doljanchi: dol towers

20150227_222151For a long time I didn’t think I could have a doljanchi. I didn’t think I knew enough about them and therefore would have no idea how to throw one. And I was the only full Korean person in my family–I’d have to take the lead and explain everything–I didn’t think I could pull it off. But over time I realized I’d been to three doljanchis, one in Korea, one in Flushing, and one at the restaurant where we’re having ours. I had a sense of what they were like. And as I talked more with my Korean mom friends I heard about their experiences of where they had them and what they entailed. But what really sealed the deal was doing research online; seeing blog entries and images of doljanchis (mostly here in the U.S.) and how people celebrated. I realized I could do that. They provided me with inspiration and some guidelines. I would choose my own style and lean on friends for help. I could do it.

This is how I often deal with things in life. At first they might seem impossible or out of reach. But after talking to people and researching I realize it’s not impossible. It just takes a lot of researching, planning and leaning on others for help.

One of the major components to a doljanchi is the dol towers or 돌 고임. (Funny thing, Yuna, who first helped me make them had no idea they were called 돌 고임. She didn’t know they had a name. When I told her she looked it up on her phone and said, “Yes, they are called 돌 고임. I learned something new.” Ha. She’s from Korea and I taught her something about Korean culture.) If you search online you’ll see countless designs. Some are simple black and white. Some are made of gumballs or oreos or mentos. Some have animals on them (maybe the zodiac sign the baby was born in) and some have v-shaped designs running down the middle. I learned it’s customary to have an odd number, typically three or five. I shot for five but said if it didn’t go well we’d only have three. I planned out one 축 돌 (happy dol) one of my son’s name 재민 one of his animal zodiac sign (horse) and two with the colors of his hanbok, the colors of the party.

I found online some sites that told you step-by-step how to make the towers, and the instructions were pretty much the same as the way other moms I knew who had made them. I was a little sad about having to buy paper towel rolls and then not get to use the paper towels, but I got over it. I really enjoyed making them. I’d spend a few hours each night gluing while watching episodes of Parenth00d on Netfl1x. It became a soothing relaxing activity I looked forward to each night.

That being said, here’s how I made mine. I tried to keep track of how long they took to made but I never continuously worked on one. I think each one probably took me about 5-8 hours. The color theme is based on Baby Horse’s hanbok.

dol tower layout

This is our layout – the materials we used to build the towers

What you need:

5 paper towels rolls
3 bags of glue sticks
2 glue guns (so 2 people can use them simultaneously)
2 bags of small white beans
1 bag of large white beans (navy beans?)
jelly beans in your color scheme

Misc: scissors, white paper, pencil, newspaper to cover your table (optional)

1. Trace the bottom or top of the paper towel roll on white paper. Cut out the shape and glue gun it onto the top of the paper towel roll.
2. Glue white paper onto the paper towel roll with the glue gun to create a surface for gluing your beans. For If you’re using a design make sure to put that in the best rounded part (some of my paper towels got a little mushed). For the v-shape I made I drew the bottom end of the V 5.75 inches from the far side of the paper. I think the font I used was Garamond.
3. Glue away.


Here’s our sketch of how we wanted it to look

There is no need to cover the bottom. I suggest leaving the bottom bare because it’s easier to carry; you can stick your fingers in the hole on the bottom.

starting tower

Starting the 축돌 or “Happy dol” tower

working on tower

축돌 tower midway through


Next–wanna see the doljabi board and raffle tickets I made? The raffle tickets have Baby Horse’s face on them.