Matryoshka dolls have been around for almost a hundred years, traveling the entire world. The country which made these pieces of art famous is Russia, even though the concept of doll inside another doll is of Chinese origin. If you like nesting dolls, you don’t have to go on a tour to Moscow to purchase them, because many artists master the art of crafting these interesting figurines. However, if you take some time and compare nesting dolls manufactured in different countries, surely you will able to distinguish and notice the particularities of Russian nesting dolls. Here are the basics steps in the process of making matryoshka dolls, which can help you look for clues when searching for quality merchandise.
Real artists know that basswood is the proper material for these dolls, because it is very light. Russian nesting dolls are easy in spite of their number. The wood is collected in the Spring time, specifically in April. The bark is peeled off carefully, because it can easily crack, becoming unfit for carving. It is stocked in piles, leaving it to dry off for a period of two years. The trick is to know exactly when the basswood is ready for use and an experienced craftsman will tell you this just by looking at it. After the wood is prepared, it must be cut down into pieces, but the secret it to complete all the nesting dolls from the same one, because each linden tree has its own specific properties, so making matryoshka dolls from different trees will make it hard from them to fit inside each other. This is an aspect that not all artists know of, it is a secret that is passed down from one generation to the next.
To sculpt the nesting dolls you need a turning lathe and proper carving instruments. The smallest doll is the one you have to begin with. Its measurements will give the shape and size of the entire set of dolls. The only problem is that this entire process is based only on intuition and skills, there are no instructions to follow. When the job is finished, the matryoshka dolls will be white, because this is the color of bass wood. The sculptor applies oil on the surface, in order to be sure that the dolls won’t crack any time soon. So far, skills and techniques were the only aspects which mattered. Imagination is important when coming up with the proper design, meaning theme, colors and shapes. The traditional nesting dolls are the ones which reproduce Russian costumes, so artists from this part of the world will follow this pattern and choose culture as their main theme. Gouache was used in the early days and this is a form of watercolor. However, painting the dolls with this substance is rather difficult and nowadays artists use tempera. In this matter, only time will tell if you bought real Russian nesting dolls, as proper paint lasts for a long time. Matryoshka dolls are a great souvenir and they mark the history of a culture. It is not something you buy and then store away in a box, because having such an object can bring your home a traditional look.