Meet Santa's little helper who crafts joy for Christmas
LIKE one of Santa's elves, Chris Guymer is a busy man at this time of year.
The Warwick craftsman spends his days building wooden toys that capture a child's imagination like few objects can.
He said the magic was due to the simplicity of the toys.
"They are not highly painted or decorated so kids can use their imaginations a lot more,” he said.
Mr Guymer is a retired Killarney State High School manual arts teacher who spent his career working with wood.
Nowadays he sells his handmade toys at markets across southeast Queensland and gains great joy from watching children discover his wares.
"I find it very rewarding, kids come to my stall and try the toys out, you can see when something grabs their fancy and their eyes light up,” he said.
Often Mr Guymer can make a good guess at what the parents do for a living by the types of toys to which their children are drawn.
"Kids roleplay a lot based on what mum and dad do,” he said
"If their mum is lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mum, the kids are keen on kitchen and home duty things.
"If dad drives a truck, kids are interested in those sort of toys.”
This passion for wooden toys started when Mr Guymer was raising his own kids.
He made a wooden jeep for his son when he was only baby and the boy fell in love with the vehicle.
Mr Guymer's son used the toy to teach himself to walk and, before long, would ride it along the family veranda.
The young lad put that wooden toy though the ringer and it survives to this day, waiting under Mr Guymer's house for his grandkids to discover.
Wooden toys are built to last and Mr Guymer said this quality stood in stark contrast to the mass-produced plastic objects clogging the store shelves at Christmas.
"There's nothing a bit of glue and a nail won't fix,” Mr Guymer said.
Often he'll get requests for custom orders and , while this can be a challenge initially, the new design will fold into his repertoire.
"I'm in the process of doing a rodeo ring, with chutes, gates, a few yards, and sorting pens,” he said.
"That's been interesting.
"I find when I get custom orders, they are quite popular.
"A few years ago I was asked to do some cattle yards by a family that was on a property, and that's what their kids saw their parents working with.
"The cattle yards have become a very popular line.”
Along with hosting a stall at various country markets, My Guymer has a Facebook page for his business but he gets most of his orders via word-of-mouth.
"Usually, the orders are from people who live in town but have relative who live away,” he said.
The toys have the feel of something made in Santa's workshop and, when young children see the objects at the markets, he is more than happy to perpetuate the myth.
"Closer to Christmas we put on a Santa hat and I say, 'Sometimes I have to help out Santa'.”
In the lead-up to Christmas, Mr Guymer can be found at the Uber Markets in Warwick on Saturday, December 8, and the Markets on the Mountain at Stanthorpe on Sunday, December 9.