Category Archives: toys

Reindeer droppings

Decorate your tree with adaptively reused circuit boards, then buy presents

like this American Gulag bracelet from richterstudios inc,

or wineglasses from the Eden Project store

or a paper pot maker

or a personal solar panel

or a Rockbox open source mp3 player (photo by Andrew Mason).

or a MAKE warranty voider (go on, you know you want one) or any number of other geeky goodies from The Open Source Gift Guide or good gifts from the Good Gifts Catalogue.

Wrap them with last year’s reused wrapping paper (that always feels so pov but hey, Christmas is a stupid idea anyway), or check out some equally pov ideas from curbly

then set your fruit clock and if you’ve been a good primate all year (I have, I have!)

Santa* just might bring you the Christmas present you dream of……

* the existence of Santa is only a theory and is disputed by many children. However, it hardly needs saying that if Santa doesn’t bring the presents, who does? If there is no Santa why are pictures of him seen everywhere in stores and on cards? Furthermore, without Santa’s commandment to “Be good or you won’t get any presents” everyone would be bad and western civilisation would collapse. The “Christmas Conspiracy” theory, that all parents in the world secretly buy presents for their children on the same day every year, is so clearly paranoid and implausible that only anarchists, communists and other unbalanced secular extremists continue to defend it.

Let me show you my etchings

That ubiquitous fixture of garage sales, the Etch-A-Sketch, has finally been turned into something useful (did anyone ever manage to create a recognisable image on one of those things.. er yes, sort of.)

Here it is, the Electr-O-Sketch, the computerised, adaptively reused Etch-A-Sketch. Two Cornell University engineering students, Jason Levin and Chris Hopkins, replaced the knobs with stepper motors

so that the Etch-A-Sketch could be controlled with a mouse. When that worked they added record and playback that meant it could be used like a printer, although you would need one Electr-O-Sketch per page – at least it doesn’t need refills. One printer per page is only marginally worse than the average inkjet printer where the ink refills costs more than the printer and only print a few hundred pages. We can see banks of these connected to raptop computers, clunking away to determine the meaning of life. This is the peripheral that the internet made of a series of toobs has been waiting for.

We were told about it by our friend Ben Denham

whose marionette spray guns are themselves masterpieces of adaptive reuse and arguably the world’s trickiest writing device.

Check out the videos. It adds a whole new dimension to the idea of hand-eye co-ordination. Thanks Ben.

Wing it

The Mini desk reminded me that few years back I’d seen a DC3 wing desk in one of those house porn magazines so I went looking for it and here it is.

You can get a single wing

or if you are particularly obese you can get a double winger

and you can accessorize – a nose cone light for instance,

and every man needs a propellor or

a tail fin. I was sort of interested until I discovered they were around US$20k. But if you’d like one, get them here.

But this adaptively reused wing idea seems to then have been adaptively reused by Australian woodworker Ben Culley

whose Wing Desk does the whole thing in wood.

A lid opens when you punch your special code into a keypad, revealing a fitted interior work surface.

I’m afraid that both versions would only work for a clean-desk type of person and that’s not me. Where could I put my computer, how could I stop the mouse from running away?

I did have a clean desk type boss once, but I discovered in the end that he was a filing clerk at heart, spending most of his time filing things to keep his desk clean. He once told me that “your problem is you have too many ideas” which confirmed my suspicion that the clean desk is for the completely uncreative corporate clone who has a career but doesn’t have a life. Perhaps the ultimate desk and chair for that sort of person are these, made from adaptively reused pencils

by German artist Kerstin Schulz for Faber Castell’s one hundredth anniversary exhibition.

Although I’ve owned many antique desks and tables I think I’m a junk desk sort of person as well as an untidy desk person.

I’ve got lots of mismatched antique legs and for ages I have been going to make myself a desk in the style of this bench, but it will be a desk of many, many legs so I can use up the whole lot of them. One of these days.

Stuffed toy abuse


Wendy accuses me of being a sick individual for loving this site.


She says if I had raised children of my own I would feel deeply for well loved but damaged teddys. I see this as their rescue and revival. It’s certainly adaptive reuse.


You can find them, and more at Morbid Tendencies Unfortunate Animal of the Month Club.

And it’s certainly less morbid than Le Corbusier’s adaptive reuse of his pet dog as a book cover.