Star Wars Nesting Dolls

With an interest in Star Wars recently being reawakened (pun intended), some of us never actually fell asleep in the first place. Today I thought I’d share with you a set of wooden Star Wars nesting dolls, otherwise known as matryoshkas, that I painted while floating down a lazy Russian waterway two years ago.


The Skywalker family
The Skywalker family in happier times.


In 2014, I was seeing the sights in Russia for about sixteen days by way of a river cruise ship. From Moscow to St. Petersburg and everything in-between, we sailed the rivers, lakes, & canals of that beautiful country.

On one travel day up on the social deck, the tour guides explained to us the art of matryoshkas. They had many amazing examples of ornately painted dolls, and in our travels we even saw strange ones like a set of Vladimir Putin dolls, Bart Simpson dolls, Winnie the Pooh, and in a little out of the way village I saw a set with the San Antonio Spurs players on them. (I am suspicious that none of those were officially licensed products.)

Our entertainment director gave us a little set of unpainted wooden dolls along with paints that we could use to decorate them ourselves. Each doll had a design of a matronly Russian woman etched into it with a wood burner, so all of us were painting the same basic design. Colors and embellishments were up to us.


Front and back of my old lady nesting doll.
Front and back of my old lady nesting doll.


After having painted my old Russian woman first, I was looking at the overall shape and thought, “Hmm, this looks like Darth Vader.” I mentioned my funny observation to one of the tour guides who went off and found another set that didn’t have the etching burned into it too deeply. So I took it to my cabin and proceeded to work on it in secret. I say “secret,” because they announced that this was to be a competition among the passengers to see who painted the best matryoshka.

Something the other passengers didn’t know was that I was also working on a painting in my cabin for an art show when I returned to Los Angeles (CLICK HERE to read about that). This means I had some decent paints and brushes with me that were a tad bit better than the craft store kiddie supplies that came with the dolls, and I wasn’t afraid to use them.


These were all the entries in the nesting doll competition.
These were all the entries in the nesting doll competition.


Later, the dolls entered in the contest were put on display for all to vote on. It was funny, but to walk past the array, you could hear some of the ladies commenting on the Star Wars entry, “Oh, that’s not fair. She didn’t paint them like the design!” I was now a “she” because I guess they didn’t notice any men painting during the group session.


I think this is when Luke kissed Leia, and 'ol Darthy boy was using the Force.
See, Luke would have never kissed Leia if it hadn’t been for ‘ol Darthy boy hiding in the shadows using the Force on them while chuckling to himself.


Well, when the awards ceremony took place a couple of nights later after dinner, all were waiting with baited breath to see who the winner was. I must admit, I was a bit on the edge of my seat, too. They called out a third place, a second place, and then………the Skywalker family did not win first place. However, my old lady matryoshka did!!

I only won a mug, but it was my sweet cup of victory!