Monday, July 27, 2015

Baby Rattle

Baby rattles were not a big part of The Toycrafter product line.  In addition to this design, I made a few "ring" rattles - ones with several wooden rings turned from one piece of wood with a shaft in the middle, and loose rings.  Another rattle design was a ring of wood with a cross bar that had a loose bead on it that could be rattled.  This latter design also served nicely as a teething ring!  I made all of the rattles myself.  The one in the picture is from two pieces of walnut, with a center layer of Baltic birch.  Each end of  each half has a hole drilled into the flat side before the glue up, and partially filled with dry mung beans.  This rattle makes a very subtle sound, and is nice to hold!  It was very difficult to turn the shape and not break through into the hole full of beans!  I'm guessing this and the other rattles were made around 1976 - 77 (?) in our Rochester shop.  Little did I know that about 40 years later, I would be giving this one to my granddaughter Stella Mae.  This picture was taken this year in her living room.  I can't find the picture I took of Stella with this rattle.  She actually seemed to like it quite a bit, though the baby rattle stage of life is surprisingly short!  If I find pictures or samples of the other two designs mentioned, I will post them.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wooden Kazoos, and less than wonderful designs?

 I played a lot with designs for kazoos over several years.  At one point I even purchased an existing business - I honestly can't remember the name, but he was a craftsman who made very nice wooden kazoos from quality woods like walnut, and cherry.  He had decided to tackle another career, and sold me his remaining stock, plus some partially finished parts.  For a toy maker, these kazoos just didn't quite fit.  Kids like to make noise, not music!  I will probably post some pictures, etc. about the noisy kazoos that became a pretty solid part of our product line, but for now, I recently found the samples shown here.  The ones above are the actual product.  I always was a sucker for puns, odd word play, etc, but that didn't always serve me well in naming and promoting my toys.  I look at the phrase "kazoo in the round with astounding sound" today, and a part of me laughs, and a bigger part sort of cringes .... what was I thinking?  And what's up with the whistling/singing tree?  This design was about as big a flop as the fancy kazoo designs purchased from my friend.  But, we did make "Kazounds" our annual gift to our wholesale customers... see below ....  perhaps thinking that a flood of orders might pour in when our customers had a sample in hand/mouth?  And in keeping with my confessional here, what's up with my face on the snowman?
Luckily The Toycrafter made a lot of very successful toys, so flops like "Kazounds" sort of taught us good lessons, but did not kill us!  A couple of much worse flops come to mind, but I'll save them for another day.