Above: Sally Crowe with her 24.25" kokeshi.
By Patricia Belyea
I met Sally Crowe through teaching online. Sally took one workshop, then another, and another.
When Sally, who lives in Bend OR, learned that I was teaching at Stitchin’ Post in nearby Sisters, she signed up for that 5-day workshop too!
Although Stitchin’ Post offered me a hotel room in town, I accepted Sally’s invitation to stay with her for the week.
When I stepped through Sally’s front door and saw her kokeshi collection, I knew I’d made the right decision! Huge kokeshi, large kokeshi, medium-sized kokeshi, and small kokeshi were standing tall on the hallway shelves.
In my guest bedroom were more kokeshi to keep me company. One was a sweet ejiko kokeshi—a representation of a Japanese baby wrapped up in blankets and placed in a basket near where her mother worked.
It didn’t stop there. In the dining room were lots more kokeshi—some with hats!
I asked Sally how this happened. How did she come to have such an expansive collection of kokeshi?
“I just love them. I love their little faces.
“I love the signatures. They make me wonder about the artists who made them.
“I bought my first kokeshi at a local thrift shop. It was about 5" tall. A while later, I bought another kokeshi from another thrift shop. It was about 11" tall.
I’d never met Sally in-person before I pulled into her driveway last September. And she’d never mentioned her kokeshi collection.
(The hostess gift that I’d brought for Sally was a traditional Tsugaru daruma kokeshi crafted by Muchihide Abo. I thought I’d introduce Sally to kokeshi. Ha!)
I was thrilled to meet a quilter who loves these unique Japanese wooden dolls as much as I do!
Below: Sally at the Stitchin’ Post workshop. Look at the quilt composition she made for the Straights & Curves exercise—kokeshi!
To learn more about Japan’s iconic wooden dolls +click here
To shop for traditional kokeshi in the Okan Arts Shop +click here
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ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.
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