I'm turning over our Monday craft day today to Joyce and Jim Lavene, co-authors of bestselling mystery novels. They've written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. Their current novel is Treacherous Toys, book #5 in the Renaissance Faire Mystery series set in Myrtle Beach. Learn more about them at their website.
Joyce and Jim are offering a copy of Treacherous Toys to one of our readers who posts a comment. Be sure to stop back on Sunday to learn if you're the winner. -- AP
Making Wooden Toys for Christmas
Our protagonist, Jessie Morton, in the Renaissance Faire Mysteries takes on a different craft as an apprentice with each book. Of course, murder isn’t far behind, but she is genuinely interested in what she’s learning.
Jessie is working on her thesis, The Proliferation of Renaissance Crafts in Modern Times. She’s learned arrow making and archery, sword making and sword play, hat making and weaving baskets, among other efforts. She’s not always the best at what she learns, but she works hard.
In the fifth book in the series, she is learning to make wooden toys at Renaissance Faire Village. Her mentor is Father Christmas who is a little on the devilish side but a master toymaker. Her apprenticeship may be one of her shortest yet when he's found dead. Unfortunately, there's a long list of suspects – Chris Christmas liked the ladies.
One of the things Jessie learns about Renaissance crafts is that you have to develop patience. Craftsmanship wasn’t rushed hundreds of years ago. A master craftsman lived or died according to the time and effort he put into his work. His reputation was everything.
Toys were very simple, meant to appeal to the child’s imagination. This might include toy swords, bows and arrows, hand puppets, whistles, wooden stick puppets, wooden cup-and-ball toys. Today’s Father Christmas might create wooden trucks, animals and bendable toys. These would be brightly painted but very basic.
The Renaissance Faire of the 1500s was very different from today. While our modern faires and festivals seem to be a hodgepodge of foods, rides, characters and shows, they do have some order. Early faires and festivals were spots for people to come together, maybe once or twice a year, and could get quite rowdy.
Craftsmen, like Father Christmas, would be at these events – hopefully not with such tragic consequences as are found in Treacherous Toys.
Watch a video that shows how to make a wooden toy train.
Thanks for joining us today, Joyce and Jim! Readers, if you'd like a chance to win a copy of Treacherous Toys, post a comment. And don't forget to check back on Sunday to see if you're the winner. -- AP