Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Blamo Toys takes its cues from the culture of Bali, the mountains of Idaho, and the synergistic art scene of San Francisco—all places in which Blamo’s nomadic founder Spencer Hansen splits his time. He found that while the energy of the toy art scene excited him, he was put off by its mercurial qualities. So in 2007, Hansen founded Blamo to create more organic, enduring objects designed to outlast fickle fads. Bali, with its rich history of ceremonies and rituals, proved to be an intriguing and grounding “home away from home” for Hansen. At once productive and challenging, Hansen felt that the island was alive with an exciting passion—one that has since played heavily into the Blamo design aesthetic.
A good toy design is a toy you want to touch.
“I enjoy working with wood, metal, glass, leather, and other materials that feel real,” says Hansen. “A good toy design is a toy you want to touch.” Although Hansen usesnatural elements, Blamo’s art objects are informed more by contemporary culture than folk art. Materials and inspiration are nearly indistinguishable to Hansen, and he collects both from around the world. “I was walking down the beach in Indonesia and kept finding light bulbs and bottle caps,” he says. “Eventually, they became the glass heads for Major Mars and the arms for Mr. Cappy.” Mr. Cappy’s rusty bottle cap limbs hold individual histories, anchored together by hand-cast brass and resin torsos. The original Major Mars figure combined the found-object light bulbs with luxurious sheepskin leather. (A revamped Major Mars sporting a silver leather spacesuit and a blown-glass head was released in March of 2010.) One of Hansen’s favorite Blamo creations is Rice Baby, a time and space traveler made from leather, brass, and rice.
Outside of making toys, Hansen also produces a line of adult knit onesies that allow fans to actually embody their favorite characters. Hansen, who graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute, says he first conceived of the idea after wearing a knit bunny onesie for the entire duration of his freshman year at Utah State. When he encountered people who just couldn’t wrap their minds around the concept of an adult onesie, Hansen responded: “I’d take their measurements and ask: bunny ears or monkey tail?”
By Jeremy Brautman