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arts & crafts

Gift Guides

Top Gifts for Kids

November 19, 2011

Meet Jodie. Jodie has a great family and a lot of holiday shopping to do. Back in September, we asked our Twitter followers to tweet @UncommonGoods for a chance to win a $500 holiday shopping spree. We received almost 500 entries, but could only pick one lucky winner. Our winner, Jodie, tweeted at us loud and clear, and we had the wonderful opportunity to help her pick gifts for her family and friends.

Jodie’s Family

She told us all about the people she’ll be spending her $500 gift certificate on, and we had a blast helping her pick the perfect gifts for her loved ones. We had so much fun, we decided to create a few gift guides inspired by Jodie’s favorite people.

She told us about her nephews, Mark Anthony III, Simon, and Shamus. These playful picks were chosen with puzzle-loving 4-year-old Simon and 6-year-old Arts & Crafter Shamus in mind.

This Old Man- This cuddly puzzle helps kids learn to count through music. While youngsters are learning to count, they can use rhyming queues to match the removable pieces with the corresponding numbers and get them back into the right pockets. This Old Man also comes with a CD, so kids can sing along as they put a shoe in pocket number two and the door in pocket four.

Life Size Zoo Book- This big book (14.5″ L x 10.5″ W) is perfect for your favorite little animal. Featuring facts, games, and close-up photos, Life-Size Zoo is fun and educational. If the little one in question prefers underwater adventures, check out Life-Size Aquarium.

Make Your Own Family Set- A great gift for crafty kids, this set encourages creativity and celebrates families of all sorts. The kit includes seven dolls, three pieces of fabric, three pieces of felt, craft glue, four colors of yarn, and 12 colored pencils.

Putty Creatures- The great thing about these little blobs, is that they can take shape with the help of a little imagination and some clever molding. The set includes two putty puddles, which each comes in it’s own tin. Each pile of workable goo includes two eyeballs to give your creature creations just the right look!

Whatchamadrawit- This exciting game give “quick draw” a new meaning. Players choose a card, then race to see who can complete a drawing of the silly scenario first. When the game isn’t in play, the cards can also be used as fun prompts for doodling.

Stormy Seas Balancing Game- This balancing game encourages strategic thinking as players work to balance “cargo” on the deck without tipping the pirate ship. If a sailor spills the pieces, they’re out of the game; the player who lasts the longest without loosing their booty wins!

MultiBlocks- Designed by Brad Singley, these stackable wooden blocks are labeled with numbers and increments to encourage mathematical thinking.

Construction Plate and Utensils- It may be easier to get kids to eat their peas when they get to shovel them in with construction equipment! The construction plate features fun compartments for all of your child’s favorite foods, and special spaces for the bulldozer pusher, fork lift, and front loader spoon.

If the kids in your life are anything like Jodie’s nephews, we think they’ll love our uncommon picks! Need more ideas? Check out our other great gifts for toddlers and kids. Or tweet @UncommonGoods. We’re on call to help with any personal shopping requests!

The Uncommon Life

Buyer’s Dilemma

October 5, 2010

Right now we’re making our final picks for the catalog we’ll send to you in January. Remember the sari scarf? We carry these beautiful handmade scarves in turquoise and cinnamon.

Our buyer Erin is in the middle of deciding what new colors to bring in. She just sent me this email:

“Saris are by nature brightly colored and full of prints, so I’ve got a lot of color options to choose from. Since the patchwork look is such a big trend right now, it made sense to make a scarf of different contrasting colors that also complement each other. I’ve got the photographs of the sari scarf samples and they all look so fantastic, I need help deciding which scarf to feature in our catalog.”


Blue and Purple

Red and Cream

Orange, Green and Yellow

Purple and Pink

Well I’m turning it over to you. Help Erin decide, by leaving a comment for your favorite color combo. Thanks for your help!

Maker Stories

Carolyn Parello Opening

July 30, 2010

 

Usually on a Friday afternoon, I’m looking forward to the weekend, but right now I’m looking forward to Monday!

That’s because we’re sponsoring artist Carolyn Parello’s exhibit at Piola Pizza. The opening is this Monday, August 2, from 6-8 PM.

Come out to see Carolyn’s fantastic paintings, meet some of us UncommonGoods folks in person, and of course, grab a slice of pizza.

Hope to see you there!

The Uncommon Life

Gift Lab #9: An Inspired Ukulele

July 8, 2010

Build Your Own Ukulele

1) Product Name: Make your own Ukulele Kit

Make Your Own Ukulele

2) Background Research: This is a joint project that my partner, Leo, and I will endeavor upon as a team.  I have a continuing fascination with building models. In college I built a full-sized circular saw with a rotating blade entirely out of cork. I also am a working painter. My partner can play the accordion, trumpet, piano and guitar.

3) Hypothesis: The do-it-yourself nature of the project will enable both of us to bring our talents together to create a functional instrument that will have continued playability.

4) Experiment: I will paint the body of the ukulele and Leo will demonstrate the sound.

make your own ukulele

5) Results: Music has the capacity to transport one to specific moments in our lives so I wanted the ukulele to speak to the present in my own life.  I’m about to celebrate one year living in Brooklyn, New York, so I decided that a view of my daily commute home from work would be the prefect landscape. I’m fortunate enough to live within walking distance from the UncommonGoods warehouse so I enjoy the sights of Brooklyn’s Fourth Ave each day. Additionally, from a compositional standpoint, I hoped that the median would echo the fingerboard of the ukulele.

make your own ukulele kit

The wood grain behaved differently than the stretched canvas that I am more familiar with. The gouache soaked into the wood and bled slightly (I decided against applying gesso). I enjoyed the effect in the large color planes, like in the sky, because it added a softness that would have been difficult to achieve with the brush alone.
After I completed the body, it was time to assemble the instrument. The directions kept declaring “This is a point” whenever something important was about to be written, but due to my lack of general guitar anatomy and the somewhat confusing translation miscues, I admit I found myself perplexed on what the “point” was.  Nevertheless, my partner and I trudged along, despite some complications with gluing plastic to wood (be sure to use clamps). We found a metric ruler and assembled the hardware.

After the ukulele was fully assembled, my partner researched how to string and tune a ukulele on Youtube as a supplement to the written instructions. As a guitar player, the process was not difficult for him, but he noted that the tuning of the ukulele was much different than that of the guitar. Because of the nylon strings, as opposed to the metal strings often found on acoustic and electric guitars, the ukulele may be more forgiving on the fingers of a beginner string instrument player.

6) Conclusion: Whether displayed on the wall or sitting on the player’s lap, the ukulele was a success to both one’s ears and one’s eyes. The time we committed to the ukulele-building project was rewarding and justified.

Click here to see Mary Catherine and Leo play the Ukulele!

make your own ukulele

The Uncommon Life

Gift Lab #6: Channeling Jackson Pollock

June 16, 2010

Action Painting Kit

1) Product Name: Action Painting Set

Action Art Kit

2) Background Research: I was looking for a fun way to make some paintings but it always seemed to be too time and energy consuming.

3) Hypothesis: If I use the action painting set, I will have some vibrant little paint squares for my wall.

4) Experiment: To use the action painting set and create some paint squares for my apartment and have fun with paint!

5) Results: So, I was all excited to get started with my action painting set during the weekend. I opened the package and it had a few paint tubes, drip stick , 2 little canvas squares and sand. The instructions were pretty clear, except for the sand part. It said ‘use the sand to give structure to the painting. I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant and decided to leave the sand alone and come back to it later.

Action Art Kits

I started to mix the paints in little plates and had three watery paint concoctions. The paints wash away easily, so don’t worry about messing up the plates or your dress! I followed the instructions for using the drip stick, it was as simple as dripping the dripstick in paint
and dripping/splashing it on the canvas. However, the drip stick tends to hold a lot of paint so it started to drip big blots of paint
on the canvas. If you want to get thin lines on the canvas, drip the paint on a paper before dripping it on the canvas a few times until the lines start getting as thin as you want. I did not seem to realize this until I had finished one of the squares, but my loss is your gain.

Action Art Kits

The canvas squares are not that big, so it won’t take very long to finish your drip painting. In less than 30 minutes, I had two painted squares finished. Though I did not use the sand (since I did not figure how to use it, and forgot all about it until I finished the paintings) and did not make any specific patterns, I had twp vibrant little pieces for my wall!

6) Conclusion: The action painting set makes for a quick way to get creative and have fun with paint.

Action Art Kits

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