Posts Tagged ‘toys’

A great idea for busy little fingers

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Check out this cute wooden toy sheep made from native Matai wood by Timber & Twine. The perfect teething and grasping toy for babies – and for preschoolers, a fun and challenging threading game! It comes with shoe laces for threading.

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Timber & Twine toys are lovingly handmade by Papa Stu in Christchurch, using beautiful native reclaimed timbers and a natural finishing of oils and beeswax. These sweet toys will inspire imaginative, naturally engaging play for preschoolers, and sensory experiences for babies.

 

Purchase from Timber & Twine here »

 

All together now: Awwww!

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

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Baby seals are now available from Dean’s Workshop – get the Mama and Papa seals too and have your own wee colony!

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More sweet wooden toys from Dean’s Workshop »

 

Simplify to Amplify: thoughtful, imaginative play from Small & Loud

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Joanna of Small & Loud says “As a child I always imagined having my own business, selling my own handmade crafty things. Funny how things work out!” The inspiration for her business was formed when hunting for a birthday present for her nephew. Unable to find something satisfactory that was light to post, would encourage imaginative play, and wouldn’t just add clutter to his bedroom, she hit on making her own animal masks. The name Small & Loud is a tribute to both the animals and the kids that inspire her work. :-)

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What do you make?
I make felt animal masks for kids’ pretend play and dress-ups.

How did you get into your craft?
My mum taught me to how to use her sewing machine when I was about four years old, so as long as I can remember I’ve been sewing bits and pieces. Then when my husband and I moved to Christchurch in 2015, I struggled to find work. To bring in some income, I started sewing a few things and selling them at the New Brighton Seaside Market. The masks were my most popular product so they became my focus – it grew from there.

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Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I learned a lot of sewing techniques from my mum and step-mum, and everything else is self-taught. At Otago Uni I majored in Marketing and Design Studies, so the design side has definitely had an influence.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love the vivid colours of felt. My favourite tool is my Elna sewing machine – it’s the same machine I learned to sew on. My mum had it refurbished and sent it down to Dunedin for my 20th birthday, which was an awesome surprise. I have another newer machine, but always prefer the old Elna.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing one of your masks:
The first step is cutting out all the felt pieces. I started out cutting all the pieces out by hand, but it became too time consuming. I’ve now invested in a laser-cutter, which my husband Richard is in charge of. He’s an architectural designer, and uses his CAD skills to turn my paper patterns into cutting files. He’s spent a lot of time getting the settings just right – every colour of felt cuts differently because of the way it absorbs the light of the laser.

Once everything is cut, I glue the detail pieces to the front piece of each mask. The glue is just strong enough to hold everything in place while I sew. I usually sew in batches of six masks at a time. When I’ve finished all the front details of each mask, I glue and pin the front and back together and stitch all the way around the edge and around the eyes. At this point, most of my masks are ready to be sent out, but some need a few finishing details. The cat gets whiskers sewn on, and the ears of the rabbit are folded over and stitched down at the very end too.

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What inspires you?
For my mask designs, almost every cute animal I see inspires me. I just saw the most adorable video of a baby elephant chasing birds, so an elephant mask might be next on my list! I also get excited by beautiful, functional design and attention to detail.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
The first mask I made was a birthday present for my nephew Nate. I wanted a gift that was light to post and that would encourage good old-fashioned play, and wasn’t a typical toy that would add to the clutter in his bedroom. My philosophy has stayed the same since then – I want to make things that encourage imaginary play, creativity and learning.

Describe your creative process:
After I’ve decided on an animal that I want to create as a mask, the first thing I do is look at a lot of close up photos of the face of that animal. I decided early on that I didn’t want my masks to be overly cutesy or cartoon-like, so by looking at photos I make sure that I’m beginning with a realistic base.

Next I start sketching a design, using an existing mask pattern as a template. I create at least three paper prototypes, making small adjustments as I go. Once I’m happy with the design, I give it to Richard to draw up in CAD. He’ll cut one set of pieces, and I sew a felt prototype. Sometimes the felt prototype throws up practical issues and we make changes. But if everything works, then it’s officially in production! I always try the masks on too.

Describe your workspace:
My studio is a sleep-out in the back corner of our property – I shot-gunned it before we even bought the house. A big, high wooden cutting table (which was a bargain on TradeMe) takes up most of the space. It’s so good to be able to stand and work without leaning over a low table. Underneath the table is chockablock with materials, tools and other crafty things. I have shelving for my fabrics, an ironing board and a small desk for my sewing machine. My two favourite things in the studio are the blackboard wall for writing up orders, and the pegboard for organising my tools. I love being in my studio, it’s a great space to work in.

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Five words that describe your mind:
Curious. Chaotic. Creative. Critical. Clever.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Recently a customer bought a fox mask as a gift and let me know that the birthday boy was “wearing it around the house and making fox noises.” That makes me really happy – to know that children are enjoying the masks and using their imagination.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The first one that comes to mind is Jillian Jiggs. I can still remember the rhyme – “Jillian Jillian Jillian Jiggs, it looks like your room has been lived in by pigs.” Being a creative child, I always had multiple projects on the go and rarely tidied up in between, and mum was always on at me to clean my room. I haven’t changed – my cutting table is usually covered in stuff, and so is the floor.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. I work full time as a Marketing Coordinator so I have to make time for Small & Loud during my evenings and weekends. As my business grows, life is getting busier so I’m learning how to achieve more by doing less.

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A favourite quote:
My mantra at the moment is a Marie Forleo quote – “Simplify to Amplify.” I’d just started to read The Power of Less when I watched a Marie TV video that talked about similar principles. It works for so many things in life.

Tell us about your pets:
We have a very fluffy, ginger and grey tabby named Alfred. He was a rescue from the Cats Protection League Canterbury, and is full of character. He’ll usually follow me out to my studio and either sit in the sun or by the heater. As soon as I vacate my seat in front of the sewing machine, Alfred often claims that spot too.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Keep at it! Building a business from scratch isn’t easy, but you will make progress. Also be prepared to put a fair bit of money in before you get any out. The labour content for handmade items is usually high, so being efficient with time will help a lot. If you’re doing something you love, it’s all worth it.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a gorgeous Agate keyring here on Felt, from Dr Druzy. I was attracted to the deep purple colour and the rawness of the stone.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
I’ve got a lot of new masks in the pipeline, including more New Zealand birds. I’m planning to expand my product range beyond masks too. Watch this space!

Prize draw!
Joanna has kindly offered a great prize for one lucky Felt reader of your choice of any two masks from her Felt shop (includes postage,total value $55.00). To be in to win this awesome combo, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Joanna’s story and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 14 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Purchase from Small & Loud now »

 

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Tactile, natural fidget spinners

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

They’re all the rage as a toy right now, but they’ve also been recognised for some time as a valuable tool in helping with concentration and anxiety.

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We think these fidget spinners, from Canterbury maker Re-Arranged, are the nicest spinners on the market, being beautifully made from a choice of attractive, tactile timbers in a range of engaging shapes.

 

Purchase your perfect fidget spinner today »

 

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Meet Mia

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Hi, my name’s Mia Mouse and I’m looking for a friend. I’m crocheted from soft, cuddly and fully washable materials and I have embroidered eyes, so I’m a great companion for wee youngsters.

Smitten? Adopt Mia today!

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And now for a nature documentary…

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Narrator: “The miniature giraffe, here spotted in a family group, is happiest roaming across the savannahs of your child’s bedroom…”

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Adopt a mini giraffe today »

 

OMG, the cute!

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

They’re small, they’re bunnies, and they are awesome… Oh! And they like toast… yes, plain bread toast.

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Catch your OnPoki bunny now »

 

Cool cat

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Meet Tom. He’s a dapper fellow and he’s just one of the very personable bunch from Saskia’s Studio, looking for a home.

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Visit Saskia’s Studio now »

 

Simon and Kate Peterson: crafting traditional toys with a contemporary twist

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Simon and Kate Peterson are a husband and wife maker duo located in the ever-beautiful and sunny Hawkes Bay. Their brand Peterson Woodcraft is all about hand crafted wooden traditional toys with a modern twist. In their spare time they moonlight as parents to four little ones aged 8 and under, drink probably far too much coffee and like to pretend that 7am is a sleep-in.

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What do you make?
We make a variety of hand crafted wooden toys, from trolleys and wooden letters to bespoke wooden dolls houses and castles. Simon (the stay at home parent) does much of the product design and wood working while juggling children and school pick-ups, while Kate (who is a librarian by day) handles all the marketing, social media etc, and hand painting of the products.

How did you get started with your craft?
An appropriate answer would be something along the lines of how Kate was always creative and Simon always wanted to make wooden toys and other beautiful things. However, honestly, it really started out of boredom and a desire to contribute to the household income!

Simon has been the stay at home dad since our eldest was just three months old and then when we moved to Hastings two years ago our moving truck crashed and we lost almost everything we owned. Suddenly we were in this position where everything got evaluated (for insurance purposes, yay) and needs and wants were also really re-evaluated.

With our twin girls blissfully still napping, the older two off at school and Kate off at work, Simon realised his days at home were numbered and he might need to get a real job one day – something neither of us particularly wanted! So, with a bit of space to dream up something, a little insurance money and a loan from our parents, Simon got stuck in creating in his new man cave. Kate, originally just a backer and encourager from the sidelines, quickly got involved in product design and the paint finishing, and it all went from there.

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Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Besides some 5th and 6th form woodworking and art classes, and a short stint into carpentry – nope! It has been a self taught, research and discovery as we go approach. And really this is partly what makes it more fun.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Wood is the obvious answer. Kate never felt that strongly about it until we started working with it all the time, now she is really into grains and textures too! But dreaming things up on paper and computer screen is also a huge part of it.

Describe your creative process:
It usually starts on a bit of scrap paper the kids have drawn on and then the computer. Someone asks us to create something we haven’t done before, or Kate has spent too much time on the internet, and then a whole lot of research and tinkering on screen goes on. Simon draws it up the idea in a programme on the computer so we can get a good look at it from all angles and can work out materials etc. This design phase and problem solving part is something Simon really enjoys. For Kate, having a good cup of coffee, some music and time out to just go paint is a lovely way to spend a Sunday.

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Describe your workspace:
Currently? There isn’t one! Very excitingly, we have just moved in to our first home. So at the moment the ‘workspace’ is filled with boxes and other miscellaneous children-related paraphernalia (who knew they could have so much stuff). The great news now, though, is we actually have a dedicated wood working space, as well as a connected unit to use as a painting and finishing studio. Before this we were painting on the floor of the sleep-out of a house we rented!

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Thankfully, we have had a lot of positive feedback and it really is important… especially for a couple of perfectionists who agonise over the details! This bit of feedback recently really made our month though:
“We are absolutely blown away by the quality of workmanship and attention to details, totally exceeded our expectations (from packaging to the product itself)! Thank you Simon!”

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What are you currently listening to?
We have The Rock radio station on almost always! If it is not that then it’s the cricket (which Kate HATES).

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
The last probably, and one of Kate’s favourite things was a Chocolate Fish keyring made by Kellyvize. It always is a conversation starter! It is amazing how many people think Kate has a half eaten chocolate fish laying around the place.

What’s in store for 2017?
Settling in and setting up our workspace is our first priority, and a really exciting one! After that we have been working on some designs for wooden Rapunzel towers and castles – one off bespoke pieces – and we can’t wait to make these come to life.

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As a special treat for Felt customers Peterson Woodcraft are offering free shipping on all products bought through Felt for the next fortnight – just enter the voucher code FELTMTM17 at checkout. Offer is open until Monday 27 March and is available to New Zealand residents only.

 

Purchase from Peterson Woodcraft here »

 

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Traditional toys made to last for generations

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Traditional Wooden Train Set by Tekton Toys

Daniel of Tekton Toys handcrafts traditional wooden toys in his Christchurch workshop, following a simple philosophy of no paint and no plastic. His toys are made using good quality hardwoods – walnut, oak, kauri, kwila and ash – and constructed to last for generations, with a natural beeswax finish.

We think Tekton Toys’ pull along toys make a gorgeous gift for a first or second birthday, while the sturdy trains, planes and automobiles make great gifts for toddlers through to school age children, encouraging creative play and feeding young imaginations.

Traditional Wooden Spitfire Plane by Tekton Toys

Traditional Wooden Pull-Along Duck by Tekton Toys

 

See more traditional toys from Tekton Toys »