Awesome Lego Gifts for Grown-ups

Following the release of the Lego Movie earlier this year, Lego passed Mattel (makers of the Barbie Doll) as the number one toy-maker in the world.

Since its beginning in 1945, The Lego Group has expanded beyond the brick to make movies, video games, and even six amusement parks. Regardless, the company will forever be associated with the iconic Lego Brick, the literal building blocks of creativity for young minds.

But they’re not just for kids anymore. The blocks have inspired adults to create incredible life-size (or larger-than-life-size) pieces of art. Check out some of more spectacular creations at Mashable.com. Many designers on Etsy are also inspired by the toys. Here’s some of our favorites 

Lego Patent Print

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This poster from PatentPrints not only looks awesome, it offers some insight into how the bricks actually work. The design is printed on 90 lb cardstock, and you can choose from multiple colors like Blueprint, Vintage Black, or Chalkboard (pictured above). You can also customize the size of the print, ranging from 5 x 7″ all the way to 24 x 36″. 

Vitruivian Man Earrings 

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I think had he grown up in the second half of the 20th century, the young Leonardo DaVinci would have probably made many of his early inventions out of Legos. These earrings come from Etsy vendor MermaidSaysJulia, inspired by DaVinci’s famous Vituvian man. They’re a perfect gift for any creator/inventor in your life.  

Silver Tie Slide

 

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Elegant yet quirky, this tie clip is made by BitsandBadges. The one pictured above is a real Lego tile that has been chromed. The shop also sells many other colors, along with a great selection of other classy Lego-themed fashion accessories.

USB Keychains

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The awesome shop yesterplaydesigns sells a wide selection of keychains and usb sticks made from Lego figurines. The storefront features a bunch of recognizable characters, like Ned Flanders and Spider man alongside Classic Lego fantasy characters. 

Lego Wall Clock 

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Among the many other great clock designs at HoneyPea, one of the coolest is the Lego Wall Clock. It features a smooth “sweep” system instead of the traditional tick. The clock also comes on a white background.

 

Lego Tile Clutch

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This bold statement purse comes from chicklitdesigns. Designer Michelle Wolett sells an incredible selection of artsy accessories, including other clutches and Kindle covers made from real books . 

 

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The Rusted Key sells our own wearable tribute to Lego: Our Lego Tile Cufflinks

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The Best Cellar List: Etsy Gifts for Wine Lovers

The relationship between human beings and wine is immortal–the earliest evidence of wine dates back to 6,000 BC. Since then, civilizations around the world have risen and fallen, divided by distance, religion, language, and culture. They are united, however, in the practice of letting grape juice ferment until it is a delicious, complicated brew that gets you drunk. 

Recently wine has been experiencing a spike in popularity. The current generation is chugging so much wine it’s changing the industry. The millennial generation comes with demands for their wine: it must be under 20 dollars. They’d prefer if they could take it on the go. And you can keep your awards and pretentious criticism–it’s totally fine and even encouraged to sell it in a box instead of a bottle.

There’s a wine lover in everyone’s life. It’s pretty easy to guess the most common gift they probably receive. But if you want to deviate from the norm, here are some gifts that will assist them in their wine soaked adventures.

Wine Stoppers

All good things come to an end. 

gemstonestopperGemstone wine stoppers from BelleAtlanta feature raw gemstones attached to stainless steel stoppers. The listing offers a wide selection of stones to choose from, including quartz, amethyst, and moonstone.  

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Handmade Ceramic Wine Stoppers (set of two) from JasonWolffPottery. 

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The two pieces above come from the awesome selection at Biscotti Designs. In my head I call them “knobstoppers”. 

Bike Wine Rack

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Issac Brock of Modest Mouse once sang: “Get real drunk and ride our bikes/ there’s so much beauty it can make you cry”.

Don’t do that, it can get you (at least here in California) a Cycling Under the Influence charge and some nasty scars. But a responsible biker can combine two of the most beautiful things in life, booze and biking with this elegant wine holder from oopsmark.

Miniature Wine Set

tinywine2Is there a cuter or more delicate way to say “I think you should cut back”? I can’t think of one. This mini wine set is sold at Kivaford, a shop that sells amazing hand blown miniature glass works. 

 

Wine Glass Chandelier 

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The rustic, upcycled chandelier from IndustrialLightworks features Edison style bulbs and re-purposed bottles and distressed wood. 

 

 

The Art of Slow Business at The Urban Air Market

The Hayes St. Urban Air Market is within walking distance of the 22nd Street Caltrain stop, in the Dogpatch District of San Francisco. It’s quiet on Sunday, and it doesn’t seem like a part of the city–there’s a sleepy inertia to the neighborhood. Little coffee shops and restaurants with outdoor seating dot the tree-lined streets. A few cars roll slowly by, some people walk their dogs.

Photo by Stephen Woods

Photo by Stephen Woods

The neighborhood is built inside the industrial skeleton of its past, but today half of its buildings have been converted into loft apartments, coffee shops, restaurants and workspaces.

The Urban Air Market makes sense here. Many of the residents of the neighborhood are designers, artists, or artisans. Much of what is made here is sold here, and the quiet isolation of the neighborhood adds to the aura of self-containment.

I came to the Urban Air Market to find out what turns a hobby into a job. I wanted to interview some vendors on why they left their old job, or added a completely new line of work to their existing careers. I knew from my own expierence at The Rusted Key that most of these small business owners and makers are ordinary people who, for one reason or another, decided they were unfulfilled at a 9-5 desk job.   I wanted to get to know the people behind the stores–what did they do before, what they have learned, how it’s changed them.

The fair was two blocks long, bordering the sides of Espirit Park. “La Vie en Rose” floated on the Sunday air, two harmonizing voices and accompanied by classical guitar.

Max and Nicky

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After their set, I chatted with Max and Nicky Weinbach. Together their band name is (also) Max and Nicky. They are twins who perform a “series of musical and comedy variety show”. They take influence from vaudeville and jazz acts of the early half of the last century.

They had the look of two characters who’d stepped out of a backstage in the past. I didn’t talk long with them, but I did some research later and found out they’d gotten their start as children. Their father would, as a form of mild punishment, force them to learn the lyrics of old jazz standards.

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Here’s a video of Max and Nicky’s beautiful cover of “La Vie en Rose”:

Max and Nicky are releasing an EP this October, and their music and videos can be found on their website. Their other band, Little Person, is playing at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco on August 29th. Little Person plays 60’s and 70’s influenced pop rock.

Frankie & Myrrh

I smelled the next booth before I saw it. Eucalyptus, some sort of pine, lavender and a myriad of other smells I didn’t recognize emanated from the Frankie and Myrrh booth.

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At the booth I met Kim, the bubbly owner of the San Francisco based company. She was a little nervous about being interviewed, but agreed on the condition I don’t ask her any hard questions.

Frankie and Myrrh sells aromatherapy sprays made from essential oils. They tailor their sprays for specific emotions. They all have whimsical names like “Road Rage Reducer”, “Study Buddy”, and “Purple People Pleaser”.

I asked her to try a scent. She handed me one called “Serenity Now!!”, which she may have sensed I needed (I drank 3 cold brewed coffees before I came to the Market). She described it a “mediation spray”, made from spruce and frankincense. “It smells like meditating in a forest,” she says.I sniffed. It did indeed.

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I asked Kim what made her start the business. She said she was social worker in Oakland in Child Protective Services, which I imagine is probably one of the most stressful jobs in the country.The stress of her work led her to take a class in aromatherapy.

She found it worked wonders for her, and she told me, “I wanted to get more people to use this, to become this…I don’t know…evangelist for it. ” She’s still a social worker, but now she works in foster care and with children with developmental disabilities. This her weekend job, and she says it’s a lot more fun, a lot more work, and a tremendous creative outlet.

Frankie & Myrrh has an Etsy store here. They also have a brick and mortar store in San Francisco in the Crocker Galleria on 50 Post St.

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Rock+Pillar

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At the next boot I met Alma and Parvez, a couple who radiated effortless warmth and were only too eager to tell me about their business.

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Rock+Pillar sells handmade goods from rural artisans high in the mountains of Peru. They’re driven by the philosophy that a business relationship can be mutually beneficial to all parties involved. In addition, Parvez tells me, “the way things are going in fashion, it’s the same thing produced a million times. We wanted to produce something meaningful….As a consumer, you can connect with the producer.”

Their booth is impressive. The brightly colored wares are recognizable Peruvian style clothing, but close inspection reveals care and attention absent in most American wares.

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They call these “whole” products. What does that mean? “Organic products, made from alpaca wool and yarn… everything is hand-knit, hand spun, organically dyed, from a single producer,” Alma says. “We try to give them an economic incentive by telling them, ‘Your art and your heritage is worth something…you don’t have to abandon it to work in a mine, or sweeping city streets’, or anything that compromises their heritage.”

All their trade is driven by this abiding philosophy. “We believe in slow commerce,” said Parvez. “It’s an incredible thing to say, for example, ‘Isabella made this scarf’, and it has a story, and character that lasts forever. It has an energy to it.”

Rock+Pillar is based in Cusco, in the heart of the Incan empire. Alma initially worked in research, in very rural, hard to reach villages around Cusco. She was inspired after seeing the craftsmanship and heritage that went into the artisanal markets there.

Parvez tells me that he used to work in marketing for a start-up. He said he was miserable, cranky, and unfufilled. He was initially skeptical when Alma told him about her idea to start the company. He told me the first product they sold– the one that changed his mind– was a leather backpack, made by a man who had made these backpacks for 20 years. His hands, she said, were cracked and stained for two decades of his trade.

Rock+Pillar Trading Co. has an online store. You can follow Alma and Parvez’s Andenian Adventures on their blog.

 

 

 

What the Future Held: Space-Age Etsy Finds

America is space crazy right now. With photos of galaxies and nebulae whizzing around Facebook, Pintrest, and Tumblr, the popularity of Cosmos, and the promise of programs like SpaceX, space dreaming might seem all very new. But the Space Age began in the 1950’s, when the Russians launched Sputnik. 

Space exploration provided a canvas for post-war optimism to paint wild fantasies for what the future held. Many of the artifacts left over from this spirited time can be found on Etsy. Here’s some of our favorites. 

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This is a reprinted Soviet-era space program poster, and it’s for sale at SovietArt alongside many other prints from the heyday of the Soviet Union.

It reminds me this old joke:

 When NASA started sending astronauts into space, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside-down, on almost any surface–including glass–and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 C.

The Russians used a pencil.

It’s not a true story, unfortunately.  Both space programs used pencils initially, but then switched to the (in)famous Space Pen because broken pencil tips posed a threat to astronauts and their equipment. 

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This  genuine vintage Thermos-brand lunchbox from becaruns‘ Etsy store. Apparently, the young owner scratched “Boddy” onto the box…possibly trying to spell Bobby? Cute and authentic.

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  Above is more evidence of space romanticism, from the Brighton Emporium–stickers than meld fantasy and reality. Below is an beautiful print on the possibilities of space suits from theStoryofVintage

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For more star stuff, check out our Space Dreams Pintrest Collection

Camerae Obscurae: Real Life Instagram Cameras and Film

They give us those nice bright colors
Give us the greens of summers
They make you think all the world’s a sunny day

“Kodachrome” Paul Simon

Instagram’s popularity is strange for what the app actually does. Today, 40 million photos will be shared by the 90 million users–where they go, what they see, who they went with.

In between taking the photo and posting it, however, users have the option of applying one of a dozen or filters that simulate vintage photos. These filters smooth rougher edges of unflattering lighting. Colors are saturated or faded, and imperfections like sunspots and light leaks are added. The filters have names that invoke the past–“1977”, “Lo-fi”, “Nashville”.

Is it nostalgia that drives Instagrammers? Not in the strictest sense of the word. The largest group of Instagram users are between the ages of 18-24– probably too young to remember bringing cannisters of film to a store to find out what is on them, and certainly too young to remember the real cameras and film that inspired these filters.

The blog 1000 Memories created this painstakingly researched graphic of the combinations of vintage cameras and films  that recreate the beloved filters in analog. Some of the filters mentioned are no longer with us. Perhaps we can feel nostalgic about that, too.

(click to zoom in)

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Letting Your Geek Flag Fly: Nerdy Jewelry from Etsy

The famous nerds of the Big Bang Theory were recently in the news for negotiating a deal with Warner Brothers to raise their salaries by three-fold– now 1 million dollars per episode. It’s not just semi-nerdy actors pretending to be extremely nerdy characters. The real geeks of Silicon Valley are quickly becoming the richest people in the world; Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg,Larry Ellison of Microsoft, Facebook, and Oracle, respectively .

It would seem, as Alexandra Robbins wrote, the geeks are indeed inheriting the earth. The days of the alieanated 80’s movie nerd are over–now comes the time to let your geek flag fly.

Etsy is one of the best places for a geek to find accessories, because for some reason, big box retailers never seem to quite get nerdiness right. Maybe they were just too popular in high school.

1. Game of Thrones Inspired Khaleesi Rings

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Blingstopaythebills makes these awesome rings inspired by the mother of dragons herself. If you want her full introduction, these rings were inspired by Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.

Hopefully, if you are not a Targaryen, these rings will stay unhatched.

2. Pokeball Cufflinks

I recently was talking about the popularity of Pokemon in the 90’s with a friend of mine. “Kids today still like Pokemon,” he said, contemplating the binder of Pokemon cards we’d found in his garage, “but they have a hundred other things they’re into. For kids in the 90’s, Pokemon was our Beatles.”

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With that level of popularity, it’s no surprise there’s a huge surge in nostalgic Pokemon accessories. These Pokeball Cufflinks from 8bitBoom let those 90’s kids venturing out into the adult world hold on to a small piece of their childhood.

3. Bam! Pow! Earrings

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From the NightsRequiem storefront on etsy, these earrings are a one-two punch from any comic book fan.

4. Settlers of Catan Cufflinks

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Who would’ve thought trading wheat and sheep would keep you up all night? These cufflinks come from the awesome Etsy shop oh my geekness. Fans of Catan will recognize these hexagons as the stuff empires are built from.

 5. Harry Potter Series Pendants

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These wearable versions of the novels from MiniBlings feature the British covers. Don’t worry, even the later longer novels won’t weigh heavy around your neck. Although, metaphorically, I still carry the end of last book with me wherever I go.

6. Freaks and Geeks

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The show Freaks and Geeks may have been short lived, but the cult following has grown steadily since its end. These Sam Weir earrings from Sleepy Mountain sum up pretty much how the fans feel towards great shows getting cancelled.

 

 

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For more Geek Chic, check out our latest collection of nerdy indulgences from our own store:

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Come Sail Away: Nautical Home Decor Inspiration

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea”- Isak Dinesen

 

Whether you are decorating a beach house or bedroom, the ocean can provide inspiration for a rustic and calming environment. Here’s our guide to bring the sea into your home. We picked our two favorite oceanic color palettes and matched them to some great hand-made Etsy products.

Sandy Shores

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Lighter blue tones accented by white to create a more “sunny day at the beach” atmosphere, hinting at midday skies with soft clouds, white sandy beaches, and gentle cresting waves.  Add shell and tide pool themed accessories (like starfish and urchins) to complete the picture. The baby blue tones are perfect for a child’s bedroom or rooms with lots of natural light.

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Beach Decor on Driftwood from Beach Art Designs

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Left to right: Ernst Haeckel Jellyfish Nautical Art Print from AdamsAleArtPrints, Boat Cleat Key Rack from Project Cottege, SurfBoard Shelf from MarkerSix , Coral Prints from TheOldFern, Purple  Sea Urchins from SeaShellCollection.

The High Sea

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Dark blues and greens create a mellower, contemplative tone, suggesting the deeper water of harbors and open ocean. Combine with distressed fixtures and materials like canvas and rope for a naval atmosphere.

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“I Refuse to Sink” Print from BySamantha

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From left to right: Individual Nautical Sailing Flags from Slipping Southern, Ingraham’s Captain’s Wheel Clook from KanariKouture, Nautical Drawer Pull Knob from KingsKidCreations, Whale Pillowcase Cover from RoyalKane, Swing Rope Shelf from Palmerfall Designs