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The Castle: a family of architectural elements and letterforms, textures, weights, negative space and surprise. Limited Edition of 15 Sets Worldwide. $1275 plus shipping.

Castle Logo
Artist Charleen Kinser, graphic designer Bill Kinser (1931-1999), woodworker-craftsmen Tom Kinser (1961-1980) and Jim Kinser (brother to Bill, uncle to Tom).
The Castle is a set of handcrafted blocks of mostly poplar and oak with some red oak, walnut, baltic birch, cherry and maple in rectangles, squares, cubes, discs, columns, semi-spheres, arches & turned pieces, and many variations on those shapes that can be stacked, placed side-by-side, end to end. There are fanciful toppers and domes, too, for finishing the structures of your imagination. The Castle comes in a finished box with a list of pieces and instructions for packing so that every block fits beautifully.



The Castle was conceived in the early 80s for the toy company Charleen Kinser Designs by Bill Kinser (a graphic designer fascinated with the curves and proportions of letterforms) and his son Tom (a craftsman in love with wood for its variations in grain, color and texture). But from the beginning, Charleen the artist played with The Castle as a 3-dimensional visual game.





How this Limited Edition came to be
In 1999, after Bill passed away, his brother Jim, visiting Charleen to help put the house in its new order, stumbled across a chest of the blocks that Bill had designed and Tom had crafted before his own too-early passing. Jim, a woodworker for close to half a century, offered to build a set himself, "to complete the process somehow". Looking back, "maybe it was a way of getting close to my brother," Jim says. "And it just seemed like a good idea at the time."

The Castle, begun by Bill as a block set with it's unique three-to-one ratio that would really work for building, and by Tom as a beautiful wooden sculpture in hundreds of pieces, has become a diversion for all, a way to communicate a love of materials and forms, and to have fun doing it.


The Castle as a Toy, The Castle as Art
Blocks are to play with, yes. But after the kids go to bed, what are they? Even as a pile in the corner, The Castle is more than a memory of play, evidence of the activity of your kids' imagination--and yours. Beautiful even tumbled across the floor, the carpet or a hand-hooked woolen rug, The Castle and it's elegant box becomes furniture, a fixture, art that beckons you to play.


Work In Progress

All Fall Down

All Fall Down

All Fall Down

All Fall Down


Building, from the Artist's point of view
"You'll notice as you begin to build in your own personal style that from your very first block choices, a theme will appear, not only in the blocks themselves but also in the very important negative areas--on the ground and in the space around, between, and above the structures you build. This theme of shapes and structures is yours, to build on to, with variations that make sense to you.

A second, subordinate theme or idea might set up a contrast to the first which points out the beauty of the first without defeating it.

That's the basis of a strong idea, as in great music or dance or art or typography or public speaking or presentations of any kind--like great architecture.

It's human communication, with wooden building blocks.

Stop awhile and notice them. And when your "Castle" falls -- enjoy the sounds they make. Marvel at the wood grains and their subtle colors, and as you gather them up search for your next inspiration in the beautiful rubble "

Charleen Kinser


The Castle is currently on display at the Arkansas Arts Center for the 33rd Annual Toys Designed by Artists Special Exhibition  
For more information or to purchase The Castle please contact through their website.  
Copyright 2001 Charleen Kinser Designs