Sunday, March 12, 2017 - Sergiev Posad: Matryoshka factory, Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, Toy MuseumToday was a very special day for me. I have been collecting matryoshka nesting dolls since I was five years old. When we decided to come to Russia, Craig worked with Cody from Abercrombie & Kent to add an extra day to the set itinerary so that we could visit a matryoshka factory. We drove for about an hour outside of Moscow to the Golden Ring town of Sergiev Posad, where the first Russian matryoshka was created. It continues to be a center of production for the dolls over a century later.
Olga pointed out various sights of interest along the ride. On weekdays, there are labor markets on the side of the 4th Moscow Ring Road, where day laborers wait and hope to be hired.
In the old days, people used to walk the 70 kilometers from Moscow to Sergiev Posad for pilgrimages to the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, the town's namesake. Catherine the Great commissioned pipes to bring spring water from the outskirts of Moscow town to the fountain in front of the Bolshoi theater. People would collect it and stand along the sides of the road with samovars, offering hot tea to travelers for free, and selling them food.
We passed Korolyov Scientific Center, where there is an impressive titanium statue of a rocket taking off. Rockets were invented by Germans but adapted and developed by Russians. The center's namesake, Korolyov, was a very smart scientist. He was sent to a gulag by Stalin, but during World War II, the Soviet government needed his expertise to compete in the space race with the USA and Germany. They released him from the gulag and he contributed to many advancements in the Soviet space program.
A partial list of Russian space firsts:
After Korolyov's success sending Yuri Gagarin into space, a town was named after him, and the center for space exploration is located there. Korolyov refused the free housing offered to him by the government, opting instead to take a private house near the science center. He would work at all hours, and this would make his commute easy. He suggested the monument of a rocket. The designers originally wanted to make the vapor trail out of glass, but Korolyov suggested using titanium instead, the same material that they used for the rockets themselves. The statue is known as the "Monument to the Conquerors of Space."
Olga tells us that there are many interesting space-related activities in this area, including a museum of objects that have survived re-entry into the atmosphere.
We passed another interesting statue called "Worker and Kolkhoz (collective farm) Woman". It was created out of stainless steel by Vera Mukhina for the Soviet Pavilion at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. The male worker holds a hammer aloft, and the female collective farmer holds a sickle.
As we got further northeast of Moscow on a 5 lane highway, the landscape became more rural, with forests and farms. There were groves of beautiful birch trees, and there was snow on the ground. A-frame and gambrel dachas (country houses), styled after those in the Netherlands dotted the landscape. City dwellers buy these as holiday homes. Olga explained that her sister and family own one which is 120 km from Moscow. They go every single weekend, even though it can often take 5 hours to drive there due to the horrendous traffic.
Olga explained why some look back with a degree of nostalgia on Soviet times. For all of the bad, there was some genuine good. People felt like they were all in it together, and friendships were more sincere. People helped their neighbors.
People lived in apartment buildings, and would grow an excess of cabbages and potatoes in the autumn. They would pickle them on their balconies so that they would keep through the winter.
We arrived at Sergiev Posad and our first stop was Master Arts Matryoshka Factory. Today the factory mostly gives demonstrations. There were rows of tables set up with blank nesting dolls, paints, and water. Forty schoolchildren would be coming soon to paint their own matryoshkas. Olga told us that although we couldn't paint here ourselves, we would have a chance to do it this afternoon at the toy museum.
Master Arts has a small staff and produces far fewer dolls than it once did. But they still do produce dolls, and they had several displaycases of their work for sale. I was happy to see this, as I certainly wanted to add to my collection. Irina, an artist, was our guide. She told us about the history of matryoshka dolls in Russia.
The Russians first saw nesting dolls in the 1890's, when a set was brought here from Japan by a merchant's wife. The merchant believed that the dolls could be used to teach children about other cultures. He and his wife had a dacha in the Sergiev Posad area, an area with a rich history of toy-making (even its namesake St. Sergius was known to produce toys).
When they showed the doll to Vasily Zvyozdochkin, a Sergiev Posad toymaker, he decided to make a Russian variant. Sergey Malyutin painted it. Although the Japanese doll had been slim, they made the Russian doll more stocky and healthy, and painted it to honor hard-working Russian women. At the time, Matryona was the most popular Russian women's name, so the dolls became known as matryoshkas (the diminuitive form of Matryona).
The dolls became quite popular and soon many workshops started to produce them in Sergiev Posad. Other regions in Russia soon jumped on the bandwagon, painting different regional variations. At the time, a set of matryoshkas cost over twice as much as a kilo of caviar.
The Russian matryoshkas were exhibited at the Paris World's Fair in 1900 and won a bronze medal. Sergiev Posad toy factories began to get commissions from around the world. By 1910, there were 15 workshops in Sergiev Posad which produced 40 different styles of doll, including some specifically for Christmas.
Production continued even in Soviet times (when Sergiev Posad was known as Zagorsk). The dolls branched out from their peasant representations on the anniversary of Gogol's birth, when an artisan created a matryoshka which depicted characters from his books. In the 1980's they branched out into political figures, sports stars, etc. The good folks at Master Arts view dolls of political figures or sports stars as sacrilege, and prefer variations on the original family theme.
Nowadays, there are well-known artists who specialize in different styles, depicting fairy tales, Russian architecture, etc. Most sets of dolls have 3, 5, 7, or 10 dolls, but in 1967, the largest set of Sergiev Posad dolls was created containing 68 pieces! Today there are 10 matryoshka workshops still operating in Sergiev Posad.
The dolls are made of locally sourced linden wood which has been dried for 2 years in t he open air. The process of making a doll consists of 15 steps. At the workshop, a craftsman named Vladim demonstrated how to create the shape using the core of a linden log, a lathe, and hand-made shaping chisels. The smallest doll is made first, and so on up to the largest.
We watched as Vladim expertly shaped the dolls with his heavy duty chisels. Confetti-like curlicues of linden floated off of the doll, and it soon achieved the archetypal matryoshka shape. Vladim also managed some sleight of hand. We saw him shape what we assumed was a solid doll, expecting him to hollow it out later. Yet somehow, when he extracted the doll from the lathe, there was already a smaller doll inside it. It was a great magic trick, and we still don't understand how it was executed. Both of our dads were skilled woodworkers, and we were excited to see Vladikm's artistry.
Since we were such a small group, we were invited into the lacquer room. This was a small storage room where a woman named Natasha was coating painted dolls with lacquer. The room is tiny and packed with dolls in various stages of lacquering. We can see why it is impossible to take larger groups in here. Natasha seemed delighted to be able to demonstrate her work for us. It's a messy job, and she looked adorable wearing fleece cartoon pajamas as work clothes.
She sticks the bottom of the doll onto a nail so that she can coat the entire surface. We had always assumed that the pinhole on the bottom of my nesting doll was some artifact of the lathe, but it was actually from the painting/lacquering process! Each doll takes 3-5 coats of lacquer, with a day of drying time in between. She sands the dolls in between coats.
We thanked Natasha, and then headed back to the main room. We watched an artist named Aliona painting replicas of the first-ever Russian matryoshka. This was a motif of a peasant family, with the outer doll holding a rooster. This style of doll is not lacquered; instead it is waxed giving it a matte finish. Water-based acrylic paints are used to decorate the dolls. My mother is a talented decorative painter, and I knew she would be interested to hear all about it.
The display cases contained a variety of different types of dolls: traditional maiden dolls, chime dolls, and bottle holders. There were matryoshka Christmas ornaments, magnets, and keychains. There were also wooden music boxes shaped like the Kremlin. I enjoyed shopping here at the conclusion of the demonstration. The prices here were much more affordable than in the souvenir shops of Moscow. I was like a kid in a candy store, and bought a few pieces for myself and some as gifts. It turned out that one of the pieces I selected was painted by Aliona, and another by Irina. They were quite happy that I unknowingly selected their own handiwork.
I was quite happy to get to go to the "motherland" of the dolls that I have collected for 35 years! We are so happy that we visited this lovely workshop. Craig's appreciation for the dolls has also increased after witnessing the workmanship in person.
Sergius was a carpenter (and toymaker), and built the first monastery building himself. He lived in harmony with the wildlife of the area, including bears. His brother eventually found the area to be too isolated, and returned to Moscow. Sergius remained living by himself for over a year. Eventually, other monks joined him and entreated him to become the Father Superior of the monastery.
When Sergius knew that he was about to die, he prayed to the Holy Virgin to protect the monastery from Mongol invasion. She appeared to him and promised that she would protect it. St. Sergius died six months after being visited by the Virgin (at the ripe old age of 78 - pretty good for the 14th century!) His remains were lost when the Tartars invaded the monastery, though icons and many other holy objects were saved.
Thirty years after his death, he appeared to a farmer in a dream, asking for his body to be recovered, and revealing its location. During the rebuilding of the cathedral, the remains were found in that very spot, submerged in water. Both the body and the wooden coffin which St. Sergius had constructed for himself were perfectly preserved. They rescued the body, and today pilgrims from afar wait in queues for hours to pray over his body in the Trinity Cathedral.
There is a statue of St. Sergius at the entrance to the monastery. Three icons were painted of him by his nephew, but they were lost. Fortunately, there was also a tapestry depicting his image from that time, and this image was used to create the statue.
After the 1917 revolution, the churches within the monastery were used as civic buildings. Many icons and frescoes were destroyed during this period. Josef Stalin tolerated the Russian Orthodox Church during World War II, and the monastery was returned to the church in 1945. It functioned as the headqaurters of the Russian Orthodox Church untl the 1980's. It is still a functioning monastery today, with three hundred monks and novices living here. The monastery is open every day, starting at 5 a.m. for matins and 6 a.m. for confession in the Saint John the Baptist Gate.
We had a lovely local guide named Elena who spoke wonderful English. She explained to us that the monastery has been very recently restored to its former glory.
It was another beautiful, sunny, blue sky day. We walked around the grounds, which were covered by a light coating of snow. Birds were chirping, and it was quite serene. There were rooks, which we recognized from a painting "The Rooks Have Come" by A.K. Savraso at Tretyakov gallery. They are a sign of spring, and Elena said that they are here about a month early this year. This premature spring really made the weather perfect for a winter trip.
There are conifer trees here which are actually deciduous, and they were bare for the winter. We did not know that this was even possible. We saw other birds in addition to the rooks, including some small birds which resembled chickadees with a slightly yellow tinge to their feathers.
First we entered the Refectory, built in the 17th century on orders from Peter the Great as a symbol of his coronation. It was historically used as a place of physical nourishment for the monks (they were fed here) as well as mental nourishment (there was a library on the second floor). After World War II, new murals were painted to replace those that were destroyed after the revolution. Luckily, they had photograpsh of the originals, so they were able to replicate them. One depicts the parable of the prodigal son. Another shows Jesus angrily expelling merchants from doing business in the temple. The latter Bible story is very important to this particular monastery, and as such, they don't allow candles and other offerings to be sold within the church itself, only within the anterooms.
Two additional altars were built. An altar can only host one service per day, and that wasn't enough to serve the needs of the people of the area. Today there are three services per day, one at each altar.
The paintings on the walls and ceiling were stunning, as well as the iconostasis (carved wood covered in gold leaf) and chandeliers. There is a "faux carpet" which creates a center aisle in the church. It is made of tiles made in Moscow in 1903.
Next, we went into the Trinity Cathedral. Although there was a long queue of pilgrims patiently to pray over St. Sergius' body, we as visitors were allowed to enter through a separate entrance as long as we were silent and didn't take any photos. There are priests praying all day here over St. Sergius' body, now housed in a silver coffin commissioned by Ivan the Terrible, and they swap out every 2 hours. The icons and paintings had been darkened by candle soot, and shafts of light shone through the windows like beams straight from heaven. Women were singing hymns as the pilgrims prayed. It was ethereal. This cathedral housed the Trinity icon, painted by Andrei Rublyov in the early 15th century, which we had seen at the Tretyakov Gallery. It was displayed on the iconostasis until the 1917 revolution, and was moved to Tretyakov in 1929.
We visited the Cathedral of the Assumption. It dates back to 1684 (commissioned by Ivan the Terrible), and has only been restored within the past 3 years. Here we saw St. Sergius' wooden coffin which he crafted for himself using an axe, and which survived thirty years underwater before being rescued. There were beautiful gilded mosaics of St. Stephen and Our Lady of Kazan. St Innocent of Alaska is entombed here. He translated the Bible into Inuit languages when he preached in Russian-owned Alaska. The Aleutians didn't know the concept of bread at the time, so he changed a line in the Lord's Prayer to "give us this day our daily fish" so that they could relate to it. Though this could have been consdiered sacrilege, his Father Superior forgave him and appreciated this clever way of making the religion relatable to that population.
We walked around the grounds in the sunshine. It was beautiful. There is a clock tower which houses a clock made in Moscow in 1905. It chimes every 15 minutes with 4 different chimes, so that the monks can easily tell the time just by the sound. The bells in the bell tower are rung by hand. Their clappers alone weigh two tons, so 8 people are required to ring them. In addition to the clock tower, there is an obelisk which acts as a sun dial. The sunny skies made its shadow perfectly clear.
A spring on the property is said to have made a blind man see back in the days of St. Sergius. This is believed to be holy water, and people queue up to enter the pink octagonal Chapel-Over-The-Well to collect holy water for their ailments. In the summer, they are able to collect it from a fountain. While we were touring the monastery with Elena, Olga collected some holy water to give to us as a surprise. She instructed us to use it to bathe Craig's legs and any other parts of his body which are pained from his MS. She is such a sweetheart!
We had a quick, local lunch before leaving the monastery. Craig had a small traditional Russian pie: a handheld flaky dough crust with cabbage inside. That was the last pie that they had left (they were doing a brisk business), so I ordered some freshly made fried doughnuts sprinkled with sugar. We had a local berry softdrink called mors which is made of lingonberries. And we bought a fresh pryanik (Tula gingerbread, which our friend and colleague Marina who hails from St Petersburg, often shares at Christmas).
Last but not least, we visited the Sergiev Posad Toy Museum. The museum was founded by Nikolay Dmitrievich Bartram in Moscow in 1918. Bartram was a toy maker, and he wanted to preserve historical toys and share them with people. Up until this time, Russian toys were not seen as works of art and were usually discarded. He took advantage of this and collected as many dicarded toys as he could.
Not only was he interested in traditional Russian toys, he was also interested in Oriental toys. He collected toys from China and Japan.
After his death, his collection was moved to the toymaking center of Sergiev Posad. The museum has been in its current building, a former school, since the 1980's.
We went into a large former schoolroom which contained many glass cases with toys from various eras on display.
The first ones that we saw were Filimonovo clay toys. They date back to the mid 19th century. These are figures of humans or animals shaped from gray, pliable clay which turns white after firing. They are painted with four vibrant colors, and are symbols of fertility. Each one is a whistle, used to rid the house of evil spirits.
The next cabinet contained Dymkovo or Kirov clay toys. These are figures (usually women, but also animals, children, and even a merry-go-round), crafted of clay mixed with river sand. They are then whitewashed with a mixture of chalk and milk, and painted with tempera paint consisting of eggwhites and kvass (a yeast drink). The toys in the collection date from 1930 - present. These reminded me of some Ecuadorian clay figures we have bought.
The next cabinet contained toys made by peasant children from natural materials. These included dolls and birds made out of straw, reindeer made out of twigs, and dolls made out of pine cones and moss. We saw a wooden sled, and a doll which was no more than a log swaddled in a blanket.
There was a 200-year-old wooden mould for making pryanik (Tula gingerbread). It was carved with fiigures of roosters and geometric designs which would appear in relief on the gingerbread. It made 20 squares of gingerbread, and we were told that if you were visiting someone and they presented you with a square...it was a gentle hint that the visit was drawing to a close.
Next we saw an entire case of fabric dolls. At 5 year of age, a child could make a doll which required no sewing. By 8 years old, a girl would be able to sew a doll. None of these dolls had faces; people were superstitious of evil spirits and didn't want extra pairs of eyes in the house. Russian dolls were only given faces once they were influenced by cities in the 19th century.
Next we saw Novgorod Gorodevsk axe toys. These are toys which are made of axe-split wood, so they are wedge-shaped. They are elaborately painted to look like figures of humans and animals.
Next were wooden toys made with tools, including small balalaikas, matryoshkas, doll cradles, and horse carts. Some of the toys were made by museum founder Bartram in 1910. Always fans of building blocks, we were impressed by the display of architectural blocks. One set of toys was a brightly painted wooden model of Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. It came with instructions for how all of the buildings should be laid out.
Our museum guide showed us some moving wooden toys. These were carved and not painted. A pendulum hung from each toy, which would make the toy move. She showed examples of an ice fishing bear, two bears playing chess, a bear putting on his shows, and a squirrel cracking a nut. Only one of these toys was brightly painted, and it consisted of 5 little chickens that pecked when the pendulum swung. I have one just like this, which was given to me by our Finnish neighbors when I was a child.
There were many interesting toys here, but the main attraction for us was the matryoshka exhibit. There was a case of matryoshkas, including one of the first matryoshkas to be made in Russia (here in Sergiev Posad)) in the 1890's. It is an eight piece set where the outermost doll is holding a chicken, and it is waxed rather than lacquered. There were dolls of differenty shapes, including a conical doll which was to be used as a jewelry box. There were dolls depicting military and historical figures. There was a small wooden ferris wheen with 2 matytryoshkas in each of the 4 seats, and a small wooden push car which contained 7 small dolls. There were dolls with straw embellishments from the Kirov region. There were also dolls depicting a bride and as groom. Inside were the couple's parents as well as wedding guests.
The next display case contained Soviet toys from the 1920's and '30's made from simple materials such as cardboard, metal, wood, and cloth. There were large dolls depicting peasants, workers, and military. There was one interesting toy on wheels which contained 9 dolls. They were collective farmers on parade, and their legs march when the toy is pulled. They held a banner which reads "We glorify the first of May" (International Worker's Day).
Next were Soviet toys from the 1950's and '60's. These included plastic dolls (one with a school desk and a chalkboard to learn the Cyrillic alphabet), as well as wooden rockets and plastic Cosmonauts.
Plastic toys from the 1970's and '80's were reminiscent of U.S. toys of the same period, brightly colored plastic toys encluding dolls, robots, animals, airplanes, and cars. There was also a small sewing machine and wooden dollhouse furniture, as well as stuffed animals.
Next we viewed an exhibit of royal toys which belonged to the Romanov children. These were extremely elaborate, including a French porcelain doll which plays the piano, has human hair, has eyes that open and shut, and speaks the word "mama" in a French accent...and this elaborate doll dates back to the early 1900's! The girls' dolls wore clothes of precious fabrics, including silk, and had elaborate hand-carved wooden furniture. There was a tiny working samovar which the girls could use to prepare a single cup of tea.
Alexei's toys included a four foot long model of a train, pneumatic with all working parts. He was encouraged to study it and understand how it worked. He also had a model aerial cannon, and a guard shack which was large enough for him to stand in.
There were educational toys, such as cube puzzles of sheet music. Once the children finished the puzzle, they would sing the song. There was a toy called My Print Shop, with which they could practice writing in English, French, German, and Russian.
There was a musical birdcage with a small taxidermied bird on top, which sings like a nightingale. We saw a 3 wheeled pram for the babies, shaped like a swan. It had leaf springs and fancy upholstery with a hood. It was pushed by a nanny or a pony.
They also had toys to teach them about different cultures. There were dolls dressed to represent the various ethnicities of Russia. There were also Native American themed toys (ironically made in England) including a teepee large enough for the children to sit inside, tom toms, and a papier mache canoe.
The room was decorated with vintage painted portraits of children with their toys. They don't allow people to take photos in the royal toy exhibit, but I took plenty of notes so that I would remember all of the amazing exhibits. These toys were a far cry from the swaddled log and other peasant toys that we had viewed earlier.
Next we saw the exhibit of toys from China and Japan. These included a Japanese nesting doll similar to the one which inspired the Russian matryoshka craze. There were also small Japanese paper dolls which people would rub on a part of their body that hurt. They would then throw it into the river to rid themselves of the pain.
We saw round Japanese New Year papier mache effigies. People would color in one of the eyes and make a wish (small doll for small wish, large doll for large wish). If their wish comes true within a year, they would color in the other eye. If the wish didn't come true, they would burn the effigy.
We saw toys associated with the Chinese zodiac, and learned a legend which explains the zodiac animals. Buddha invited all of the animals to come to his house. Only 12 arrived, and the order of the zodiac corresponds to the order of their arrival.
We saw toys which taught Asian boys to be good warriors. There was also a scale model of the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Tienanmen Square from 1950.
We saw a temporary exhibit called "On the Seas, On the Waves," which showcased Russian nautical toys. These included sailor dolls, scale models of ships of all types (sailboats, warships, submarines, paddle wheel riverboats, and even the Titanic), and naval board games.
We concluded our visit with a chance to paint our own matryoshkas. Craig, Olga, and I, under the tutelage of a matryoshka artist named Jiana were given a blank doll with outlines of the various features of a traditional Sergiev Posad matryoshka. We used watercolors to paint it. It was fun (and humbling!) We were the only adults doing this, and some young Russian girls approached us with their finished dolls to show us, and to take a look at ours. They were so sweet (and better painters than we were!) Olga had never painted a matryoshka before in her 17 years of guiding. The three of us really had fun doing this activity together, and shared many laughs.
We left Sergiev Posad at around 5 o'clock after a thoroughly enjoyable day!
When we got back to the hotel, we decided to take Olga's recommendation and go to a local Georgian restaurant called Jonjoli. It took us a while to locate it, even though it was only a couple blocks away and around a corner. That is because its signage was unrecognizable to us. Although I am getting good at reading Cyrillic characters, the sign for this restaurant was in an elaborate font such that I couldn't even recognize the letters. We walked right by it several times without noticing. We asked for directions several times, and even when I actually found the place, I was unsure until I asked inside. All in all we wandered around for an hour looking for a place 2 blocks away; not a good thing for Craig who has been doing so much walking and was quite tired. Luckily he had his cane with him.
The restaurant proved to be well worth the effort. We had never had Georgian cuisine before, but had heard great things about it. Luckily, they menus had English translations and beautiful photos of the mouth-watering dishes. Craig ordered kharcho (spicy beef soup) and mutton lulya-kebabs. I ordered cheburek (a hard thin fried dough shell stuffed with mutton, onions, and spices) and kuch-machi (a bubbling hot mixture of eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms in sour cream sauce with Georgian spices and Adjika). We had cranberry mors to drink.
The atmosphere was really cozy, and was decorated to seem like an apartment, with several small rooms. An open kitchen behind glass in the front room allowed patrons to see food preparation, including the rolling out of a lavash-like bread. In addition to the delectable food, there was live Georgian folk music. Twice during the course of our dinner, accordion and drums erupted from the front room. We peeked around teh corner to watch as several couples (seated at the same table as the musicians) started to dance in an expressive style that reminded me of flamenco.
When we had finished dinner, we walked the two blocks back to the hotel for our final night in Moscow. This day had been the perfect way to cap off an amazing visit. All of our excursions had been wonderful, and we felt perfectly comfortable walking around the city on our own. We have been lucky to have the lovely and intelligent Olga teaching us about her city, and we will miss her.
Master Art Matryoshka Factory
Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Sergiev Posad Toy Museum
Monument to the Conquerors of Space, Moscow
Irina shows us a replica of the first Russian nesting doll
Vladim demonstrates how to shape a nesting doll on a lathe
Natasha lacquers the nesting dolls
Aliona paints a replica of the first Russian nesting doll
Just a couple of matryoshkas at Master Art Matryoshka Factory
Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Restored interior of the Refectory Church, Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Iconostasis, Cathedral of the Assumption, Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Mosaic, Cathedral of the Assumption, Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Interior, Cathedral of the Assumption, Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Cathedral of the Dormition and Chapel-Over-the-Well, Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Gateway Church of St John the Baptist, Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Dymkovo or Kirov clay toys
Toy model of Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
One of the original Russian matryoshka dolls produced in Sergiev Posad in the 1890's on display at the Sergiev Posad Toy Museum. It represents a peasant family, and is coated in wax.
Matryoshka display, Sergiev Posad Toy Museum
Soviet toys from the 1950's and 1960's
Japanese nesting doll similar to the one which inspired the Russian nesting doll craze back in the 1890's
Two little girls who came over to show us their matryoshkas when we were all taking painting classes at the Sergiev Posad Toy Museum
Painting natryoshkas with Giana
Three friends and our matryoshkas: Olga, Steph, & Craig taking a painting class at Sergiev Posad Toy Museum
Craig enjoying kharcho (spicy beef soup) and mors cranberry drink at Jonjoli