Why are some parts not suitable for children 0-36 months?
Some products are not suitable for children from 0-36 months because they are small parts that could present a choking hazard or obstruct a young child's airway. This includes any 'people' shapes under 6.4cm in height and other shapes that would fit inside something called a 'Small parts cylinder'.
Other parts have an advisory marking of 1+, meaning they are suitable for children who can sit unaided.
What does EN71 compliance mean?
EN71 certification is part of the journey to compliance for making and selling toys. You can be sure our parts that are EN71 compliant are suitable for making toys, but that doesn't mean they are a finished toy or can be CE marked.
EN71 compliance testing is expensive, so we are focusing on larger parts that will be suitable for making toys for all but the youngest children. If there's no test, it doesn't mean the part is not suitable for toy makers, it just means we haven't done the first stage of testing for you and that's generally because they are smaller parts that are not suitable for children under 36 months in age.
If you are buying EN71 certified shapes for toy making we'll be glad to email a copy of the certificate to you.
Why aren't your unpainted shapes CE marked?
Little Brown Dog Workshop sells unpainted wooden peg dolls and shapes as craft parts and not as toys. For the shapes to become toys they need to be decorated and finished, and it is this completed toy and its packaging that needs to demonstrate compliance and be CE marked.
What the parts are decorated / dressed / painted and sealed with is just as important as the shape itself and the maker of the finished toy needs to demonstrate that all these elements, and the product packaging, complies with toy safety legislation.
There's a detailed process of testing, reporting, demonstrating conformity and marking to be dealt with before any completed item can be called a toy.
Do you do custom orders?
I'm sorry but from summer 2019 I stopped taking custom orders. I'm hoping to be doing some limited releases of special figures and there will be news about those on Instgram and Facebook when batches are ready.
A huge thank you to everyone who has ordered sets from me over the past years, it's been an absolute honour to be involved in so many of your special days.
Painting figures with children
I use artists acrylics because I am painting keepsakes for adults but they are not really suitable for children to use or paint toys with. You can use acrylic, gouache or even watercolour to paint wood shapes as well as pens and pencils. The more watery your paint, the more it will raise (slightly roughen) the wood grain. For youngsters, even felt pen is effective but it will bleed into the wood grain.
You should look for paints that are child safe - that's not quite as obvious as it sounds, as you're just as likely to find them in the room paints at a DIY store as in a paint box (look for things that are toy safe or EN71-3 certified)
There's a lovely company called Tiny Land that make food grade paints for little ones - if you are looking for bright colours for stains, they'd be a great place to look
The sealer is important too - again, look for toy-safe, ‘low VOC’ sealers. If you use a children's paint many are designed to be soluble (i.e. washable) so it might be worth doing a test figure before sealing, or you may find you are re-hydrating your paint and dragging it off again, but a stain with a sealer looks really lovely. Different sealers suit different paints.
The Brewers Paints website and Wood Finishes Direct give some good guidance too.
Paints for artwork, portrait and wedding figures
For painting keepsakes, wedding figures and portraits. I tend to use a range of artists and craft acrylic paints. The surface can be prepared with gesso for artwork on wood.
You can use acrylic, gouache or even watercolour to paint wood shapes, but the more watery the paint, the more it will raise the grain of the wood. For figures I paint a couple of base coats directly onto the wood, and then sand the figure back, before painting two or three more. It gives a lovely smooth surface for detail, but it can take a lot of coats to paint to get a dense, uniform colour.
The pegs are great fun and can be done with one or two coats of paint, if you don’t mind a slightly rough surface. The colour will go on stronger in earlier coats as the water is absorbed into the wood more easily. You can pencil in your design and paint separate colours between the lines, or paint the whole figure and build up your layers as you go.
Then I use a water based acrylic sealer over the top. The best general purpose one would be a satin finish water-based sealer/varnish, preferably ‘toy safe’.