Quilled Babushkas

Licia Politis is a name you'll recognize if you're a longtime reader of this blog... I've featured several of her elaborate quilled art pieces in the past. Licia's most recent project is a set of babushka dolls that captured awards at this year's Sydney Royal Easter Show, as well as the North American and British Quilling Guild conventions.

Quilled Babouskas

Licia has been collecting Russian matryoshka dolls for years and thought it would be a challenge to make a nesting set from paper with quilled embellishments.

Quilled Babouska

To begin, she made six plasticine bodies in graduated sizes, covered each with plastic wrap, and glued on layers of newsprint paper maché.


When dry, she used a Stanley blade to cut a line around the widest part of the bodies. The plasticine models were removed and discarded, and the outside of each hollow half was painted a bright color.

Licia quilled the marquises for the head scarves first, and progressed to the bases where she added rows and rows of bandaging. This is a technique that can be found in antique quilled pieces and is very effective when using contrasting colors. 


Licia especially enjoyed creating the hand-painted faces because the features brought "the girls" to life. Tight coiling of paper strips creates tiny ridges, but applying a few thin coats of pva glue to the surface before painting allowed for the features to go on smoothly.

 Quilled Babouska

Next, the aprons were another tricky part of the process... gluing a flat piece of paper to a curved belly; then the scarf edges, decorations on the aprons and scarves, and lastly, hair.

The checkerboard base measures 15” x 4.5” (38cms x 11cms) and is covered with more than 1400 antique gold, half inch cylinders. Can you imagine?!  

Quilled Babouskas

Licia has affectionately named the well-traveled girls... Anastasia is the tallest at 5 inches, Ludmilla is 4 inches, Svetlana is 3 inches, Kristyana is 2 1/4 inches, Lidija is 1 3/4 inches, and the baby, Katya, is less than an inch!


Each girl is stabilized by a collar glued to the base. They could all stack inside one another if they weren't fastened down, and only the tiniest doll cannot be opened.


Here's Licia in Sydney at the Royal Easter Show where the girls took first prize and were awarded a position in the Showcase of Excellence. 


Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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