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Make: Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Handmade Geekery

Craft & Design
Make: Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Handmade Geekery

Handmade gifts make a unique and thoughtful impression, whether you make them yourself or support enterprising artisans who vend their wares at craft fairs and online. All of us at Make: Online have teamed up to bring you this roundup of our favorite handmade geekery from around the web.


Collector’s Edition Giant Custom “The Moon” Rocket Cabinet by Jeff Brewer of Cool Rockets. This is a one-off, 6′ tall cabinet in the form of a gorgeous, snazzy 1950’s moon rocket! It’s a custom job, so you may need to commission your own, and I don’t have any idea about the price. It’s based on the 12″ tall cast resin Fleet Edition rocket, which is arguably more affordable at $64.95. Jeff custom builds, molds, and hand-casts these in resin, then paints and hand-weathers them to perfection. I’ve have a few friends with these sitting on their desks, and I’ve long coveted them! — John Park


Mark Frauenfeilder points us to Hine Mizushima, who makes felt iPhone cases that look like old cameras and phones. She’s all sold out right now, but maybe she’ll inspire you to make a handmade gift this season!


Custom Eraser-Carved Stamps (few dollars in materials)

Giving people their own custom-made eraser-carved stamp makes for a great gift. You can take some emblem, image, geek icon, or something else that’s meaningful to them and use that in your design. You can also make your own custom wrapping paper by getting a roll of bright white (or other color) paper at the craft store and stamping it with the repeating patterns of your stamp designs. When my son was little, I had him do some drawings and then I transfered them to art gum erasers and made the drawings into stamps. We used them on holiday cards, gift tags, wrapping paper, and the relatives ate it up. Here he is a few years ago, carving out one of his own designs for the Quick Craft column I wrote for CRAFT, Volume 02. — Gareth Branwyn




Call out to the geek in your heart by making them this batlamp. Build it to project the traditional winged icon, or modify the plans to spell out a secret message of your own! — Matt Mets


Lug Nut Pill/Mint Case ($9.95 from Etsy)

I manufacture these key-chain pill/mint fobs and have been selling them through my Etsy shop for about a year now. Each is made from a 1/2-20 lug nut, a matching custom threaded closure, an o-ring, and a D-ring. The lug nut is chromed and the cap is aluminum. The o-ring seal makes it watertight and, when compressed, applies tension against the threads to prevent the cap vibrating loose. I’ve been using mine for years and it is still going strong. Instructions for making your own using a cut-off bolt for the cap are available on my personal website. — Sean Michael Ragan


Leather “Walkman” iPhone/iPod case ($28-40 on Etsy)

With plenty of 80s nostalgia and a heap of 90s irony this 21st century take on a 20th century icon embodies the height of fashion and technology of a bygone opulence, while cleverly concealing the current height of fashion, technology and opulence. It’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a cozy handcrafted pouch fashioned to resemble a dead media player. — Adam Flaherty


Tiny Solar Sound Robot – Solar Singer Type 1 ($55 on Etsy)

This little robot, made from reclaimed and surplus parts, would make a cool alarm clock for your favorite geek. Place it on a window sill, and wake-up to the sound of analog chirps. — Marc de Vinck


Custom-made Box Purse (Etta Diem’s Attic Shop, $prices vary, ~$80)

I had a custom steampunk box purse made for a dear friend of mine by the Etsy artist Etta Diem. I saw her gorgeous regular box purses (top image, $55 plus shipping) and her amazing steampunk artwork (see, for example, the mysterious, birdbrained Professor Vogel below). I asked if she’d do a custom-made steampunk version for me. The results are stunning and the recipient absolutely flipped out. It’s so nice to give someone something that you’ve had a hand in putting together (however slight) and something that’s been custom-made just for your recipient. The wrapping itself was a work of art. It’s likely too late to get a custom item made now, but you could arrange for one and get some of Etta Diem’s gorgeous art cards with a promise of a customized gift to come. Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait. And if this isn’t your particular style, there are countless other crafters on Etsy who work in just about every style you can imagine. — Gareth Branwyn



Denim Pen Wrap ($25 by Doctor Popular)

We know we have a lot of pen nerds on MAKE (raising hand). If your gift recipient likes to carry around a lot of pens, sketching pencils, brush-pens, markers, and the like, they’ll likely love Doc Popular’s Denim Pen Wrap. Has space for 12 tools and rolls up and ties. The one seen here is all-denim. The ones he’s making now have a lovely, soft, orange leather front-panel. — Gareth Branwyn


LEVEL Red Circuit Board Cufflinks ($16 on Etsy)

digiBling makes all kinds of geeky jewelry and accessories, including these red level converter cufflinks. They also make resistor earrings, ribbon cable belts, and more cufflink styles with microchips and half can oscillators. — Becky Stern

Something we missed? Please share your suggestions for the best handmade geekery in the comments! Happy Holidays!

In the Maker Shed:


Want more? Stop by the Maker Shed. We’ve got all sorts of great holiday gift ideas, Arduino & Arduino accessories, electronic kits, science kits, smart stuff for kids, back issues of MAKE & CRAFT, box sets, books, robots, kits from Japan and more.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines in December:

04 (Fri) – Deadline for microscope shipping
11 (Fri) – postal shipping deadline
14 (Mon) – ground shipping deadline
18 (Fri) – FedEx 3-day shipping deadline
21 (Mon) – FedEx 2-day shipping deadline
22 (Tue) – FedEx overnight shipping deadline

*Customers experiences on orders with these ship methods placed after these dates may vary, the dates listed are what we call “safe dates”

USPS (Any Method):
Due to the high volume of mail that the postal service deals with around the holidays, order by Dec. 10th, however, many packages are lost or delayed in transit and we do not replace or refund any orders lost using this ship method, we strongly encourage you to not use this method in December.

4 thoughts on “Make: Holiday Gift Guide 2009: Handmade Geekery

  1. Kyle says:

    I got my Coolrocket at SD Comic-con a few years ago. I LOVE it. Looks fantastic. A great addition to any nerdy space.

  2. says:

    Hey, thanks for writing about my denim pen wraps.

    It’s funny to see you guys mentioning Hine’s work because I just finished writing a post about Hine’s felt work and animation before I found your gift guide post.

    You can read my post about Hine here

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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