Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wooden Bakeshop

Do you remember those wooden dessert stands from a couple of posts ago?

They're part of a story. Want to hear it?

Chapter 1 was the old portable Donut Shop 
that I made for the girls four years ago. 
It took me 6 months.

Chapter 2 was a cornucopia of felt desserts I made 
for Emily's tea party birthday bash in 2009. 
It took about a month.

Chapter 3 was a set of cardboard cookies in 2010. 
It took just an afternoon of embellishment-style crafting.

Chapter 4 was cupcakes in polystyrene and paper (and glitter) in 2011. 
Again, just an afternoon.

Chapter 5 was a magnetic bakery I made for Jenna. 
I started in 2010 and finished in 2011 (haw haw). 
I don't even remember how many months it took.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

My children love bakeries, desserts and treats of all kinds; the colorful-er, the better. They also love selling them. So each year, I made them a version - in whatever medium was interesting to me at the time: felt, fleece, magnets, polystyrene, paper. They were fun. And they remain among my girls' absolute favorite toys to this day. 

Now this is Chapter 6.
It's all about wood.
and the 9 months it took.
Kinda like having a baby.

It began with those wooden donuts we made last year.

It made me think: I need to make wooden food. I've made felt food and it's fun. But I love wooden toys a zillion times more. They are the best kind of toys! Then I daringly wondered if I might have been genetically programmed to make both - I mean, I sew because Mum does, therefore I should be doing woodwork because Dad does. Right? Isn't it fun to point fingers at your parents for driving you to explode, screaming, out of your comfort zone? I blame mine all the time!

And so it began - researching, visualizing, conceptualizing, planning, watching the kids for inspiration, shopping, experimenting, revising, refining. I wanted to do this without fancy power tools, so apart from a low-voltage drill, the only stuff I nicked from the husband's tool stash were a handsaw, a hammer, a screwdriver, some files and sandpaper. Several times I yearned for a plane but otherwise, it was an exercise in minimalism. I hung out at the Home Depot and asked all manner of silly questions and marveled, for the hundredth time, how much more knowledgeable and helpful the HD guys were than the fabric store staff. 

Slowly and unbeknownst to the children, it came together. The challenge in making any toy is hiding it from the kids long enough to finish it, right? Especially if you don't want to hurt their feelings by repeatedly turning down their offers to help? This became my night project, when it was quiet and I could paint and sand and choose colors without being interrupted. 

There were the dessert stands

with their dotty handles, Scandinavian florals

barbershop stripes

and spotty scallops

in happy tiers.

There were the sprinkle shakers

to dispense a riot of rainbows.

And there were the tiny eco-friendly shopping bags

and play money.

And then there were the treats- some old and some new:



and jam tarts.

Then there was this drawing Emily made for Jenna some time back, that haunted me.

What's a bakeshop without cupcakes?

And not just any cupcakes. 
These are children we're talking about. 
These are cupcakes with cherries

that swop to candles

that swop to flowers

and a birthday star.

Oh, those candles were fun to make!

One must think like a child to make children's toys, is what I've learned from being a mom. I could just hear Jenna asking, with furrowed brow, as she considered these cupcakes, "Yes, but what does it DO?" 

Gotcha! Mom is one step ahead, girl. But only because she was listening to you for the last five years while you played.

I finished everything last week. Last month, the girls were first allowed a peek at the partially-finished set. They were dumbfounded (which is saying something, since they always have an opinion). They turned each piece over in their hands, quietly sorting and counting, then gingerly and meticulously arranged them on the dessert stands. And then their eyes widened when they discovered the coins - and realized the commercial possibilities in their pretend play. Right away they  began to assign roles - someone to be the cashier, someone to be the baker, someone to be the customer. 

I was equally silent, laughing on the inside, happy just to watch them drink it all in. 

For days after, they would come down to the sewing room (where I'd stashed everything unceremoniously in a big cardboard box under my sewing table) to ask if they could play again. And again.

"Can we keep them?" they whispered, eyes large. 

Of course, little ones. 
That's why I made them.

But I thought other kids might like to play, too, so I made three sets for the shop. 

The treats in the Wooden Bakeshop are petite

but there are also a few a la carte sets of just the large cookies

and the large donuts. 

I'll let you know when they'll be in the shop and also give you more details then. But first there's one more chapter to our story. Stay tuned!


  1. I'm so impressed! I would even love to play with it and I'm 30 years old.

  2. They are so wonderful! I am speechless and in awe. I am glad to hear your projects take a while though - often things seem so instant online, and knowing that you've worked on things over time gives me hope that I can plug away at things and it is OK.

  3. The toys are gorgeous, but your description of the girls' discovery of the toys was more beautiful! Very well-written =) I can just imagine living at your house is like Alice in Wonderland with new adventures around each corner!

  4. Fantastic! Beautiful! Now I need to make an emergency Dunk in Donut run..

  5. WOW! I love the wooden ones the most, fantastic!

  6. Love, love, love it! Makes me want to play, too. Have you seen this? It gave me the same response. Thanks for sharing.

  7. You win Mom-of-the-year in a landslide victory. This is wonderfully done!

  8. Awww... Simply.Too.Adorable. !!! And they're surprisingly tiny! That makes them all the more precious! Wow, all the hours you must've put into them... I can't even imagine......

  9. I´m dumbfounded! I wish "I" can play with them! These toys are awesome!

  10. You are such a COOL MOM! Everything is so beautiful....

  11. You are amazing! Excellent work you've done, your kids will remember these forever!! :)

  12. Those are awesome! Where did you find those cupcake shaped pieces?

  13. So very cool! I too love wooden toys. There is just something about their durability and weight that makes them feel... real. I saw your mini bags and thought about what is on my sewing table...60 simple canvas totes for children to decorate for charity...not as mind-numbing as you'd think. Okay, mind-numbing. But the decorating will be fun.
    My favorite piece...the play money. So fun! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Your creativity always amazes. The way you can see blank canvases and transform them is something I really wish I could do. I love how you mentioned that you have to think like a child :D Great advice. My daughter really would love something like this and you've inspired me to pull out my paints again.

  15. You made me cry, thinking of those girls seeing this for the first time! What the heck?! :)

  16. You continually amaze me! I was gasping as I scrolled down this post. So much fun!!! I love the play money in the little pouches. Wonderful!

  17. Oh man, this is fantastic! I need to make something like this for Henry when he's a little older - what a great gift!

  18. I really love these... especially the jam tarts. I even want to play with this for a while. =)

  19. WOW you are the best mom ever! My little one would love these!

  20. You are an amazing inspirational muma!

  21. You know what my favorite thing is in your posts? I love that your photos are so clean and that the things in the photo always fill the image frame. I love that that means it's impossible to tell scale so everything is sort of image-frame sized and then you show it all together, like in the pic where your daughter is holding the stand with treats in place, or the pic where the bags and everything are all in one spot, and it's like "OH! Look! The things are all different sizes but just the RIGHT size!"

    And I covet those little market bags. I think I can see how you made them and I want to find stiff fabric and figure out the dimensions.

    Are the money bags like the fleece treasure bags? Because I am grooving on making MANY MANY treasure bags!

  22. Great job - you have a wonderfully creative mind! Would you mind sharing what type of final finish you're using on the toys after you paint them? I've been researching different types and I'm not sure which ones will hold up best. Thanks!

    1. I used the ones Katie recommended in her post (I asked her the same question, too!):

  23. Beautiful! Completely amazing. You're incredibly talented (and patient!). Your children are lucky. I would buy all of these sets in a heartbeat if I came across them in a store.

  24. Wowsers LiEr! You are amazing! These are just gorgeous and I love that you made the cupcakes 'do' something!


  25. Beautiful! I almost ran out and bought wooden wheels and your recommended sealer, but I don't think my children would appreciate them as much as yours. I should probably stick to the cardboard cookies!

  26. Fantastic...would love to do but with four littles under the age of 5 I struggle to get the skirts, shorts and pajamas done! Amazing and inspiring as always, LiEr!

  27. So lovely!!! Your donuts inspired me last year, and I spent many nights thinking of all the things I could do with different wood pieces! I finally got around to making my first set of wood play food--a candy store! Complete with candy apples! You can see here if you are curious:

    I love your blog. My grandma taught me to sew when I was a kid, and I wish I had a blog to look back on those days.

    1. Yeah, Jill! Three cheers for wooden food! All the best on your sales - I bet they fly off the shelves!!

  28. Wow! So lovely. Congrats for being so creative. I'd like to give the cupcakes a try. Do you mind sharing where you got the wooden pieces to make them. Thank you


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