Of course, part of the fun of nesting dolls is that the traditional ones are often painted the same, so there is the delight of progressive miniaturisation (you know, the way smaller versions of things are always appealing?) As a child, I always most loved the tiniest doll, and I preferred the sets where she was (almost) as beautifully detailed as the largest mother-of-mothers.
For a beautifully eclectic and international collection of nesting dolls, click here to visit Ingrid's Nesting Doll site.
There are classic, realistic owls, like this beautiful set by Terry Savage, creating an odd family of a Snowy Owl, a Great Horned Owl, a Barn Owl, a Screech Owl and a little Saw Whet Owl still sitting in his eggshell (how cute!)
There are also strange, stylised owls, like these ones, which seem to capture an atmosphere of Russian folkiness with the use of black/gold colours, lace, tree imagery and a spooky skeleton as the final doll.
I discovered a whole world of extraordinary matryoshka artists, like Irina Troitskaya, who creates all kinds of dream-like animals in the form of nesting dolls. If only I could discover what was inside these owls...
I also love this set found in My Owl Barn's Flickr photostream: the funky, slighly 70s colours and forms and the characterful owls with big, stylised features are so appealing. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find out any more information about them so far. I'll update if I do.
*update* These amazing owls are from Things With Wings. You can find out more about them in this interview.
Finally, I'm not the only one in our household to be fascinated. Baby owl plays with his "poupée russe" (Russian doll) every day at the moment. He especially loves it when he opens a doll and a smaller one leaps out, it makes him laugh!