52 Create – my weekly creative output for 2011. I made some chalkboards for my own wedding last summer, and I was recently commissioned to make a bunch of them for another wedding this summer. These were to be decidedly more “rustic” in appearance and also cost was a factor for the client. They are made from 1/4″ douglas fir plywood with a 1/4″ dowel out the back to support them. They will be used for table numbers for the dinner. It was a fairly quick job and made me realize some of the benefits of organization when doing larger production runs (ie. 20 chalkboards – 2 didn’t work out…).
52 Create, my year long project to create something new and home/hand made on a weekly basis throughout 2011. I’ve done several toys already, because really, making toys is fun to do, but not quite as fun as the reactions from my 17 month old daughter… I can assure you all the projects will not be toys (nor will they be all made of wood), but a good portion likely will be.
So as I was saying, many of these projects are inspired by my daughter. For some reason, she is fascinated by cell phones (mobiles). My wife hardly ever uses hers, and I don’t even have one, so where she got this fascination is beyond me. I had some scrap maple left over so I designed 4 different phones. One is the classic “original” cell phone like you saw in all those 80’s movies, the other three are variations on the “candy bar” phone. I used a wood burning pen to do the key pads, and the antennas are made from maple dowel that was burnt using a torch. I likely won’t finish them with anything as maple is a very safe wood to chew on (we do pour the sap all over pancakes…). I think I’ll put the original phone up on Etsy, not sure if I’m pleased with the wood burning on some of the others, but we’ll see.
Oh boy, I’ve had the idea for this one for months now. When I first dreamt it up, I had no workshop/tools, but little did I know how much trouble this little beauty was going to cause me!!! For those of you just joining in, this is week 3 in my 52 Create where I create 52 projects over 52 weeks.
First, let me tell you, wheels are not easy to come by. When I was a kid, my dad and I built a soap box car. We went to our local Canadian Tire and picked up some cheap wheels and by the end of the day I was ripping down the hill behind the Parliament buildings. Fast forward 20 years and things are no longer so simple. After visiting several stores, the best I could do were some snow blower wheels which were too heavy, and $10/wheel!!!! You can buy a toy stroller in Paris for $7. I should have bought one before we left and just ripped the wheels off… Anyways, after some ebay searching I ended up ordering 4 scooter wheels from the states. Total cost was $25 including shipping which still seems like a lot for what they are being used for, but in the end I’m happy how they turned out. My daughter loves strollers and at playgroup always finds one to tear around the room with.
The stroller is made out of Baltic Birch plywood, the dowels are from an old laundry hamper that a roomate broke/left behind. I had my wife sew up the seat from some corduroy fabric (she also made the doll in the picture below). In search of a safe kid friendly finish, I ended up using shellac. It was a bit of a pain as the Lee Valley sells the flakes, but not the alcohol. They also failed to tell me that although it recommends using Ethanol, that isn’t available in Alberta and so you need to use Methyl Hydrate instead. If I had known this at the beginning, I might have saved myself a lot of driving around. Shellac is of course food safe (used to coat M&M’s) and so is a great finish for kids objects. It’s also nice that it has no real smell to it, so I could apply the finish indoors.
I was at a local “vide grenier” (garage/yard sale for North Americans) the other day, mainly searching for old cameras, when I came across this great little toy. It just so happens that it was recently my daughter’s birthday and we had a bit of funds sent from her favourite Aunt and Uncle to buy her a present. I paid the asking price as I couldn’t be bothered to haggle for such a fun little toy, and the seller was very interested in who it was for (hoping I was not just going to put it on a shelf I’m sure).
It’s a little wooden caterpillar pull toy. We’d looked at some Plan Toys earlier in the week but they were much more expensive. Don’t get me wrong I believe Plan Toys are worth the price, however with limited funds we were hoping to get her more than one toy for her birthday. I really like the simple design of this toy. I think I might try to make some copies at Christmas for some of our Nieces and Nephews. I think I’d use plywood for the link pieces and dowel sections for the wheels. I’d just use a food grade varnish to seal it up and keep it safe for the kids.