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Gift Guides

Crush the Clichés: Our Least Mushy Valentine’s Day Gifts

January 27, 2017

UncommonGoods | Our Least Mushy Valentine's Day Gifts

For many, Valentine’s Day means Cupid’s arrows, red roses, and hearts on EVERYTHING. But for a lot of other folks, the thought of presenting someone with a giant teddy bear holding a plush heart that reads, “I Wuv U” seems a little silly. Sure, we appreciate the classic approach to V-Day gifting, but we’re all for celebrating the holiday without all that over-the-top, sentimental, gooey stuff, too. In honor of those lovebirds who are sweet (but not sappy) and romantic (but still realistic), we created this collection of lovable gifts, minus the mush.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with Anne Johnson and Arra David

January 10, 2017

Anne Johnson and Arra David outside of the Sea Stones Studio in Windham, NH, photos by Cassie Tweten Delaney

Canopies of colorful leaves. Air so fresh it actually feels different when you breathe it in. Wide open spaces and dewy blades of grass. These are things I don’t get to enjoy all that often in Brooklyn, but New Hampshire is another story. I experienced the natural beauty of “The Granite State” firsthand last fall, when I also got a full tour of Arra David and Anne Johnson’s bustling studio.

The state’s nickname is certainly fitting, given the extensive quarries in New Hampshire. It’s also fitting that Anne and Arra make their designs there, considering that their one-of-a-kind creations are made with wood, natural stones, metal, and–you guessed it–granite.

Curious about just how the designers are able to turn solid rock into functional home designs, our Tabletop Buyer NéQuana and I made the five-hour road trip from Brooklyn to Windham, NH to get an inside look.

Anne and Arra welcomed us in, offered us some of the homemade hard cider mentioned below, walked us through the studio and workshop, and let us take some tools for a test drive. With Arra’s guidance, NéQuana even built her own Sea Stone Splash Sponge Holder!

Arra, an engineer, talked to us about designing special tools to tackle heavy-duty work. He also shared thoughts on taking hold of inspiration when it “ambushes,” advice on the importance of collaboration, and a perfectly pertinent Thoreau quote.

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Maker Resources, Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studios: A Look Back at Our 2016 Studio Tours

December 30, 2016

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been running our Studio Tours series for almost 5 years. Maybe that’s because every time I step into a another studio, I feel like I’m entering a whole new world. Over the years I’ve visited jewelry makers, potters, woodworkers, and even an industrial kitchen. And that’s just to name a few. Every time I leave an artist’s space, I feel creatively refreshed and ready to get making myself.

In 2016, I actually did get in some hands-on experience, when Jim Loewer gave our team a tour of his Philadelphia glass-working studio and let me use the torch to make own pendant. It was was definitely as much fun as you’d expect playing with fire and molten glass to be, and I now have a memento from the visit. Other adventures this year included checking out a sustainable studio made from reclaimed shipping containers, one contributor’s trip to London to meet world-renowned jewelry designer Alex Monroe, a look inside our own Product Development team’s creative space, and more. It wasn’t easy to pick just a few highlights from each Studio Tour to show you, but here are some moments that I hope spark your interest and maybe even put you in the mood to get creative too.

Laurel Begley

Laurel Begley | UncommonGoodsCreating the Faux Bois Vase | UncommonGoods

Laurel Begley’s Personalized Faux Bois Vase includes a symbol of lasting love, so it’s no surprise that she told us about some of the symbols of love an nurturing in her own life as she gave us a virtual tour of her Santa Rosa, CA studio. She also shared some great advice: “Don’t try to be anything you’re not. Do your best work, put it out there, and everything else will fall into place.” | Visit Laurel’s Studio

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Gift Guides

Gifts for Him: A Huge Gift Guide for Guys

December 17, 2016

What do the phrases, “Man, this is tough.”, “Oh, brother, where to start?”, and “Dude, seriously? What am I supposed to get?” have in common? Other than opening with a nod to some hypothetical male, you’ve also probably uttered them rhetorically when wondering what in the heck to buy for an actual man in your life. We know guys run the gamut from sports fans to geeks to foodies (and many are all of the above and more at once!), so we created this list of our favorite gift guides featuring stuff for hard-to-shop-for fellas.

 

He’s a modern man, but he still spends as much time as possible living in a cave. His man cave, that is. Help him turn his personal space into a truly impressive dude domain with this collection of cool guy gifts. | See more Man Cave Must-Haves>>

 

He already owns enough ties to open his own men’s fashion store. His kitchen is loaded with gadgets that could make a professional chef swoon. His book, record, and every other collection you can think of are so complete you don’t even know where to start when it comes to finding just what he needs. Saying he’s hard-to-shop-for is an understatement, but don’t worry. We have a whole list of things we bet he doesn’t already have. | See more Gifts for Someone Who Has Everything>>

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Gift Guides

Last Minute Gifts
That Don’t Feel Last Minute

December 8, 2016

We know we’re probably not supposed to say this, being an online store that sells really cool stuff and all, but holiday shopping isn’t always entirely fun. Sometimes it’s even stressful. Maybe you planned to get out there on Black Friday, but then spent the day recovering from too much stuffing and cranberry sauce instead. Or maybe you did get a head start on the shopping, but just realized that you still have a few people on your list, and of course they’re impossible to shop for. Now the Christmas clock is ticking. But that doesn’t mean those last minute gifts won’t be thoughtful. We’re here to help with this list of gifts so cool your giftees will wonder where you’ve been hiding them for months. (Don’t worry, the secret’s safe with us.)

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Gift Guides

Geeky Gifts for Proud Nerds

November 30, 2016

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The labels “geek” and “nerd” are insults no more. In fact, they’re badges of honor. These days, “You are such a nerd,” is a compliment to math lovers who spend hours on calculations and science fans who’d rather spend a night stargazing than doing almost anything else. As proud nerds ourselves, we are extra excited to present this round-up of great gift ideas for folks who aren’t afraid to let their geek flags fly.

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Gift Guides

Perfect Presents for the Party Planner

November 1, 2016

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Picking the perfect present for a proud party planner isn’t always, well, a party. They have the food, music, and games covered. Yes,they already have everything their guests need to have a great night down, but that doesn’t mean they won’t love to get one of these special gifts to help them create a fresh presentation for appetizers or add a little extra flair to their tablescapes.

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Sending Light and Love with the SolarPuff

October 17, 2016
SolarPuffs lighting the way

All images and videos courtesy of Solight Designs ™

Some of us take light for granted. The sun goes down, we flip a switch, and our homes are flooded with an electric-energy-fueled sunshine substitute. But for the 1.6 billion people in the world without access to electricity, it’s not that easy.

In many areas around the globe, kerosene is used in place of electricity. Kerosene, like gasoline, is a fossil fuel made from petroleum. It’s expensive, it has to be burned to create energy, and burning it creates air pollution. Unfortunately, many families don’t have access to any other source of light. That makes cooking, studying, or even seeing the face of the loved one sitting right across the room impossible without the aid of kerosine lamps. Use of these lamps can be dangerous. They get hot, they send soot into the air, and in some cases, they even use open flames.

Aiming to bring a safe, clean alternative to kerosene to those living by lamplight, product designer, architect, and Professor of Design and Material Culture at Parsons the New School of Design, Alice Min Soo Chun developed the SolarPuff™— an inexpensive, collapsible light powered by the sun.

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