The Design Observer Twenty

Betsy Vardell | Miscellaneous

Betsy on Etsy: Science/Technology Gift Guide

Between my roles as Technology Director and Managing Editor for the Design Observer Group, my daily schedule tends to be pretty packed. But recently, I began suspecting a lull in my productivity, and it didn't take me long to figure out what was going on.

I blame Etsy.

One of my favorite internet vices for as long as I can recall, this mega-catalog of handmade arts and crafts is like never ending flea market, minus the pushy hagglers and musty aromas. As a maker myself, I'd often find myself taking what I thought were short breaks, only to find myself hours later, spiraling deep into an Etsy vortex, linking ever deeper into its alluring sinkhole of wild creations, produced by a simply astonishing array of craftistas from all over the world. Needless to say, the coming holidays only made things worse.

If, like me, Etsy's handmade superabundance has you fearing for your own productivity — fear not! Herewith, our virgin guide to science- and technology-oriented gifts. We'll follow this up with my favorite holiday decorations, then move on to Etsy's own, bespoke personalized gift options. Still to come: kids, paper products, food-related possibilities, an "Under-Fifty" guide (dollars, not years), and we'll cap it off with a last minute guide to save your inevitable pre-holiday desperation.

Science and Technology Inspired Gifts

Being southern, I'm naturally attracted to anything involving mason jars, but I think this is an especially clever application. Etsy seller BootsNGus offers these upcycled mason jar speakers for $75.

Pyrokinesis, teleportation, parallel universes — these Fringe Science Warning posters don't just look cool on the wall, they also teach the science you didn't get in chem lab. ($18)

That's not to say chem lab wasn't cool. I have to admit to a certain weakness for laboratory glassware. (My husband once built a vacuum coffee brewing system out of beakers and tubes, but that's a story for another day.) This test tube moss terrarium for $14 brings lab-chic into your home.

This lovely leather iPad cover from Ayelet Shachar ($109) recalls the old slide rule cases of yore.

Technology's great and all, but the sea of glowing apples on titanium has gotten a little Borg-y, hasn't it? Let your geek flag fly on your next trip to Starbucks with these decals for $8.

Etsy features numerous options for cleverly-packaged docking stations. Here are three that caught my eye: books as docking stations ($52); a clever pocket-style design; and lastly, an elegant model made from carved birdseye maple ($29).

A brief sampling of some of the many types of USB flash drives to be found on Etsy. From left: Recycled Film Canister USB ($35), Paper Mate Eraser USB ($35), Steampunk Tube USB ($75) 12 Gauge Shotgun Shell Flash Drive ($20).  

And in case coal in your stocking doesn't cut it, you might consider DesertRoseTaxidermy's half ounce of owl poo. Because let's face it: a stocking full of coal is just boring.

Posted in: Arts + Culture

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