I recently had the joy of creating a gift for my niece — a set of wooden blocks for her to play with. I’ll confess it wasn’t my first time, having made a set for my nephew, Connor, when he was about the same age.
I start with wooden blocks (of course) and then choose images from childhood ‘fairy tales’. I grew up on these tales, as did my sisters, and I think we all have fond memories around them. (Family legend includes stories of how the three of us would put on plays based on the tales, with me as the director frantically attempting to make my recalcitrant sisters do what we planned to do. Yes, I was bossy even then, and controlling. I like to think we laugh now, at least as much as the adults did back then.)
This collection has five stories: The Nightingale (two pictorial versions), The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen, and The Twelve Swans. The fifth story doesn’t have a name that I could find, but the images of children playing and flying through fireworks were too enchanting for me to pass up.
To make them, I size the larger images to roughly the size of the blocks when put together. Then I print in the highest quality possible to thick paper. (Not quite cardstock, too rigid, but something with a bit of heft to it.) Using my handy-dandy paper cutter, I cut the images in pieces to fit each block. Then I glue them on with basic white (non toxic of course!) glue. This part is the mostly difficult, and I usually have to trim the pieces slightly to make sure them fit. Even them, sometimes the images slip a bit over the edge when I apply the glue and by the time its dry, I’ve got an edge.
That won’t do for a child, so after gluing each side down and then reapplying glue at least twice more, out comes the exacto blade. Each edge is trimmed carefully, and then I take a nail file and file it down so its nice and smooth. (I guess sandpaper would work, but I didn’t have any ad I was afraid it would take the image off by accident. The nail file offered a lot of control over where I was applying it.)
Voila! Happy baby blocks.