- I'm Doing...
- About Me/Contact
How to Make Matryoshka - Russian Nesting Dolls - with Gourds
Submitted by Pam on Sat, 09/25/2010 - 01:09
Happy 90 Days until Christmas! "90 Days Until Christmas" is a big holiday at my house because it is the official kick-off to the "getting ready for the winter holidays"!
I am celebrating by putting up my 90 day count down to Christmas calendar and putting the final coat of spray on my Matryoshka ornament...
and this set of Matryoshka - Russian nesting dolls - made from gourds.
I have been having way too much fun with this project! Which is a surprise as I have been putting it off for at least three years.
I promised a tutorial a few days ago in the Folk Art Giveaway post!
And, since it is the time of year to pick up some lovely gourds at local farms or farmers markets, now is the perfect time for you to make your own Russian nesting dolls!
Except for the tiny 2" jewelry gourd, I picked these up at the Pumpkin Patch. However, if you don't have access to gourds, you can order them from Amish Gourds (east coast), or Wellborn Gourd Farm (west coast) , or Northern Dipper Gourd Farm in Canada.
Bottle gourds are probably the best gourd shape to use for this particular project. And, if you want them to nest, be sure they will fit inside each other.
This may take a bit of guess work, so you might want to pick up a few extras. You can always use the extras for ornaments or gifts!
A word about leaving some areas of the gourd surface exposed and unpainted.
Although my original intention was to paint the entire surface of the gourd, using flesh color for the face and a color that would contrast with the robe on the "tummy", once I began working, I decided to leave these parts of the gourd unpainted.
This is a personal choice, one born of a love for the uneven coloration on gourd surfaces. But it may not work for everyone. Even I was a little disappointed that the acrylic spray darkened the face of the largest doll.
If you choose to paint the face and tummy areas, do so between steps 5 and 6. I would suggest applying two coats of paint.
Materials needed for making Matryoshka
Bottle gourd - three to five
Acrylic Paint - I recommend Plaid Folk Art Acrylic Paints
Paint brushes - broad to fine
Pencil and eraser
Acrylic Spray - gloss or matt
To clean and cut the gourd - see below
I have to tell you that I am not thrilled with the cuts I made in my smaller gourds - they are pretty uneven. I think I have been used to working with larger gourds and used just too much "power" while cutting. The smaller bottle gourds are a bit more fragile than the larger gourds, so keep that in mind when you are cutting.
Slowly and carefully - just keep those words in mind while cutting.
1. Once you have cut and cleaned your gourd, put the two halves back together and tape into place with a couple pieces of masking tape.
2. Draw the outline of the doll's robe (large red or purple areas covering the back and top and bottom in the photos at the top).
3. Paint along the edge of the line. Taping the hemispheres together will insure that the edges of the robe will match where they meet at the cutting line.
4. Let the paint dry about 20 minutes and then remove the tape and continue painting the entire robe area. Trust me, these are much easier to handle while painting the robe if the gourd is in two pieces.
Note: Painting the robe on an uncut gourd is a bit more challenging because there is the pesky little problem of where to hold it! Paint all of the robe area, but leave a bit at the top and the bottom area unpainted. These can be painted after the robe area is dry.
TIP! I found little squares of wax paper worked wonderfully well for holding dabs of paint. When I was finished using a particular color, I would fold the paper in half and toss.
5. Once the first robe coat has dried for at least an hour, apply a second coat.
For most of the designs, I only used one coat of paint. But for this large surface area, and especially on a gourd with dark stains on the surface, a second coat will give you a beautiful, even finish.
6. Tape your gourd hemispheres back together making certain the edges of the robe match up.
Note: Originally I taped them back together just to be certain that my designs would match from one side of the cut line to the other. But I soon found out that it was also MUCH easier to paint the designs holding a whole gourd rather than half of a gourd!!
7. Now the fun begins! Using your pencil, draw your design onto the surface area not covered by the robe. Mistakes will easily erase.
(If you would like, you are more than welcome to copy my designs if you are having trouble coming up with something.)
8. Begin painting!
Note: There are no rules! But, because acrylic paint tends to dry very quickly, I did find that it was easiest for me to work with one color at a time.
9. To avoid smearing, let the painted designs dry completely between different color applications.
Note: Once the acrylic is dry, you can actually draw on it! So, if you would like to create a little design along the edge of your Matryoshka robe - or decorate the entire robe for that matter, you can do so. Just draw on your design. And, if you need to erase something, you can - without disturbing the paint. Let the paint dry a full hour before drawing on it.
10. Paint the face! For those of you who might need guidance in this department - like I do - Joanie (Nini Makes) has provided this very helpful tutorial for doll face painting. I hate to even think of what my doll faces would look like without her help.
Sometimes I see Matryoshka with their little eyes closed. These are much easier!
If you read the previous post about Folk Art Acrylic, you might remember the little apron I painted on the 2" gourd.
Almost done! Just a bit of paint here and there.
11. Let your dolls sit overnight so that the paint can completely dry.
12. Spray with acrylic spray - matt, satin or gloss - whatever your preference.
Gourds usually require two to three coats of gloss to achieve a very glossy finish. Matt spray - one coat is usually sufficient for protection.
Although I seldom use gloss on gourd projects, I really wanted a high gloss look on my little nesting dolls.
TIP: I found that egg cartons make great holders for spraying little items like these that may need a bit of support or need to sit at an odd angle when sprayed.
To hang your ornament, drill or make a small hole with an ice pick in the top of the gourd. Insert an eye screw.
As always, if you have questions, please ask! I will try to help.
Added 9/29: Andy asked a very good question. Apparently I didn't make myself clear on this point. I did not cut the gourd I used for the tree ornament (shown at the top of the post).
I am hoping to see your gourd Matryoshka in my flickr pool!