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Friendship Doll Art Exchange

Paper doll decorated with natural materials

Participate in a friendship doll exchange! 

Japanese Friendship Dolls were exchanged between the United States and Japan in the 1920s as a way to connect two cultures and symbolize goodwill and diplomacy. These dolls represented a sharing of culture, history, community, and identity.  Read the story about NHM's Japanese Friendship Doll. 

In the spirit of the Japanese Friendship Dolls, we invite you to make your very own doll and “send” it to a friend via social media.  Be sure to tag @NHMLA on your post.  

Activity Description 

STEP 1: GATHER SUPPLIES

Gather supplies from things laying around the house or your front yard – be creative! You can also use our paper doll template or check out our list here:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • At home art supplies, like crayons, markers, pens, glue etc.
  • Fabric scraps
  • Supplies from the kitchen, like corn husks, coffee filters, chopsticks, plastic forks, corn kernels, beans, etc.
  • Objects from your yard like leaves, sticks, pebbles/rocks, etc
STEP 2: CREATE YOUR FRIENDSHIP DOLL

What would you like to share with someone? It can be a replica of a cultural costume in your family, or even just your favorite color or outfit--however you choose to define yourself through this artistic process. And if you’d like to add more, you can think about furniture or items that are special to you, and add those into the doll. Have fun with it, and think outside the box!  Check out these sample dolls below.

STEP 3: WRITE A STORY ABOUT YOUR FRIENDSHIP DOLL 

Take some time to write down a description of your doll.  Your friendship doll and story will be shared with another person – what would you like for them to know?  If it is easier for you to draw pictures next to your doll or make a visual story – that works too! Be sure to include:

  • Your first name
  • Your age
  • What city you live in

Check out these sample stories below.

STEP 4: SHARE YOUR FRIENDSHIP DOLL & STORY 

Send a picture of your doll and its story to your Instagram story and tag @NHMLA with #AsianHeritageMonth. 

Your friendship doll and story could be featured on @NHMLA’s Stories!  

paper dolls from the community
Miyako Paper Doll

Miyako, 50, Los Angeles

Airin Paper Doll

Airin, 17, MacArthur Park

Sara Paper Doll

Sara, 37, Los Angeles

Ashley Paper Doll

Ashley, 12, East LA

Rene Paper Doll

Rene, 29, Los Angeles

Friendship Doll Exchange Sample with Description Samantha

Samantha, 27, Boyle Heights

Friendship Doll Sample and Description Maya

Maya, 27, Westwood

Preston Paper Doll

Preston, 4, La Canada

Friendship Doll Sample and Description Milena

Milena, 40, Covina

Friendship Doll Sample with Description Kamayo

Kamayo, 11, Los Angeles

Jocelyn Paper Doll

Jocelyn, 23, Los Angeles

1 of 1

Miyako, 50, Los Angeles

Airin, 17, MacArthur Park

Sara, 37, Los Angeles

Ashley, 12, East LA

Rene, 29, Los Angeles

Samantha, 27, Boyle Heights

Maya, 27, Westwood

Preston, 4, La Canada

Milena, 40, Covina

Kamayo, 11, Los Angeles

Jocelyn, 23, Los Angeles