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Are Handmade Toys a Dying Art

There was a period in history when handmade toys were far from a dying art. From ancient Greek times all the way through the World War II era handmade toys made a significant mark on the world. Scientists are still discovering toy wheels and other wood toy parts resembling chariots which dates back to B.C. Jerusalem. For thousands of years handmade toys were popular. European toymakers took unfinished wood and produced impressive detailed toys. Their eye for design pushed the art to advancement. Each year makers experimented to create a more unique type of plaything for kids. Dolls were adorned with hand sewn silk fabric dresses and finely carved features. Miniature play sets displayed details as exquisite as the Taj Mahal. Each toy wheel is delicately painted to maintain texture quality.

In Germany during the 1700s custom toys made from wood crafts were a luxury. People would order them from traveling merchants for birthdays or holidays. Wooden action figures and games were developed through the centuries as well. Every item especially toys were crafted by hand. Artisans took great pride in their work. Toymakers taught the art to apprentices and family members to keep the tradition going strong. It wasn’t until the plastic manufacturing industry boom that handmade toys started to become a dying art. Slowly wooden products were replaced by plastic moldings. The need for manual labor declined as machines started to out perform man.

Wooden dolls became novelty items as the 50′s introduced us to the Barbie Doll. This beautiful plastic miniature of a blonde woman is still relevant today. Frisbees, Hula Hoops, and Mr. Potato Heads became the new standard for toys. Major toy corporations such as Hasbro entered the market dominating the industry. The 90′s brought technology into the toy market changing the dynamics and pushing wood crafts further into the dark ages.

When you browse through the toy aisles in department stores the shelves are bombarded with overpriced machine-made toys. Whether it’s the latest version of Dancing Elmo or iRobot nothing is handmade anymore. Wood products are a thing of the past. We accept one of the largest amounts of imports in the world. Have you checked the label of your child’s toys? Most likely it will state made in China or some other foreign country. Factories and sometimes sweatshops produce the majority of our goods. The economy endorses corporations over small businesses and it shows. Super Wal-Marts close down local grocers and businesses on a regular basis. The need for low cost mass-production has lead to the silencing of town artisans. Individuals who possess a talent for making goods with their hands are forced to explore it only as a side hobby instead of a flourishing business.

One positive element of our technology enhanced society is the Internet. Artisans who love creating handmade toys can purchase wood toy parts, toy wheels, and even sell their wood crafts online. Shops like ETSY, EBAY, or online crafting malls allow crafters an outlet to promote handmade toys and profit. This dying art is still managing to survive despite it’s odds.

Toy Story 3 and the Values it Taught Me

Everyone knows about Andy with his toys Buzz Lightyear and Woody and the potato heads along with others, who as a child he has numerous hours of imaginative enjoyment, making up adventures with each character as a child does. Have you ever watched a child playing with their toys?

They can take a range of toys and have an adventure and in their minds it is so real, no one else is in the room but these characters which are somehow bought to life with their vivid imagination. They have the toys character accent down to a ‘t’, whether they are good people or bad people, they change the tone of voice and the way the character interacts with others…. some imagination huh!

No matter what, children will always have a favourite toy, one that gets tucked up into bed with them each night, that goes with them on car journeys, airplanes etc… both my sons have their favourite bears still (aged 22 and soon to be 17) on their beds. They may not play with them as much if at all now, but the memories these characters hold for them is what makes these toys so special to them.

Customers, friends, family should be treated like a valued toy. If we engage with them, make them feel special and valued then you are rewarded with their loyalty in return, and no matter what these valued customers, friends and family will always support you or be with you.

It also taught me about sticking together with people you trust, and working together to solve a problem. You don’t have to be one your own, if you have friends around you, get them to engage also and to provide a solution to the problem, get everyone involved.

Each person in your team or family or friend  has a different strength that can be used, so discover what that is and put this to your advantage, to your business advantage.  Very few people are leaders, but the ones that are, stand out.  Help them to shine and to value themselves, you will be rewarded for doing this.

True leaders are selfless, and great team builders, they do not think  just of  themselves, they think of their team, the wider masses, they have a way of getting everyone to look at the objectives collectively and to then agree a way to work together to meet them.

I also learned to start being imaginative again, as a child we hold vivid dreams in our minds, we go into minute detail, as an adult reality tends to take over, and some of us may have dreams, but how vivid are they?  As kids, when we dreamed of having a new bike, or new toy we imagined playing with it, riding it, what our friends would say etc, and most of the time at Christmas or birthday you got your dream.  We need to do more of this again as adults, the way in which we think will bring things to us in the same way as when we were children.

Wow, you may say, all this from Toy Story, go see the movie and you will see what I mean….

To your continued Success

Colette Morris aka workfmhomeDiva