diy wednesdays: nesting doll salt shakers

seven days in, and so far 2009 appears to be the year of de-cluttering and cooking (for us anyway). this project is a direct result of those current obsessions. it’s also a good example of the criteria we use when coming up with project ideas, that is, we hope whatever we make will be useful as well as pretty. well, in our most recent purge we came across these delightful blank nesting dolls. we’ve had them forever, but hadn’t figured out a treatment for them that wasn’t merely decorative, and thus “cluttery”. inspired by the fun shapes and colors of eva zeisel’s ceramic salt and pepper shakers, we fashioned a handy set of our own. click here for the full project, or just click “read more” below.

happy new year!
derek & lauren

[image above: eva zeisel’s ceramic salt and pepper shakers]

here’s what you’ll need:
-blank wooden nesting dolls (we used these)
-acrylic paint
-paint brushes
-power drill with a tiny bit (we used a 5/64)

1. paint the wooden dolls in a fun color palette.
2. after they’ve dried, mark where you want your holes with a pencil.
3. carefully drill the holes.
4. fill the bottom half of each doll with your favorite spices—salt, pepper, cinnamon sugar, parmesan cheese, etc.

  1. meg says:

    so cute!!

  2. Silvia says:

    These are super cute! Just a question though, when you turn them upside down to shake the salt out, wouldn’t the wooden dolls come apart and spill all the salt? I think it might be better if you glued them shut and cut a large hole from the bottom that you then place a rubber stopper on. Either that, or find some way to screw the dolls on so that they don’t come loose.

  3. Jill says:

    How do you make sure the tops are secure so they don’t come off in your soup? :) Is there a gluing or a fastening step I’ve missed?

  4. Kristan says:

    WHAT a cute idea!

  5. Bernadette says:

    What a great idea! My sister gave me the “Babuska” Salt & Pepper shakers from Anthropologie (a similar style, but ceramic), but this looks like a fun (and not terribly difficult) way to have the whole set!

  6. michelle says:

    the color scheme of those is fantastic!

  7. Mouse says:

    Great colors! Great idea, too. Thanks!

  8. jen says:

    derek & lauren come up with THE best DIY ideas.

  9. This is one of the best ideas I’ve seen! This would make a great gift…easy to personalize.

  10. Great idea – love them!

  11. mara says:

    holy cow! that’s fantastic!

  12. Rachel says:

    This is SUCH a fabulous idea, I love it! I have shakers for so many different garnishes and this way I could unify them all while making custom holes that allow for different materials. I love this! I’ll be linking in the Daily DIY.

  13. Meredith says:

    I’m so glad the matryoshka trend is still, well, a trend. So perfect.

  14. Chris says:

    Nice post. I accidently tossed one of our salt shakers last week and these caught my eye.
    Your blog is definitely worthy.

  15. Andrea says:

    I’ve had the same set of naked diy nesting dolls forever myself! In response to a lot of concerns about the tops staying on when you use your new shakers, they’re actually very snug fits. It’s not terribly easy to get them apart sometimes even, so to me this project looks successful all around!

    great idea!

  16. Elfya says:

    It’s like Barbapapas!

    So cute!

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Cute and clever!

  18. That is SUCH a great idea – and the possibilities are endless!

  19. mayaluna says:

    Couldn’t love this idea more!

  20. StephanieR says:

    Those green ones look like the green goo from “Flubber”

    I love these!

  21. Summer says:

    I LOVE this! AND…you can put more than just salt and pepper on the table since there are more than two – wonderful!

  22. Elfya – I love that you know about Barbapapas!!! Not enough folks do…
    Lauren & Derek, high five for yet another fantastic project!

  23. Dee says:

    These are great.

  24. Hannah says:

    agh so lovely! I will definitely do this.
    And dont worry, in my experience (err…I have about 40 nesting doll sets) they’re a pretty firm fit ;)
    Perhaps you could find a little catch that would screw in if you get a loose one?

  25. Wingnut says:

    To everyone wondering about the come-apart-ability of these…nesting dolls usually tend to be pretty snug. Normal use should be fine with them. If you have kids that like to throw things, however…

  26. Great colors! Great idea, too. Thanks!

  27. ArtMind says:

    I want to do this! Love it! THanks so much for sharing! :)

  28. Sarah says:

    Oh, so adorable! You could do this with decorated matryoshka dolls too, a set of little Russian ladies in the table would be sweet :) I am so going to try this!

  29. Bobbi says:

    I just purchased Russian nesting doll salt & pepper shakers at a resale store “Neat Stuff” here in Davenport, Iowa. The pepper is male and blue, the salt is female and red. The e-mail sticker on the bottom is but when I tried to send an e-mail to learn more about these salt and pepper shakers, it came back. Does anyone know about these? They are beautiful and I have nesting dolls, but have never seen salt and pepper shakers before. Thank you Bobbi

  30. Katherine says:

    Where can I get a set of these blank nesting dolls?


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.