Sunday, November 30, 2014

Twaddle and Bleat

This horse is so dead and beaten it's like...actually, no, that's a freaky metaphor.  Let's just skip it.

So as you've heard by now, Sam and I opened an Etsy shop called Twaddle and Bleat that sells natural baby toys that we have made by hand, yes, ourselves.

The idea actually came about when Rosalind was a couple of months old.  If you know me, you know I perceive babies as incomprehensible aliens, and it didn't truly occur to me while I was pregnant (well, until I was about 8 or 9 months along, anyway) that an infant needed anything other than a way to eat, sleep, and poop in safety.  And actually, that's true, up until they get to be a couple months old, at which point, they need extra stimulation.  Enter books and toys and the like.

I knew in advance that I wasn't a fan of flashy, noisy, single-purpose stuff.  This usually means the alternative is toys made from natural materials, and something simple enough that it can be used for a long time without getting hackneyed.  So I started reading about Montessori, Waldorf, etc etc, and found lots of interesting stuff (and a lot of stuff that made me roll my eyes, for the record).  But the thing I liked the most was the approach to play, even from Day One As Parent.  I looked into some Montessori-style baby toys and LE GASP they will cost you an arm and a leg.  So I decided to make my own.

The first thing we made was a bell rattle.  Ours was a little more ghetto than you might find being sold elsewhere, but it was easy, and it cost probably $1 in materials (and a little more for time).  Rosalind loved it, and I loved it too, until she started shoving the bells in her mouth at every opportunity and it started to tarnish.

Whoa!  She looks so young
By this point, I had made a couple of other things for her, like a bead jar, and learned by observing her play with her own stuff and stuff at Grandma Wasden's what kind of things she was interested in.  There were these plastic slat things on an old Sesame Street toy that she really seemed intrigued by, so I set out to make some out of wood.  Thus was born The Clapper!  I like these especially because so far as I've been able to find, I might be the first person to think of the idea.  I won't be offended if I find out I'm not, I just thought I was pretty clever.

The clappers were OLD NEWS by the time I did these photos, so she all but refused to pick them up for the picture

Anyway, after I'd made a handful of Rosalind's toys and she really seemed to like them a lot, the idea that I might make more to sell (which my mom had been drilling into me over and over from the second I made the bell rattle) started to seem a little more possible.  I'd done tons of research on natural approaches to play, on materials, on pricing, on government restrictions and regulations in children's toys, etc.  So I made it happen.

It took me like 4 hours to get this logo and it's still not how I want it.  Paint is cool and all, but really, pixels?  >:(

Rosalind loved this photo shoot.  I mean, toys!

Sam was a huge support through all of this, by which I mean he handled the saws, drills, and did all the fancy knot tying (because he is a pro at knots, and I can use tools but I'm a bit wobbly, being a runt, so it looks much nicer if he does it).  You've seen that rattle, right?  Very cool, and all his idea (once we were looking for a design without exposed metal).

Piles of bead rings

The drill press was a life saver for the 40 clappers we made

We spent hours sanding together and going over designs and construction, not to mention rubbing ev-uh-ree-theeng with beeswax (baby safe!) once we decided it would be better to condition the wood.  Good times.  I wish I had taken more pictures of the in-progress stuff, but oh well.  Just know it was fun (but taxing) and we did it all for YOU!

Anyway, this weekend was the Christmas Gift and Craft Fair in Spanish Fork.  It was fun to share a booth with my mom (she was there selling books and invited me along) for the two-day event, and she actually did pretty well, but alas, we sold 5 toys the entire weekend.  But considering most people there were the sort who were very interested in the booth next to us selling 3-Wolf-Moon-type shirts and BB guns, I don't think it was the right target audience, so to speak.  These people couldn't even pronounce "Twaddle."
The setup on Day 1 of the fair (kept getting messed up and the table was in the wrong place for being welcoming)

The setup on Day 2 of the fair, plus a sign my mom made to draw people in

A better view of the Day 2 setup.  Notice the addition of more information and pictures...still didn't help sales!

I did learn a lot though, and we only need to sell a certain number of items more in order to comp for materials and such, so I'm happy if we just trickle-sell on Etsy from now on.

Oh, and I'm hoping to continue to make more stuff for Ros as she gets older, so hopefully in the future I will have items available for toddlers yaaaaay!

If you want to see more cute pictures of a baby playing with toys, I put some up on my photo blog, which you can find here.

Also, a bunch of people have been confused by the name of the company.  They are both phrases from Sherlock Holmes.  HAST THOU NOT READ THY SCRIPTURE?  Ok, just me then...
Ineffable Twaddle = "A Study in Scarlet"
Unmitigated Bleat = "The Adventure of the Red Circle"

Thursday, November 13, 2014


I can't believe how fast this year is going by! It's halfway through November already. Crazy stuff.

So. On November first we got all fancied up and had a nice date.

I did not take any pictures because, like, "living in the moment" and junk.
But we had dinner at Firehouse Subs, which was actually way tastier than I expected. And I had never even heard of it before! Have you had it before? If not, go.

Afterward, we drove around and looked for apartments for rent in neighborhoods we like in Orem. We found a couple, but they all fill up too quickly :(

Next we drive down to BYU to the HFAC to see the Royal Ballet of Cambodia. It was quite the amazing experience, really. It felt good to experience another culture again. I miss anthropology sometimes. Le sigh. We even had an introduction to the evening by the Royal Prince of Cambodia himself!

There were two dances, then a musical interlude with three songs, then two more dances. I was seriously impressed with the amount of balance and control it took to perform these dances (which were choreographed by the Royal Princess herself oh la!)

My favorite dance was one called "The Dance of Moni Mekhala" (among other names), which told the story of the water goddess, who had a magic shiny orb. She danced around and showed off her orb, which made a demon giant really jealous, so the rest of the dance was them dance-fighting, and it was really cool. 

Ok sorry, sacreligious interlude over :D

At one point the demon threw his silver axe at the water goddess and it made me jump.

Other ones they did that I liked were the first dance, which was a portrayal of the four cardinal directions and Brahma, and the famous dance they've done at Angkor Wat since the 10th century.

It was a neat experience, and while I was worried the audience would be disrespectful, they were actually very polite and I hope Utah made a good impression on Cambodia's finest.

Anyway, I think we definitely need to get out more. Oh boy.

In the wings I have a rather exciting project we've been working on that I will hopefully be able to unveil next week. Stay tuned!