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.

Why are the 6cm rounded body dolls not suitable for children 0-36 months but your 6.5cm ones are fine? 

As far as we know these shapes are exactly the same as those used by some fairly major producers of simple, brightly coloured imaginative play toys for youngsters and they say for ages 1+.  Yes, we adore them too.  But at the Little Brown Dog Workshop we think they are not suitable for 0-36 months and here's why. Read more.... (It's a long section, but important!)

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 that needs to demonstrate compliance and be CE marked. You can find out more about it here.

Can you give me advice about making toys? 

We can't advise but there are some pointers to help you here.

Hand painted custom orders

I'm sorry but as of summer 2019 I'm not going to be taking new custom orders. Any existing bookings will be completed as usual so if you've already been in touch about your set, please don't worry.  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. 

Why aren't your wedding figures and portraits CE marked? 

The wedding figures and family portraits are one-off, custom-made, folk art artworks made for celebrations and special occasions. They are keepsakes and not toys, so they are not CE marked.

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’.

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, but the more watery the 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 give some good guidance too