Thursday, December 17, 2009


A matryoshka doll is also known as a Russian nested doll or babushka doll. The set of typically wooden dolls is of decreasing sizes which fit one inside the other. The word "matryoshka" (матрёшка) is derived from the Russian female first name "Matryona" (Матрёна). The word "babushka" is the Russian word for grandmother.

Matryoshka dolls are said to have been inspired by souvenir dolls from Japan. The concept of nested objects was familiar in Russia at that time, having been applied to carved wooden apples and Easter eggs. They date from the 1890's and consist of a wooden figure which separates, top from bottom, to reveal another figure of the same sort inside, which has, in turn, another figure inside of it, and so on. The number of nested figures is usually five or more. The form is approximately cylindrical, with a rounded top for the head, tapering toward the bottom, with little or no protruding features; the dolls have no hands (except those that are painted). Traditionally the outer layer is a woman, dressed in a sarafan. The figures inside may be of either gender; the smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby, and does not open. The artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be extremely elaborate. Matryoshka dolls are often designed to follow a particular theme, for instance peasant girls in traditional dress, but the theme can be anything, from fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders.

The first Russian nested doll set was carved by Vasiliy Zvezdochkin (from a design by Sergei Maliutin), who was a folk crafts painter in the Abramtsevo estate of the Russian industrialist and patron of arts Savva Mamontov. The doll set was painted by Maliutin himself. Maliutin's design was inspired by a set of Japanese wooden dolls representing Shichi-fuku-jin, the Seven Gods of Fortune. Maluitin's doll set consisted of eight dolls -- the outermost was a girl holding a rooster, six inner dolls were girls, the fifth doll was a boy, and the innermost was a baby. In 1900, Savva Mamontov's wife presented the dolls at the World Exhibition in Paris, and the toy earned a bronze medal. Soon after, matryoshki dolls were being made in several places in Russia.

I've long been fascinated by Imperialist Russian history and art. I am a student of the work of Peter Carl Faberge and a collector of eggs. The beauty in art, textiles, sculpture, jewelry molding, fashion, and other areas of Czarist Russia is truly breathtaking in its scope and grandeur. Wassily Kandinsky is another artist of the period that I adore.

When I saw the early sample images of the new Cricut cartridge "Paisley", I was immediately drawn to the images of several matryoshka dolls. Of course, the entire cartridge is filled with delightful, whimsical images, but the matryoshka sold me immediately.

Of course, I was dying to make a card with one of the pieced images. This card was my first attempt--and I have to say it holds a special place in my heart. For some reason, every now and again, the crafting muses align perfectly and a project has just the right combinations of colors, textures, and design elements. For me, this card is one of those watershed moments.

The matryoshka image is cut at 3.75" on the Cricut Expression and consists of several layered pieces. The solid cardstocks are all textured Bazzill papers. The decorative paper for the mat and outer matryoshka layer is from Die Cuts With A View. The card base is an A2 piece of Stardream Fuse Mica cardstock in Ruby. The ribbon is 1/2" satin Stampin' Up! in Real Red. I also used the Stampin' Up! tag corner punch on both the card base and mat in all four corners. The crimson pearls are from Jennie Bowlin Studio and the inner journaling shield is from K & Co. The layers were adhered with SNAIL adhesive and the matryoshka is elevated with Stampin' Up! dimensionals. It's a very simple, yet strikingly elegant layout.


Anonymous said...

i too am FASCINATED by imperial russia, russian history and especially russian. i have been obssessed with faberge since childhood and new as soon as i saw the babushka dolls on this cart i HAD to have it!! wonderful wonderful card!

Claire said...

Hi Albert! And SU just came out with a Matryoshka set too, in the Occasions Mini! these must be trendy now.

LJ said...

I love this! I had one of these doll sets as a child, which I passed on to my own daughter who loved it equally as much. They are so fascinating, aren't they? Thanks for the great stuff you do.