A little set of colored peg people has been on my wish list for a while, inspired by this set -- the simple, imaginative nature of Waldorf-style toys appeals to me on many levels. A toy like this provides activities like basic manipulation (putting the peg people in and out of the pots), color matching, and imaginative play. In other words, it spans quite a length of time in a toddler's development.
I bought the unfinished wood peg people and bean pots from Casey's Wood (who also had the maple teething rings and wooden beads I'd been looking for). I was surprised that Little Man called them "people" from the get-go. Apparently his imagination is more developed than I'd anticipated!
I found dyeing instructions over at That's My Letter -- the peg people and pots had remained unfinished for quite a while, since I couldn't seem to find a dying method that met my criteria! Really, all I wanted was something safe for little toddler mouths. That ruled out paint (which I thought would probably chip over time, even if it were non-toxic), as well as traditional wood dyes. The idea of using gel food coloring was perfect and inexpensive! Granted, I'm sure there are many who would argue that artificial food dyes are hardly natural or "safe" -- but for all intents and purposes, they are a food product, and that's good enough for me.
I painted on a coat of dye for each "person," and allowed it to dry. The results are imperfect and somewhat blotchy, and probably would have been improved with another coat of dye (and my purple has a strong resemblance to brown...) -- but I'm actually rather fond of their "unique" homespun character. And I love that the colors are bright, but not overpoweringly vibrant. I finished the pieces off with a coat of coconut oil, and voila! A little village of peg people. Now I just need to make a little drawstring muslin bag to keep them in.
Let the fun begin!