiful memento.

I have several of these beautiful dolls, and they mean so much to me.  One was from the spouses in our dental unit, one from my karatekas at the dojo I trained at, and one that I purchased years later for my daughter’s first birthday party.  I thought it would be a fun idea to give this project an American twist, and use it for graduates.  This would make a decorative alternative to a guest book.  This simple to make project can be customized to resemble your graduate.

(This post first appeared at Crafts Unleashed, where I was on the Design Team.)


Step one:  Glue the wood ball to the top of the dowel rod and let it dry.

Step two:  Paint the face and hair as desired.  Add features to the face.  Seal and add a professional shine to the project with Krylon’s glossy spray.

step 2 doll

Step three:  You will need two pieces of felt.  Cut one piece so you have a 3×3 inch square, a half inch strip for the hat, a 1 inch strip for the collar, and a 3 inch strip for the body.  Leave the second piece of felt uncut.

sayonara doll DIY

Step four:  Glue the 1/2 inch strip of felt around the head of the doll and trim off the excess.  Glue the square on top.

step 4 doll Step five:  Glue the 3 inch strip of felt around the body, leaving the end out so you can glue the paper to it.  Wrap the “collar” around the doll, trim off the excess, and glue it in place.  Glue the full sheet of felt to the other end of the paper.

To display the graduation sayonara doll, begin rolling it it up, paper first, then the felt “robe”.  Use a strand of ribbon to hold the graduation gown in place.  Unroll the doll so friends can sign the paper, then wrap it back up to display it.  This would be a wonderful treasure for a high school graduate to take to college with him or her!  Have fun crafting and creating!


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