Have you ever wondered how Ostheimer wooden figures get to be so characterful and unique? They’ve been handmade in the same slow and steady tradition for almost a century. Thanks to a wonderful display at the recent Nuremberg toy fair, we are able to show you how an Ostheimer figure comes to life.
A stamp is created, and is fixed to the underside of a wooden blank (see image below). This is then inked and pressed onto a board, giving an outline that can then be cut out.
The stamp is positioned in such a way that the shade and grain of the wood is sympathetic to the type of animal or person it will come to represent. The camel pictured below would have a very different feel if the grain ran horizontally.
The correct profile is meticulously sawed out, creating a blank for the figure. At this stage the edges are extremely rough.
The figure is sanded to remove sawdust and smooth the surface of the wood. Then the figure is brought to life with greater detail on the main body, depicting muscles or limbs, smiles or hands. A soft final touch of the contours finishes the process prepares the surface for painting.
The figure is immersed in high-quality organic oil, which helps maintain colours and protects the surface of the toy.
The figure is delicately painted with a steady hand and a fine paintbrush. Transparent colour-stains allow the texture of the wood to shine through and enhance the natural warmth of each figure.
String is cut for the tail.
After a final quality-check, Ostheimer figures are carefully packed and delivered to children all over the world.