Fighting birds made of nuts, wire, and feathers

Fighting birds made of nuts, wire, and feathers

A spoon and a pair of bellows

A spoon and a pair of bellows

A cat and a mouse, a lifelike group made of nuts

A cat and a mouse, a lifelike group made of nuts

A merry go round 0f nutshells and matches

A merry-go-round 0f nutshells and matches

How To Make Toys From Nuts

A Pastime that will Delight a Child - Figures that Can be Modelled with Nuts - A Cat and Mouse - Fighting Birds - A Merry-go-round, Sailing Boat and Light-ship - A Spoon and Bellows-snail and Cocoanut Shy

During the winter months there are always many children who are disappointed at not being permitted to eat nuts. But if they cannot get pleasure from them in that way there is no reason why they should not have far more enjoyment out of these delicacies by being allowed to make toys with them. All kinds of nuts can be used to manufacture playthings or models, and generally there is some little peculiarity in their shape that suggests a design at once. When an assortment of nuts has been procured a model will have to be chosen, and a good one to begin with is that of a cat and a mouse, which can be made out of a Brazil nut, a monkey nut, and a Barcelona nut. The cat's body is represented by the Brazil nut, and care must be taken to choose one that is of a suitable shape, as it entirely depends on the curve of the nut whether the model will be successful.

Make a hole in one end of both the Brazil and the Barcelona nuts by pressing the point of a small-bladed penknife into the place selected, and turning it round and round until the hole is large enough, and join them together with half a match pushed into both holes. Drill two small holes in the Barcelona nut for the cat's eyes. Now make the whiskers by gently opening the end of the Barcelona nut with a small knife and inserting as many threads of cotton as desired - four or five are generally sufficient. Great care must be taken over doing this, or the nut will split open.

For pussy's ears cut off two small portions of the skin of a chestnut, and with a pair of scissors cut each to the proper shape, placing the inside skin with its hair-like surface on the inside. Stick these ears on to the cat's head at whatever angle you prefer. The tail can be made from a piece of double Berlin wool.

The mouse on which the cat in the illustration is about to spring is made of a monkey nut, which has one end rather pointed to provide a suitable shape for the head. Two little chips of Barcelona nut make the ears, and a piece of string stuck on to the opposite end of the nut forms a tail. Ink in the eyes, and the mouse is finished.

Another very simple model is that of the fighting birds. Again, a monkey nut is all that is wanted for the body of each bird, but some thin, springy wire, and one walnut to form a handle, will be required; also a few feathers to make the wings and tails are necessary.

First, make a very small hole in one side of the monkey nut; then gum two feathers, and place one on either side just into the hole. Take a larger feather, gum the end of it, and fix in one end of the nut to represent the tail. At the opposite end ink two eyes, or, if preferred, small glass-headed pins with their stems cut short can be inserted into the nuts for the eyes.

Make the second bird in the same way.

Now take about eighteen inches of wire, bend it in half, and force the fold into the end of a walnut. The two ends of this wire must be pushed into the nuts, each just under a wing, taking care that the birds face each other.

Take the walnut between the first finger and thumb, and twist it; this will make the birds fight, and they will jump at each other in a most realistic way.

A revolving toy manufactured from nuts is the merry-go-round.

To begin its construction, take half a walnut, bore a hole exactly in the middle of it, then gum it on to a piece of wood or cardboard four to five inches square. While this is drying, make the centre pole. This is a strong spindle of wood about four and a half inches long - a pencil answers the purpose very well - cut at the top. Now take a Barcelona nut, and bore a hole at the base, top, and each side. It is generally rather troublesome to bore the hole at the top without splitting open the nut. However, if a small piece is cut off first of all, it is usually easier to manage. Slip the nut on to the spindle with the base downwards, then bore a hole in the bottom of another nut, place over the top of the spindle so that it rests on the nut below, and gum them together.

For each of the four little "cars," or "boats," use half a walnut shell. These will require two holes bored on each side. Thread a piece of stout cotton through a hole on one side, and fasten it off at the next hole on the same side; do the same with the remaining two holes, being careful that the threads are all the same length, or the cars will not hang evenly. When these are finished, place four matches (first cutting off their heads) into the holes in the prepared nut on the spindle, gum the end farthest away from the nut, and place the centre of the two loops of thread on each little "car" upon it. When dry twist the uppermost nut of all, and the cars will swing right out.

The sailing boat and light-ship are very easy to manufacture. Each boat is made from half a walnut shell, which must have a hole bored nearly, but not quite, through it; though it does not matter very much, however, if this catastrophe does happen, since some of the liquid gum may be placed over the hole on the outside after the mast is in position.

A match, with the edges rubbed smooth by glass-paper, will be just the right size for the mast. Cut the two sails for the sailing boat out of paper, and gum on to the mast.

For the light-ship cotton should be gummed on to represent rigging, and a small Barcelona nut with a hole bored in the base should be fixed on to the top of the mast.

Another easy toy to make is a spoon. This requires a thin stick of wood, three inches in length, as well as half a Barcelona nut and a walnut shell. Our illustration renders a further description unnecessary. A pair of bellows, too, made from a large walnut shell are shown.

To make the bellows, use a little piece of leather - an old kid glove does very well - about half an inch wide, and sufficiently long to go round the walnut, and gum it to the inside of one half of the nut. While that is drying a hole can be drilled in the centre of the second half. A small piece of paper, large enough to cover this entirely, is gummed at one end, and placed just beyond the hole nearest the end chosen for the handle, and allowed to fall over the hole. Now gum the inside edge of this half nut and place the kid inside, taking great care that it fits closely all round. Twist a piece of paper into a little tube three-quarters of an inch long, gum round the most pointed end of the nut, and push the tube in about a quarter of an inch. Cut two handles out of cardboard, and gum them to the inside rim of the top of the nut.

There are many toys to be made from nuts besides the few described above. A snail, for example, can be manufactured by carefully selecting a monkey nut that curves in the correct shape, then cut' off one end and gumming it on to the half of a walnut shell. Two chips of wood would imitate the horns.

A toadstool can be made from a monkey nut with a rather wide base that is cut level to enable it to stand firmly, and has half a walnut shell gummed on to the top when its construction is completed.

A good miniature "cocoanut-shy" can be made by drilling a hole in the middle of several half walnut shells, then placing one of these pieces on to each end of a match, gumming them well round the hole to make them very firm. One end makes a strong base, while the opposite end serves as a cup in which to put another nut. Either small marbles or nuts can be thrown at these stands. If marbles are used, it is best to gum the stands on to a piece of board so that they cannot be knocked over, however hard the ball is thrown at them.