Help me design Kaylee's Kustom Kiddee Blox!
April 10, 2009 9:34 PM   Subscribe

I am making my newest child (6 months) a custom set of blocks. Please suggest an AWESOME font for me to carve the letters into them as. They will be various colors, each block one solid color, with the letter different colored, or possibly just black lettering (haven't decided yet, feel free to put this along with your suggestion).

Basically, it can be anything. Cool, creepy, subversive, anything. Also, suggest some awesome single words or REALLY short phrases to carve into the "filler" spots.
For example, I considered doing OBEY GIANT (something thats been relevant to me since I first saw it many years ago) on one of them.

Bonus question. How "child" safe is Apple Barrel acrylic craft paint? I'm sure these blocks will end up in her mouth at the very least, so I am concerned about this. I don't know if there is any safer alternative to coat it with once I am done carving, dremeling, and painting.

When I am all done, I'll update the thread with pictures, or something..
posted by JonnyRotten to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sketch Rockwell/Block
posted by nitsuj at 9:47 PM on April 10, 2009

Best answer: Greeting Monotone
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:55 PM on April 10, 2009

Best answer: Fonts for children at Fontspace.
posted by netbros at 9:57 PM on April 10, 2009

Best answer: Why stick to one font?

As for safety, I think most acrylic paint is pretty non-toxic, but I'd check on the manufacturer's web site. There are some water soluble wood dyes that you can get at Woodcraft or Rockler that people are all upon for thinks like kid's blocks.

Oh, and check this out. They're obviously using a laser for the etching but if you're wading into a project like this you're clearly creative enough to give them a run for their money.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:59 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Carve your names or Dad and Mom as well as her name. Put the names of colors on them and paint them that color so she maybe learns that. Since I am a Yankee fan, I would put something like "Sox Suck" on one too. I would also do a sort of retired number thing. For example I would put "Munson 15" on a block or "Reed 19". Based on your user name, how about names of sex pistol songs? Can you carve the Grateful Dead dancing bears?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:02 PM on April 10, 2009

Best answer: Cooper Black is a classic, and a kid-friendly typeface. See one man's homage to it: Behind The Typeface. A great telling of the story of the typeface, so you can know the meaning and the history behind the font on your daughter's gift.
posted by nadise at 11:04 PM on April 10, 2009

Best answer: Agreed with Kid Charlemagne, why only one font? You have a chance to use at least twenty six different ones! I might let the Top One Hundred fonts at guide me. Or the fancy/decorative or fancy/intials ones. You could create a stencil for each one in order to handle the fiddly details.

As for short word suggestions, I really like the color names one by JohnnyGunn. I would also do numbers. Since these are for your kid, and not for you, I would consider doing things that would be relevant to her, and not to you. Favorite food? Favorite clothing? Favorite toy? Things like that. Also, perhaps some iconographic depictions of natural concepts, like day and night, the seasons, some fun animals.

With some brief research, it seems that Apple Barrel acrylic is certified AP non toxic, and that is what you need to be kid safe.

This sounds like a really fun project. I hope there are pictures when you finish!
posted by Mizu at 11:20 PM on April 10, 2009

Best answer: If you do decide to go for one font, I really love Goudy Stout:

It's elegant and informal, playful and lively, and looks great jumbled together.
posted by julen at 11:35 PM on April 10, 2009

Best answer: I think Pee Pants Script is adorable and fun.
posted by sneakin at 4:30 AM on April 11, 2009

Beyond Eating, sleeping, and pooping her diaper, she doesn't have many other favorite things yet.. lol

Mizu Thank you, I was looking on Apple Barrels website and couldn't find it.

Some pretty cool font suggestions so far, I think I am going to try to stick to solid fonts, as they may be a little easier to do on the small scale I'll be working with. The blocks are online about a inch wide on each face.
posted by Jonsnews at 5:13 AM on April 11, 2009

Response by poster: Whoops.
posted by JonnyRotten at 5:18 AM on April 11, 2009

Best answer: It appears that the Art and Creative Materials Institute is the industry association that certifies - among other things - paints for non-toxicity per the ATSM D4236 Standard. I happen to know that Liquitex acrylic products are certified non-toxic because that's what my kid uses and I have a tube in front of me; they also have comprehensive online documentation of compliance. From my brief look into acrylic paints just now, the basic solvent seems pretty safe especially once dried but I can't make the same assertion about random pigments and couldn't find specific claims about "Apple Barrel" paints.

Knowing infant fondness for gnawing the hell out of everything, I'd expect some flaking of the acrylics to happen which may be unsightly, worrisome, or both. You may find an acrylic paint varnish/sealant to be useful. From my casual observation of most "under age 3" wooden toys, the manufacturers appear to prefer impressing (presumably) vegetable based dyes into the wood which is probably hard for the home hobbyist to do.

And since we are talking fonts I would encourage the use of standard serifed fonts like Cooper Black as nadise recommended. Letterforms are hard enough to learn without adding display ornamentation. What is cute to an adult eye is confusing junk to the developing visual cortex.
posted by fydfyd at 6:35 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok. I just had an awesome idea, but I have no idea how to do it yet.

How could I set the lettering on the blocks up to be a code/decoding useage? Maybe put opposing letters on each block as the key?
Or have some kind of puzzle where if set in a certain way they reveal some message?

Hmmm. I'll have to think on this.
posted by JonnyRotten at 6:38 AM on April 11, 2009

I think your idea is great, and would offer that Storybook is a neat font for kids. A challenge to carve though. But - did I just read that you're thinking an inch wide on each face? That's pretty small (can't help thinking - choking hazard!) for much detail at all.

I've worked for a parenting author as a technical reviewer, so I can't help myself from checking a little further into the paint (and the choking hazard thing). Here is Plaid's statement. But, non-toxic doesn't mean food-safe, referring mainly to leads and heavy metals. It seems that acrylic paints contain things that aren't great to ingest, and there are ingredients in acrylic paints that are banned for use in any food, drug or cosmetic. Apple Barrel's parent company Plaid does say that their Apple Barrel paint should never come in contact with food (specifically saying "You do not want your mouth the come in contact with the paint.". So I'm going to say that it's not going to be a good paint for kids' blocks. So I'd suggest that water-based wood dyes come in great colours, and might be less-likely to suffer and show the same kind of wear-and-tear as paint.

Good luck - it sounds like a great project!
posted by peagood at 7:15 AM on April 11, 2009

Morse code?
posted by peagood at 7:16 AM on April 11, 2009

I would worry less about the acrylic and more about the sealer you're likely going to have to put over it. Otherwise the paint will chip off over time.
posted by radioamy at 7:42 AM on April 11, 2009

A note on acrylic paints: toxicity may not just depend on the brand name, it may depend on the color. Acrylic (plastic) itself is safe, but the cadmium, cobalt, lead, magnesium, chromium, etc. that gets mixed into some colors can definitely be unsafe for toddlers to mouth.

Also Nthing the varnish/sealer suggestion. It's important to make sure it's safe for your kid to be mouthing the blocks or eating any paint chips, but it would be extra-safe (and aesthetically preferable) to also make sure the paint was under the surface and hard to chip in the first place.
posted by roystgnr at 8:00 AM on April 11, 2009

Response by poster: any suggestions for a good, safe sealer or varnish?
posted by JonnyRotten at 8:45 AM on April 11, 2009

Braille? Kanji? No reason to limit to English only alphabets. Set can be HUGE if you want, and as I remember, there weren't enough blocks in the WORLD for me. Add in sixteen or so Kohs Blocks? I Ching Ideograms as a corner filler? Hollow some of them out with a drill and stuff something inside... magnets, steel bearings, a small bell, or nothing... they don't have to all weigh or sound the same... then cork them with a glued dowel and sand them down before doing the face graphic. Planets? Seashell patterns? (Would first-order logic diagramming symbols be a stretch?)
posted by EnsignLunchmeat at 6:17 PM on April 11, 2009


For pre-readers you'll probably want to stick with something clear and geometrical like Futura. (A more handsome alternative is Neutraface No.2.)

The all-time classic kid's font is Century Schoolbook. Pretty much every learn-to-read book of the past 100 years is set in it.

You could always go with some crazy Blackletter caps, if you're up for a challenge.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:21 PM on April 11, 2009

Meat Font!
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:55 PM on April 11, 2009

You're sealer (unless you are using something left over from the 50's) is not a big deal as long as it is thoroughly dry. It's the solvents that are the nasty part.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:21 PM on April 11, 2009

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