When I got the call that I was invited to interview with Declynn James, the two-year-old creative director at Brunner, I quickly set out on a new construction project. This time, it had to be something cool, entertaining. An object or toy he would be able to play with. Initially, I had the idea of making a train conductor hat like the one Alec Baldwin wears in the Thomas the Tank Engine series. When I asked the four-year-old son of a family friend what he thought of the hat idea, he looked very very bored.
I instead settled on blocks. Toy blocks. I knew I could make them and paint them and Declynn could play with them. A conversation with my best friend over a plate of Thai Red Curry took it all to the next level. I told him what I wanted to do, toy blocks. But he recommended sticking to the train idea. We settled on making a toy train where its guts were made of toy blocks.
The best part about this night was we had just eaten, I was tired and could have very easily put this off. Instead, I took a chance and TJ Hawk and I drove to Lowes and then to his home to start work on this Toy Block Train. What ensued was one of the best collaborations we’ve ever had.
- Poplar 2×4
- Poplar 1×1
- Wood Glue
- High Grit Sandpaper
We were table-sawing the tiny block pieces at midnight. But we were careful to whisper.
After spending a few more hours setting up the frame and sanding the little toy blocks, we finalized the design. TJ took care of the dowels that would hold the blocks in place. He also built a cute little cow catcher for the front, bolted the wheels, and screwed in a cab and smokestack.
It was well held together when it came back to me but needed a lot of touching up. The screws had ripped some of the dowels and they needed to be glued. Also, everything needed to be painted. I’ll go into the paintwork for my next post but special shoutout to TJ Hawk for all his help on this project.