I started my search with Russian nesting dolls, which are adorable. After looking at the wooden crafts I really want to buy my self a set of wooden fat blank ones to paint. The doll's original name is Matryoshka doll. The first set is thought to be made in 1890 and the designer was inspired by a set of Japanese dolls that represented the seven gods.
I was surprised to learn that many small folk crafts are very similar to the Russian doll shape/style. Kokeshi dolls originate from Northen Japan and are thought to have been souvenirs from hot spring resorts. They do not have one inside of the other like the Russian dolls, but the characteristically have large heads and small bodies made of wood.
|This set is folky and more traditional.|
|The two bottom Kokeshi dolls are modern and "cute".|
These simple lines and forms are easy and still artistic. It reminds me of when I used to make a sit down and illustrate characters for hours as a kid. Sometimes you are just in the mood to make something cute.