The traditional Russian nesting dolls, called matryoshka, are most often decorated with paintings of women in babushkas.
While these are very beautiful and highly desired by collectors, in recent years all sorts of new and different dolls have become available.
You can now order custom nesting dolls in a wide range shapes, sizes, and designs, or you can simply pick up the materials needed to make your own unique matryoshkas.
Now the range of nesting dolls available is limited only by your imagination.
Why a Custom Set?
Custom dolls are great gifts for any special occasion:
- Mother’s Day: Give mom a set that resembles all of her children.
- Father’s Day: Give dad a set that depicts a favorite hobby or sports team.
- Graduation: A set representing the college or field of choice is perfect for a recent graduate.
- Wedding: The happy couple can put a set on each table as favors for guests to take home or to leave behind with a gift inside for the couple.
Make Your Own vs Ordering a Custom Set
There are unpainted nesting dolls sets available online as well as in most craft stores, which anyone can decorate themselves. Most of these sets come with paints and brushes. Amazon has blank sets that come in all shapes and sizes.
Making nesting dolls is also a great activity for children. They can make them to collect or as gifts for friends and family.
The upside of do-it-yourself nesting dolls is the range of flexibility one has for the theme and images, though a little time and effort is required to make them look great.
You can also commission a set from a professional rather than making it yourself. The drawback to this is the turnaround time, as a set ordered from an artist or company can take weeks to arrive. They can also be quite pricey, with basic sets often starting at $100 while more detailed sets can go for $500 and above.
Every Shape and Style
There are countless varieties of custom nesting dolls available. You can find them for every occasion, from Easter eggs to nativity scenes for Christmas.
Some dolls are painted, some are carved, and some are decorated using decoupage. Many companies take requests for specific styles, shapes and sizes.
There are a lot of options when it comes to the depiction on each doll.
It depends, mostly, on who is doing the customizing. Some crafters will accept photos from the customer that they either transfer onto the dolls or use as a reference in painting the dolls.
These images can be of anything, including people, symbols, logos, scenery, quotes, or verses.
Some companies work strictly from a list of prepared designs, though often these lists are extensive.
There are even some companies who will customize a message inside of the doll(s) for an extra charge.
Nesting Doll Themes
These dolls can be made with almost anything in mind.
A great gift for a young person would be one with their favorite fairy tales depicted on it.
For the adult gift recipient, there are sets with images of politicians, movie stars, singers and athletes.
Themes can also be based on places, like a favorite travel destination or one’s home state, events as global as the Olympics or as personal as a promotion.
Every non-profit organization and school is on the lookout for creative ways to raise money. Nesting dolls can provide two ways of raising funds for any group.
First, nesting dolls decorated with the organization's logo or images which represent their cause can be sold or auctioned at a fundraising event.
Second, decorated nesting dolls can be set out on guest tables at charity or school events where philanthropic attendees can tuck cash or check donations inside the dolls.
Shop for an Artist
Nesting doll art is as varied as the styles and shapes available.
Even the traditional, babushka-style Russian doll sets differ greatly from one another depending on the artist and artistic influence of the time and culture.
Today, there are thousands of nesting doll artists crafting unique dolls around the world, and many commercial companies as well, so finding someone to make custom dolls takes little more than an Internet search.
However, it may be more difficult to find an artist whose work matches your tastes and specifications. For instance, some artists specialize in traditional Russian maryoshka art. Others prefer to work strictly in decoupage and do not paint dolls.
It is important to research and compare previously made products before making a final decision.
Purchasing Custom Nesting Dolls
Some varieties of nesting dolls are available at craft stores and gift shops, though the selection is usually quite limited.
However, there is an endless supply of custom nesting doll sets available on the internet. Amazon alone has access to millions of sets.
There are other sites that offer custom nesting dolls as well:
- The Golden Cockerel has a long standing reputation for quality products and features a wide selection of dolls. However, they do not offer hand-painting or personal customization.
- Russian Legacy does offer personalized and hand-painted dolls. They have a wide range of styles and themes to choose from and the artwork is very well done.
- The Russian Network offers a mix of the previous two sites as they will customize an existing design from their list by imposing a client-provided photo into it.
Truly Unique and Tasty
If the above options didn’t suit your needs, perhaps chocolate will do the trick. That's right, there are even nesting dolls made out of chocolate.
Viktoria Richards Chocolates makes two different varieties of chocolate matryoshkas. Lindt also occasionally has a chocolate nesting doll set available.
With all of the options available and so many avenues for obtaining custom nesting dolls, the possibilities are endless for entertaining, educating, and simply enjoying these wonderful little delights.