About Toy Making Dad

Making stuff is one of the coolest things about being a human. The ability to know right from wrong and having opposable thumbs rank up there, but there is a lot of joy to be had in just making stuff. Joy in the making and joy in the using. But most of all, there is real joy in making something for someone else. Especially people you love.

As a kid, I always liked making stuff. Putting together models, building with my Legos (which I still have, thank you very much) trying to make cap guns or Frankensteining (is that a word?) parts from broken gliders into something special that would sorta kinda fly. All of these were fun to play with but there were just as fun to build.

At some point I convinced myself that I didn't like power tools, working with my hands or machinery of any sort. I like to think of these as my lost years. Thankfully that didn't last long because after I brought a house, got married and had a couple of kids: I realized I had better learn how to fix that stuff because I couldn't afford to pay someone else to do it.

As my twin daughters got a little bit older, making stuff for them became a bit of a hobby. Their love of magic and large number of Barbies led to one of the first toys I remember making for them - "The Mis-Appearing  Barbie Box." It was a very rough wooden box with a platform inside that rotated 180 degrees. You strapped Barbie down, put the lid on and then gave the platform a spin by twisting the dowels that stuck out of the head and foot of the box. You opened the lid and TAADAH! Barbie has mis-appeared (or disappeared if you prefer.) Sadly, the Mis-Appearing Barbie Box, mis-appeared at some point. Oh well, gone but not forgotten.

I built a Barbie scale doll house for them and then started looking for ways to fill it up with stuff. (Which is pretty much what you do with a real house.) So after the famous Sculpey toilet, which my daughters still think is funny, I made some other household furniture. The one that sticks out and was a bit of a turning point for me was the Barbie Futon.

Okay, picture this. Ken comes over. Watches a little TV with Barbie. Maybe he has a few adult beverages and really shouldn't drive home. Seeing as how I'm trying to raise my kids right, no way is Ken sleeping in Barbie's bed. (It is bad enough that half the dolls seem to be naked at any given time...)

Anyway, dude is gonna have to sleep on the couch.

But not just any couch...

A one of a kind custom built wood futon made with 1x3 (ish) strips, two hinges, some scrap plywood and a couple dowels. Eat your heart out IKEA.

So, I thought it was hilarious and I showed it to Jeff, a friend of mine who is a carpenter. (Truth be told, he really is a craftsman in the true sense of the word.) I immediately pointed out how rough the wood was and how less than perfect it was. His response pretty much blew me away. He said that didn't matter. What mattered was the idea behind it and the originality. He said that the skill would come with practice and that he'd really like to see what I could do in about ten years.

Well okay then. It's been ten years. I'm still not a craftsman and a lot of my stuff is pretty rough, but I can see that it has started to get better.

I've found a lot of great ideas and examples on other people's sites on the internet and my hope is that maybe someone else can stumble across some of my stuff and say "Hey, I can do that..."

Just Saying...

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


About Me

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