Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wooden Peg Doll Craft

The following is a guest post from Becky Whitney of Rub Some Dirt on It-

One thing I have learned as my son has grown into toddlerhood is that although I do not have an inherently crafty bone in my body, he truly enjoys when we are creative and I usually learn something from my inevitable mistakes.  Therefore, all crafts are worth the effort, really.  Kids have fun, we gain experience and with it, knowledge.  So when I found this craft the other day at,  although it looked out of my usual crafty comfort zone, I knew I still had to give it a try.  It looked completely manageable and her daughter's pleasure was enviable.  Wooden peg dolls that help teach sorting and colors!  I wanted my kids to play happily with homemade wooden dolls, too!

So I went to JoAnn Fabrics in West Lebanon and bought these little wooden peg dolls and cups in their unfinished wood section.  Cost me less than ten bucks.

Then, I just straight up copied what the mom from Gluesticks did, because although I have great intentions, I’m not artistic.  So since hers looked super cute, I figured I'd just follow in her artsy footprints.

Things to consider:  What type of paint should you use?  Well, how old are your kids?  I had a ton of fingerpaint at home, so that's what I decided to go with.  I knew it was Crayola non-toxic so it would be no big deal during the painting process or if my one-year-old Emmy decided to use one as a teether.  Gluesticks mom Brandy has a toddler, not a baby, so she used acryllic paint and a spray paint layer to seal it all up.  I asked about such spray paints at JoAnns, and they weren't too keen on the idea of letting a baby suck on wooden dolls shellacked in spray paint (neither was I, obviously), so I just decided it would be worth it to make sure that the dolls were mouth-friendly in case they did make their way into Emmy's mouth (which they inevitably would and already have).  This caused her mouth to turn green and washed away a bit of the paint.  Solution?  None yet, but I'll just try to keep them away from her; otherwise I'll be repainting them after she sucks the fingerpaint off.  For me, better than worrying that two and a half year old Jackson may accidentally share one with her, especially since I'm always begging him to share with her anyway.  Too much to think about and mixed signals.  I decided to keep it simple.

So I went with fingerpaint.  Maybe not the best solution, but it is what it is.  Fingerpaint doesn't go on as smoothly as other types of paint, so be prepared to do a few coats if you are going for craftaliciousness.  I just go for get 'er done and let's paint the darn things.

Something else to consider:  Should you let your toddler help you paint them?  The easy answer is yes!  Let them experiment with all things artsy and beautiful!  The other easy answer is heck no!  Are you insane?  I think my current answer to that question is yes, let them paint one cup and then make sure you have a spouse, friend, family member around to haul them straight to the tub because they will be a mess.  Crafting with friends is always more fun, anyway.  And you will want to keep painting since you went to all the effort to get all the stuff together and ready, so best be able to hand the kids off to someone else when they look like this:
Proud but filthy.  That is why I did this in the lull between dinner and bedtime.  He was getting in the bath anyway, so no extra work for the parents.

Okay, so kids are now in bed.  You can now focus and actually finish this darn thing, which has become more work than you realized you were signing up for.

This may seem obvious to you, but it wasn't to me so I'll just tell you which way I found to be the simplest to paint these.  Stick a finger in, paint the bottom and sides, then top, then inside last from above.  That way you won't have to touch parts that have already been painted.  Probably pretty obvious, but it took me three cups to figure that one out.  I'll just save you the trouble.

Then you can paint the dolls however you'd like.  Save yourself the trouble of painting their faces and just let their faces be wood-colored.  I used colored pencils to draw the face and a few blobs of brown paint for the hair.  (My husband was actually impressed with my hairstyles; they were all slightly different and Justin Beiberish).  And viola!

Eight new friends with eight little homes.

I finished them that night and Jackson was psyched to find them on the kitchen table the next morning.  He said, "Our dollies!" and then "They are so cool!"  He is getting so big.

But apparently not too big for dollies!

So final consensus is that this was the messiest and most labor-intensive craft I've done yet (meaning it just took the longest, but mostly because I had cheap paint and paintbrushes and because I did multiple layers of paint and added the white dots).  Probably could have been quicker if I didn't let Jackson help or if I was more truly crafty, but my slightly disfunctional craftiness makes it fun and I'm glad Jackson got to help.  I'm doing this for them, not me, anyway.

I say give it a try, and please let me know how it goes if you do!  I think this would be a lovely gift for a holiday or birthday--Jackson loves playing with them at the table while I prepare his lunch or dinner.  And he is definitely not a dollie kind of guy.  He really just loves sorting them and putting them in and out of their homes.  I think any kid would really like them and they are definitely worth the effort!

Photos courtesy of Becky Whitney

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