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Painting Your Own Nesting Dolls

Updated on July 2, 2014

The Creative Possibilities Are Truly Endless

This year I took up a new random hobby painting nesting dolls.

Inspiration to paint my own struck me a few months ago when I saw some really inexpensive sets being sold as kits for children in the local HobbyCraft (now discontinued). They were supposed to be cows and I realized that they were really blank slates, and I could make them into anything I wanted to. So I bought one set, erased the markings on them and turned them into fairies.

The whole process took me about 10 hours from start to finish, spread over two days and I really loved the way that they came out, so I purchased a couple more sets.

Now those sets are painted too, and I am finding the whole activity a bit addictive.

Below I have showcased all of the dolls I have painted (so far) and I've provided some tips I've worked out myself, as well as information regarding where you could purchase blank dolls for your own crafting activities.

Here is the very basic process that I use when I paint my dolls.

1. First prime all the parts individually with white acrylic paint. Priming will probably take a few thin layers. This gives you a nice base coat for paint to adhere to and since the wood may swell a bit once paint is applied, it also gives you an opportunity to seal the wood and sand it down without ruining your design.

2. Once the primed dolls are completely dry, sand away any ugly bulges and re-prime if necessary.

3. After they're all white and shaped you can sketch a design on with pencil if that's part of your creative process (it is for me). The pencil should erase easily if you make a mistake and it's all going to be covered up by paint anyway so don't worry if you mess up or if it smudges.

4. Once the design is on you can start applying paint. This part isn't really something I can describe step by step. You'll probably already know the way that you want it to look and which colors you want to use but if you do change your mind, it's all good. You can paint right over the dried acrylic paint, it's very forgiving that way.

5. Once the dolls are completed and totally dry, you can seal them with some spray on varnish. (preferably outdoors)

That's pretty much it. The painting stage for me (after priming) lasts about 2 days between all the different layers and experimentation.

One final tip to remember is to separate the tops and bottoms after each layer of paint dries. If you apply too much paint before cracking them apart you run the risk of gluing them together. There is also a risk of paint coming off in chunks if too many layers are being disturbed at once.


Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint Tube 36-Piece Set
Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint Tube 36-Piece Set

Acrylic paints are incredibly forgiving and versatile. I use them all the time and I don't have a favorite brand. If you've never used them before, starting with a set like this might suit you and then you can just replace the colors that you use the most with larger tubes as and when you need them.

I mix a lot of my own colors however there are a few that come out best straight from a tube!

DecoArt DASK268 Dazzling Metallics Sample Pack
DecoArt DASK268 Dazzling Metallics Sample Pack

Glitter paint, glow in the dark paint and metallics are all part of my creative arsenal.

I especially love metallics and these paints specifically, are wonderful.

They just need a good hard shake before use.

Testors Premium 3-Pack Round Sable Paint Brushes, Colors Vary
Testors Premium 3-Pack Round Sable Paint Brushes, Colors Vary

You will need a larger paint brush for your priming (or it will take you ages) and for laying down wide ares of paint, however something that I've found to be completely essential when paining my nesting dolls is at least one very fine tipped brush for the detail work.

Krylon K01303A07 Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating Aerosol Spray, 6 Ounce
Krylon K01303A07 Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating Aerosol Spray, 6 Ounce

Once the dolls are painted, be sure to seal them with some spray on varnish!


Where To Buy Blank Nesting Dolls

Local Craft Stores

Internet Based Craft Stores




Creativity for Kids Playful Pets Nesting Dolls
Creativity for Kids Playful Pets Nesting Dolls

These kits are great for children or adults.

Even if you don't want to follow the kit sometimes you will find the kits are cheaper than the blanks on their own, so even if you intend to apply your own design you could make a kit like this work for you by sanding off the markings and priming the dolls.


You may find some fantastic bargains with eBay auctions. I buy a lot of my crafting supplies from eBay however, as of yet I haven't purchased any dolls. The main thing you want to look out for when you're buying anything from eBay is the seller's feedback and if there is any negative feedback, see what the reasons were.

My Painted Nesting Dolls (so far)


Click thumbnail to view full-size


Click thumbnail to view full-size

Lilo & Stitch

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Mother Of Dragons

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As I paint more sets I will continue to expand and update this page.

I have one more blank set right now, it's my first set of 5 and I'm still deciding what sort of design I want to apply to them. I'm considering an insect theme. I'd also like to get some more sets of 3 for Disney designs.

All of the sets I have painted will pass to my daughter when she's old enough to care for them, hopefully she likes nesting dolls!

Thanks for reading, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.


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    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

      Great photos. Addictive hobby? I totally believe you!

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 3 years ago

      love the Cthulhus!

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      Nicely done, you have a great talent! They are beautiful.