At about the time our second daughter was born in 1982 we were approached by a toy company representative. He was looking for new ideas and had seen my wall pieces. Would we be interested in trying our hand at licensed toy design? We had all kinds of ideas along with young children as a built in testing department. It seemed like a great idea.
The first piece we design together was called Bicycling Bear. It's a nice piece but proved too expensive to manufacture for the mass market toy business. By the time we understood that, it no longer mattered. Marji was inspired and became the driving force behind our collaboration on dozens of young children's toy ideas. We ended up licensing quite a few.
What followed was an exciting and frustrating period of ideas, promises, contracts, patents and lawyers. Marji and I had fun designing and testing toys with our kids. Our kids enjoyed business trips to toy stores. We did not enjoy the cheap plastic end results of our designs or the constant legal wrangling and as our children got older we gave it up. But we had learned and I brought back one very significant discovery to my scupture design.
During a meeting with the technical department of a toy company I learned about constant force springs. One of the designers was playing with a coil of metal. He described it as a constant force spring. This was something totally new to me but something that made so much sense. I bought some samples and started figuring out how to use them in my sculptures.
It was clear that this was a much better solution that would impact future design.
Continue on to Constant force springs - New Challenges