Last week I was greeted by a disturbing notice in my mailbox. A letter from Lee Valley revealed that a favorite in our family’s toy box was likely adorned with lead paint. A set of Russian Matriuschka nesting dolls I had purchased was the contaminated plaything. I cringed as I stared down at this heavily played-with item. Much of the paint had chipped off. Smoke billowed from my ears as I considered my sweet innocent children being unnecessarily exposed to lead.
I continue to be shocked, disgusted and frustrated with the toy industry. My distrust over the safety controls in place propelled me on a quest to provide my children with non-toxic, quality toys. I’ve discovered that toys crafted with my own two hands provide the best solution in many cases. I’m in complete control of the materials and manufacturing quality standards in place! My solution to the loss of the Matriuschka dolls was to create a homemade version of a nesting toy. With a crochet hook in hand, I was able to whip up a set of woolen rainbow nesting bowls over the course of a few evenings. A couple of cycles through my washing machine felted them sufficiently to hold shape.
Nesting toys have always been a favorite in my house. Both Chi-Chi and Muffy find delight in solving the “puzzle” these toys present by sorting the objects in order of size. Their creative imaginations have allowed them to discover many other uses for these open-ended toys. The six vibrant vessels often serve as cooking pots and serving dishes in their bustling play kitchen. Just last night, Chi-Chi was “skating” in the living room and decided he needed a hat to protect his ears from the cold. In the blink of an eye the orange bowl served as a cozy toque.
I’ve managed to find a silver lining amidst my feelings of disgust and rage. I’ve embarked on a self-improvement journey that has been rewarding and exhilarating. I’m having the time of my life acquiring new skills and experimenting with new materials. Over the last six months I’ve added crochet, knitting, carving and felting to my list of hobbies and interests! While I am personally enjoying the creative outlet these projects provide, Chi-Chi and Muffy are reaping the benefits of a toy box filled with beautiful, natural hand-crafted toys. It’s a win-win situation for the whole family!