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.


Monkeying Around

There is something just so darn adorable about this monkey! Every time I see him hanging around, I can’t help but smile.

The cardstock base is from DCWV ‘Safari’ stack. The card mat is Bazzill Bling cut with a Stampin’ Up! Exclusive Top Note die and the Sizzix Big Shot. The monkey is a Sizzix Bigz Die (#655356 by artist Debi Adams) cut out of textured Bazzill cardstock. The greeting is a stamp from the Stampin’ Up! ‘A Little Somethin” stamp set. I used a corner rounder on the card and inked the edges with a chamomile tea stain. Oh, and yes, the monkey is upside down on purpose…just hangin’ around.

No matter where today finds you and your tail, keep smiling…and most importantly, keep crafting!

Give’m That Ol’ Razzle Dazzle…

If you are anything like me, you’re submersed in the wonderful world of gift wrapping, last-minute gifts, and decorating every nook and cranny of your home…and loving every second of it. Somehow, in all the madness, I’ve still found a few minutes here and there to work on a few projects (and of course, buy more supplies). We even had a surprise light dusting of snow on the grounds as December rolled in. It’s been years since we’ve had an honest-to-goodness White Christmas in my neck of the woods, but a boy never stops dreaming.

For today’s quick card project, I have to say that I’m slightly disappointed that I didn’t have more time to fidget with the camera to try and get some better shots of this card. It was my first time experimenting with the Stampin’ Up! Heat & Stick Powder and the Dazzling Diamonds glitter. Let me just assure you that these pictures do a poor job of getting the glitz across. If you are a bling junkie, you really need to play with some of these wonderful powders and potions.

The base of this A2-sized card is a piece of decorative cardstock from SEI’s ‘Glitzmas’ collection. I used a 4 1/2″ x 4″ piece of Stampin’ Up! Whisper White cardstock to create the mat for the card. Both the card base and mat had the corners removed with the SU! Ticket Corner punch.

I ran my white cardstock through my Sizzix Big Shot using the “Christmas Ornaments” Cuttlebug embossing folder. I then used a sponge dauber to apply Tsukineko Memento ink in “Lady Bug” to the embossed front. After the ink was set, I used a VersaMark pad to coat the raised portions of the embossing. Then it was time to sprinkle with Heat & Stick powder and get out the heat gun. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the powder applies wonderfully and melts with minimum heat. As soon as my adhesive powder was melted, I scooped some Dazzling Diamonds glitter across the top, shook off the excess and reheated a bit for a final set.

For the greeting, I used my SU! scalloped circle and circle punches, pieces of Riding Hood Red and Whisper White cardstock, some Tsukineko ink in “Cottage Ivy” and a stamp from the Stampin’ Up! set ‘Holiday Best’. (If you’ll notice, I sort of missed the mark on my stamping job–but I convinced myself that it gave the piece the illusion of being a round ornament, lol). Sometimes mistakes do add a bit of charm to the finished project–or so I tell myself.

Before I leave you for a pile of bows and tape dispensers, I thought I’d share a sneak peak of a home decor project that I’m working on. I think it’s coming along nicely…and I’ll share the completed project soon.

Wherever the day finds you, keep warm and more importantly, keep your heart warm…and keep crafting!