Easy Peg Doll Ideas – How to Make a Ninja

peg doll ideas ninja family | the fairy glitch mother

Ever wanted to make a peg doll but didn’t know where to start? Looking for easy peg doll ideas to try it out? Then you are just like me – and I believe I can help you 😉 . Some time ago, after seeing many dolls on Pinterest, I bought a bunch of wooden peg dolls to give it a try. I realized it wasn’t as easy as I thought. After some failures and successes, I thought I’d share what I believe is one of the most straightforward peg dolls to make: a ninja.

My son is into superheroes, and although they are completely different, I thought this would be much easier to do. In my mind they were be a good excuse to practice our colors and plan some activities with them. I’ve simplified the design as much as possible. So that he could even help out. I wanted them easy to make and for them to be recognizable. I did one as a test, and when he saw it, he said, “oooo ninja!!”. Success 😄

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As you can see, you can create them with different types of wooden dolls: with wooden clothespins or peg dolls. The process is the same and very simple. Let’s get started!

What you will need

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To make this ninja peg doll, you will need the following materials:

  • Plain wooden peg doll
  • Washi tape
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint markers: black (optional)
  • Varnish

I find that the finishing details are easier to make with paint markers. I don’t have much practice with fine paintbrushes, but I can defend myself with a marker. These are fantastic, and I use them regularly on wood or pebbles. But you’ll also see an easy way to make eyes with acrylic paint, so stay tuned 😉

Bring your peg doll ideas to life! Make a ninja!

I believe this is the most straightforward peg doll I’ve ever done. But as with any project involving paint, it requires some time. First, the paint has to dry, so you need to allow some time between coats. I created one in a 2-hour timeframe after putting the children to sleep – and removed the washi tape and added the details the following day.

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Phase 1: Prepping the doll

The first thing you must do is protect the ninja’s face. In this case, you need a very narrow slit because we will only paint the eyes. He is undercover – so he covers most of his face. For that, I took some washi tape, cut it thinner, and placed it on the peg doll. The width was perfect, but I wanted it narrower in height, so I cut the excess with the scissors.

If you happen to find washi tape with dots like mine, it is fantastic. It is excellent to create several dolls in the same style, and it helps you be consistent when measuring. Just a tiny tip.

Phase 2: Painting

Before painting, you must make sure the tape is pressed firmly in place, trying to make all possible wrinkles very tight and that it is all stuck. If a wrinkle were not pressed firmly, paint could just slide a bit underneath that area of the tape.

And now we can start painting! I start with the bottom section with one coat of paint while holding the doll from the top and the base between my thumb and index fingers. Once I’ve done it, I leave it to dry for at least 20 minutes. Dark colors are very grateful; you could just do one coat of paint if you wanted it. But to make sure, I like to do a couple (at least). With lighter colors like white, you might see the paint is very thin, but let it dry, and you will see as the color starts building up. For white, the minimum would be two coats for sure and possibly three or four.

After that first coat on the bottom part, I would do the first coat of the head. Then, again, paint it as you did the bottom and let it dry for at least 20 minutes (so you ensure it is dry). 

If you want to do a second coat, this is how I did it. I painted the top and the bottom part at the same time. Then, I held the peg doll from top and base and painted the wooden doll. The very top where my finger was holding it, I painted it once I let it sit on the table. Allow drying for at least 20 minutes.

If you are happy with the level of color your doll has, you can leave the painting here. Then, repeat the process for all the additional coats of paint you might want until you are happy with the color. Each pigment is different, so even for one same color, you might use a different number of coats with paints from different brands.

Phase 3: Details

Next step: working on the details. In our case, the eyes. First of all, it is washi tape removal time. Remove the washi tape by unsticking a corner, and the rest will follow. You must make sure the doll is dry so the paint won’t smudge to the protected area before tugging the washi tape off. Now you’ll have a colored figure with a slim rectangle on its face.

Add the eyes. I keep it very simple; I just add two dots. I like to make mine with paint markers because I feel more precise than using a paintbrush. Use your tool of choice 😉 Important tip! Markers – like acrylic markers or sharpies – can sometimes bleed into the woodgrain. I recommend making it very small and gentle. The smaller, the better because there is less risk of bleeding. (As you can see in my ninjas 😞 ).

After doing these ninjas, I tried something different with the clothespin peg doll. I went with an alternative method for the eyes that I might like even better. 

  1. First, with a pencil, I drew the location of where I wanted the eyes to go.
  2. Then, I took a thin brush and dipped the tip of the handle gently into some black paint.
  3. I tested pressure on a piece of paper, and when I was happy, I was ready for the doll.
  4. Finally, I marked the eyes with the end of the brush handle.
  5. Perfect eyes and no bleeding.

I’m gonna go with this method for eyes in the future.

You could leave your ninja just like this. It is super simple, but my son identified it as a ninja – so it is a ninja 😜

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If you wish, you could go one step further and add a belt or some ninja stars. You could either paint these or add them later with stickers and tape. I’ll add more ideas below.

Phase 4: Varnish

Varnishing is an essential step if you use acrylic paint. If you skip it, your doll will likely get dirty and lose its color very quickly. Trust me, I know. And your ninja might not keep its colors for long. So, after all the work, you want to make sure it lasts more than just one round of play.

Give it a coat of varnish with your paintbrush, and it will be dry in 15 minutes and ready to play.

And voilà, you have your ninja doll!

Vary it and make it more personal

As you can see, I’ve kept the design extremely simple but yet recognizable. You can make it as complex as you want and add more details or make the current ones different. To personalize it further, you could:

  • Paint the ninja’s skin – paint it yellow, and you have a Lego Ninja 
  • Make different eyes and add eyebrows
  • Add a belt – or lines for a jacket
  • Draw some ninja stars

You can search online or on Pinterest for more inspiration. There are fantastic creations out there that are just wonderful.

But to be frank – I left them plain and he just loved them. So you can paint some when they are asleep and you are watching a movie or an episode of something and by the end of they will be done.

Let your little one take part!

This design is a straightforward one. If you prep the peg doll correctly and ensure the washi tape is well stuck and secure, your little ones can paint the ninja doll by themselves. 

You won’t probably split the first coat into two parts if a toddler is involved. They will get their hands messy and paint all over, but they will feel proud once they see the final result. Then, you can either let them finish the second coat or do it yourself. 

I can assure you they will have a great time doing this with you. If you’d like some tips on how to prep for children to paint at home, you can check out this article. 

What can you do with your doll?

Peg dolls are not supposed to be toys for under 3-year-olds, and they usually serve more decorative purposes. They may chip if played roughly with them, but I don’t mind. I make them for them to play and have fun.

So here are some things you could do with them…

Use them to decorate the room….

Include them in your small world play and make them hide in cups and beakers…

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… on move quietly on kinetic sand and rocks…

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… or play on beans.

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You can even hide them under the beans and see if they can find them 😉

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They are nice to have around to spark some creative play.

I would suggest you avoid any type of play that might get the peg doll wet or moist. For example, do not use it to play in the tub or any kind of water play or play with water beads. They will very likely lose their paint and get ruined.

Easy peg doll ideas: a fantastic way to start

Once you start painting peg dolls, you will probably get hooked. This one is very easy but great to have around if your child enjoys all things about ninjas. While I was finishing off the ninja, he took some peg dolls and started creating with markers.

He felt he needed superheroes to play with the ninjas. Let me introduce you to the gang: Hulk, Captain America (I did the star), and Superman. Now they are ready to face any danger. 😂

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Honestly, seeing him get creative, excited, and proud with his result is priceless. It all happened because we did a ninja.

Happy creating & playing!

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Updated on: March 9, 2024

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