Come in Spinner!
Two Australian artists are hoping to raise $12,000 to take their very own Gum Nut Spinning Top to the world market.
Luban White and Sholto Turner are artists based in Castlemaine in Central Victoria. They work in what seems like a museum of old hand tools, except it is not a museum, it is a workshop, where the hand tools have been lovingly collected and restored to be used to make beautiful things from wood.
Their work is inventive, whimsical and playful. They are strongly influenced by the treasures and imagination of childhood.
The down to earth pair talked of their latest creation: the Gum Nut Spinning Top. They described the design process and the countless hours spent over two years developing the idea. They spoke over the top of each other in that typically relaxed manner good friends often do, interrupting each other, keen to tell their story, laughing as they told me the mistakes they had made along the way.
“Looking at the finished product now it seems amazing how long it took us to come up with the perfect shape.” They showed me their box of rejects and pulled out some of the ‘shockers’, but even those were lovely objects.
They came up with the concept for the Gum Nut Spinning Top after many years of being disappointed at the mass produced “plastic tat” that is sold as Australiana.
“We really wanted to come up with something that could compete with the mountains of imported knick-knacks that you see in any tourist trap while offering something uniquely Australian.”
“A meaningful treasure to take home as a gift or a reminder of a beautiful place.”
“And suitable for anyone. Young. Old.”
“Small enough to fit into a tiny space in your suitcase. Or pocket.”
“It was a challenging project. The manufacturing process had to be simple, no way could we compete with the bells and whistles of imported products.”
“We came up with our brief on day one. No batteries, No Paint, No Plastic.”
“.. and no blooming packaging!”
“We didn’t want people to spend two minutes in front of the bin getting rid of all the rubbish that their new toy was smothered in.”
The pair described in detail, with many digressions and laughter, the long process of working to that brief.
“The simplest things are often the best, unfortunately the simplest things are often the hardest to come up with.”
The Gum-Nut came to them first and it was nearly a year later that the light bulb appeared and the Spinning Top concept was born. Looking at the beautiful little object that I have been rolling in my hand all morning, it really is one of those simple little products that makes you say: “I could have thought of that.” But all the best things are like that. The little Spinning Gum Nut Top with its familiar gum-leaf tag hanging from the stem looks as if it has always been around.
It is made of wood. It is a beautiful object. It is lovely to hold. It is a small sculpture. It is a toy. It is Australian. It will last for years.
If successful the $12,000 will enable the boys to employ help with manufacturing and go towards producing enough stock to take the Gum Nut Spinning Tops to retail outlets around the world.
With the warmth and the fine layer of sawdust that I took away from my visit, I really hope they make it. Please have a look at their Kickstarter Campaign.
Photos courtesy of Bronwyn Minifie
Guest Author Bio
Bronwyn Minifie is a writer and print-maker living in Melbourne, Australia. Her writing has been published magazines such as Meanjin, Ulitarra and Voices. She won the Henry Handel Richardson Writing Competition in 2012.