Product Spotlight: Shape & Unshape Autos

While each of us at 559 have a soft-spot for a different product, our fans all tend to agree upon our Shape & Unshape Autos as one of their favourites. Truly a family effort, they are handcrafted, and designed to be simple, yet beautiful. Today, we thought we'd take a closer look at these popular little cars.

Designed by Jennifer, each auto starts it's journey with Susan, just as Jennifer did (Susan is Jennifer's mother, and also the less publicized half of 559). Susan carefully cuts out each auto body, drills the holes for the windows and axles, and does the initial sand on the entirety of the vehicle. After that, each batch makes it's way to Jennifer and Tyler, where...

Tyler (Jennifer's husband and the completely non-publicized auto-sander at 559) hand-sands the edges of every auto and their tiny windows. We'll be honest, he's picky about his sandpaper and is a little obsessive about ensuring that every auto has edges that are not only smooth and safe, but are clean and uniform, allowing the ridiculous good looks of the auto to shine. It's not glamourous work, but we're forever grateful to him for it.

After all of the cutting and sanding, the auto bodies end up on Jennifer's work table. Jennifer has the responsibility to hand-paint every wheel with at least two coats of our 100% non-toxic, super-safe milk paint. Each batch of milk paint has to be mixed from it's powdery beginnings, and while it can be a little bit finicky to work with, we sleep easier at night knowing that milk paint is the safest colour finish out there for baby and children's toys.

Following the painting of the wheels comes the oiling: the wheels, hub caps and auto bodies are all hand-oiled using hemp oil, which is not just safe for toys, but is actually food safe. It's during this step that the beautiful wood grains appear, which always makes Jennifer a little bit giddy, and creates the look that makes each auto a tiny, unique, playable, wood sculpture. And finally, every auto is assembled using a small (of course!) mallet and our toy-safe wood glue. Not only is wood glue strong (usually stronger than wood itself), but the brand that we use is non-toxic and is actually approved for "indirect food contact" (think cutting boards and salad bowls). It's also water-resistant, which matters a lot more on our rattles that find their way into the drooling mouths of little teethers!

And from there... they're each lovingly packed into our storage boxes, carefully arranged in display at the markets we show at... and then taken home by you, to be banged around, driven off of coffee tables, and used in innumerable toy crash-ups, just as they should be!