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Meet Handcrafted America’s Artisan Steve Baldwin, Baldwin Toys

Steve Baldwin, Baldwin Toys

With 30 years sharing his skills with high school students behind him, retired industrial arts teacher Steve Baldwin did not take to life in a porch swing, watching time pass. Instead, he created a whole new career for himself borne of the same passion he imparted daily in those hallowed halls—creating fine, completely handcrafted wood toy cars. He’d been making wooden toys since the late 60s, but in 1976, he started Baldwin Toys. His workshop was a corner of his basement, and he intended to make just six cars, thinking he would sell one a month at art shows. That plan went out the window at the very first show, when all six cars sold.

Steve’s cars start from rough lumber—walnut, cherry, maple, rosewood and padauk. Each car is as unique as the grain patterns of the various woods. Steve spends hours on each step of the process, from initial design, to precise fitting and shaping, to hand sanding and finishing with rich oils and wax. Most designs are built on the puzzle concept, where the car can be dismantled and reassembled.

“If you are giving the item as a gift; wrap each of the pieces individually and watch as the recipient tries to guess what it is as they unwrap each new piece,” Steve says on his website.

Steve enjoys getting out to art shows and chatting with people. He’s displayed at more than 500 shows across the country, and has won countless ribbons and awards, and every year his toys are featured at the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concerts.

Meet Steve…

What drew you to your chosen craft?

Ever since I was a small child I have been driven to make things.

What do you enjoy most about your craft?

Creating new pieces, the ideas just come, and then I have to make it.

Why is it important for people to make things with their own hands?

It is such a great feeling to make things with your own hands.

In what ways are handmade goods better than those that are mass produced?

They are a labor of love.

What does the future hold for your type of work?

It will be around forever, people never get rid of handmade wooden toys.

 


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