- About Tom
Tom Merrin (center) in 1959, shown with Mary Jane Merrin (left), owner of Marbo Hand Painted Toys.
Tom Merrin learned about toy making in the sixties from his Mom and Dad. His parents, Mary Jane and Robert Merrin, owned Marbo Hand Painted Toys and made hand crafted wooden toys that were sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstroms, Bullocks Wilshire, and upscale children's specialty shops throughout the United States. He grew up helping in the workshop on weekends, and watching them pay attention to details. In 1992, Tom's dad passed away and his Mom handed down the tools, plans, and some unfinished toys. And that's how Hardwood Toys began, with a reputation for quality and an appreciation for the loyal customers whose support they kept through the years.
Along the way, Tom has made some additions to the product line, taking suggestions from customers and his own children, who request and test all the new toys. And he's made a significant change to the product finishing. Read on for more details from Tom.
Tom and his sister Sue testing their parents' toys.
Tom testing out more products
About our Hardwoods and Finishing
"I do not use construction grade lumber in my products and then cover it with paint or varnish. All my toys are hand crafted from premium kiln dried hardwoods grown in North America --cherry, maple, oak, birch, and walnut--and finished with fine sanding. Why? So there are no paint chips or stains that might end up in a child's mouth. And because finely sanded hardwood is beautiful and smooth as glass."
"My adult gift items are also made this way because I have learned that people enjoy the sensual pleasure they get when they see, touch and smell the wood."
"God created wood millions of years ago, and no one has come up with anything better since. I certainly don't think plastic was an improvement. People get excited when they see a product hand crafted of wood, especially when they realize it's a hardwood with natural finishing."
San Luis Obispo County Arts Council Open Studios Tour Participant
Thanks to all who visited my workshop during the recent San Luis Obispo County Arts Council Open Studios Tour, and contributed to the success of this event in support of San Luis Obispo County artists, craftsmen and craftswomen.