Carla De Jong Toys
Let me introduce you to Carla De Jong. Carla makes the most delightful timber toys and dolls. I like them because she comes up with some really quirky, fun ideas. I particularly like this fire truck. But I’m partial to the wooden mobile phone I saw on her craft stand too. Yes. My iphone is my favourite toy (Donkey Kong, you might just be beaten!) and I’m on it a fair bit for work so of course, Ned is intrigued. Perhaps with his own wooden version, he could ‘play out’ his iphone fantasies, rather than covet mine.
I wanted to share Carla’s work with you as I know you’ll love it as much as I do.
I asked her a few questions to find out a little bit more of her story… Happy reading.
Carla, can you tell me the name of your shop?
I do not have a specific name, as I’m selling from home and there is not a shopfront as such. Usually it is just “Carla de Jong – Toys”
When and how did your shop begin? What is the back story? Where does your passion arise?
The dolls originated from when our children were little (we have four children, from ‘72, ’73, ‘74 and ’81, and by now 7 and ¼ grand children). I had been taught to make a doll in class 6 at the Steiner (Waldorf) school in Holland and I somehow revitalised that knowledge to make dolls for our children. I soon found myself making them for friends and finally selling them, as well as giving classes in doll making (which I still do). The wooden toys came later.
When our youngest (our big surprise, and not mistake as she often says!) was in kindy at Glenaeon (all our children went to Glenaeon for their full schooling), kindy had to make toys for the fair and the woodwork teacher at the time offered the use of the woodwork room for the first hours in the morning. Having done that for a year, I liked it so much that I couldn’t stop and I went on making wooden toys in our garage. In the meantime I’ve ‘graduated’ to my own workshop in the backyard.
I just love making things.
I never keep any patterns or drawings, everything is made, so to say, ‘afresh’. That is one of the reasons that I am not selling on-line. If people see something there, what I have in stock may be really different because it is impossible when making things by hand for everything to be exact. For the same reason, prices change all the time as well, so it is impossible to put a price on something that could cost more or less next time around.
I don’t take orders either, as I feel it is very restricting to ‘have’ to make something, rather than making what I like at any given time. Orders do come with deadlines and that does create stress and doing this sort of work under stress is not nice! I want to put love into my work. That is my passion. I prefer that my customers choose something they love from what is available at the time. I really believe this is the happiest thing for everyone. Selling my toys is my excuse to keep on trying to better the design next time and keep on making things in a different way; I always believe I can improve on the last one!
How can people see what you have in stock and buy from you if you don’t have an on-line shop?
I sell my toys from home in Sydney, but I never advertise my address as my ‘shop’ doesn’t have regular hours. I’m flexible, people can come along when I’m home, even if it is in a weekend. I ask people to ring me ( 02 9416 5259) and make a time that suits us both. I’m most often found ‘hiding’ and ‘playing’ in the workshop where I cannot hear the doorbell. So on the phone, I ask visitors and potential shoppers to come around the back and follow the noise to find me!
But happily, I do have a website.
My website is filled with photographs of the types and kinds of things I make, which give people an idea of the kinds of things they MAY see on a particular day. It’s a bit like a treasure hunt. You never know what you might find, but the list is long and includes animals and doll house furniture. I adore working with timber.
What are your three best-sellers?
Tree houses are by far the most popular (I have various toys in the kids corner of the Australian Museum and they also have a big four storey treehouse), followed by the pull-along wombat.
The third would be the various toys with gumnut people in them.
Of the dolls, the big baby dolls are hot favourite at the moment. Hard to make a choice, I usually sell everything rather fast, so except from the tree houses the other toys would be equally popular.
What is your most obscure or quirky item available?
I guess it would be the wooden mobile phone. (ooh, my favourite!)
What is your personal favourite?
I do love my treehouses, especially as the tree stem itself often indicates what the house will look like and often you get unexpected holes incorporated, which makes it very special.
If you were given $100 and asked to buy a gift, what would YOU choose?
The gnome bus.
Lastly, you said you run Doll Making workshops. How can I find out about those?
Click the ‘Classes’ link and you’ll find a list of what is coming up. Workshops are held in Roseville.
Thank you for sharing with us, Carla.
With Christmas coming up, you might like to pop one of Carla’s gorgeous toys on your list. Perhaps it is time to make a little phone call? I’m jealous. I’d love to come with you for a peek!