Washi Ningyo Japanese Paper Dolls) found its origin in a paper doll called “Anesama Ningyo” which was favored by girls of all ages throughout Japan during the last 500 years. These dolls were made out of Japanese washi paper and cotton. In Japan, hundreds of these dolls were based on characters from famous Kabuki Bunraku, Noh theatre and Ukiyoe Paintings which depicted the folk cultures, traditions, social class and historical periods. These Japanese Paper Dolls do not have eyes, nose or mouth, because it is said that the facial expression changes according to the imaginations of the owner or maker.
Rochelle Paula Lum, native San Franciscan, graduated in Theatre Arts with emphasis in scenic design and puppetry. Traveled and lived abroad in Japan studying their folk art culture and theatrical arts (i.e. Kabuki and Bunraku). She worked/studied traditional Bunraku and modern puppet construction at a puppet company in Japan. More than twenty years ago she was inspired by teacher Yurie Nakamura, a native of Kyoto, Japan living in the Bay Area and has been making dolls ever since.
So what makes her dolls different from the others? They are her careful research and design done before construction, the high quality of hand crafted workmanship and the emotions/life given to each character/doll. But most special are her animal dolls. A creation of her own to reflect life with humor and laughter.
Rochelle teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area and presently co-teaches with Yurie Nakamura at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California in San Francisco. Many proud owners of her dolls live across the USA, Canada and Japan.