EDIT: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone that entered :)
With all our shop talk recently, it is nice to take a break and "formally" (as formally as anything CAN get around here :) introduce everyone to Amanda and Dustin of Armadillo Dreams. To help you get to know them and their shop a little better, please sit back and enjoy this interview I had with Dustin. I'll see you on the "other side" to tell you all about the terrific giveaway that they are sponsoring :)
Kimara: How would youdescribeArmadilloDreams to someone that has never been to your shop?
Dustin: A fun toy shop full of handmade wooden toys that encourage creative play and use of imagination. We offer a mix of natural finish toys and painted toys. You will find things like figures, animals, fantasy themed toys, play sets, baby teething toys and toddler pull toys.
Kimara: How did you get started?
Dustin: During the summer of 2010 I discovered a passion for woodworking while building a backyard chicken coop/run. Once the project was complete I felt disappointed that it was over and starting trying to think up new woodworking projects. Then it occurred to my wife and I that we should try making some wooden toys for our children. We loved the wooden toys that we had already purchased but didn’t have as many as we would have liked for them since they tend to be a little more expensive than plastic toys. Once we had the creation of some toys under our belts we thought it would be fun to turn it into a business that we could work on together. Amanda already had three Etsy shops for about 4 years (and still does) so we combined her design skills, knowledge of product presentation and my knowledge of woodworking and customer service. The rest as they say is history.
Kimara: Tell us about the creation of your toys and the materials you use.
Dustin: All of our toys start from a board of poplar lumber. Amanda draws patterns (she is the real artist) that I trace onto the boards. They are then cut and sanded in my wood shop using my power saw and three different power sanders. Then each toy is hand sanded to eliminate any sharp edges and get each toy buttery smooth. Amanda then uses a 1000 degree F wood burning pen to draw details on the toys. The toys that are painted get a wash of AP certified non-toxic water color so that the wood grain can still be seen. From there we seal the wood with a natural baby/kid safe beeswax polish. We both do the painting and polishing. That’s about it! There are some specific trade secret details I have left out, but this gives you an overview. Most people don’t realize all the work we put into our toys until they get them in their hands and feel the difference in our toys. It’s hard to capture everything through pictures and descriptions when we do so much.
Kimara: You are a husband and wife team. Do you each make your own toys from start to finish or is there a division of labor in each toy?
Dustin: Overall Amanda handles most of the artistic side (drawing patterns, wood burning) while I handle most of the manufacturing side (cutting, power/hand sanding, packaging). There is some steps of our process that we both do as well (painting, polishing). It works out really well.
Kimara: Where do you thinkArmadilloDreams will be in 2-5 years?
Dustin: Our goal is to really grow our business and bring our wooden toys to as many families as possible. Over the next month or two we will be launching our own website/blog on http://www.armadillodreams.com/. We are going to be putting a lot of work into the website to make it even larger than our current Etsy shop. In the next few years we would like to get a new home on acreage that has room for a large garden, pasture for some animals and room for a much larger wood shop for Armadillo Dreams. In five years I can see having a small staff of helpers that help in the wood shop and home office, but we always want the business to keep the feel of being personal and selling toys made with love by caring people, not robots/machines.
Kimara: Finally, I have to ask...ArmadilloDreams... wonderful name. Who came up with the name and is there any significance to it?
Dustin: Great question! Amanda came up with the name. The name does have very big meaning for both of us. It’s a bit of an inside joke that would cheer us up when times got tough. In essence it represents our dream of freedom, both in the sense of financial freedom and freedom to be independent in our lives.
Awesome! I have dreams that some day Tim and I will be able to work together. Perhaps one of those 2nd career, retirement things :) Anyway, I have long been a fan of Armadillo Dreams. When they contacted us about sponsorship, I did a little happy dance :) YAY! I love it when we share things we are so excited about.
Now... on to the giveaway. Armadillo Dreams is giving away this ultra cute, ultra awesome SPACE SET COLLECTION. This fun space play set is sure to provide out of this world adventures for your children! The set includes a robot, alien, rocket, UFO spaceship, a planet and three little stars. The robot measures 5 inches tall, rocket measures 5 inches tall, alien measures 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches, spaceship measures 2 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches and the planet measures 3 1/4 inches wide. including a Space Robot, Alien, Rocket and UFO Spaceship Toys.
Here is Armadillo Dreams' statement on their toys and safety: Our wood toys are handmade with lots of love! They are perfect for imaginary play, learning, display, or for adding to your seasonal nature table toy collection. Our wood toys are also great for Montessori education or Waldorf education. We believe it's important for children to have high quality, natural, simple toys that they can dream, imagine and play with. Please do not give our smaller toys or painted toys to children who are still putting things in their mouths. Our paint is AP certified non-toxic and the wood is sealed, but there is a small chance that the watercolor paint may run when wet. Painted toys are not for use in water.
So, how do you enter to win? Simply visit Armadillo Dreams, wander up and down their virtual aisles, then come back here and tell us what toy catches your fancy the most. While you are doing that, keep in mind, that besides the giveaway, Armadillo Dreams is offering Wee Folk Art readers a 10% discount that will be good through the end of the month. The discount code to use during checkout is "wee0412". This is a perfect way to purchase your first Armadillo Dreams toy. I guarantee you it won't be your last! I already know what I plan to use my discount on :)
The giveaway runs from today, Wednesday April 18 through Sunday April 22, at 9:00 p.m. EST. A winner will be drawn at random and have 1 week to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or a new winner will be selected. So hurry over, but don't rush through their site. And, thank you, Amanda and Dustin for your generous giveaway. Good luck all :)
Armadillo Dreams will happily ship internationally so everyone is welcome to enter!
BTW... if you'd like to stay connected with Armadillo Dreams, they give you lots of opportunities. Here's a bunch of their contact info:
Memory games of all types have long been a favorite of children. This version has children matching acorns of the same color. Besides enhancing memory skills, color recognition, counting and sorting abilities, it also encourages agility and dexterity in wee hands. And, because they are beautiful, they add to the warmth and charm to any room!
Note: All materials used should be non toxic and child safe.
IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNING: The acorns are small and considered a choke hazard. Although generally it is recommended that small parts should not be given to children under 3 years of age, we highly recommended you do not give small parts to any child that still puts toys in their mouth, no matter how old they are!
Using fine grit sandpaper, sand wood pieces smooth. Wipe off to remove any saw dust.
Using a non toxic, child safe wood stain, stain the inside and outside of the bean pots and the caps of the acorns. I found it easiest to use a hard bristle paint brush to apply the stain to the acorn caps.
Note: If you prefer, you can choose NOT to stain the wood or you can pick a lighter colored stain. In this tutorial I am using Walnut Soy Stain but you might want to use a lighter color like Fruitwood. Whatever your choice, the end project will be beautiful :)
Choose 6 different colors of paint and paint 6 pairs of acorns different colors.
When the paint and stain are thoroughly dry, seal the wood with a Beeswax Finish.
HOW TO PLAY THE WOODEN ACORN MEMORY GAME
Place the 12 acorns in the 12 bean pots. Mix up the pots.
The first player removes 2 acorns from the pots. If they don't match, the acorns are put back in their pots and the play passes to the next player.
If a player matches 2 colors, the play keeps the two acorns and the play passes to the next player.
Play continues until all the acorns have been matched.
OTHER IDEAS FOR USING THE WOODEN ACORN MEMORY GAME
Of course, children will come up with their own ways to use the bean pots and acorns :) The pots and acorns will undoubtedly be moved to play kitchens, the acorns can be used for counting and sorting, and, bean pots can be stacked to make impressive towers.
All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on WeeFolkArt.com without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights. Read our FAQs found HERE for specifics or contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Patterns may be used for personal use only. If you are interested in obtaining a Cottage Industry License so you can sell items made from our patterns, information can be found HERE.
and turned it into a wooden kite with a peg suitable for hanging "stuff" :) Of course, if you just want to use them for decoration, simply leave the peg off, and let a sky full of kites grace your child's room. (BTW... if you'd like to see how we painted the wall behind the kites, check out the post found HERE.)
To make your own Wooden Kites with Pegs you will need:
shaker pegs (optional)
cotton roping for tail
woven fabric Kite Applique Pattern enlarged 200%
Enlarge Kite Applique Pattern 200% and make a copy. Using packing tape around edges of the kite pattern, cut out the kite. This will be your template used for tracing the kite on the wood.
Using your pattern template you just created, trace the kites on your wood.
Using a scroll saw, cut out your kite shapes.
Since these are going to be painted, if there are any significant holes, they can be filled with a wood filler and sanded.
Lightly sand the edges. HINT: When sanding straight, smooth surfaces, used a flat piece of sandpaper. When sanding curves, like the edges of the kite, use a flexible sand paper like the sanding sponge pictured here.
Paint the sides and top of the kites. Allow to dry completely.
Dip the end of a thick round paintbrush in paint, and randomly make the dots for the flower centers on the kite top. Redip with each dot.
To make petals around the centers, using the same paintbrush, make 5 dots (petals) around each center. Allow to dry completely.
There are 2 ways you can attach the tail. The first is to simply staple or glue the end of the rope to the backside of the kite.
The other way is to drill a hole in the bottom point of the kite. To do this, get a drill bit that is slightly larger than the rope. Practice on a scrap piece of wood until you are satisfied with the fit.
You can use a hand held drill and drill a hole. WARNING: Be very careful if you do this. It is hard to hold and the drill can slip. Drill a hole about 3/4" deep.
If you have one, the best and safest way to drill a hole is to use a drill press.
If you are adding a peg to your kite, mark the center, and drill a hole that is a smidgen bigger than the part of the peg that goes into the wood. We used a drill press but you can use a hand held drill. You can go all the way through the kite.
Add some wood or crafting glue to the peg and push down into the hole. Wipe away any extra glue with a wet rag.
For the tail, cut your rope about 13" long. On one end, wrap a piece of tape tightly around the end, then cut off so about 1/4" of tape is on the end. This will make it easier to push into the hole.
Add a dab of glue to the hole and insert the taped end of the rope into the hole.
For the ties, rip and tear strips of fabric 1 1/4" wide. (For tips on how to rip and tear, see the post HERE.)
Cut each piece 5" - 6" long. Tie them to the rope every 1 1/2". Try to tie them so the right side is showing. I put 5 ties on each rope.
To prevent the ties from slipping or the rope end from unraveling, simply put a dot of glue where a tie touches the rope and at the end of the rope.
Use your favorite way to mount them to the wall. We used Joe's Sticky Stuff, which is "an aggressive pressure sensitive adhesive double sided tape". It is suppose to be heavy duty and come off without marring walls. We've never used it before, so we shall see :)
I remember as a little girl getting nearly giddy when the spring winds began to blow. On the wind there were scents of thawing dirt, decaying vegetation and worms! But, there was also the smell of LIFE. All around there were signs of spring... trees budding, bulbs tentatively pushing up their new leaves and birds returning from places unknown, as gray clouds filled the sky, only to be swept away by the always present spring breezes.
But, by far, one of my favorite things about spring was the ubiquitous plethora of kites that seemed to sprout up anywhere there was a cash register! You could find kites at grocery and drug stores, but they were also available at hardware stores and gas stations. They were the cheap paper kites, but to me, they were all beautiful! I can remember thinking long and hard before I picked out a kite... did I want soft, pastel colors, or something bright and bold? Once we selected our kites, it was deemed a Daddy Thing, to get them put together, while Mom found old sheets to rip up for the tail.
You learned early on not to form too strong of an attachment to any one kite. There were houses, trees, and even electrical wires, that laid claim to a fair share of a season's crop of kites! But, you learned to take the bitter with the sweet, because, I ask you... can you think of anything more fulfilling or exhilarating than being firmly grounded as your kite danced amongst the clouds? I use to dream of flying kites... I still do. It is one of those childhood joys that can still be embraced by adults. And there you have it, my ode to the common variety kite :)
This month's Out of the Box offering is a Kite Applique Block, right out of my childhood, that we then turned into adorable wooden kites for the wall. These can either be used strictly as decoration or pegs can be added to the kites to make functional holders for jackets and bags. We will first share the applique block and then the wooden kite. I am so pleased with how they turned out :) And just in time for spring winds!
Click here for the Kite Applique Block
Pixie is a sorter. Actually, she was born a sorter. Seems like from the minute she could collect a stash of toys around herself, she was dividing things into piles. Sometimes the categorizations were self evident, other times, we just had to assume their was method to her madness :) To this day, given a chance, she sorts. Just ask Bug. He can leave his Legos for just a bit, and when he returns, Pixie will have sorted the pieces by color! (Not always a welcomed turn of events, I might add!)
So, I have no doubt that Pixie will love her new toys. Like Little Lady, I made Pixie a rainbow drawstring bag. Inside the bag she will find:
Acorns a plenty, to be sorted, used in the kitchen, and I'm sure in various ways with her wee folks. (There are 18... 3 of each color.)
And when she is in the mood to sort her acorns, she'll have matching bowls to hold them. Although I know they will also be used to hold her doll's soup and her bear's porridge.
Then, there are 12 pots, which hold the acorns quite nicely, concealing their color. By placing 6 pairs of acorns in the pots, and mixing them up, she can play a wonderful memory matching game, by herself, or with a friend.
All of the wood was unfinished, and I sanded them, stained the acorn caps, the outside of the bowls and the pots using a non-toxic, soy based stain. I then painted the bowl interiors and the acorns using a non-toxic, soy based paint. Finally, I finished them with a beeswax finish. (BTW... all of these supplies will be available when our shop opens in 2012 :)
Then, her gift includes this lovely wooden rainbow arch with two teeny tiny gnomes. I purchased these from Armadillo Dreams on Etsy.
Finally, I bought her the lovely book, Around the Year, by Elsa Beskow. Such a sweet little book, filled with a poem for each month. Her illustrations are gentle and peaceful. A pure delight as are all of Elsa's books.
So there you have it. This year's Christmas gifts for our 4 grandbabies. What a joy to prepare gifts for children. Hopefully, these are gifts that will long be cherished :)
BTW... I WILL have the tute for the drawstring bag posted soon!
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