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What really upsets me is that presents became just a formality nowadays. How have we found ourselves at the situation when 30 different kids get 30 uniform New Year presents at school?

I suspect that there are really many people feeling annoyed about this ritual that became an obligation: you buy a dozen of standard things, pretend that you are happy when you get the same stuff from your friends in return, throw them away and forget.

I am an environmentally concerned mother of three kids, and I do not want to make input into the global waste problem. In our family, we give only those presents that you cannot just buy. I believe in the joy of making: you should not force yourself to make something, but you should not be afraid to try doing what inspires you, even if you are lacking some skills.

This toy is one of my favorite inventions. It is a traditional Soviet time Christmas tree decoration from the 1950s. Many families still keep them as a legacy of their grandparents and many middle-aged people keep magic memories of them. However, this one is not a vintage.

I fell in love with these ancient toys so much that I decided to make it on my own. I‘ve made many attempts (or after many attempts made) until I managed to repeat the 60-years old technology. Trying to do so I have learnt a lot about the history of New Year toys in Russia. These figurines had been made by cartels from spun cotton and crepe paper. I know exactly when that era of unique hand-made toys came to an end. In 1966 mass-market production started, and some years later the plastic revolution came, resulting in a flood and florry of cheaper toys. However, no one would keep these dull plastic balls for their grandchildren.

I do my best to revive this amazing technology. I believe it is resource-efficient as well. Such handiwork requires a few pieces of very simple material: you buy a roll of crepe paper and that’s your supply for life! At the same time, you put a lot of effort and patience into the process of making, which means the result would be much appreciated. I have prepared a workshop to share my skills.  

To make this miracle on your own you will need:

  • Thick crepe paper for the clothes
  • Pipe cleaner for a frame
  • Spun cotton for stuffing
  • Mold from silicon and starch, and acrylic paint for the face
  • Starch paste and superglue

By now, I have gathered a collection: here are clowns, kids in fancy dresses, girls in winter scarves and gloves. They look marvelous, don’t they? You can find the tutorial with pictures here – put it into translator to read the russian translation.


Veronika Podgornaya is a craftswoman from Karelia and Greenpeace volunteer. She is fond of many types of handmade from toy making to biscuits baking and she always invents something new. Veronika uses traditional technologies and natural materials in her art and teaches others to do so through her workshops and books. You can find the workshop here