Christmas has become so commercial these days, and it gets worse every year. Why not give a memorable, unique, one of a kind, ain’t nobody got one like this, kind of gift instead? I found some totally awesome, beautiful (and yeah, geeky things, too) at the Pittsburgh Handmade Arcade recently.
I’ll show the things that made me smile along with with the links for these items so you can purchase online and have them shipped out just in time for a wonderful Christmas morning.
I am not affiliated in any way, shape, or form with these artists or the venue. These are my personal opinions only.
Best In Show
This year’s graphics for the show were produced by Worker Bird, an artist who works with tin on reclaimed wood and gives it a homey feel. I love this map of the United States that he had displayed on his table. He also creates kids’ names plaques ($55).
The Best Toy For Younger Kids – Cute But Not Cutesy
The minute I saw Diane Koss’ creations, Cute But Not Cutesy, my inner child was jumping up and down. OK, fine, I was squeeling delight so loudly RestaurantMan told me to hush before glass started shattering.
These stuffed creatures are so whimsical but they are also so soft and fluffy. This is for the kid who has everything but is still a kid. Who wants the typical teddy bear when you can have a monster? Look at those big eyes full of wonder! The stuffed plush runs from $20 (small) all the way up to $550 for your very own life=sized sidekick.
There aren’t just stuffed toys, she also makes wearable hoodies with plush interiors and horns. Diane has baby monster or toddler-sized monster hoodies ($50) and what she calls adult-sized for $60. But why stop there? She has birds, Tshirts, onesies, framed art, and dishware all with this adorable cute monster motif and all are very reasonably priced.
If monsters are not your thing she makes a beautiful bird garland (two blue birds) holding a flag garland spelling out “Wild and Free” ($75) that would be perfect for a baby’s room.
The Best Toy For Older Kids – RetroBuiltGames
Many parents do not want their children playing video games and understandably so. Games these days can be pretty violent and ceaseless. The games we played when we were kids were more about sheer strategy. J has already discovered the old video games from reading the book “1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.”
The company RetroBuiltGames.com wants to bring that joy back to life while at the same time encouraging programming and electronics skills.
- the cabinet panel arcade game kit, in wood or acrylic ($55) and you purchase the pieces and parts
- a full kit with everything you need ($280)
- or an assembled kit ready to go ($390)
But, wait, it gets even better for you totally die had DIY’ers. They offer a FREE PDF so you can make your own case and game setup at home. These plans are very simple that would be perfect for a Scout or 4H project. I gave J their business card when I got home and he was lost looking at everything on the website for an hour. There is a lot there to ooh and ahh at. Tey have plans for a clock and the numbers are different game controllers, a coffee table, plans for a claw game, and other cool geeky stuff.
These were over 160 vendors participating this year. It was a free event which enticed many people to come on down and take a look. It was hard to see all of the things, or get a great picture, or get a card to remember who made what. I did see these beauties and wanted to share anyway. The entire list of vendors is on the Handmade Arcade homepage.
1. I love this owl! He just looks so wise and well read. He’s just the right size for a bookshelf or a comfy reading nook.
2. Owls were seen everywhere at the show in every shape, color, and fabric. At least three different artists re-used old sweaters in fun and new ways.
3. Who says a stuff animal has to have two eyes? I also loved the simplistic horse on the bright pillow.
Mommy Gifts or Gifts For Your Friends
1. Re-using silverware in unexpected ways from wind chimes to tie brackets or hair barrettes must be a thing these days because there was plenty of that. These teapot lamps spoke to my soul, though.
2. I absolutely love the colors of this silk scarf. Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts Magnet Public School
3. These are not Post It Notes, these are hand soaps. They smell just as beautiful as they look. Mamoucha $8
4. Yes, that is a diode. Yes, it is hanging on a neckchain. Yes, it is gorgeous. Circuit Breaker Labs $4 – $119
5. Handprinted wallpaper that I think would look absolutely lovely in my dining room. Brooklyn Interiors $81 – $950
6. Lamps made from wood laminate. Kirkiture $60 – $165
These gift ideas aren’t just about shopping from the comfort of your home. It is also about supporting American artists. Be sure to share this list with your family and friends! Which item did you like the best?