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Posts: 1,054
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi All -  I'm new to posting here.  I've read great information that is extremely helpful.  I've noticed on the color toys that they are completely colored.  What I've done is a more transparent color so the wood grain shows through.  My question:  is it more customary to completely color, is it personal preference, do they sell better....   20140702_182608_resized (3).jpg 
Ken Martin

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi ctowne

I am so glad to see your work.  I like the light transparent look you did here.
Can I ask what paint you used to get this effect?

You will find there is no hard fast rule about which is better painted toys or unpainted toys.

Some toy makers never paint anything claiming their toys are safer, and that is what the public wants.

Some toy makers paint everything, the paints are now child safe, and color is what draws the children to the toys.

Bottom line is you should do what you like to do.  Because when you like your work you will be comfortable giving it away to your children or grandchildren.  If it is good enough for your own it will be good enough for your customers.

My wife and I just came back from a craft show, where we set up a play table very low so children could play on it.  We put all natural wood toys on the table because we though parents would like them better.  However, when it came time to buy some of the toys the children had been playing with the kids went for the painted toys.  You can only guess who got what they wanted.  We sold lots of painted toys, and did not sell any of the unpainted toys the children had been playing with.

Thanks for sharing here, we all look forward to seeing what everybody is doing.
We all learn by sharing.

You might like to look up Udie's How To on baking or burning wood to get different colors and tones on brown for your toys.  This method creates an all natural toy that can be really interesting to look at.

Remember if the toy is safe for the age group of children you are selling to, there is no right or wrong way to build or paint or not paint.

Have Fun. 

Kenneth W Martin

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks Ken.  I agree that the kids go for the color but the adults like the natural.  I do make most in natural wood as well.

On the transparent finishes I've used the child safe little acrylics that you can buy at Michael's and water them down.   It works great for some colors but not good for  the blue, brown, black, gray colors.  The colors just don't evenly disperse.  But I have finally found General water based stains and dyes.  They a kid safe and they color so evenly.  You can even mix them 50/50 with the General Poly.  My color life just got easier.  Of course I do also top coat with Poly. 

I have tried baking the wood and like that as well for the natural wood toys and especially wheels.  You get a good variety of color.   I did learn the hard way to bake first and cut later.  I precut some parts and they shrank.  LOL. 

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Reply with quote  #4 
ctowne - Thanks for posting your farm project. Your finishing looks great. From zooming in on your photo I can see an excellent job on sanding first and then applying your colours. I was not able to see any raised grain which could make the toy uncomfortable to handle and play with. I was going to ask you about any additional finish you may have added, but your reply post answered that question.

Finishing is really, as Ken mentioned, a personal choice. If your method is milk painting, staining or watered down acrylic paints, then that is your style or lets say your trade mark. Again, as Ken mentioned, is that what the buying public wish to purchase at craft shows, organized charity bazars or other types of shows where you propose to sell your efforts? No one has the answer to that question. Joe public is very unpredictable in their selections. That is assuming you intend on going public and sell your creations.
If you are intending on selling to the public, than making a few toys and finishing them as you are doing now and including in you selection unfinished toys together with a few multiple coat painted toys may assist you in determining what your buying public wishes to purchase in your area.

You may wish to take a few moments and read some of the Forum posts and reply posts in the "Discuss Marketing/Sales Strategies" section .

Take a look at and do a search on wood cars, wood trucks, etc. and you will see many different finishes being used. Fully painted, unpainted, thin painted, one side painted only, some stressed, antiqued and you will also see their suggested selling price, comments from people who have purchased them, etc.

By all means do what ever makes you happy, establish you trade mark and have some fun with it.
I am quite confident that the toys you make and in the style you make them will be enjoyed by family and friends and Joe pubic.

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Posts: 1,054
Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks Udie for your input.  And yes, sanding is the key to this and many finished.  The colored finished require more sanding than the natural.  Probably because of using cheaper/less dense wood (pine) and a water type finish raises the grain much more.  I have learned to paint or sponge them with water first and then sand.  That helps that coat of color remain fairly consistant. 

I'm very excited about getting out to my first show and see how Joe public likes the pieces.  Of course, friends and family are very supportive.  I will be searching the sites mentioned to ballpark some pricing. 

I want to thank everyone on this forum for their input.  It is so informative.  It has made the learning curve much shorter.  Also the patterns on this sight are so much fun to build and a great variety.

Happy, Safe  Building People!!

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