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Wooden toys of Val Gardena

The beginnings of wooden toys of Val Gardena were around 1600.

The people in Val Gardena at that time already good merchants in selling pillow lace and embroidery, quickly learned to fill a gap in the market with wooden toys and made existence possible in the barren mountains. Consequently many families in Gröden began to produce wooden toys. Initially many simple and individual articles were produced, but they gradually became more detailed: from nativity figurines to animals, dolls in different sizes, horses and rocking horses, movable toys and calculation toys, all made by meticulous handicraft.

At first the toys were unpainted because the technique of colouring was unknown. Although after a little while and lots of travelling the colouring and painting of toys were learned. Because of its particular brightness the distemper was preferred for the colouring of the toys and it consisted in bone glue mixed with a variety of different pigments. During the middle of the 17th century about 40 to 50 toy manufacturing families were counted but after a short time the number raised dramatically and in the 18th century the whole population of Gröden lived on this cottage industry. Until 1930 toys were handcrafted among families in Gröden. In order to let the toy manufactory continue to live, Judith Sotriffer replicate these old wooden toys with particular love and skill.