Okay, I’ve done two, with nearly identical outcomes: a fine network of relatively shallow cracks in the “capsule”, the thin layer of fine particles which encapsulate the core. I’ve been rereading various accounts on how other people make dorodango, and have noticed a couple of differences which I think I am going to test.
I suspect now that I’m being too timid in my initial drying of the core. After forming the wet inner core, you then sprinkle on relatively fine, dry dust until it won’t hold any additional material. What I was doing was then cycling this in a plastic bag, essentially drying the core very slowly, while adding additional finer and finer material. Eventually, when I did dry out this fine material, it was relatively inflexible, and as the core shrank slightly, it tension cracks. I’m now wondering if the bulk of drying shouldn’t happen while the outer skin is still relatively coarse. So, my next ball will be worked relatively longer in its primitive stage, and will be allowed to dry overnight. One account says that if it cracks, it will likely do so in the first 30 minutes of this stage.
I think I am going to ditch the soil that I purloined from Golden Gate park as well. It has a lot of faintly greasy black silt embedded in it, which is quite slick and messy. My normal backyard dirt was easier to work. I may also buy a bag of fire clay just to see what I could do with a 50/50 clay sand mixture.
Sigh. My second attempt has also cracked, although it is beginning to look pretty shiny.
Eek! I was getting a bit impatient with my dorodango, so I decided to leave it out in the open air when I went to work today so I could let it dry out a bit. I returned to it having dry cracks! Note to anyone attempting this: don’t be impatient. Let it dry out slowly.
On the other hand, it does still look pretty cool. I snapped this with my Canon Digital XT and did a bit of tweaking to enhance the contrast and the cracks, and frankly, it looks pretty good. I put it back in a bag and put it in the refrigerator to sit for a half hour. I’m thinking that maybe that will draw some residual water to the surface, and maybe a little more dust rubbing will polish it. I wouldn’t mind if there were some cool looking cracks in it, if the surface was smoothed out.
It’s all an experiment!
Addendum: The center of the worst crack appears to be where the dorodango was the least round. My guess is that as the tension of the drying dorodango would have been evenly distributed if it were perfectly spherical, but the defect caused the stress to bunch up and break through. It’s spent a couple of rounds in the fridge, and the smaller cracks are filling in nicely, the center of the cracking is the only part where you can feel the cracks. I’ll try a few more rounds in the fridge to see what happens.
It’s beginning to take a polish, at least for a bit. A little work with some dry fine dust and a paper towel yielded this: