Readers of this space know I'm a big fan of the original architecture of Don Mills, and Henry Fliess' house designs in particular. Jen Bulthuis of Fidoodle has designed sets of wonderful wooden blocks with "city", "country" and "suburb" themes. As well as depicting street hockey and a sun-hatted mom driving a station wagon, the suburb blocks have a very accurate representation of a ground-hugging Fliess house. Then again, Ms. Bulthuis is married to Heritage Toronto's cheif historian, Gary Miedema, so this should come as no surprise.
The Toronto Star - December 2012
Fidoodle Butterfly Doll: This doll is something to behold. It's dress is screen -printed with Monarch butterflies. Flip it over and the doll transforms into a monarch butterfly. Made from organice cotton and recycled salvaged wood.
Canadian Family - November 2012
This gorgeous, handcrafted doll flips inside out to transform from girl to butterfly. Butterfly Flip Doll, $46, Fidoodle.
Small Fry Big Ideas, Globe and Mail, Summer 2012
Smart, sustainable and meant to speak directly to them, today's products and furnishings for kids are as sophisticated as they are fun. It should come as no surprise that the minds behind them are parents.
Small Fry Big Ideas, Globe and Mail, Summer 2012 - Page 2
Design for children hangs on a new (and very presonal) hook. Smart, sustainable and meant to speak directly to them, today's products and furnishings for kids are as sophisticated as they are fun. It should come as no surprise, Paige Magarrey reports, that the minds behind it all are parents.
Small Fry Big Ideas, Globe and Mail, Summer 2012 - Page 3
Toronto artist Jen Bulthuis of the design studio Fidoodle had been exploring the relationship between toys and "touchable art" as she calls it, before the birth of her kids, but didn't see it as a business opportunity until after they arrived...
The apparent lesson here: If you want kids' products that are attractive, durable, innovative and safe, design or market them yourself.
"Well-designed kids products often leave some detail to the imagination, " Bulthuis, whose DIY Creature Kits consist of wood and cardboard figures that children assemble and decorate themselves, argues from experience. "They invite curiousity."
National Post November 2011
Squealer's Wheels Canadian Printmaker Jen Bulthuis infuses Fidoodle, her line of retro-modern toys, with imagination-boosting storytelling potential. Her interactive objects include quirky flip dolls and illustrated wood puzzles and (new this season) simple do-it-yourself toy kits. The parts are a blank canvas for kiddie art; Fidoodle's Car Kit includes a plain cardboard car-shaped body, a marker, and crayons, plus FSC-certified wood wheels and the small parts a grown-up requires to assembke the masterpiece into a functional toy as unique as the child who drew it. Ages 3+, $14 at Planet Kid and D/X in Toronto, National Gallery of Canada Bookstore in Ottawa, Love Me in Halifax, Paper Ya in Vancouver and Paper Umbrella in Regina, online at fidoodle.com.
EnRoute December 2010
Creator: Jen Bulthuis Location: Toronto
An artist as well as an educator, Bulthuis
developed her line of wooden toys to encourage
the pinning of yarns. "You learn about people
through the stories they tell, and storytelling
is a skill I want to instill in small children,"
says the mom of two. Bulthuis' kits of jigsaw
puppets and maple blocks - non-toxic, hand-screen-printed
and boxed in her studio - feature characters
and accessories (a tree, a barn, some birds)
just waiting to be set into a narrative. Will
the lion catch the boy in the bunny costume?
Or will he become his best friend? "I love
watching my five-year-old put the toys in action;
it's a different story every time!" fidoodle.com
Eye Magazine December 2010
Fidoodle makes kids stuff from ethically sourced wood, organic cottons and non-toxic
ink. Which is fine, but we like them because they're fun and whimsical. (puzzle
$80 at fidoodle.com)
In Pieces Cinderella, a limited edition jigsaw puzzle from Toronto's Fidoodle, lets the imagination run wild with swappable heads and bodies. Beautifully illustrated, this is a conversation-starting piece for the coffee table. Made of Baltic birch sourced from well-managed forests. $160, ETHEL, 1091 QUEEN ST E
Fidoodle These block sets contain 9 small blocks from 3" x 3" (largest) to 1.5" x 1.5" (smallest). Blocks are made in Toronto from unused off-cuts of hardwood maple from a local flooring company. Each set is hand printed with images of either details of the city, or the country. Reverse side of the blocks can be worked as puzzle that pieces together to form a complete picture. Non-toxic inks. 416.805.5632. fidoodle.com
Piecing It Together With this attractive hybrid play set, kids can play two ways. How many times have your kids taken the pieces of a wooden puzzle and with them as if they were toys unto themselves? Toronto-based design company Fidoodle ran with that idea. The character pieces in its Cinderella puzzle (shown), which bear the hip artistry of illustrator Jen Bulthius, can all be slid onto the included wooden sticks to become puppets. Better yet, the heads and bodies can be mixed and matched to make brand-new characters (and fodder for original fairy tales straight from your child's imagination). And of course, when the playacting is done, there's always a puzzle to rebuild. Both Cinderella and Fidoodle's other puppet puzzle, Icarus, are made entirely from earth-friendly materials, and each is packaged with an accompanying storybook.
EnRoute July 2008
Toronto-based Fidoodle rethinks the mobile
with detachable foliage that can be changed
according to the seasons. Made of hand-dyed
organic velour and jersey on a wire frame,
it can be sculpted into and instant indoor
National Post September 2007
Glass slippers and magic are the entertaining
fluff of fairy tales, but what happens if
Cinderella doesn't find the prince to be
quite so charming?
Momtrepreneur Jen Bulthuis of Fidoodle toys
believes story time needs to be remixed:
She has a background in education and lets
kids imagine their own twist on the tale.
Bulthuis's Cinderella and Icarius jigsaw
puppet kits each include a set of curvy puzzle
pieces illustrated by her (they're also magnetic,
for fridge fun), a retelling of the fairy tale and wooden rods stored in the
carrying bag, so the pieces adapt into lively wand-like puppets. Also, Bulthuis's
artful toys are created entirely in Toronto of sustainably harvested wood, organic
cotton, sheep wool and recycled fabrics (take that, Mattel!). And they'll live
happily ever after. At Planet Kid, Bubbleface, and Distill Gallery, $98 (416-805-5632,
online at fidoodle.com)
The Globe and Mail November 2007
A puzzle from Fidoodle starts more living-room
conversations than a coffee-table book ($98).