Here’s a fun way to turn common trash into a fun toy. We all know those little square plastic bread tabs that keep plastic bags closed. This is an easy project anyone can make at home. All you need is a hard wood stick from outside. A 3/4″ maple or oak branch off the ground will do. Other than that, all you need is a few bread tabs as ammo, and a saw to cut the branch. Sandpaper 100 grit is good to make it all finished and feel smooth.
You can use pretty much any type of saw, from electric jig saw to a hack saw. Just a couple swipes is all you need to make a shallow cut groove. You want the groove to be deep enough to catch the bread tab when under pressure, but not so deep it doesn’t shoot forward when released. If you cut your groove too deep, cut the branch off and cut another groove until it works. I angled my cut slightly forward to help it release and shoot.
This is a fun toy because it’s slightly dangerous. Please do not aim or shoot at people or pets. Don’t put an eye out, because that’s when the fun stops! If your bread tabs are the type with bumps on each edge, use scissors or tin snips and cut the little bumps away so each edge is straight and fits easily into the groove.
There are some on my facebook who seem annoyed at times with our president. Being a toy maker, I thought of a simple solution for them. Turn the crank, it hammers his head. Make your own laser cut Make America Great Again toy with the FREE JEMTOY SVG file.
I have always been fascinated by how simple homopolar motors are. Kids are blown away by the immediate fun. But not just kids, everyone wants to check it out. Made only of a battery, a magnet, and copper wire, this simple motor can get really hot. It’s hard to play with them without forgetting and grabbing the hot wire or battery by mistake. I wondered if I could build little light weight wood structures to make them more finger safe. Getting the perfect wire shape can also be tricky, so I have to consider balance and stability, and of course see how fast I could get it to spin.
I’m really psyched about what I have cooked up in the JEMTOY studio, because these things can really spin. The design is laser cut from 1/4″ maple plywood, and is easy enough for anyone to put together. Here is a video of me assembling the JEMTOY Homopolar Motor Kit so you can see how crazy cool it is. I mean, for science, that is.
The homopolar motor kit contains everything you need except some glue and the AA batteries, which this toy will eat up in a one-hour sitting. You sorta just play with it until your battery gets hot and dies. It’s fun. To build the kit you will need some super glue or white glue to connect the wood pieces together, and a wire stripper/snipper or hobby knife to strip 1/2″ of plastic insulation off the ends of the two little wires. Be careful if you use a hobby knife, okay? Those things can be unpredictable. You might need a little screwdriver to tighten the bolt, but finger tight should work if you don’t have one. Really, this is a very easy kit to build. Check out the video, and get ’em while they’re hot at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/JEMTOY
EACH JEMTOY HOMOPOLAR MOTOR KIT CONTAINS:
7 Laser Cut Wood Pieces
1 Brass Nut and Bolt
1 Neodymium Rare Earth Magnet
2 Five Inch Insulated Wires
YOU SUPPLY GLUE AND AA BATTERIES!!!
OH NO! MORE SCIENCE! The nut and bolt in this kit are made of brass, not steel like most nuts and bolts. Steel is ferrous, which means it contains iron. Iron is magnetic, and a steel bolt would snap tight to the magnet, and then, the homopolar motor would not spin. The brass bolt is nonferrous, so it does not stick in place to the magnetized battery top. So much to think about for such a simple device, right?
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR FASTEST SPINNING KUNG-FU ACTION
Let battery and magnet cool before touching it.
Flip the magnet – sometimes it spins faster the other way!
Use a fresh AA battery – remember it gets HOTTER the longer it spins!!!
Glue the wood pieces together – white glue or super glue will work.
Adjust wires on bottom to touch magnet loosely – not too tight.
Don’t forget it spinning too long – battery gets hot!
Parental guidance suggested for the wee ones – battery gets HOT I tell you.
Kids like that it’s slightly dangerous because kids like to be challenged. Every second you play with this homopolar motor kit, you will be learning, thinking, wondering, and expanding your understanding of the universe. For reals. It’s that cool. Great rainy day project to keep them busy for hours, or an amazing way to share the wonders of magnets and electricity with your students. Just keep them informed about how hot the battery gets, and let them have at it. Perfect project for science fairs, S.T.E.A.M. projects, maker faire booth. Kids have fun learning engineering, design, and the basics of how an electric motor works.
Google and Wikipedia have all the scientific explanations if you want to search the term homopolar motor. No matter how many times I read that stuff, I have to admit, it just looks like magic to me, so that’s another thing I love about it. I think the darn thing is magic!
AJ Lafave sent me a resin sculpture and print. Thank you! I’m glad the How To Make Resin Toys book could help inspire such awesomeness. This guy would be fun to mod. I have the urge to give him hair and googly eyes. I’d like to see a show where you post a bunch out to artists, then they return them modded out, and then put together into a show where they could all be seen as a whole. Thanks again AJ, and stay in touch! Jay ~
I’ve been in the mood to create some new games and here is the first completed paper game, The Pitik of Glory. Players take turns trying to finger flick a penny, bottle cap, or glass blob into the hole in the goal post. Who ever can get it in from the furthest away wins. Players start at 20 inches away and if you miss you try again at 19, 18, 17 until you get in the goal. Your score is the number you got a goal from. Easy to play, hard to master.
I have been an art teacher since 1984, so it comes naturally to me to share what I know with others. Whenever I am in the art studio making stuff, I enjoy photographing the process from start to finish. Way back I remember wanting to make toys of my own before I knew exactly what materials to use, and where to find them. It’s been a crazy journey.
These days there are so many different silicone mold making supplies and urethane resins I had no idea where to start. When materials cost hundreds of dollars, it can be very intimidating if you are not sure what to order, how to use it, and if the materials will be compatible. Yes… I made lots of mistakes, but that’s how it goes in the art room. To be an artist, you have to be comfortable with failure to get to any success.
When compiling the photos included in my How To Make Resin Toys book I realized that it took over three years and thousands of dollars of materials to make this book. Each resin toy represents days of making the original art, casting a silicone mold, tinting and pouring resin, painting, finishing, header cards, and packaging. It’s a very involved process with many steps to master.
When I first set out on my own I could not find a book to help out the beginner, so I decided to make that book myself. I self published the How To Make Resin Toys book on Blurb.com in 2013, and after my dear friend Louis Bou mentioned my book in his book, We Are Indie Toys, sales went through the roof.
I noticed that most folk want the download over the printed book for several reasons. First the download is instant. Another benefit is that it is easier to look at one’s iPad or iPhone than struggle with a paperback book that wants to close while working in an art studio. After the success of my book I decided it would be good to get it on Amazon’s Kindle platform and offer it there. Now all you aspiring toy makers can snap up your very own copy of How To Make Resin Toys on Amazon or Blurb depending on which is best for you. The best part is, with the information in this book you can set up a resin toy studio for around $200 – $300 bucks and get started right away. You don’t have to make all the mistakes I did in order to get there.
So here’s to you toy makers of the world. Be sure to drop me a line with a link to your blog or Facebook page and let me see the toys you have brought into the world. I love seeing your creations, and in some way, being a small part of them. Have fun! JEM~
Hey man, I bought the e-book version of your book the other day and its great. I sculpted my first little figure this week and was gonna save up some money to buy some smooth on.
I ended up searching for DIY mold making materials and came across oogoo. Have you tried making anything with this?
It’s silicone caulking and corn starch mixed together with some mineral spirits mixed in to thin it and make it pourable.
I made a test mold that was really sloppy, but it worked! And the over all cost was just a few dollars.
When I’m off this week I’m gonna try to do a better mold and see if I can get a good cast out of it.
Just wondering if its anything you’ve messed around with!
Thanks for the book, it’s awesome!
When I want to make glow in the dark resin toys I use a clear resin from Smooth-On.com called Smooth Cast 325. I order Glow Powder from GlowInc.com – they have several types, but I get the top of the line $250/pound Ultra Green Glow Powder. It’s the brightest glow powder on earth. These resin toys glow for 24 hours after being in sun light. I’ve never seen any toy glow like this. You could use a lot less glow powder, but I like the toys to glow like a light bulb. Check out my How To Make Resin Toys book for step by step details on how to make resin toys.