wooden peg people dolls
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These charming DIY peg people dolls are a simple, fun art project for kids or adults! They are perfect in a preschool busy bag, for Waldorf or open-ended play, counting, story-telling, for decoration, or for a handmade gift.

*This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure

*I have linked to non-toxic paints and varnish, but I still wouldn’t recommend these be given to little ones who still put toys in their mouths.

You can make these dolls as simple or as complicated as you would like.

simple peg people dolls

You will notice that some of mine have a plain head with no face and solid-color clothing. These will be for my kids to play with. I ended up painting others to resemble the family members whom I gifted them to!

Pin for later!

wooden peg dolls art project pin image

Supplies Needed

*I purchased my paints and brushes in town, but I linked to similar ones

supplies needed to make peg people


As you go, mix your desired paint colors on an artist pallet or paper plate until you have the tones you would like. Only mix the colors as you need them, though, because they will dry fairly quickly.

acrylic paints on an artist pallet
unfinished wooden peg people dolls

Step 1 – Paint the Skin Tone

Start by painting the skin tone on the head and the general area of the arms/hands. (Exception: if you are planning to use a skin tone that is much darker than your clothing color, do the head and arms/hands after the clothing.)

peg dolls after painting the skin tones

Allow to dry and apply a second coat if you feel like you need more coverage.

Step 2 – Mark the Hands and Clothing

Then use a pencil, if needed, to lightly mark where you will want your hands and clothing.

Step 3 – Paint the Clothing

Next, paint the clothing in the order a person would dress themselves, letting each layer dry before painting more details over the top. For example, paint a shirt before painting a scarf, vest, or dress over the top.

peg people after painting the clothing

I used my smallest round brush when I painted around the necklines and the hands, and a slightly larger round brush for bigger areas.

Again, apply a second coat to any areas where you feel like you need better coverage. Let dry.

Step 4 – Add Hair and Details

Use a pencil to lightly draw guidelines for the hairstyle and any facial features you want.

Then paint the hair.

Using your smallest round brush or a toothpick, paint your details on the face, hair, or clothing.

I mixed a touch of black paint into my clothing colors to make slightly darker shades to add details. Let dry.

peg dolls after adding hair styles

Step 5 – Varnish

Shake the bottle of varnish gently before dispensing some on your paper plate, and then use a medium-sized flat brush to apply to the heads and necks of your peg dolls.

Allow to dry at least until tacky. Then apply varnish on the remaining portions of your dolls while holding the dolls by their already-varnished head ends.

Allow your peg dolls time to dry completely, and they’re done!

finished peg dolls in a row

Share Your Project

If you do this project, I would love to see what you come up with! Follow me on Instagram and tag @aberlehome in your photos of your finished peg people dolls!

finished peg dolls up close

Thank you for sharing!
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