30 Holiday Gifts Created by Independent Designers

2013 Holiday Gift Guide

holiday gift guide

Cat silhouette snowflake ornaments? Check! Quotation mark earring studs? Yes! Full moon wall clock? Got it! DNA sequencer? Sho ‘nuf.

These are just a few of the fantastic things on our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide featuring original designs from Ponoko customers.

We’ve selected 30 different products this year to fit all budgets and suit everyone from your sister to your boss.

Check out our Gift Guide on Pinterest, and support independent designers this holiday season!

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Design Star: 22-year old vlogger celeb Karen Kavett brings you interrobang jewelry!

and silver mirror ampersands!

With nearly 2 million views and over 43,000 subscribers to her design-meets-DIY YouTube channel, Karen Kavett clearly knows how to build an audience.

At just 22 years old, Karen works full-time as a video blogger and freelance designer in San Francisco.

She’s been creating videos on crafting, graphic design, “and other nerdy stuff” since 2008. She’s signed with one of the top online video agencies and her design work ranges from UX for YouTube to cover illustration for a NYT best selling author.

And she’s recently decided to expand her brand to a line of typographically inspired jewelry she makes with the help of Ponoko’s laser cutting service.

Let Karen introduce herself to you — and get a look at her mirrored acrylic ampersand necklace — in the video below.

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Which comes first, the product or the business? For iluxo designer Mariko, it’s business from the start.

Ponoko-made products by Mariko Carandang

Most small creative companies start with a product — not a business plan. But Mariko Carandang of iluxo was all business right from the beginning.

“One day I decided that I wanted to start a company and start selling things on Etsy,” she says. “I wasn’t already making something that I wanted to sell. I asked myself ‘Now what should I make?”

As a web developer and designer in San Francisco, she had the software skills to jump into digital fabrication. Mariko did lots of product research ranging from materials to manufacturing methods to fashion trends. She finally decided to enter the competitive market of laser-cut jewelry, and the next big question was how to set her designs apart from the crowd.

“Laser-cutting is inherently flat, so I thought a good way to differentiate my first product was to make something 3D. That’s where the idea of creating a locket came from,” she says of her first design.

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Photo frame jewelry turns your Instagrams into accessories

Ponoko-made products by Monique Malcom

“I’ve taken up photography as a hobby, and I love Instagram but I haven’t printed a photo in years,” says Monique Malcom. It’s something lots of us in this digital photo age can relate to. But Monique thinks there are some photos that are “just too amazing to be locked in the digital dungeon.”

Being a fulltime creator and “Chief Everything Officer” of her own tshirt line Antisparkle, she saw a product design opportunity.

So she created Instasparkle — a line of lasercut photo frame jewelry — to encourage people to show off their beautiful pics. Her colorful necklaces, broaches, and rings can each hold a 1″x1″ photo print.

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Ponoko unboxing of lasercut Kickstarter rewards

Ponoko-made project by Garland West

Ever wondered what it’s like to get a shipment from Ponoko? The video shows Garland West, an artist/crafter outside of Charlotte NC, unboxing her recent lasercut order featuring a variety of materials and sheet sizes.

You can see her peeling the protective paper and popping out her designs including bamboo business cards, acrylic jewelry, and a big red octopus.

“A lot of the items you see in the unboxing video are pledge rewards for my Kickstarter project,” she says.

“I made thank you cards from cardstock, yoga pose jewelry from bamboo, and coasters out of cork.” And the octopus? “Oh, that’s not a reward. It’s a ‘clocktopus’ project I’m working on.”

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2012 Holiday Gift Guide — from $5 to $1500

Ponoko-made presents!

Our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide features a range of jewelry, home decor, gadgets, and holiday goodies all made by our creative customers.

We’ve featured gifts to fit any budget, from $5 moustache earbud wraps to custom computers starting at $259. Whether you’re looking for something for a geek, biker, gamer, crafter, hostess, or girlie girl, we’ve got you covered.

Keep reading to see the 32 products featured or jump to our Holiday Gift Guide on Pinterest.

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Create your own jewelry by mapping your favorite places with Meshu

Ponoko-made products from Meshu founders Rachel Binx and Sha Hwang

When Rachel first moved to San Francisco, she was looking for work and knew she wanted a job in data visualization. “I was using Twitter to find potential contacts,” Rachel says. “Sha was gracious enough to meet me for dinner, and the rest is history!”

The two of them hit it off, eventually moving in together in a sunny carriage house in the Mission. And yes, Rachel landed a great job at a design studio. But the story doesn’t stop there.

Last year, Rachel and Sha sat down in a tea house and started brainstorming ideas for a side project: something that could combine their skills in design and data visualization with their love of travel.

The result was Meshu — a web-based app that brings together data visualization and digital fabrication.

Meshu lets you design products like necklaces, earrings, and cufflinks based on the connecting lines of various places.

For example, you could create a design using your Foursquare checkins or the route you took on your epic road trip. And you could have that design turned into a pair of one-of-a-kind lasercut earrings or 3D printed cufflinks.

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Stylish 3D printed jewelry by Hot Pop Factory

Procedurally generated and finely-tuned

Bi-Ying and Matt with their MakerBot Replicator

Hot Pop Factory is a new 3D printed jewelry company started by architects Matt Compeau and Bi-Ying Miao. (Disclosure: they are also colleagues of mine at Site 3!)

What I love about their designs is that they’re tuned specifically for the 3D printer that they’re made on. Matt and Bi-Ying started with procedural designs in Rhino and Grasshopper, and then iterated over and over until they found the exact grain pattern that they wanted: (more…)

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Jewelry by Black Swan Design

Victoriana of the Long White Cloud

Black Swan Designs re-emerged after the Christchurch earthquake at Mel’s post-quake office (aka home). Fortunately, outsourcing fabrication (especially when the design files are in cloud) means that even a natural disaster can’t stop the Maker wheels from turning. The Black Swan aesthetic is strongly inspired by the Victorian era – a vintage and ornate style that lends itself to traditional jewelry making techniques. However, Mel found that even with her jeweler background, creating the desired aesthetic using conventional jewelry making methods would result in the finished product being priced out of the local market.

Mel decided to try laser cutting to fabricate the Black Swan Designs line of necklaces, earrings, brooches and rings. Most of the highly detailed jewelry is cut from bamboo and black acrylic, and there are plans to introduce paper and 3D printed ceramic into the range, as a shift towards more eco-friendly materials. Once the laser cut pieces arrive at her door, Mel farewells her manicure and diligently removes the backing paper from all the tiny parts. Afterwards the pieces are painstakingly glued together, and findings are attached.A few words from the designer after the jump:

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Generative jewellery from Foursquare check-ins

Location check-ins crafting jewellery design

Locations can be very meaningful to people – everyone has their favourite holiday destination or memory of an amazing place they’ve visited. Jewellery designers meshu are enabling customers to personalise their jewellery by drawing location points on the globe that generate geometric patterns based on some of their favourite places. (more…)

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