Believe it or not, my mother was the person to introduce me to all things Miyazaki. She came home from her errands one day and gave me a video tape from her Chinese video rental place.

“Here,” she said as she also attempted to shove a bao into my gullet, “watch this. You’ll like it.”

The video tape in question was “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” Although my mother and I are two very different people, she knows me like no others. She was using the word “binging” in the context of “cramming TV shows” before it was being applied to anything other than an eating disorder and had me watching the entire original Japanese version of “The Ring” miniseries (there were about 60 episodes or something insane like that) in one weekend, so naturally I immediately popped it into the VCR, knowing this woman gets me. Boy, she was right. I did enjoy the movie tremendously. The artistry, the details, the story. It brought a hardened New Yorker such as myself to tears. After that, every time she’s in Taiwan, she would hunt for the latest Miyazaki masterpiece before it was barely out of Japan and I was hooked for life.

Even though I try to stay away from painting dolls based on animation, I couldn’t turn down a chance to do one of my all time favorite Miyazaki films: “Spirited Away.”


This one features No Face, Boh the cranky baby, YuBaba and YuBird, Chihiro, and the Kashira (the trio of heads that bounce around).

When this project was proposed, I immediately dug around in my supply drawers and found something that would be the perfect representation of the three heads. It took some sawing and sanding to make them all fit. Most people believe I stand around all day painting dainty little things when in fact I have a Dremel at the ready, fully charged at all time for emergency adjustments, a belt sander downstairs, and a box of band aids nearby for any power tool-related injuries. Even though “traditional” nesting dolls sets aren’t quite as trying to make, I do enjoy these challenges now and then to break things up a bit!