For my last project on So You Think You're Crafty, I painted a set of Matryoshka Dolls. Also known as Russian Nesting Dolls, these sets of dolls traditionally represent motherhood.
I started out with a plain wooden set of matryoshka dolls. I spotted mine randomly in the clearance section of Urban Outfitters, but you can find sets online at Amazon.com or other online retailers (just do a google search).
First, paint two coats of your base color. I chose vibrant colors because I made this set with my toddler in mind.
Using round sponge brushes, paint a circle in a skin-toned color to make the face. The sponge brush won't give you a very tidy face, so use a brush to smooth out the paint, especially around the edges. Depending on the size of your sponge brush, you may need to enlarge your face circle, but it gives you a nice starting point.
Add a face, hair, clothing, and any other details. I used a ball-head sewing pin to paint most of my details, such as the doll's eyes, rosy cheeks, jewelry, buttons, polka dot patterns, scalloped hem, etc. For very tiny dots, like in the bow tie on the yellow doll, you can use the sharp tip of the pin. Just dip the pin generously with paint and place your dots. Very easy, and gives you a consistent dot. I painted other details with a fine tipped paint brush.
When you've painted all your details and the dolls have dried, give them a few coats of clear polyurethane varnish to protect the paint and give it a little shine.
And there you have it ... a custom set! I painted mine to look loosely like our family. The only real resemblance is the little Oscar (the green doll). I'm pretty sure Jared has never worn a bow tie, and I don't have a cute red and white polka dot apron (hmm ... maybe I should make one?). Oh yeah, and there are a few phantom children in there. Room to grow, I guess.
The fun part about this project is that you can paint a plain set of nesting dolls anyway you want. I choose to paint mine as a little family, but storybook characters, groups of animals, or a modern approach with only stripes or geometric designs would look great as well. Or, can you imagine a set of GLITTER dolls? ooh.
If you do this project, I'd really love to see pictures!