Adventures in Waldorf Toymaking: Handmade Christmas Wooden Figurines
Happy Holidays All!
This year, I decided to try to take a “less is more” attitude towards Christmas. I am hand making many of the gifts for my children this year, and my biggest project has been a set of wooden figurines that I am making from scrap pine and poplar. Here is the finished set:
I want to note, that I totally borrowed this idea from a wonderful toymaker on Etsy by the name of Armadillo Dreams. I will never try to “resell” these toys, but like all folk who undertake a new venture, it helps to have something to emulate.
Ok, this is how it worked!
1: I went to Armadillo Dreams and looked at their Peter Pan set. Their product description stated that the toy height was about 5 inches. Using that as a guide I took a pencil and some paper and tried my best to sketch each of the toys in the set. Then I cut each one out with scissors. Using the cut out, I traced around it on a piece of scrap pine that I had until I had the entire outline of the picture on the wood.
2: Using my scroll saw, which I purchased from a lady on Craigs list for $60, I proceeded to make my cut. I went at a slow speed and went extremely slowly around the corners.
3: Using a table sander (which I was lucky enough to get as gift) I smoothed the edges of the toy. You can also do this with sandpaper or a dremel tool. In fact, I had to get certain hard to reach places with my piece of sandpaper. I basically just softened the edges and gave the top and bottom a quick sand as well to get rid of any dirt or oil that might have gotten on the wood.
4: I did the same process to all of the other characters in the set. Here is a quick montage pic!
5: Next Step after all figurines were sawed and sanded was to use a pencil and lightly try to duplicate my sketch onto the wood. I did not take a photo of this before I started the next step, which was to start painting.
6: I painted using the darkest colors first. I used watercolor paints from a tube, but now, come to think of it, I didn’t check to see if they were non toxic. I actually used the professional ones I had in my artist box for watercolor painting. A better thought would probably be to buy non toxic watercolors. I carefully filled in the red bits, and then the brown bits. I saved the black for last.
7: Once all of the colors were totally dry, I used a fine, fine tip black marker to go over my pencil markings. I have seen really awesome crafts folk use a wood burning pen. I would like to try this, but I didn’t for this project.
8: Using an old cloth diaper, and some beeswax toy polish that I made myself by melting two ounces of beeswax and 1 cup of almond oil together in a double broiler I rubbed the polish into the figurine. I let the polish sit for about a half hour, and then I took an old spit up rag and began to buff the toy until it was no longer slimy from the polish, but had a beautiful shine!
That is it! I did this for all of the toys in the set! If anybody would like to post some alternative toy making tips it would be much appreciated!
Here are a couple of pieces of advice I can offer based on choices I made.
- Poplar took paint far better than pine, and it looked better overall. Also, the pine was harder to cut.
- Use 3/4 inch solid wood
- Make sure that you don’t use the paint after you have used the marker to darken your pencil lines
That’s it! Happy Holidays!