Wandering around the flea market in Athens today, I came upon the most interesting fellow! Mr P. is a craftsman who makes wooden toys here in Greece and sells them in the central flea market. He has a simple little folding table piled with the most compelling, brightly stained wooden toys. Mr P. specializes in hand turned wooden tops. He stains them in beautiful reds, blues, golds and greens. He makes little bead festooned strings to wrap around the tops and send them spinning. He was happy to demonstrate all the different types and explained how they worked. “You won’t find anything else like this here”, he said with a sweeping gesture. “I make these with my own hands. They’re my design.”
The designs are ingenious. The workmanship superb. Mr P. wants to chat and he tells us stories of the years he lived in America and the jobs he held. He talks about the redwood he learned to use in California and how he always had to sharpen his tools afterwards because of the roughness of the wood. I asked if he made spindles, but he didn’t understand me. I couldn’t think of a way to explain, but next week I’ll take my spindle to the flea market to see if I can find him there again. The way these tops spin, I think he’d create the most amazing whorl!