PhillyFolk Artists

Alma Luz Castro

Dollmaker (East Asian)

Alma Luz Castro grew up in Quezon City, Philippines. She spent her summers in Japan, where she learned doll-making and paper-folding from her father, grandparents, and other elders.

She continued to enjoy these traditional crafts, but began seriously making dolls in Philadelphia when, as a young mother, she was “looking for something productive to do.” She began studying French and Asian doll-making traditions, taking classes with different master artists, including Gago (master professor) Akiko Keene.

In addition to the oshie (three-dimensional paper folding mounted on mats), Ms. Castro now makes kami ningyo (Japanese paper dolls), kimekomi ningyo (Japanese miniature dolls), kusudama (pomanders – balls with 600 folds), oyama (adult dolls), and boxes. Her work is influenced by many sources: traditional practice, popular culture, books of historic costumes, what she sees others doing, and stories told to her by friends and family.

She has taught workshops at St. Matthew’s School, the Philadelphia Center for Books, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and St. Malachy’s. Her work has been featured in numerous articles in magazines on doll-making. Ms. Castro received a grant from the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts to present her dolls in a local Japanese arts festival.