Projects and Products for Maker Moms: 10 to Build and 10 to Buy

Projects and Products for Maker Moms: 10 to Build and 10 to Buy

Whether you’re looking to buy-not-build, build-not-buy, build-then-give, or give-then-build, we’ve got you covered hereinbelow. We’ll start off with some tasty commercial offerings, arranged from least to most expensive. Check it:


It’s Not Called, right?

We firmly believe that, for Mother’s Day or any other occasion, the best gift is one you’ve made yourself. If you’ve got the time, tools, and talent to whip something up before the 11th, you definitely should (and then please tell us about it). Toward that end, here are a few of our favorite projects from past posts to kickstart your creativity:

Tough Guy Cookies

Mom Tattoo Cookies

Many of us live with too much stuff. Personally, I love to both give and receive gifts that are consumable and don’t end up contributing to the long-term clutter. These clever tattoo cookies from Zakka’s Life are fun, delicious, and certain to go quickly! They’re made using repurposed Valentine’s Day cookie cutters, standard icing techniques, and Foodwriter edible markers.

Electrified Chocolates

LED Chocolate Box

Dmitriy over at eLABZ enhanced an off-the-shelf box of chocolates with an array of 10 charlieplexed LEDs mounted underneath the red plastic tray together with an ATtiny13, which he programmed in the Arduino IDE (for more info, check out Matt Richardson’s online tutorial How-To: Shrinkify Your Arduino Projects).

My Little Pony Soldering Unicorn

My Little Pony Soldering Unicorn

“Sparkles,” here, is the creation of LA hackerspace denizen Matt Pinner, based on a concept by Sean Bonner. More pics are available in the Crash Space Flickr pool. You’ll need one of the larger 6-inch “styling” ponies and a decent soldering iron that stays cool at the handle.

Cross-Stitched Resistor Reference

Cross-Stitched Resistor Reference

Complete with nerdtastic puns, both homonymic and typographical. You may have already guessed that Make: magazine pal and alumnus Becky Stern, over at Adafruit, would be the culprit. The pattern and detailed instructions are available for free (PDF), and you can also buy a kit with pre-bundled supplies.

Automatic Interior Purse Light

Built-In Purse Light

Another great gift project idea from Becky Stern, this mod is both easy to execute and extremely useful. It’s built using Adafruit’s GEMMA LED sequin starter pack plus conductive Velcro for the switch.

Rainbow LED Umbrella


If your mom doesn’t already have a clear bubble umbrella, you could probably just buy her one and stop right there. Clear umbrellas are awesome, especially if you live in a rainy area, because you can hold them down low, keep nice and dry, and still see where you’re going! Spicing it up with a FLORA-based personal rainbow of LED strips inside, as in this tutorial from Leslie Birch, would just be icing on the cake.

TV Celebrity Silencer

Enough Already!

A classic project from our own Matt Richardson, Enough Already! monitors your TV’s closed-captioning feed for a set of phrases you find objectionable—say KARDASHIAN, TRUMP, and SHEEN—then automatically mutes the volume for an adjustable period of time when they come up. The bare build isn’t fancy, but it isn’t hard either, and presents a great opportunity to express yourself with a custom enclosure. It would also be easy to hack into a “tell me more” device that would turn the sound on in response to certain phrases.

Wireless Phone Charging Purse

Inductive Phone Charging Purse

Here’s another home run from inveterate purse-hacker Becky Stern. This project automatically connects your phone to a charger through a wireless inductive power link sewn into the bottom of your purse or other bag. As written, the phone is plugged into a cable inside the purse, but you could take it to the next level by adding a custom pocket that automatically aligns your Qi-standard or other wireless charging device with a sewn-in transmitter coil, which is itself powered by a second inductive link to a shelf- or floor-mount bag station.

Sous Vide Immersion cooker

My Little Pony Soldering Unicorn

Sous vide cooking, which amounts to immersing vacuum-sealed foods in temperature-controlled hot water, is all the rage in culinary circles lately, boasting incomparable results achieving optimal doneness. But the price tag on most commercial machines is a bit steep. Seattle Food Geek Scott Heimendinger managed to roll his own for about $75 in parts.

Molecule Pendant

Serotonin Necklace

This type of 2D representation of a molecule is technically called a skeletal or line-angle formula. Instructables user radames ajna made this one, which represents the happy neurotransmitter serotonin, by CNC cutting, but it would not be too difficult using traditional pierced-metal techniques. In the context of motherhood, oxytocin might make more sense, but geez, that’s a peptide — you’d be cutting for weeks!

Must…Resist…“Your Mom”…Joke…

Seriously, you know her better than we do. And though we’d of course love it if you’d think first of Maker Shed when doing your gift shopping, the important thing is to make sure Mom gets her props this coming Sunday. Since you’re a Make: reader, we’re guessing she did at least a few things right. Make sure to thank her properly, this and every year.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan


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