The idea for Tumblewood was born of a summer and fall cutting and splitting firewood in preparation for our first winter in Maine. Actually, the first product we came up with was our Miniature Firewood Bundle Ornament. These are made of hand split pieces of Maine white birch. Since October of 2011, we have produced and sold over 1600 of these ornaments.
Then, in November 2011, I had the idea to split pieces of white birch that are longer, and then to package them as a "Game of dexterity, engineering, strategy, and fun. Tumblewood was born. Copyright 2011 Chris Gray. I have also applied for Trademark protection on Tumblewood.
The prototype sets were produced by spliting the wood and placing it in a portable cement mixer with sand in it to smooth the rough edges and corners. This worked, but it was slow and created a great deal of dust, but it proved that a hand split unique game piece could be made pleasant to handle by tumbling it. Google led me to several wood working operations in Maine that I thought might duplicate my efforts on a larger scale for production and tumbling the pieces. Intially, I was encouraged to consider having the game pieces sawed out in ten different size and shapes, all of the standard 4 5/8 inches long. Sawing just didn't give the unique nature to the pieces that splitting does. I opted to continue splitting them myself and as of mid April 2012, I have split nearly 25,000 Tumblewood pieces. Tumbling is done in a wonderful old machine that was used to tumble every Weber grill wooden handle, until they changed to a plastic handle and were outsourced to China. It is one of my great hopes that Tumblewood will become a viable part of the USA and Maine economy in 2012 and long beyond. When you buy products that are made in the USA, you make possible the reinvention cf the great America we once were and can be again.
This seems a good place to have a discussion about splinters.
This is one of the reasons why I recommend ages 8 and up rather than little ones. The tumbling process is remarkably efficient in making these hand split Tumblewood pieces smooth and pleasant to hold. After the tumbling is complete, each piece of Tumblewood is picked up twice (so far by me alone). Once in a primary inspection to look for splinters, where the sticks are divided into a box of Ready and a box of Needs Attention (5% to 10% of the original amount)
The Ready box hold about 650 pieces, enough for a dozen games. As these are counted and placed into the wooden Tumblewood box for completion, they are handled and viewed again.
The Needs Attention box sits and collects until it is filled, and then I spend an evening with a pocket knife and a piece of sandpaper in hand, cleaning up those pieces that Need Attention.
All this is my effort to make Tumblewood a game that folks will enjoy. BUT, there is no guarantee about splinters. I do guarantee that you will enjoy Tumblewood and will buy it back if you do not, but I would recommend you consider your children's age and also have a conversation about the nature of a piece of natural wood and the possibilitties of splinters. Additionally, I gave several sets to the Togus VA Hospital here in Maine. They approved them for use by their general patients for Leisure Therapy, but for those with psychological disorders and Alzheimers disease, they too were concerned about splinters. I spent two hours hand sanding each of the 55 pieces in a set I called Tumblewood Special Forces and gave this to them for these patients. This set is still under review by the Staff at Togus.
In summary: Tumblewood is natural wood and so some care should be taken to watch for a splinter. If you find one, trim it off and burnish the spot with another piece of Tumblewood until it is smooth as you like.
With the overwhelmingly positive response we have had by folks of many ages and backgrounds, I see Tumblewood becoming a focal point for families and friends, gathering around and growing their connections stronger.
Since mid January 2012, over 375 wooden game boxes have already been sold and shipped to Tumblewood players in 33 of the United States and six different countries. It is fast becoming a Tumblewood World.
I am looking forward to hearing from Tumblewood players and seeing photos of Tumblewood structures that are built by individuals, friends, and families, who are enjoying the game. Send your pics to Photos@Tumblewoodgame.com along with your stories of your favorite places you have played. If, by chance, you are going to be in Maine this summer, you are invited to come to Union Maine on July 21 to watch and play in the First Ever Tumblewood World Games. This will be one of many events happening during Union Founder's Day. Marion will have a display of her baskets there for sale, and I will be Tumblin' On. Come join in the fun. Chris
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