Slow Play: The Art of Toy Making

Asymmetricycle, a  wooden toy by The Wandering Workshop on Etsy

I think I’m going to start a “Slow Play” trend, cel­e­brat­ing the revival of sim­ple, tried-and-true toys and games, hon­or­ing all things hand­made and crafted with love no mat­ter how long it takes to pro­duce them. I sup­pose this move­ment exists already, there are plenty of stim­u­lat­ing art toys out there for chil­dren (and adults) that meet these criteria.

Let’s take a look at the work of two very spe­cial toy­mak­ers, both of whom take great pride in cre­at­ing limited-edition objects for chil­dren with a mod­ern feel.

Midnight Caravan, a  wooden toy by The Wandering Workshop on Etsy

The Mid­night Car­a­van
avail­able for $48 from the wan­der­ing work­shop on etsy

Jose and Athina are the cre­ative minds behind The Wan­der­ing Work­shop, a small stu­dio based on the Greek island of Ios. Together, they craft high-quality, nat­ural toys for chil­dren, equally appeal­ing to eco-conscious parents.

Made by hand from ply­wood and woods, the toys are free of bio­cides and formalde­hy­des and fin­ished with non-toxic, water-based paints and var­nishes. These toys are made to last through child­hood and beyond (replace­ments parts are avail­able should any­thing break or get lost).

Flying Tricycle, a  wooden toy by The Wandering Workshop on Etsy

Fly­ing Tri­cy­cle Toy
avail­able for $144 from the wan­der­ing work­shop on etsy

Orig­i­nal, poetic and edu­ca­tional, The Wan­der­ing Workshop’s toys are beau­ti­ful to look at and seem great fun to assem­ble and play with (see videos on their web­site). There’s some­thing for every­one here, and The Fly­ing Tri­cy­cle Toy would make a spe­cial heir­loom gift for a lit­tle one. (via pirou­ette)

Spinning top toy by Drache & Bär

Spin­ning Top
avail­able for $25 from drache & bär

I’ve fol­lowed Pol­ish designer Grze­gorz Cholewiak and Berlin artist Lena Hensel’s col­lab­o­ra­tive work from the out­set and hope to have the plea­sure of meet­ing them in their Berlin design stu­dio in May. Drache & Bär’s (Dragon & Bear) col­lec­tion of toys for chil­dren are small, sim­ple and striking.

The cou­ple have cho­sen to rein­ter­pret a hand­ful of child­hood clas­sics, like the skip­ping rope and spin­ning top, giv­ing them a mod­ern look with eye-catching folk pat­terns in white and turquoise.

Beautiful toys by Drache & Bär

Toll’s Toy Col­lec­tion
avail­able for $25, $25 and $79 respec­tively from drache & bär

The Run­ning Wheel, which comes in three pat­terns and is made from beech, ply­wood and non-toxic eco-paints, was designed for and tried-and-tested by the couple’s tod­dler Lena. The entire Toll’s Toy col­lec­tion is crafted by hand in Cra­cow, Poland.

Toy packaging by Drache & Bär

Drache & Bär Packaging

It is impos­si­ble to talk about Drache & Bär with­out men­tion­ing brand design and pack­ag­ing. All of the company’s prod­ucts are beau­ti­fully pre­sented in min­i­mal boxes, as well as being num­bered, signed and stamped. You really do feel as if you are buy­ing some­thing special.

The cou­ple are work­ing on new designs fea­tur­ing a new color palette and mate­ri­als to be released this Spring, so do keep an eye out for those. I’d also like to rec­om­mend this video about their cre­ative projects. Drache & Bär only ship to Europe at present, but do feel free to con­tact them if you live elsewhere!

Pic­tured at the top of of this post: Asym­met­ri­cy­cle, avail­able for $82 from The Wan­der­ing Work­shop on Etsy.