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.