by Kimara Wise and Michelle Bonney
from Wee Folk Art
There is something so magical about wooden toys. Perhaps it’s because they remind us of a simpler time, possibly it is their organic connection to nature, or maybe it is simply because a well–made wooden toy is a thing of beauty. Sadly, today most people consider woodworking to be an unattainable crafting skill. Where we can easily envision ourselves knitting or sewing, woodcrafting is shrouded in mystery; a skill reserved for professionals.
It wasn’t always that way. The earliest toys discovered by archaeologists were made of wood. It’s not hard to understand why. It is a natural material and, in most areas of the world, wood is readily available. Wood is versatile. It can be crafted into a boat, a cradle, a bowl or a spinning top. With the most rudimentary tools, wood can be transformed into a world of possibilities. And, let’s face it, stroking a well finished piece of wood fills us with a sense of peace and tranquility; almost as if it were emanating warmth from its very core.
Children are born with an affinity to wood. Wood is one of the first crafting materials children use. Watch a child playing outside. Almost immediately sticks are picked up and imagination fashions them into swords and scepters, walking sticks and wands. Sticks are stacked to become houses for fairies, and as soon as a child can handle a knife, branches are whittled into gnomes and grizzly bears.
So, why is it, through the course of time, and as we grow older, we tend to distance ourselves from this almost instinctual relationship? I think it’s because tools for crafting wood became electric, expensive, and, let’s face it, scary! Because of that, less people worked with wood, skills were lost, and children no longer had adults modeling woodcrafting behaviors.
I must admit we felt that way. When we first started Wee Folk Art, we didn’t share wood projects, because we didn’t work with wood. After ogling and drooling over expensive wooden toys, we decided to put aside our preconceived notions and fears and simply try. We have never looked back! Working with wood is so gratifying and engages our senses of sight, smell and touch. Plus, the more we do, the more confident we become, and the more willing we are to tackle complex projects.
We are hopeful that if you think woodworking is outside your realm of abilities, you might consider making the Wooden Stacker we are sharing today. We kept the design simple, the tools to a minimum, and believe that even a novice can succeed. The only tools you NEED are an electric drill and a hand held saw. Of course, there are many modern tools that make working with wood easier, and we will share the tools that we used. We hope you take this first step into crafting toys out of wood. It is rewarding, gratifying, and just plain fun!
Stackers have become an iconic symbol of babyhood, and with good reason; almost every baby owns one. The appeal of a stacker is twofold: they are fun to play with and they are educational. Through exploration of a stacker babies develop dexterity, agility and hand-eye coordination. Through experimentation they can advance any number of skills including sorting, sequencing, and size and color recognition. Not bad for one little toy. Plus, our Wooden Stacker can easily be used with many other toys including blocks.
Kimara Wise and Michelle Bonney are the mother/daughter team otherwise known as Wee Folk Art. They share a mutual love of crafting and the gentle art of homemaking. With the "wee folks" in mind, most of their crafting is focused on children. Kimara taught preschool and has degrees in elementary education and home economics. Michelle earned her degree in fine arts majoring in graphic arts and photography. She in now entrenched in homeschooling her three children. They both are on a road to simplifying their lives and share a belief that less is often better, as long as the less has quality. They love working with natural materials, and are ever mindful of the effect their crafting materials have on the environment. Soon, they will be opening an online store and sell kits to make many of the projects they share on their site. You can visit them at weefolkart.com or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.