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Winter Sale!

Ann Elkington

Announcing a special ZonnenBoxen Sale----while supplies last!  New inventory coming in soon, so the old needs to go to make room.  ( The checkers set, ZBKings, is not part of the sale).

We will be donating a percentage of every purchase during this sale to efforts to curb/change gun violence in our schools and gathering places. #NeverAgain, #MarchForOurLives, #ParklandStudentsSpeak. 


Big Changes Coming to ZonnenBoxen!

Ann Elkington

Over the last year or so, we at ZonnenBoxen have been quietly working behind the scenes: assessing what colors and sizes needed change, fine-tuning shapes and finishes etc. But the biggest change is the addition of a ZonnenBoxen checkers set. Named ZBKings by our Board Member, Raymond Ocampo Jr, it is amazing! The checkers themselves glow while the matte + glossy board reflects the colors of the pieces. A regular order will be our selection  for you, while a custom order will allow your choice of board and checkers colors. It is beautiful enough to be not merely an enjoyable game, but a glowing objet d'art to be displayed. It will soon be available to order on the site; you can currently view it on the GALLERY page.

ZonnenBoxen Contributes!

Ann Elkington

ZonnenBoxen and the parent company, ElkingtonDesignWorks Inc, have  been successful enough to start making charitable  contributions.  Unlike some other companies, we are going to vary our contributions; this gives us the opportunity to aid several different issues which are important to us.

We are honored to name the Department of Industrial Design Excellence Fund at Iowa State University as the first recipient. The Fund allows monies to be allocated for design needs at the discretion of the Department Head, currently David Ringholz. We are proud to be associated with this young, but already outstanding, design program. We particularly thank Emily Kruse and Dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez for helping to make this avenue of contribution possible. 

A New Year, and a New Look for ZonnenBoxen !

Ann Elkington

A new shipment has arrived: new colors and some slightly different sizes. Same prices, however,  but we are now calculating discounts for bulk orders of a dozen or more.  We are introducing an entirely new model in a limited edition: fire-polished blocks. Although they sparkle instead of glowing, these shiny blocks are amazing when combined with the satin-finished originals. If the trial period goes well, we will add these beauties to the permanent inventory.  We've also renovated the website to match all these new changes. We are sure that 2017 is going to be a block- buster year for ZonnenBoxen!   

A new shipment has arrived: new colors and some slightly different sizes. Same prices, however,  but we are now calculating discounts for bulk orders of a dozen or more.

We are introducing an entirely new model in a limited edition: fire-polished blocks. Although they sparkle instead of glowing, these shiny blocks are amazing when combined with the satin-finished originals. If the trial period goes well, we will add these beauties to the permanent inventory.

We've also renovated the website to match all these new changes. We are sure that 2017 is going to be a block- buster year for ZonnenBoxen!


Follow the Blocks Blog

Ann Elkington

ZonnenBoxen have been traveling across western Europe for the month of August, blogging this journey on WordPress. Follow this colorful adventure on:

In Sept, the blog on this site will resume.


Ann Elkington

A snow globe with birch trees.

A snow globe with birch trees.

When visiting a friend the other day, we dropped a few ZonnenBoxen® into a glass of sparkling water. Watching the bubbles on the colored blocks made me think of snow globes. . .

Snow globes----those rather old-fashioned glass orbs with a tiny scene inside. Filled with water and white, sparkly particles,  which when the globes are shaken, create a miniature blizzard that gradually subsides. Regrettably, they seem to have become the almost exclusive domain of the tourist cheap souvenir industry.

Children are mesmerized by the swirling flakes and the miniature worlds inside. The harder the globes are shaken, the fiercer the blizzard, which slowly subsides leaving the scene covered in snow.  The good ones are satisfying to hold with their smooth glass and surprising heft.

After I returned home, I studied these on the internet. What I find odd is that so many of them now----no matter what the price or quality----are adorned on the base and sides with vivid thematic decorations: everything from Hello Kitty to Greetings From Honolulu. These decorations actually detract from the calming magic of a snow globe; the globes are perfect with a simple plain base and unadorned glass.  The best visual magic is that which gradually lures the senses in. 



Greek Worry Beads. . .and other smooth things.

Ann Elkington

κομπολόι, or Kompoloi. Greek worry beads.

Often in rich blues, they have been used by the Greeks for centuries to deflect and relieve stress and tension.

Amethyst Greek Worry Beads

Amethyst Greek Worry Beads

Beads or not, objects that feel smooth and satiny are calming. Soft touches to our skin are caresses, whether this soft touch is from another person, a soft wind, the finest fabric, gentle water, the silky fur of an animal friend.  Children have "bankies" or soft stuffed animals to comfort them.   Smooth, rounded stones have this soothing quality, as does beach glass.

The feel of ZonnenBoxen® blocks is similarly enticing. Merely looking at them, they don't seem as if they could feel any different from any other blocks, but once touched. . ..well, everybody loves holding them, just as they do the smoothest stones.

Announcing Fantastic Changes! New Sets! Low Prices!

Ann Elkington

Just in time for Mother's Day!

Take a look at our SHOP page--ZonnenBoxen has dramatically lowered prices and consolidated sets.   I think this is a huge streamlining --thank you, my users, for the feedback which created  these changes.  

More wonderful changes coming soon.  

Great Changes are Coming to ZonnenBoxen !

Ann Elkington

At the beginning, we worked long and hard to find the right carrying pouch/case for ZonnenBoxen®  .  Eventually, we decided upon the neat little mesh zip art supplies bag pictured around this site.

However, we have since discovered that most buyers don't use it after they first receive and open the package.  Along with this discovery came an observation of the sets and sizes that are predominantly being purchased.

We've made some dramatic changes based on this user information, changes which have enabled us to really reduce prices. . .which we are passing on to our customers!

The zip bag will now be an optional purchase and we are creating fewer numbers of different   sets though we've eliminated no actual block sizes or colors. ( New colors are also being added soon).

Our fantastic website team at Fire& will be incorporating these changes to the website. We'll be announcing the new prices and sets on the social media.  Bear with us and stay tuned!!

An Unusual Role for ZonnenBoxen.

Ann Elkington

An friend of mine is a pre-eminent legal scholar; as such, he often serves on review panels for prestigious fellowships, interviewing the semi-finalist and finalist candidates one-on-one as they begin the toughest part of the process. As anyone who has been in that interview chair knows, it is an intense and nerve-wracking experience. Earlier this year, my scholar friend was part of the interview panel of one of the more highly regarded fellowships of the legal world. . .and he took ZonnenBoxen®  along.

He placed a few of the blocks in a variety of colors--though mostly blues--on the table between himself and the candidate’s chair ( I am told the ambient light was quite bright, so the blocks were really glowing). While he never referred to nor mentioned the ZonnenBoxen®,  he observed the candidates’ reactions throughout the interviews and has subsequently shared a few of those observations with me:

One candidate could scarcely keep his eyes off them; he often had to pull his gaze back to making the appropriate eye contact for the interview.

• Another candidate was also clearly drawn to them; she hesitatingly and repeatedly put a hand out as if to touch the blocks, but remembering the situation she was in, never quite did.

• A third candidate looked longingly at them during the interview process; after it was concluded, he touched them and asked what they were.

Whether they were touched or not, what my friend states is that in every single case, the ZonnenBoxen®  had some kind of calming effect.

As an experiment, he has proposed to me that the next time he serves on such a panel, he casually allows the blocks to be touched or held---much like coffee table toys---by the candidates during the interview. His thought, of course, is that the calmer a candidate is, the more natural the interview will be.

I am grateful to my friend for this informal experiment and his observations; I look forward to his next report.

At Petco

Ann Elkington

Right. You are wondering what a visit to Petco has to do with ZonnenBoxen®.  I went to buy cat litter. As I walked down toward where it is, I passed a bin of dog toys. Those squishy balls made of transparent colored plastic of some sort, covered with little flexible points. They come in a variety of sizes, to match dog sizes. They come in a hot pink, light cobalt blue, a bright citrus green and a purple.   The blue is the most transparent . . .and was the most bought. There were only one or two blues left and large amounts of the other colors remaining in the bin. I held a biggish blue one up to the window; although it didn't glow like ZonnenBoxen®, the blue light coming through this silly dog toy was every bit as compelling as the blue ZonnenBoxen® or blue stained glass. That blue, its almost magical. Everybody is captivated by it.

ZonnenBoxen Love the Spring Light.

Ann Elkington

Here is the little wall-like structure referenced in the previous blog post.  Note the yellow and glass green ones  which are askew.

Here is the little wall-like structure referenced in the previous blog post.  Note the yellow and glass green ones  which are askew.

Spring light is different from winter light and ZonnenBoxen seem to 'know' this. They glow much more strongly in ambient daylight now than they did in winter light. The winter sunny daylight made them more sparkly, while the winter overcast light created a watercolor-y like glow. This spring glow is far more robust---you can almost hear it. 

The Mysteriously Moving Boxen..

Ann Elkington

As I wrote in the previous post, my accountant notices that the ZonnenBoxen® on her office windowsill get moved when she is not there.  This post contains the photo which shows the little wall-like structure  she built and the one---yellow---block that got shifted by the unseen hands. Note how the boxen are glowing in this photo : that is indirect north light about 4 pm . No lights were on in the office. They do seem to use the light around them. 

A Curious Occurance Part 2

Ann Elkington

My accountant, mentioned in the previous post, has now been observing more closely the ways in which the blocks are being moved about on her window sill. While not one of her colleagues has actually 'fessed up to going into her office in her absences and playing with them, she has gotten some indirect questions: "What are they made of?", "Where did you get them?" and the like.  Last week, as an experiment, she pushed and stacked them like bricks, to create a solid little wall. She noticed that, while a few blocks would be slightly out of skew, the arrangement remained basically intact throughout the week. 

Of course, this being April, it is crazy time for accountants, many of them will be working well into the evenings for the next couple of weeks.  My accountant has now created a new, looser arrangement of the blocks which she has photographed with her phone. She is going to document the blocks daily and see how they get shifted around. After the 15th, she will send share these with me to post here. If nothing else, it will be fun to see how they get shifted about..  Stay tuned.


A Curious Occurence. . .

Ann Elkington

The first  ZonnenBoxen® blog post of 2016. 

My accountant has her practise in a group; sunny, light filled offices give on to an open common work space. The individual office doors are almost always open, both for light and for the doing of the daily business.

My accountant placed the ZonnenBoxen®  she bought on the window sill in her office to best catch the light. What she is finding, after leaving then returning to the office, is that the ZonnenBoxen®  are often in slightly different placements and in a different order from where she last put them. Apparently, sitting in the bright window and glowing as they do, my accountant’s colleagues are drawn to the ZonnenBoxen®  as they pass her office, and almost cannot help themselves: they must go to touch and play with them.

I invented them and yet even I cannot explain how or why their colored glow is so irresistibly alluring. . . .but it is. 


Stay tuned, more blog posts to come.

While ZonnenBoxen took a little break, we were still working. . .

Ann Elkington

Although not always visible or blog-worthy, ZonnenBoxen®  has been working away these past few months.

After a couple of frustrating experiences with potential manufacturers, a new fabricator has been identified ---the awesome Acrylonics Inc in San Jose, CA. We currently await a prototype cube which will confirmthis company's high level of craftsmanship.

Most exciting of all, perhaps, is that a friend of ZonnenBoxen® recently connected us to Snoezelen Multi-sensory Environments ( MSEs)

The concept of SNOEZELEN was defined in the late 1970s by two Dutch therapists, Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul while they were working at the De Hartenberg Institute in The Netherlands. They proved that environments which spoke to particular senses, especially for clients with limited verbal function, are stimulating while still being calming.  The therapists called this multi-sensory experience “snoezelen,” a contraction of the Dutch verbs “snuffelen” (to seek out or explore) and “doezelen” (to relax). Colored light is one of the key elements of Snoezelen, shown to capture the attention, calm and soothe persons of all ages and abilities. This work validates what ZonnenBoxen®have been doing for everyone who uses them!  While the Snoezelen MSEs are environments,  ZonnenBoxen®are participatory, which gives the user total control over how he or she chooses to interact with them.









The further adventures of ZonnenBoxen

Ann Elkington

Well, hello there. . .where were we?

Recently,  I've been asked how to clean ZonnenBoxen® . .Well, they're acrylic, so they are pretty durable. But given the current fears of infection in the news, I ran them through my dishwasher. Yep, regular cycle, regular detergent lozenge, right in there next to the dirty coffee cups.  What I did not anticipate was how beautifully they would emerge!  The silky surfaces are now even more so, better than I could ever get with wet emery cloth. The "fogged" quality is much more even.  While I wouldn't recommend including them with every night's dishes (simple soap and water is fine, or a swipe with alcohol if you're really worried ) because it does micro-abrade them, and will wear down the color eventually, a trip through the dishwasher every now and again will not hurt. Acrylic will craze with tiny cracks when repeatedly exposed to extremes of temperature, however.  I also do not recommend using water temps over 150F and top rack only.