Extinct Toys of Josh Finkle

I stumbled on the striking and fun wooden toy sculptures of Pennsylvania-based Josh Finkle and wanted to learn more about them.

I asked him a couple of questions to accompany these excellent photographs covering some of the work process and the finished products.
Josh Finkle on Ape on the Moon

How did you get into creating wooden toys?

I’m a senior industrial design student at Carnegie Mellon University and I was able to do a project of my choosing for one of my classes this past semester. I worked at Radio Flyer this past summer where I learned the value and fun involved in making toys.

After seeing the work of Take-g (a Japanese woodworker) I decided to learn how to inlay and sculpt wood through the creation of toys. After researching preexisting toy forms and themes I decided to choose a theme rich with information and meaning, hence, the theme of recently extinct animals, rich with interesting forms.
Josh Finkle on Ape on the Moon
What was your work process in making these?

Step One. I chose four extinct mammals I found interesting in terms of form, pattern, and information about the behavior, habitat, reasons for extinction, and so on.

Step Two. I collected all the images I could find of each animal.
Step Three. I sketched until I found forms that I liked and I thought I could make.

Step Four. I sculpted a foam model of each toy to evaluate size and form helping me to make changes to the wood ones to come.
Josh Finkle on Ape on the Moon

Step Five.
I made the wood toys first as block elements cutting (table saw) and gluing different types of wood together.

I cut (band saw) front and side profiles out of the block elements. I drilled (mill) holes for heads, arms, tails. I sculpted (rasps) the wood into final shapes. I sanded, oiled, and steel wooled all pieces.
Josh Finkle on Ape on the Moon
Step Six. Packaging: I purchased different size glass display domes and turned (lathe) a base to fit each one.

I hand drew (copic multiliner sp size .1) an information graphic for each animal, printed it on thick paper, cut out the package template, and folded it into its final shape.
Josh Finkle on Ape on the Moon

ⓒ Josh Finkle, 2009

What are you working on at the moment?

This is my last semester of school. I am working on exhibits for the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh and more furniture for my furniture class.


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  1. These are great! I want.

    (btw, the RSS subscribe link at the top on the right is just a # – guess it should go somewhere)

  2. Glad you like them Jasper – I too think they are fantastic.

    Thanks for letting me know re RSS!

  3. These are totally gorgeous. I am really glad to see an interviewed accompanied with them as well.

  4. Fantástico, es genial!

  5. AMAZINGGGGGGGG…………. its really interesting to see the making of!

  6. Wow these toys are amazing. Very original looking and quite beautiful

  7. I need some of these!

  8. @Jessica – great aren’t they 🙂

  9. Cool! They dont make toys like those anymore, thats for sure!

  10. these are amazing , do you sell them any where……. i collect art works for my children and would love to get hold of some

  11. Maria Teresa stillacci February 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    They Are not simple toys, they are masterpieces.I would be’ very grateful if you could tell me where I can buy them.I live inTurin Italy.Thank you

  12. They’re awesome. I want to see more.

Comments are closed.