Wooden toys at the Portland Saturday Market

Last updated on April 24th, 2020

Portland’s Saturday Market cuddles up against and under the Burnside Bridge, but also spills into the surrounding historic neighborhood. Artists selling their own work are largely located at the bridge, with vendors selling everything else situated across the street. There is merchandise of all types, food, music, and street performers. Somewhere African music is playing. It seems like quite a party – clearly there is a morning’s worth of entertainment here.

We start with the local art, admiring funky sweater hats, photography by the likes of Peter McNamee and William Patrick Moore, glass and functional pottery, duct tape wallets (really) by 8 Sticky Fingers, handmade sandals (very tempting), bird feeders made from old china, and giant insects made from scraps of metal.

Of course, there are also lots of jewelers and Michele and I buy a few sparkly baubles, including beautiful wire-wrapped pieces by Kathy and Ron LaVine of Using God’s Creations and a couple of fun strung pieces from Marci’s Many Magics.

We discover amazing confections made of soap at Bella Mi – tantalizing “truffles” in flavors that look good enough to eat along with more traditional bars, some with impossible-to-resist names like “Evil Jungle Prince” (lemongrass, coconut, and sandalwood). They are beautiful and smell lovely!

But our favorite stop is at Kobayashi Wood Toys, a small dark space overflowing with brilliantly painted tops, yo-yos, and other toys – all topped by a “No Photos” sign. (Darn)

The tops are my favorites. Painted in bright colors, I just can’t pass them by. Who do I know that might like a small, brightly painted toy?

My question about an odd-shaped top is answered by a demonstration of it and of another type and then of still another. . . .Mr. Kobayashi has tops of all types scattered about and is pleased to demonstrate how any and all of them work – especially the more complicated ones. He is absolutely giddy when a two part beauty splits perfectly, the two halves spinning around the table side by side. They are beautiful.

He laughs and smiles when I ask if I may photograph him, thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to play with and show off his handiwork.

A handful of small tops in bright colors end up in my bag. Most will be gifts, but I think at least one will be mine.

We cross the street and wander through the international section of the market where I find simple cotton dresses (I buy a few) and gorgeous traditional jewelry from Afghanistan, the Himalayas, and other exotic cultures (I look, but they are expensive and I don’t know enough to make a wise purchase, so I continue on). It’s a fascinating place.

As we leave the market, the African band has been supplanted by a recording of an Obama speech. A crowd has gathered to listen and cheer.

Portland itinerary 2008

1 thought on “Wooden toys at the Portland Saturday Market”

  1. Somehow I forgot to mention what may have been my best find at the market – Style Stix by Jayne. Lovely and versatile, these little turned wood picks solved a major hair styling problem. . . now if I could just track down Robert and solve a few more. (Why is it that hair stylists never seem to stay put!)

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