Miniature Kitchen Set

Our youngest daughter LOVES anything that involves cooking, and she’s also enchanted by tiny objects. So I decided to paint the top of an old mint tin to resemble a stove, then I created some cooking objects that could be stowed away inside for a miniature kitchen set. So far, it’s been a huge amount of fun for her. And the twins are swooping …

Little Bird Friend

Last night I made this little mixed media bird with various scraps from my art studio – wood, feathers, wire, and fabric scraps by the awesome people at Umbrella Prints. Not sure what I’ll do with him yet. Maybe a stop-motion animation skit would be fun.

Thanksgiving Wood Turkey Toy/Decoration

It seems like Thanksgiving decorations are so difficult to find. Most stores just move straight from Halloween to Christmas and Hanukkah. So yesterday, I decided to make a little wooden turkey decoration for our mantel. As a child, I remember lying on my Grandparent’s living room floor and being able to pull things off the shelf that looked like …

Childhood Vintage Pull Toy

Here is one of my favorite toys from when I was a kid. My mom just found it in the attic. I can’t see any markings on it, but I just learned from my Facebook friends that it’s from Brio in Sweden. Such a great design! Very short movie below if you want to see it in action!

Modern Kids Ride-on Toy

Little E is always fascinated to watch her big brother and sister ride on all of their bikes and scooters. She often tries to sit on them and scoot around. I always wanted to try making a ride-on toy when the twins were little, but never had the time. So I finally got my chance! I’ll probably make more, but for this first design, I wanted to keep …

DIY Baby Toy Slot Box

Baby E has been having a lot of fun with a vintage cash register toy, but it’s too hard for her to get the coins into the small slots. So I made some round circles out of scrap wood, sanded them, and cut a few slots into a shoe box. Then the kids and I painted the coins with some non-toxic paints. She really loves putting the coins in, then opening …

Prepare for Launch!

My five year old daughter has recently discovered the fun of catapulting things with her spoon. To bring the action a bit further away from the table, I decided to make some very simple catapults out of scrap wood. After dinner we spent the entire evening catapulting Star Wars Lego figures outdoors. It was super funny, and I was surprised at how high …

Cedar Box Dollhouse and Art Books

I actually got to enjoy an afternoon alone this week. I decided to go look at art books and magazines. One of the shops had some empty cedar cigar boxes for a couple of dollars, so I got one to try out as a small dollhouse. I love the smell of the cedar, and it ended up looking pretty cool too. I also found a couple of vintage art books; one about abstract …

Wood Burned Doll Blocks

Today it was decided that we needed more people for the dollhouse, so I got out some scrap wood and had the kids draw figures on the pieces. Then I took my woodburner and traced over their drawings and made some “doll blocks”. It was so fast and fun that I had to try making a drawing, too. The dolls really helped spice up the doll house, …

Knights Battle: Made by Joel vs. Lego

My son and I are big Lego fans, and he just got a new knight that has a moveable arm. It looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I’d try and make a wooden version so we could have a friendly dual. We had a great time making a little video too. (Spoiler alert: Lego wins :) We’re already drawing up plans for additional wooden knight accessories, …

Easy DIY Modern Platform Dollhouse

I came up with some simple modern dollhouse designs for my book, Made to Play. This is one design that didn’t make it in the book, so I thought I’d share it here. It’s very fast and easy to make. All you need is a board, (any length is fine) and two small strips of wood for the feet. Then glue or nail the feet to the main board. It …

Toys for Music Video

I’ve been given the exciting honor of creating a music video for the amazing Portland band, Mnemonic Sounds. It’s going to be a ballet of puppets and toys, which I think will go perfectly with the band’s enchanting electronic pop sound. We’re going to shoot the video next week, and I can’t wait! Until then, here’s …

Flower Building Toy

My daughter loves flowers. And around the same time I thought of the branch tree idea, I came up with this flower building toy. I used some scrap wood and cut out shapes, then painted them. Then I drilled holes into a bunch of thick dowel pieces to make stacking beads for the stems. The end result is a toy that allows the child to make their own various …

Branch Trees

We’ve been having some more windy days with small sticks falling into our yard. So I took a piece of scrap board and drilled some holes into it and made a little forest building toy. It was fun sticking the branches in to build the forest, but it was even more exciting when my son turned it into a scene for his Lego figures. It might also be a …

Catapult Toy

Last week I made this wooden catapult toy. I was originally going to have it toss paper balls but thought it would be cool to sew some instead. (Similar to the yo-yo balls I made awhile back.) It worked really well. The kids both had a real kick trying to make a basket. I made each ball have slightly different weight, so you have to adjust your technique …

Wooden Dolls Giveaway

My last giveaway was so fun I thought I’d do one more for the holidays. The prize this time is two of my wooden dolls, complete with vintage fabric doll clothes that I just sewed yesterday. The dolls are solid maple and finished with food grade beeswax. My kids, nieces and nephews have been playing with these doll sets for a couple of years now. …

Small Elephant Puzzle Giveaway

I recently received a great gift of some beautiful vintage birch plywood from my wife’s grandfather.  So to test the wood, I cut a smaller version of my elephant puzzle just for fun.  It turned out being so cute that I decided to make two of them so I could try doing a small giveaway.  So here it is.  If you want to be entered to “win” …

City Block

I recently scored a free box of wood scraps and in it was this fabulous old cedar block.  I decided to paint it and turn it into a “city block”.  I think it might be a good block for the Vintage Wood Figures to hang out with.

Wooden Marble Maze

The idea for this came into my head a couple of weeks ago.  I’m probably not the first one to do it, but it’s quite fun to play with.  Similar to a marble labyrinth, only much easier, which makes it great for younger kids.  Just set the marble on the small start hole, then get it to roll down the path all the way to the end, where it …