Some musings on quality…

Fischer Price

I was in my parents basement this morning when I came across the above Fisher Price Toy.  It’s a Printing kit, judging by some of the paper I found inside the box, I got this when I was 4 years old, making this toy over 30 years old.  I have always loved crafty things like this and I grabbed it thinking my five year old would love it as well.  As I left I was thinking how I’d need to find a new ink pad likely, and hopefully my daughter would be patient while I figured out if any of it still worked.

 

To my surprise, the well used toy was complete, and everything still worked.  The original ink pad still had ink and the refill bottle was still half full (there was even a form to mail away for extra refills).  We had an awesome afternoon playing with it, but I couldn’t help but be blown away that this 30+ year old toy still worked perfectly, and would likely work for another 30 years.  This sort of quality is rare these days, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about with my products.

 

bhouse 1

 

My bird houses for instance, while they look fragile, they are very durable and weather proof.  I hung up a pair of them on my back shed for an entire year before I decided to start selling the design.  After a year I was satisfied that they were high enough quality.  Now going on 3 years, the pair still hangs on the shed, and with no maintenance, they are a bit more grey than before, but still keeps the elements off my feathered friends.

 

I often get questions about care for my various chopping boards.  I always tell people to wipe them with a damp/soapy cloth, reapply mineral oil if they look dry, the usual things for cutting boards.  This is certainly playing it safe, and they will never come to any harm with this regimen, but is it really necessary?  That’s what I plan to find out.  I’m making a couple of mini boards, one maple with colour block and a second plain walnut.  I’ll prepare them just as I do all my other boards, but these two are going to take a trip in the dishwasher, in fact 10 trips to be precise.  Have I gone mad? Maybe, but if these boards can survive 10 trips through the dishwasher, then they can survive just about anything. Stay tuned…

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52 Create – Cell Phones (Mobiles)

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.

 

My other 52 Create projects.

52 Create

When I originally started this blog it was supposed to be about crafts, photography, and design.  Over the past year I’ve kept up with the photography and the design, but crafts have suffered greatly.  It didn’t help that I was overseas with few tools or materials, but now I have a plan.

Starting this week I’ll be doing what I like to call “52 Create”.  Each week for the entire year (ie. 52) I’ll be making a craft of some sort and posting them every Tuesday for all to see.  The crafts will range from toys to furniture and everything in between, and while many will be wooden, some other materials may sneak into the mix too.  I’ll be making these items for myself and my family, however if some turn out particularly well or are popular on the blog, I”ll make some extras and put them on my Etsy site.

I plan to keep up with the Photo of the Week (with top photos also being put onto Etsy), and there’ll be the odd post on cool stuff I see on the web, but the focus is really going to switch to the crafts and photography for the next year.  The design part of the blog will come out of the crafts I make.

Stay tuned, I’m already excited about this week’s 52 Create…

Vilac Wooden Toys 100 years

Went back to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs today.  I loved their Mobi Boom exhibit on French furniture design, so I felt like I needed to go see their wooden toy exhibit.  It was in celebration of Vilac‘s 100th anniversary and I found it truly inspirational.

 

They had all sorts of toys from the past century of toy making, as well as a few videos showing how the toys are produced. It’s an amazing process, and they start with raw logs (I had assumed they would buy milled lumber…).  I found it particularly interesting how after machines turn several of the logs into spheres, they are all thrown into a cement mixing drum on their own.  They tumble together and smooth each other out so they come out shiny without any sanding or polishing whatsoever!

The exhibit is on till May 8th, 2011 so go check it out if you are in Paris.

 

Made by Joel

My new favourite DIY/crafty blog is – made by Joel.  Joel posts many of the crafts and toys that he makes with his two kids. It’s all very creative and just how I hope to be with my kids when they are old enough to enjoy crafts.  It’s like if you had Mr. Dressup for your father, awesome.

Joel’s also got a book deal in the making, so keep an eye out for it!