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RainyDayGiftGuide 2017: The Unique And The Unusual

Happy Christmas and Merry Holidays!!!

The Holiday Season is upon us again!

As in years past, we have assembled a fantastic series of GiftGuides full of interesting ideas for our RainyDayMagazine readers. Our Guides include items we have reviewed during the year, new ones we haven’t posted yet, and a few from years past.

The one thing that stays the same year after year is the selection criteria: all of the recommendations are things we have actually touched and things we would actually want.

Happy Holidays!

Unique Gifts

Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other crowdfunding sources have brought us products which never would have seen the light of day. While some of them still never made it to market, those that did have enriched us in unexpected ways. We share some creators and their creations today as suggestions for folks with people on their gift list who are on the “far side of the curve.”

Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect who won the 2014 Pritzker Prize for his significant contributions in architectural innovation and philanthropy. His ability use conventional knowledge in different physical contexts has resulted in work not only of structural sophistication but of unconventional techniques and materials as well. Ban has creates beautiful architecture as well as fast, economical, and sustainable housing solutions for the homeless and the displaced.

  • SCALE Retractable Ballpoint – Shigeru Ban designed this ball point pen to not only feel comfortable in one’s hand with its unique triangular shape, but perform two functions: a working pen made of the highest quality, and a fully functional architect’s scale.

Pablo Garcia / Golan Levin

Two university art professors and new-media artists, Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin, both with a strong shared interest in the history and poetics of imaging technologies designed a modern version of the the camera lucida in 2013. For those not familiar with the camera lucida, it was an indispensable drawing tool popular in the days before photography. Some had suggested that Vermeer may have used something similar to create his amazing works! Give one to a friend who can’t draw and see what happens 🙂

  • NeoLucida – Trace what you see! The NeoLucida is a drawing aid that allows you to trace what you see. The silvered prism, optimized for optical clarity, is housed in a custom anodized aluminum mount. The prism is supported by a highly adjustable gooseneck arm and a sturdy metal clamp. The 1/4”-20 threaded bolt is the connection between the gooseneck arm and the prism holder, which if needed, can double as a standard camera mount.

Dale Mathis

Dale Mathis’ art merges the old with the new, industrial with the civilized. It’s kinetic and it’s deep, both in concept and execution. A self-taught artist, Mathis worked on construction sites with his father, and began building mechanized art pieces that captured the imagination of his childhood. Collectors and galleries began to take notice and a career in art was born.

  • 3D metal and mechanical playing card set – “As an accomplished artist and designer, I wanted to change playing cards by literally thinking outside the box, no pun intended,” Mathis said. “I dreamed of creating a deck of cards unlike any made before. I wanted this deck to be like the Ferrari of playing cards, to be made of the finest materials, designed with feminine curves and a masculine stature. I wanted it technologically advanced but designed to be played hard with. When not played with, it would look sexy and hypnotizing to anyone who laid eyes on it.  Last but not least, it had to maintain its collectible value as would any piece of fine art.”

Glenn Turner

A frustrating attempt to purchase a toy gyroscope resulted in Glenn Turner creating a company to sell them. He now develops (and sells) some nifty engineered devices that are beautiful, precise, and fun.

  • Super Precision Gyroscope and Gimbal – Designed and built for high precision. Made from solid brass, with a light-weight aluminium frame, and stainless-steel miniature ball bearings to allow it to run smoothly and almost silently for a mesmerizingly long time.

A Stirling engine is a special type of ‘heat engine’ that converts small temperature differences into motion, and they are sometimes called ‘hot-air’ or ‘caloric’ engines.

  • Kontax Nano Cannon Stirling Engine  – This small elegant compact engine runs at a blistering 2000 RPM from just a tiny flame. The engine has special borosilicate glass which can withstand high temperatures enabling you to glimpse inside the engine. A Ross yoke links the power piston to the displacer piston, this mechanism is compact, reducing the overall size of the engine. The low-friction graphite piston is self-lubricating and requires no maintenance. A brass heat sink disperses heat from the cold side, while the rest of the engine is made from anodized aluminium.

Mikael Sandblom

Mikael Sandblom, of Caliper Timepieces, created a wristwatch reminiscent of the precision instrumentation of the mid 20th Century, an era when the inner mechanics of our most important tools and devices were crafted for accuracy, dependability and longevity.

  • Caliper View Mechanical watch – An automatic watch with a transparent back to reveal the interior workings. The View features a steel case (milled from 316L steel), sapphire glass face, and a manual/self-winding 21 Jewels Miyota 82S0 movement.

Unusual Gifts

While not created from the crowdfunding world, these suggestions are bit “off the beaten path” as gifts go, but we like them for exactly that reason.

Tsuba (sword guards) from Japanese katana make for excellent conversation pieces as well as paper weights! Replicas of originals are casted/molded instead of carved, but can be had at a fraction of the price. The good ones are highly detailed and come in a huge variety of themes. We found these for the price of a decent lunch.


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