20 April 2014

How to design a unique set of Russian dolls

Today I'm going to tell you a bit about how to design some Russian dolls. You can pick up the blank wooden dolls fairly inexpensively many places online. Or if you find a cheap set of painted dolls in a charity shop you could try painting over them (I've haven't tried that yet, though, so I don't know how well it would work).

Here's how to get started.

1. Decide on a theme. This could be absolutely anything that interests you. Bear in mind how many dolls are in your set, and how you can fit your theme onto this number of dolls. I've done three sets of dolls so far - the first based on a Japanese fairytale (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter), the second on the theme of Little Red Riding Hood, and the third were based on a very simple flower design with each doll in a different pastel colour. One artist whose work I really admire is Irina Troitskaya who makes some amazing Russian dolls in animal designs.

2. Draw outline shapes of the dolls on paper (you could even draw round them) and sketch your ideas. It's a good idea to have two outlines for each doll, so you can draw the front and back of each doll. If your doll is going to have a face, it's a good idea to draw this first, then work the rest of the design around it. Work on your design until you are happy with it.

3. Draw the design onto the dolls (I like to paint the dolls with white paint or gesso first). Your pencil lines don't have to be exact, as you will be painting over them.

4. Paint the doll using paints of your choice. I like to use acrylic paints and emulsion paints (I often buy tester pots from the diy store for craft projects). You might need to use a few coats of paint. Make sure that any areas that extend over the join in the doll match up perfectly. You may need a very fine brush (and a steady hand) for painting the details of the dolls' faces.

5. Protect with varnish if desired. I like to use extra pale dead flat varnish, as it's pretty much invisible.

6. Admire your finished dolls!

Another project I'd really like to try with Russian dolls is painting them with blackboard paint. Not only would they look cool, but they would be an easy way of sketching designs for future dolls.


tomiannie said...

These are lovely!

Emma said...

Thank you :)

Alex said...

Excellent nesting dolls designs

Unknown said...

This was very helpful.. can't wait to get started

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