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.