Wooden Slot Animal

I’ve always liked the simplicity of things that fit together with slots. Yesterday I made this little wooden toy. I think I should make more animals with interchangeable pieces so people could make their own creations. My son had fun playing with this one though. He especially liked peeping through the eye hole.

Wall Hanging Box Aquarium

I really like using boxes we get in the mail for other things before recycling them, so I made this small aquarium toy.  Instead of taping the fish to the top of the box, I decided to make it more interactive by cutting slits in the top and tying buttons to the threads.  This way the fish can be moved around like puppets.  It’s actually really …

Pop-Up Puppets

The kids and I just made some pop-up puppets this morning.  We had a great time picking out the fabrics and drilling holes for the dowel sticks.  When we were done, the kids were pretty surprised at how they came to life.  Below you can see a quick video.  (Including another one of my old songs.)

Wooden Sand Combs

We just got back from the beach today, and had a great time.  Before leaving, I quickly made a couple of sand combs for the kids to play with.  They added a nice and relaxing element to our sand playing.

Driftwood Fish

We’re headed to the beach again this weekend, so I was in the mood to get out the driftwood pieces from our last trip and paint them.  I ended up using non-toxic paint pens (Painters Opaque Paint Markers by Elmer’s), which made it really fast and easy.  It’s amazing how much fun a bunch of wood and rocks can be.  We had a great …

Paper City Helicopter

Yet another request for an addition to the Paper City. A helicopter! And what a great idea, too. I poked a hole and strung some thread through the top to fly it around with. Then I made a landing pad, so you can fly on missions and then return for a smooth landing on the circle. We had a great time putting the city people in places (like the fireplace …

Play Squares for Babies

I’ve been getting a lot of people saying that they will save my projects for when their babies get a little older.  But what about the babies?  They need to have some fun too!  When my twins were little, I didn’t have much time to make toys, but I was always thinking about what I would create if I did have the time.  So now I’m …

Marionette

A couple of days ago we took another short trip out to the countryside to visit my wife’s grandparents.  The kids love visiting their great-grandparents, and so do I, because they always seem to have some vintage gifts for me.  This time it was an old box of wooden odds and ends that they thought I’d like.  Looking inside that box I started …

Paper City Vehicles

I’ve had a lot of requests (including from my son) for some cars and trucks for the paper city.  So here they are!  There’s a template below if you want to try them out.  Just cut on the black outlines and fold.  Cool! Template: Click on the image below, then print.

Modern Alphabet Game

We went to the beach last weekend, and I picked up a bunch of smooth flat rocks with the idea of painting them.  Then I thought it would be interesting to come up with a way of using the rocks in a game.  The kids have been starting to show interest in recognizing letters in the alphabet, so I came up with this game which provides a nice blend of …

Tin Can Telephones

Last weekend we got a large tin of Tinker Toys at a yard sale.  The kids really enjoyed talking into the empty can, which gave me the idea that we should make tin can telephones.  Yet another thing I remember doing as a kid.  It’s so fast and easy too.  Just open a can of food. (I really recommend a smooth-edge can opener of some sort, so …

Cowboy Cut-Outs

As a child, one of my favorite memories at my Grandma’s house was when all of the cousins would get together and she would rip off big sheets of butcher paper, fold them in half, and with ease and grace, she would cut out these fantastic cowboys for us to color.  I recently found a few of the old cowboys that we had colored as kids.  (Below …

May Day Flower Baskets

I had vague memories of weaving paper baskets for May Day as a kid, but when I started making these, the memories came flooding back. I love it when that happens. Making them is easy. Take a square piece of paper (I used some old magazine covers), and fold it into 9 equal parts (just draw a tic-tac-toe game and fold on the lines).  Cut out the corners …

Vintage Fabric Dolls

I just discovered a fantastic vintage fabric and craft supply store here in Portland, and made these simple pillow dolls with some of the fabric I found.  I embroidered the faces with my regular sewing machine, but it worked pretty well.  The twins love to pretend they are putting the dolls to bed.

Zipper Pouch

I’ve never made anything with a zipper, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I just did a very simple pouch and then drew a cat on it with a fabric pen.  I like zippers!

Walnut Boats

When I was a boy, I remember making walnut boats like this with my Grandma.  My sisters and I would play with them in the bathtub.  They were so simple and fun.  This morning we had some walnuts in the kitchen, so I made some boats with the kids! Just melt some candle wax into a walnut shell.  When the wax gets a little firm, stick a toothpick in …

Toy Bench

I just ran across some photos of the toy bench I made for the kids awhile back out of poplar wood.  I tried to design something simple with an open front.  I didn’t want a lid that could be closed on fingers.  It’s worked really well; just the right balance for the organized chaos of toy storage.  Also, note the cool latch hook pillow …

Paper City

I was drawing these little people on the train to Seattle last Saturday (to see the Alexander Calder Exhibit), and thought it would be amusing to turn them into little paper dolls. So I sketched some buildings for them and made a happy little paper city. Yes, you can join in on the fun. There is a template you can download and print below. It might …

Latch Hook Rug

For the last few months I’ve been latch hooking this rug in my spare time.  I don’t think I’ll finish it anytime soon though, as I don’t really have spare time these days.  It was fun to design, and I like the brown and cream colors.  Hopefully someday it can be a foot rug next to the chair in my art studio. It’s …