Full disclosure: I am friend's with Cheyne Houston. I think he is a pretty kick ass human being. Here is his feature that ran in this month's Dad issue of Peekaboo NWA. I was so excited to show off Cheyne and his awesome talent. If you are looking for a gift, even if you don't live in NWA, Cheyne is your man! You can order his unique and beautifully crafted wood puzzles and swords online at his etsy shop: etsy.com/shop/houstonfolk
Northwest Arkansas is full of men, husbands and fathers in particular, doing astounding and talented things. One such father is Cheyne Houston. Cheyne is married to Candice Houston, a free-spirited and creative woman who stole his heart. Their marriage has yielded four wild and brilliant children — children that were the genesis of Cheyne’s amazing gift. Cheyne began making puzzles and children’s toys for his own children: Sol, Ivy, Aley, and Arlo. Their family structure and financial situation didn’t leave a lot of spare room for a toy budget. Cheyne recalls his own childhood, “We grew up poor. So when we played with toys, they were just other people’s junk but they were toys to us and it was magical. We used our imaginations and we loved it.” When Cheyne became a father he began using material the family had around the house, reused and reclaimed, to create toys for his children. Cheyne’s children are the first line of testers with the toys he creates and sells. Aley, his middle child, has served especially as inspiration. “She astonishes me with her play and how she can simply transform anything into whatever she needs for her play.”
Cheyne’s wooden puzzles, swords, and toys are made from different kinds of reclaimed and recycled wood. He is, essentially, using other people’s “junk” to create beautiful and new works of art (as he did in childhood). HoustonFolk Creations are 100% recycled and are beautiful works of art. Cheyne’s passion, rooted in providing for his children, is to rekindle the tradition of heirloom toys. “I want people to be able to purchase these toys and pass them on for generations.” Anyone who has held one of Cheyne’s unique puzzles can attest to the craftsman quality. These ARE toys that children can have for generations, no batteries required. As communities are moving closer to embracing handmade, homemade, and local, Cheyne hopes to create resurgence for handmade toys. “Most of the toys for children, these days, are toys that you are supposed to play with a certain way,” comments Houston. “I want for a child to pick up a toy I have made with a blank script; they are the writers of the story and they shouldn’t be bound by how to play or how not to play.”
When I asked Cheyne what he hoped the future of HoustonFolk Creations held for him and his family, he gave a beautiful and heartfelt answer. Inspired by TOMS shoes, Cheyne hopes to one day be at a place where the toys sold allow him to create extra toys to provide to local children who need them. “Do children NEED toys?” I asked Cheyne. Cheyne laughed and responded with full confidence, “Absolutely. The most important thing for a child is experiencing their worlds through play. Toys facilitate that and help their expression. Play is a vital part of childhood that helps to create trust for children.” Cheyne wants to be able to send the message to children who can’t afford toys that they are special. “I want to hand them something that was handmade, just for them, something beautiful that says you are valued.” Cheyne’s compassion for childhood is evident in how he facilitates play and creativity for his own children. I recently purchased a wooden dinosaur puzzle for a beloved friend. I was so proud to hand over something I knew was a high quality and would stay in their family for many lifetimes. Cheyne is an amazing NWA dad with an amazing dream!
*Cheyne Houston, creator and proprietor of HoustonFolk Creations, designs wooden puzzles, swords, capes, and stilts just to name a few. His work can be found at Terra Tots Natural Parenting in Fayetteville, the Heartwood Gallery (also in Fayetteville), or online at his Etsy Shop at etsy.com/shop/Houstonfolk.
If you are interested in custom orders, purchases, donating reclaimed goods, inviting Cheyne to your trade event, or investing in Cheyne’s vision, please write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org