Our woodworking workshop lies in the narrow part of Laboratooriumi street in Tallinn Old Town. Step inside the wooden door of house number 25; Andres Koidu will greet you with a quick glance and a shy hello. He is the master of the workshop and the maker of the many wooden horses.
How long have you been making wooden toys?
Not very long – I started carving toys when I came here to Labora workshop. I’ve however been doing classical woodwork for over 15 years. Now that I think of it, I made some toys for an exhibition in Sooma years ago, they should still be exhibited in a museum there.
How did you start? Is woodwork a family tradition?
I originaly started with painting, but then I realised I work better in 3D. So I started carving things from wood instead. It is not a family tradition, although my father did woodcarving of sorts. He would take a postcard of Tallinn and copy it using milimetre square paper. He would redraw the scenery in great detail onto a wooden board and then carve it out. It’s called intarsia, and because it was very detailed, it was almost good. And why Tallinn? Well, he was from a small village, so the only big city in Estonia fascinated him.
What is important in the woodwork you do?
I’ve been developing the carving of the wooden horses so that it would follow the Nordic tradition as much as possible. I studied books and photos to understand how to carve not only traditional shapes and motives, but also how to manage without using glue. For example the mane – I stick in and fasten the straw using small pieces of wood. If you wedge in wet pieces of wood so that they match perfectly, they will stick together later when they dry.
Which wood do you use?
At the moment I use mostly hazelnut branches to make the horses. For carving I prefer linden, it is soft and easy to work with, especially if I want to carve fine details. In the future I would like to try out making horses from harder wood such as appletree, birch or juniper.
And what is next?
We would like to open the woodworking workshop for the public. Children could come here to learn how to work with their hands, how to carve their own wooden toys. Adults as well, of course. The doors would be permanently open while I work here, so anybody could step in, see how wooden toys are made, and buy one if they wanted to.