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
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 money pouches
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.
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!