Matryoshka dolls

2012-07-29

This is my take on the matryoshka theme: Six women from all walks of line, nested one inside the other:

Of course, from a practical point of view, these dolls are somewhat lacking. As opposed to the ‘real’ matryoshka dolls made of wood, the paper version is very fragile and a bit finnicky to open and close (or else, you have to be careful that they don’t fit too loosely and fall apart).

However, I still like how they look on my shelf, and it’s a compact format to take on a short trip if you want to have a surprise for the kids ( I guarantee it will distract them for at least 2 minutes…).

The largest one – the farmer – is inspired by the traditional Russian matryoshka dolls:

The next one is a hipster music aficionada:

Next comes the scientist…

… followed by her more practically inclined friend, the astronaut:

Then we have true royalty – the princess:

And – for contrast – probably the most famous icon of the working class, Rosie the Riveter:

Ok, now if you want to make these, the templates are available below. They are fairly easy to make, however, the templates are not entirely self-explanatory. There are six parts for each doll: The top and bottom, which are two circles with flaps at the edges; and two parts each for the upper and lower body.

Start with the upper and lower body and make two cylinders. Move all four parts over a cylindrical object such as a thick pen, to give the paper the right curvature:

Use the thicker blank strip and glue it to the inside of the lower body part. Make sure that it is offset against the left / right edge of the outer (colored) strip, so that both eventually form a stable cylinder:

The inner part should slightly protrude from the outer cylinder – this will go inside the upper body part when closing the doll. It does not align with the bottom but starts a few millimeters above the bottom. This will leave room for the flaps of the bottom circle.

For the upper part, do the same – glue the blank part into the printed part, forming another cylinder. 

Here, the inner part should leave some space both at the top (for the flaps) and at the bottom (to accept the protruding part of the lower body when closing the doll.

Now, the most difficult part is to get the two cylinders to fit nicely into each other without being too loose (otherwise the dolls will keep falling apart). This may take a bit of experimentation. I suggest you make the lower body cylinder first, then adjust the circumference of the upper body accordingly.

Once you have both cylinders, insert the bottom and top circles and glue them into the cylinders.

Here are the templates:

You may disagree with the order of the dolls. If you do – and want to change it – print the templates with different scaling. In that case, it is useful to know that each doll is 85% the size of the next larger one. So, if for example you want to switch places of the scientist and the astronaut, print the scientist at 85% of her original size and the astronaut at 117.6% (1/85%).

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