Dec. 23, 2004


Drawing families together

 Costa Mesa designer Marilyn Scott-Waters creates whimsical paper toys that can be downloaded for free from her Website or cut out of her book. She wants her art to encourage families to spend time together through creative play.



The Current



A bear wagon designed by Marilyn Scott-Waters can be assembled with glue.


 Local artist Marilyn Scott-Waters believes paper, glue and a little undivided attention can make all the difference in a child's life.


 She creates paper toys, colorful, whimsical illustrations that families can cut out and make together. Bug boxes. Cootie catchers. Spinners. Penny Aeroplanes.


 "Parents need a way to spend time with their kids so they can just be together," said Scott-Waters, a 46-year-old Costa Mesa native and mother of one.


 Reminiscent of the toys of the early-1900s, the folding toys are simple to make and ideal for children ages 4 to 8. But they're fun for kids of all ages, even old ones, she said. No batteries or electricity required, only imagination.


 Reviving her childhood hobby of toymaking, she starting making paper gazebos at night to relax and play. Then, not sure what to do with them, she hid them in a bag in the closet.


 Later Scott-Waters, whose greatest inspiration is Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, decided to share her illustrations with others.


 Her toys can be downloaded for free on her Web site,, which she launched in 2002, a 12th anniversary present from her husband Ronn.


 She says the site has received more than 155,000 hits and that she has received emails from people all over the world, including England, Australia, Denmark and Iraq, thanking her for the toys, paper dolls and seasonal crafts featured on her site.


A sunbox designed by Marilyn Scott-Waters


 Her family makes time each week to gather at the dining table for Monday Model Night where Joel, 8, makes model robots, Ronn makes model cars and helicopters and Scott-Waters draws and tests out her new toys.


 They talk about their days and learn about Joel's experiences in the second grade.


 It important to spend time together talking. "Sitting in the living room with the TV on doesn't do anything,"she said.


 For those who don't have access to a computer to download her toys, Scott-Waters invested $5,000 and two weeks to create her book The Toymaker: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself, which she self-published in July. The book sells for $11.65 through


 Scott-Waters spent years in the corporate art world designing everything from print products to surf wear. But her true passion was always to be a children's book illustrator and a mom.


 After her son's birth, she left a jet-setting position as a designer for Nike. And after being laid off from her job designing motorcycle wear in 1998, she started freelancing from home and the new lifestyle stuck.


 "I can't imagine calling in to a company and saying, I'm going to be late today, I'm going (on a field trip with my son)," she said.


 Scott-Waters is now illustrating a children's book titled Bowregarde, which tells the story of a mouse whose name scares off other mice. The book is being published by a Newport Beach man whose mother-in-law, the author of the book, died last year of cancer. And Scott-Waters continues to create new toys and crafts to add to her site.


 It's my way to give something to people, she said. It's as close to being Santa Claus as one could wish for!