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Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

April 26, 2015

Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother's Day Gifts | UncommonGoods

There’s one day a year that’s dedicated to all moms; this year, May 10 is that day. Mother’s Day may be a nation-wide holiday to honor the women who raised us, but that certainly doesn’t mean that there’s one gift that’s perfect for every mom. (OK, so maybe most moms are into the whole traditional Mother’s Day brunch thing, but who doesn’t love celebratory food? Treating her to pancakes is just a start.)

We rounded up all kinds of creative gift ideas to help you give mom a gift as unique as she is this year.

2015 Mother's Day Gift Ideas | UncommonGoods

Give Mom a Moment

Remember when you were a kid and you watched your mom balance what seemed like a million tasks at once? Whether she was picking you up from soccer practice on her way home from a long day at work or changing your little brother’s diapers while hoping the pot on the stove didn’t boil over in the 30 seconds she wasn’t looking, it’s likely that mom had very few moments to herself. Now that you’re all grown up, it’s not guaranteed that her life has slowed down any, but at least you can give her a gift that encourages her to remember to take a moment for herself every now and then.

 

Spa Experience Tin | Uncommongoods

 

Mom deserves to be pampered, and the Spa Experience Tin has just what it takes. Complete with Lavender Goat’s Milk Bath Tea, Bath Truffle, Wedding Cake Whispered Shea Crème, and Hint of Mint Lip Balm, this pretty package will transform her next soak into a relaxing retreat.

Meditation Box | UncommonGoods

There was a time when mom probably told you not to track sand into the house. While your dirty shoes used to stress mom out, this sand will do just the opposite. | Meditation Box

Tea Bag Pocket Mug | UncommonGoods

A hot cup of tea can be a nice start to a laid back afternoon or the perfect ending to a busy day. Either way, it’s even better when it’s drip-covered saucer free. | Tea Bag Pocket Mug

Green Tea Kit | UncommonGoods

Take tea time tranquility even further with the Green Herbal Tea Kit.  (Nine herbs and three types of tea further, to be more specific.)

New Mom

Whether you’re shopping for a brand new mother, or a mother who is just getting to know her second or third newborn, these mementos will help her celebrate the journey ahead!

Birthstone Wishing Balls | UncommonGoods

 

Mom can’t control everything that happens in her baby’s future, but she will always be wishing for the absolute best. Each shimmering ball of hand-blown glass comes with 52 tiny slips of paper for her to pause once a week throughout the year and record a message of hope or gratitude. | Birthstone Wishing Balls

 

Sterling Silver Teething Keepsake Necklace | UncommonGoods

We all know that newborns are excited to touch everything, both with their mouths and hands! So why not get jewelry that mom and baby can cherish? The cold sterling silver ring soothes baby’s teething gums, while a gentle rattling sound keeps babies entertained. | Sterling Silver Teething Keepsake Necklace 

Birthstone Definition Necklace | UncommonGoods

Did you know that the gemstones we associate with our birthmonths were also believed by the mystics to carry special meanings and even supernatural powers? Any new Mom needs all the super powers she can get! (Find out what her little one’s birthstone means here.) | Birthstone Definition Necklace 

I Heart You, Mom

There are so many ways to say I love you, but how many ways can you show her? 

A Mother's Love is Beyond Measure Spoon Set | UncommonGoods

Because a mother’s love is like a spoonful of sugar, the best kind of medicine! | A Mother’s Love is Beyond Measure Spoon Set 

What I Love About Mom By Me Book | UncommonGoods

It might be impossible to count all the ways, but this book will give you a great start. (Don’t forget to share the love with Grandma!) | What I Love About Mom By Me Book

Heart Book Box | UncommonGoods

This surprise will be sure to make this a Mother’s Day for the books! | Heart Book Box

 

What The Future Holds Love Locket | UncommonGoods

Whatever the future holds, this pendant will always keep your love close to her heart. | What The Future Holds Love Locket

The Art of Motherhood

We probably don’t have to tell you that parenting is a pretty tough job. It’s certainly not an exact science, but it might be a bit of an art form. Show your mama that you admire her colorful personality, creative problem solving, and technical expertise with a bit of art appreciation.

Bouquet by Wendy Gold | UncommonGoods

Flowers on Mother’s Day will make mom smile. Wendy Gold’s Bouquet will ensure that that smile is from ear to ear.

The Last Slice | UncommonGoodsIt may be true that no one knows how to bake a pie quite like mom, but artist Kendyll Hillegas is a pro when it comes to painting them. (Learn more about the artist here.) | The Last Slice

You Are Beautiful | UncommonGoods

Your mom is beautiful. Don’t let her forget it! | You Are Beautiful by Matthew Hoffman

Earth Mother

For the mothers who nurture Mother Earth, these picks will be sure to make their hearts bloom even brighter.

Birds and Bloom State Pillow | UncommonGoods

Just because you’ve left the nest doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the flora and fauna of mom’s home. | Birds and Blooms Pillows – Individual States

Pocket Wall Vases | UncommonGoods

It turns out that there are many beautiful perks to being a wallflower. | Pocket Wall Vases

Dandelion Paperweight | UncommonGoods

That moment when you make a wish and blow a dried dandelion into a thousand little pieces | Dandelion Paperweight

Pottery Birdhouse | UncommonGoods

Remember when mom used to read you stories about princesses who would get dressed in the morning with the help of beautiful hummingbirds? Well, you might not be able to bring her fairy tales to life, but you can give her favorite birds somewhere to sing. | Pottery Birdhouse

Strawberry Windowsill Growbox | UncommonGoods

A stretch of window sill, abundant sun, and a little patience are all mom needs to celebrate the fruit of her labors. | Strawberry Windowsill Growbox

Do It Herselfer 

For the Pinterest-loving, get-her-hands-dirty, jump-right-in kinda mom who is always up for a DIY challenge.

Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set | UncommonGoods

Because no matter what, mom is always putting her best foot forward. | Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set

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With only a few DIY components, Mom can create an efficient device to monitor when the family’s toilet paper inventory is running low, amongst other applications. Need we say more? | Modular Smart Home Kit 

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Keep calm and knit on! | Birdie Yarn Bowl Knitting Kit

Nerdy Mom

Maybe she loves sci-fi or is always the first in line for the latest gadget. Maybe she’s ever on the lookout for another piece of great literature to add to her home library or the newest research on her favorite area of study. Whatever her preferred form of geekdom, she’ll be happy to see that she raised you to show nerd pride AND great taste.

Literary Scarves | UncommonGoods

 

Mom’s more of a literati than a fashionista (and proud of it!). Let her show off her classic style with a Literary Scarf printed with pages from one of her favorite classic books.

Smartphone Vase | UncommonGoodsIt’s easy to add a little nature to her tech-filled world, even if your thoroughly modern mommy likes to keep her smartphone nearby on her nightstand or end table. | Bedside Smartphone Vase

Zodiac Embroidery Hoop Art | UncommonGoods

 

Mom is the brightest star on Mother’s Day, but she’s OK with sharing the sky with the constellations. | Zodiac Embroidery Hoop Art

 

Silver Solar System Necklace | UncommonGoods

If your science-loving mom is the first to jump in on any discussion about Pluto’s declassification, she’ll love this Sterling Silver Solar System Necklace. The “ninth planet” is present in this pretty line-up of celestial charms, making it an uncommon way to spark conversations about Pluto’s fate.

Mom Who Has It All

Whether mom is the most stylish person you know, or the most beloved hostess there is, these conversation starters won’t fail to impress!

Porcelain Bird Bud Vases | UncommonGoods

Whether or not she has it all, the last thing any mom wants to have is a water leak to clean up. This beautifully designed vase always ensures a beautiful, leak-free presentation! | Porcelain Bird Bud Vase 

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Bridging the worlds of fashion accessory and art canvas, this is the piece mom didn’t even know she was missing. | Manhattan Bridge Scarf

Recycled Glass Elephant Night Light | UncommonGoods

Because she’ll always protect you and your herd, no matter what. | Recycled Glass Elephants Night Light 

Bread and Butterfly Serving Board | UncommonGoods

A party accessory that will be sure to make her heart flutter. | Bread & Butter(fly) Serving Board

Because You Treasure Her

Giving mom a bracelet or necklace might seem a little old school at first, but these new pieces put a unique twist on traditional Mother’s jewelry.

Sea Glass Sterling Clasp Bracelet | UncommonGoods

The phrase “I’m turning into my mother” gets a bad wrap, but it can be a good thing. Show her that you’re glad to be two of a kind with a Sea Glass Sterling Clasp Bracelet featuring two beautiful pieces of found sea glass.

 

 Silver Dreamcatcher Pendant | UncommonGoods

Thank mom for encouraging you to always follow your dreams with a piece to help her catch hers. | Silver Dream Catcher Pendant 

Mother BirdFamily Necklace | UncommonGoodsYour mama bird took care of  you for a long time before you left the nest. Now you’ve spread your wings, but you’ll never fly too far away. | Mother Bird Family Necklace

My Lucky Stars Necklace | UncommonGoods

You thank your lucky stars to have such a fantastic mother. We bet she feels the same way about you. | My Lucky Stars Necklace 

 

See More Gifts Mom Will Love!

 

Maker Stories

Ali Bennaim and Ximena Chouza: Out-of-this World Fashion

March 17, 2015

Inspired and entranced by the breathtaking splendor of outer space, Ali Bennaim and Ximena Chouza bring the marvels of the universe down to Earth in the form of interstellar accessories. The makers met while attending Parsons the New School for Design in New York and bonded over their captivation with the cosmos and their passion for fashion. Although Ali is from Caracas, Venezuela, and Ximena is from Mexico City, after graduating they set up shop in Brooklyn where they design unique textiles that take their cues from the majesty and mystery of the universe.

Ali Bennaim and Ximena Chouza | UncommonGoods

The self-proclaimed “space-crazed” duo explore the vast archive of images captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. This invaluable astronomical tool orbits outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere, capturing high-resolution photographs that have led to many breakthroughs in astrophysics. Some of these luminous shots, such as the phases of the moon, were snapped close to home, while others that capture stellar celestial bodies and vast networks of gas clouds thousands of light years away offer us a deep view into space and time.

Hubble Telescope Milky Way Scarf | UncommonGoods

 Hubble Telescope Milky Way Scarf

 

Ali and Ximena say that working with these incredible views of space is the most rewarding part of their process. “These are very special and beautiful images and we are grateful to be able to work with them,” they say. After preparing the photographs digitally for printing, the designers apply the imagery to feather-light wool gauze scarves that are cut and finished by hand.

The starry-eyed pair is committed to sourcing their materials and producing everything in their home base of the Big Apple. “We always make sure that our materials are of the best quality we can get,” they say. “Most people are very impressed by the quality and vibrancy of our prints.”

Designing the Milkyway Scarf

Though they may have lofty ambitions, they also say that they’ll never forget their earthly beginnings and aim to remain environmentally conscious. They employ a waste-saving technique, carefully designing every accessory to make the most of every inch of fabric, leaving next to nothing for the landfill.

Maker Stories

Wrapped Up in a Good Book: Tori Tissell’s Literary Scarves

October 20, 2014

Tori Tissell | UncommonGoods

It doesn’t take much exposition to connect literature and art. Artist Tori Tissell fuses both with fashionable flair in her literary scarves. Full of storybook charm, they harken back to Tori’s days as a budding artist. “Some of my earliest memories are from the age of three years old when I was painting in watercolors,” says Tori, “there’s a video recording of me being asked what I want to be when I grow up–my answer was an artist.”

This passion continued into adulthood, landing Tori as a drawing and painting major before deciding to move to New York City to study fashion design. “I thought that outlet would allow for a wider audience and quicker reception of my work and ideas.” Tori was right, and after being stumped for Christmas gift ideas during the 2011 holiday season, she decided to use her education and passion for screen printing, fashion, and literature to create something memorable for family and friends. “Since those closest to me also have an affinity towards reading, [book-inspired scarves] seemed like the perfect solution for gifts and possibly more.”

Literary Scarves | UncommonGoods

Tori sourced some fabric for the scarves and found a rich cream-colored knit. With this new material, she was inspired to print the scarves to resemble the page of a book. After the scarves were a hit, Tori began selecting other book texts to be screen-printed. “Initially books and passages were picked by what I favor and some of that will always hold true but lately we’ve been getting a lot of additional input,” says Tori. From Alice in Wonderland to Jane Eyre, each scarf showcases a window into a world of storybook magic.

Tori working on a Literary Scarf

Tori’s husband Chris became a part of the project when they got married in 2012. The scarves had really started taking off, and he began helping with screen printing, sourcing, and streamlining production. “By the end of that year, he was practically a full time employee on top of his other job as a computer programmer.”

Tori and Chris work out of a few spaces in Portland. “My workspace is a bit of a joke,” says Tori, “Chris is the one with a beautifully painted office, complete with overflowing bookshelves, leather furniture, and artifacts from past travels. My office is continually on the move. I either print pieces within our rented studio space in downtown Portland, or I cut and sew fabric on our dining room table.”

Tori and Chris

Wherever she happens to be working, Tori keeps pieces of inspiration handy. One such piece is the print cover art for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, signed by the artist. This is one of many hints at her love of reading, a passion that perfectly enhances her art. Another source of inspiration can be found within. “I think it’s really important for an artist to surround oneself with his or her own work because taking on new illustrations is terrifying. It’s comforting to see what’s already been overcome and to be reminded that you can do this.”

Literary Scarves | UncommonGoods

Design

How the Bike Tote was Born

April 30, 2014

When developing a product from scratch, we need to think through all of the details. We think about functionality and ask ourselves basic questions. When we created our Bike Tote those questions were: How will the bag hold objects? How much will it hold? How will it be secured? How will it be carried? What materials do we use to make sure the job gets done?

Here’s how we answered some of those questions.

Bike Tote | UncommonGoods

The tricky thing about this project was making sure the bag would fit the needs of a bike rider. Safety is integral. First, the bag needed to be well-secured to a bike’s handlebars without interfering with the front wheel.

How we made it happen: Sourcing the right buckles.

Bike Tote Buckles

This was our greatest sourcing challenge. We recognize that depending on the style of the bike or gears you have, strapping the bag on or off could be a challenge, so we made sure to source components that would work for as many bike styles as possible.

The buckles needed to open up so that we could completely detach the straps and fasten to any bike. They also needed to firmly and securely support the weight of the bag, without breaking, loosening, or slipping on the bike. After evaluating several different buckle and strap options, we chose these cam buckles.

In addition to securing the bag to the bike, we had to refine the cotton shoulder strap, making sure it made sense for a bike rider. We wanted to develop a true tote bag with a longer shoulder strap, but we didn’t want the strap to fly around in the wind or interfere with the bike in any way.

How we made it happen: A floating zipper.

Bike Tote Zippers

The zipper is isolated from the rest of the bag, which means the bag can be opened fully. It allows a bike rider to place the entire shoulder strap into the bag, with the zipper closed on top of it. The strap is securely tucked inside the bag, instead of hanging loose.

We know that when you’re on the road, dirt and gravel fly up, and things get pretty dirty pretty fast. We wanted to make sure the bike tote would stay as nice as possible, despite being an active bag.

How we made it happen: Black bottom panel.

Bike Totes| UncommonGoods

We lined the bottom of the bag with black fabric to hide any smudges. Remember – because of the buckles, the bike tote can’t be machine washed or dried, so hand-washing and line-drying are your best bets for keeping it in top shape.

As a final design touch, we wanted to help bike riders increase their visibility both from a distance and in the dark.

How we made it happen: Reflective tape around the bag. The strip of reflective tape allows for more visibility of riders as they cruise along and show off their very cool bike tote.

Safety first--reflective tape!

Testing the Bike Tote

Once the product met all of the criteria we outlined, we we needed to make sure it was truly road ready. To test it, one of our team members gave it a try on her road bike to make sure our claims were holding up. “I’m basically going to try and break it,” she informed us.

Weighs

In her words:

“I filled it with as much heavy stuff as I could. I started with books and when that didn’t break the bag, I tried weights (two 5 lb. weights) and large bottles (3 wine-sized bottles). The bag was a bit too big for the bike handlebars on the bike I was testing it on, so for the actual weight test I attached it to the bike cross bar and left it hanging overnight.”

The tote successfully held the weight, and we were pleased to find out that it is capable of transporting a lot of wine. (You never know when you might need to to perform just that function!)

Overall, creating the Bike Tote was fun, we got to work with awesome artists Jason Snyder and Briana Feola (who created the art featured on the tote’s fabric), and we can be proud that we developed a product that’s stylish, high-quality, and super functional.

Maker Stories

Rachel’s Celestial Bracelet Takes the Win!

December 11, 2013

Rachel is one of my favorite artist stories to boast about when the topic of ongoing Jewelry Design Challenges arises. She’s the perfect example of the saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Cliché? Most definitely. Overused? Perhaps. True? Without a doubt. Rachel first submitted her original Celestial Bracelet with a bit of a twist, she had her favorite quote etched onto the bracelet with diamonds embedded on top. We were fond of the piece and our jewelry buyers were impressed by the bracelet alone, but didn’t think that the embellishments would speak to our customers. They preferred a clean look that just focused on the unusual shape–inspired by celestial bodies orbiting planets–and design of the bangle. I reached out to Rachel to let her know exactly why that month she wasn’t a finalist, and wasn’t so sure if I would hear from her again. The next month, as I was checking all the jewelry submissions, I recognized Rachel’s familiar bracelet–but this time with our tips taken into consideration. The judges were surprised to see the beautiful, enhanced design again, and fell in love with the sleek yet unconventional bangle. Meet Rachel Vanatta, our latest jewelry design winner and an artist who wasn’t scared to develop her vision with ours.


Rachel Vanatta

What’s an Uncommon fact about you and your hometown?
I consider my hometown to be Chagrin Falls, Ohio. But since relocating to Savannah, GA at 18 to attend Savannah College of Art and Design, I have considered Savannah very dear to me.  The longest portion of my career was experienced on a small 7 mile Gulf Coast island called Anna Maria Island, from 2003 to 2012.  This is where the Nectar Jewelry line was inspired and birthed. Towards the end of 2012 we relocated to Atlanta, GA.  Atlanta is new-ish to me but so far the friends and people I have met have been nothing but wonderful. An Uncommon Fact: I actually attended SCAD specifically for jewelry design, I was always interested in the craft and fine art, and SCAD’s jewelry programs are a perfect mix of both. I knew from age 16 on that the jewelry profession was the one I needed to be in.

Rachel Vanatta

Your bracelet is one of the most unique bangles we’ve seen come through at UncommonGoods, how did you come up with this specific design?
I am inspired by celestial and natural shapes, designs focused on forms that are present on a day-to-day basis, but that we may overlook without small reminders.  I aim to remind the wearers of my jewelry to pay homage to natural phenomenon.  Many take these wonders for granted in our everyday lives, but when reminded of, realize what a gift every being and object can truly be. The celestial bracelet’s shape is reminiscent of a planet’s orbiting moons and rings.  The construction of the piece itself also offers a great surface area to express additional designs, quotes, stones, and patina.

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Where do you find inspiration within your work space?
I have kept and added to inspirational sketchbooks and scrapbooks for about 15 years, and refer to these regularly.  I was sparked to do this by a past professor of mine.  Through some group discussion, I was shared that I had too many ideas all at once, and could not fathom creating them all.  She responded that I should always record every idea and design in these sketchbooks, because there will be a time in the future where I will be searching ideas and inspiration and these books will be my solutions and a look into my past. On a day-to-day basis, I also love to use Pinterest boards, attend American Craft Council and judged craft shows, and art museums.  Any promotional or inspirational ads/cards/artwork I come across I either save or post on my studio walls.

Rachel Vanatta

Where does down time fit into a day of being productive?
I have very little down time, as I am mother of a 2-year-old daughter, Cozette, who is my number one priority, of course.  We have so much fun together, but my downtime is when she naps, is in preschool or asleep at night. This is when I work on my craft.  I love what I do so down time for me is equivalent to designing and creating jewelry.

How did you celebrate when you learned you were our Design Challenge winner for the Jewelry Design Challenge?
I was at the park with my daughter when I received the call, excitedly I gave her a big hug!  I then proceeded to call select family and friends, and celebrated with my husband over a dinner he made later that night.

Rachel Vanatta

How do you recharge your creativity?
Though it may sound cliché, I am ever interested in the human condition and what we all have in common.  I would love to create a series at some point focused on a specific aspect related to this subject with the creation of conceptual jewelry pieces.  As for now, I mainly listen to Ted Talks and listen/watch documentary pieces relating to people in their environment and their specific situations.

Other than being an artist, what are your other passions in life?
Becoming a mother has been such an amazing experience, and now that our daughter is a toddler, it has been wonderful meeting other families with children the same age, watching our kids play, interact, and learn from each other, while enjoying “parent/adult” time as well!  My husband is also an artist in illustration and graphic arts, so we have a lot in common as far as what we enjoy doing together.  He and I met in Savannah, GA our freshman year at art school and have been together ever since. In addition, I have a love of animals, most recently horses and riding.  I grew up riding English and have recently reignited my passion for it by introducing my daughter to horses, which she has taken on whole-heartedly.

Rachel Vanatta

Do you have any special projects or events that are in the works or that’s floating in your brain right now?
I do have one particular project which have been gradually working on and designing, and hope to “unveil” it this upcoming year!

What are your most essential tools that you must have by your side while you design?
 My bench, where I execute most all designing and work, contain all the tools, torches, etc that I use regularly. Ironic it is mentioned; I must have my water bottles nearby…yes multiple bottles of water, and depending on the time of day, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  As I mentioned before, having a thought provoking discussion or inspirational talk to listen to is ideal as well.  Having my dog Holly decide to lay at my feet while I work is extra special, and on a nice day, the windows open for fresh air.

Rachel Vanatta

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a freelance jewelry artist?
Contracts come and go, sometimes the work rolls in and other times it doesn’t.  As difficult as it may be during the slower times, a positive attitude and embracing the “personal time” to recreate yourself, your work, and finally finish those pieces you have been meaning to are priceless. Take the days as they come, the busy and the quiet, for there is something to be gained from both.

What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
“Let go and let God.”
Rachel Vanatta

Which artists do you look up to? 
Todd Reed’s work is inspirational to me, his choice and use of materials, and the way he joins traditional and contemporary stone settings.  In addition, he is self-taught, which is motivational for me to learn new techniques on my own.

What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
In hindsight, I would advise myself to reach out for the purpose of bettering yourself and building relationships, but also for the reasoning that you never know where it will take you.  There is nothing to lose by opening yourself up in a fun and professional way.

Rachel Vanatta

What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
I would love to become more proficient in particular stone settings as they would add to my current designs.  I would also love to learn more about grading diamonds and colored gems by attending GIA courses.  I have some knowledge of CAD, and would also like to further my education in computer aided rendering and 3-D printing.

What advice can you offer anyone who is submitting their work to our Jewelry Design Challenge?
I recommend that any contestants state that they are open to critiques and suggestions on their designs, if they truly are.  UncommonGoods has been a complete pleasure to work with, and they know their customer and what they want, so be open and enjoy the feedback!