CoMo Etsian: Mama Roots

Chris, the woman and mother behind Mama Roots, makes toys based on a Waldorf inspired tradition of toymaking. I got to meet her at her lovely home where she showed me the entire process behind her toys, and it fascinated me!

First, Chris draws out what she wants the toy to look like. Then she’ll trace it onto her wood.

She gets a lot of her character ideas from childen’s books. Chris is the book buyer for the University Bookstore, but she originally started making toys when her oldest son was young. She didn’t want her house filled with a bunch of plastic toys, so she opted to make some toys for him.

She uses long wooden boards and cuts out as many shapes as she can. Chris uses the scraps as firewood, so none is wasted. Her primary tool is a scroll saw that she houses in the unfinished part of her basement.

Then, Chris uses an electric dremel sander to smooth all the edges of the toy.

She moves over to another part of her basement to add the details to the toys. Chris follows behind the dremel with a ton of hand-sanding to make sure everything is completely smooth since it will be used by children.

Chris uses an industrial wood burning pen to hand-draw on all the details of the character. They usually don’t get mouths, smiles or frowns, due to the Waldorf traditions. The idea is that children will more easily project their own feelings onto the toy while playing with it if it doesn’t have a predetermined emotion.

Then she’ll hand paints each toy with a non-toxic water color paint. Each toy, and piece of wood, takes the paint differently and can sometimes create a nice pattern.

Each toy is finished and sealed with a beeswax. It is also non-toxic and safe for children to chew on.

Here are some of her finished toys!

As soon as we moved over to the art area, her boys each pulled up a chair and dove right into the paints. I loved it!

I fell in love with Chris’ toys while I was at her house! I actually emailed her a few days later and ordered a couple! One is a gift for a little boy – it will be larger so he can chew on it, and one I’m keeping for myself. It’s the Rebuilding Bluebird and the profits go to the Joplin relief efforts. Not to mention… it’s really cute!

I wish I could have had a bunch of these growing up! How fun would it be to act out your favorite story book with some adorable wooden toys!

In addition to her etsy shop, Chris also has a blog and facebook page, so make sure you stop by and visit her there, too!

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