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!

CoMo Arts : Audrey McFadden

A Busy Mom’s Guide to Feeding Your Soul and Finding Time to Follow a Passion

Audrey McFadden is many things. A foodie with a flair for making incredible mouth watering recipes. A world traveler who loves to explore the sights, sounds and textures of countries with different cultures from our own. An artist on canvas as well, bringing her imagination to life with a few brush strokes of acrylic paint and a few moments to herself when she can carve them out. But first thing’s first – she, like many of us, is a busy mom and wife who enjoys taking care of her family and watching her kids grow.

If you opened your Sunday paper last weekend (May 22nd, 2011) and saw a burst of pretty colors and eye-popping palates then you’re already familiar with Audrey McFadden art. When you see her creative bursts of color, your mood is automatically lifted and your mind begins to travel to a place where bright colors flourish and flowers never fade. Perfect for any room in your home, Audrey’s original pieces are not only a treat for the eyes (lucky us!) but they take care of a very important part of a mom’s life that often gets ignored; her soul. According to the busy mom of two boys, Audrey says, “painting feeds my soul.” That’s something that can easily get lost in any mom’s world when she is too busy driving her kids to soccer practice or dance class, grocery shopping and taking care of everyone else before herself.

Audrey began painting in 2008 after moving into a bigger house with barren walls. “I couldn’t find anything I liked that was affordable since I had just quit my job to stay home with my two sons and was feeling the budget crunch. So, I thought maybe I could paint my own art like they do on HGTV shows all the time. Why not, right? I went to our local Michael’s and bought a few canvases and a small inexpensive art set,” Audrey says. It was that simple. “I had never even thought about painting before. And I never thought it would get this far. Own my own art business? Never thought that would happen!”


Audrey is a creative person by nature, so picking up a brush and just creating something from her imagination came easily. Her interests in cooking and traveling are also focal points and inspiration for her pieces which are always bright and electric with color and energy.

This local mommy artist believes every woman should make an effort to find a creative outlet and stop listening to the voice that tells you that you can’t do it. “Get out of your head and just go for it! It will feel great! There is always a little time to devote to yourself; when kids go to bed or before they wake up; when they’re in school. And you don’t necessarily need a lot of money; Craft stores have huge discount coupons. The great thing about painting and having a studio in your own home is that you can do a little bit at a time. I take time when I can, either when it’s nap and quiet time or after the boys are in bed. My husband travels a lot for work, so I’m home alone after the boys are in bed. It is the perfect end to a busy and often crazy day to go unwind with a paint brush.”

Check out her website and new Facebook page that showcase her artwork and give details on how you can purchase a one-of-a-kind piece or matching series of her work. Be sure to visit her at Art in the Park this year June 4-5 at Stephens Lake Park and Mid-Missouri PrideFest on June 12.

Need a little nudge towards following your own passion? Some final inspiration from our mommy artist Audrey McFadden:

“If you take time for yourself and are happy, then you will be a better mom and have happier kids. It all starts with you. I think as women in general, we want to put everyone else’s needs first. It’s just our nature. But we can all get up a little earlier than everyone else or take time at night to do something just for ourselves. We need to feed our souls somehow. I love the saying, ‘If momma ain’t happy, no one’s happy.’ So true for my household!”