Sunday, November 27, 2016

Is that a traffic cone on your gnome's head or is he just glad to see me?

In clearing off the digital camera I noticed some of my weirder projects from the last year or so and I just wanted to share some of the oddness. It is only semi-toy related but as I accelerate my journey from eclectic tinkerer through to eccentric old man, I feel it may be worth a post.

In short - as an allegedly semi-handy guy who makes some weird stuff, I for some reason get asked to make a lot of weird stuff for people. Funny how that works out.

These are "Bronze Medals" for an Office Olympics I helped organize over the summer. The little plastic medallions had "Yo Gabba Gabba "stickers on them before I hit them with the metallic spray paint. (The medallions were in the discount bin at the Party Store which is odd since Yo Gabba Gabba is basically timeless. It will always be good advice to not bite your friends.)

 Bottom of a clementine box as my spraying surface. Each medallion was sitting on a plastic soda cap. Oddly enough, this was the second time in eight years I had done this.

I gave myself a Silver Medal for the performance because I probably should have peeled the stickers off before painting them. Oh well, Gold in 2020!

This one is sorta bittersweet. I've made a couple of toy boats and want to make more but these weren't intended to float. They were for a funeral. (YIKES! Way to bring us down Toy Making Dad!)

A colleague at work asked if I could make centerpieces for the memorial service of the brother of  a long time friend of hers. It took me about an hour and a half to make the prototype but maybe only 2 or 3 hours to make ten of them. I actually made templates and it was easy to see how things like jigs and design simplicity are key to "mass" production.

The bases were 1x4 pine with a small cabin cut from the same wood and shaped on the beltsander. Masts are oak dowels. The finish is beeswax and mineral oil.

He had been an avid sailor and the family placed a sail on each mast with details about his life and a quote printed on it. Guests seated at the tables got to bring the boats home as a keepsake.  They were very well received. The colleague's friend ended up paying me twice what I asked for making them. Toys make people happy even in sad times.

One other weird bit about "mass" producing these boats...
My eyes see this:

But my History degree sees this:

Okay, and now about the gnome. The Risk Management Team in my office was putting on a "Safety Month" for our organization and they wanted a mascot. I have NO idea how the idea started but someone suggested a garden gnome with a traffic cone on his head.


So my buddy Bill hands me a gnome and a little plastic traffic cone and says "Hey, toy-man. Can you cut off his hat and glue the cone on?"

Well, the short answer is "Yes" but as a wise freshwater crustacean once told me, "Why make it simple when you can make it complex?" Besides... I know I was told it was okay to cut his old hat off but I'd much prefer to fix things and not break perfectly fine things. (Also, not that I'm a gnome guy...but he seems alive and I don't want some weird woodlands curse coming down on me.)

So I cut a square of 1/2" MDF to be the base of the cone. I then took a hole saw that was pretty close to the diameter of the hat and got to drilling.

Once it was done, I then kept doing trial fits to see what still needed to be removed. I used a rotary tool to taper the hole and custom fit it to his head.


So I painted the base black with some gloss black latex paint and then proudly brought it back into the office to show we had achieved cone-headedness without destruction. Bill thought it looked great but the team felt that the hat HAD to be orange to be a "real" traffic cone.


So I picked up four different shades of orange from the craft store and settled on... well "Orange" and four or five coats later, viola! A non-broken gnome wearing a traffic cone for a hat.

I had Teddy perform a "Cat-Scan" to make sure it was safe before returning it to the Risk Management team.

Alright, back to toy making.


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Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.