Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Block Heads

I'm going through and bookmarking sites and making lists of things I love for Christmas this year, and the kids' selections are pretty slim so far. But I do have one resource that I really want to share, and that is wooden toy maker John Michael Linck. Well, Mr. Linck is not wooden; he makes wooden toys. You know perfectly well what I meant. Anyway, his stuff is amazing, and intended to last not just for years, but for generations.

Bella received, in 2003, when she was barely a year old, as a gift from her grandparents, Mr. Linck's fabulous Block Wagon. This is not a cheap item, by any means. But then again, it's...well, it's not a cheap item. It's meant to be an heirloom. It is the most-played-with toy she has ever owned, and she has never stopped playing with it from the time she first got it to the present day--right now it's in a prominent spot in the living room, and she builds from it several times a week.

Bella learned to pull up and walk with the aid of that block wagon. And then she built her first structures, which were, admittedly, simple in the beginning.


She used the blocks for abstract art, as seen here, in "Family Portrait, In Blocks."

Currently, one of her favorite things to do is to build a fanciful structure of the blocks, and then set up her easel and pastels and create a still-life based on what she's built from the blocks. She even photographs it--often.

block wagon, by Bella / This is Today 28

I'm telling you, this thing is incredible, and I love that one day she'll be able to pass it down to her own child. The construction is flawless, and each block is satiny smooth and perfect.

Mr. Linck makes an assortment of toys, including a smaller pull-behind wagon full of building blocks, and an impressive set of wooden train cars meant to last a lifetime and beyond. Many items are affordibly priced, and there's even a "train car of the month" club, which I have to admit seems kinda cool. And there are TWENTY cars to choose from!

This is my contribution, totally unsolicited and uncompensated in any way, this year, to the No More Plastic Crap From China movement, as well as the effort to buy handmade, as far as major toy items go. You certainly couldn't do much better.


  1. They are very nice toys and would make great gifts. I remember growing up we had some really nice wooden toys that are still around for my nieces. The work that goes in to those toys is incredible. I will have to check out his website. They would make much better play things than the plastic crap from China:o)

    There was an elderly couple that lived across from my parents growing up and he made wonderful things with wood, had a whole workshop with all types of specialized tools for his projects. He helped us make stuff, I will ahve to get pictures of some of them.

  2. My mother bought my daughter a handmade wooden shopping cart when the Princess was 5. That was almost 20 years ago. 2 more generations of kids have played with it and the cart is still as sturdy as when it was purchased.

    That being said, I have a sneaking suspicion that the block tower in the picture you posted was actually built by the Poodle standing proudly in the background.

  3. Have you thought of looking through Etsy at the handmade toys? I have bought a bunch of stuff on Etsy this year for relatives (mostly jewellery) and it has all arrived and been fantastic -- with the personal touch and often extra goodies! There's lots or art, too, of course... for the main site

  4. I would definitely love to get my kid something like that.. who doesn't love blocks?!

  5. Bella is sooo much like girl.imp!

    That she can use the toy in so many creative ways is wonderful!!

  6. Hey Belinda, you've been tagged!
    Things Fall Apart

  7. This is great. My brother and I still have wooden toys from our childhood which we have passed to our own children. They are knicked and scarred, as they have received a lot of fun times, but they will last for many more years of hard and loving play.

  8. I know you hear this all the time, but your daughter is so freakin' CUTE! Is she a pain to babysit, I wonder? Too bad I don't live in ARKANNY! It's probably a lot like TENNASAY (I'm practicing my Southern Accent on the computer today. NOT to make fun, but really, it is fun.)

    Anyway, I HART (how do you say that Southern?) your blog; your writing is great & so entertaining. I love to read it.

  9. PS. Bella's art is SO COOL. Maybe she made you "complicated" because you are this amazing woman that she can't begin to understand? In a good way? Who knew analyzing toy block art could be so much fun?