constantino nivola’s tinkertoy lamps (d-i-y, look close)

Speaking of tinkering, while we were culling photos from Artists’ Handmade Houses for our recent giveaway, we came across a photo of Constantino Nivola’s living room in his house on Long Island (see photo below). In the back corner, partially blocked by a chair, is an intriguing light made of Tinkertoys and shiny rolled paper. OMG, Tinkertoys! Unbelievably brilliant…so we went searching the internet for more pictures of his wonderful idea. We found only this photo, in which you can barely make out a fab ceiling light made of Tinkertoys:


We realized we’ve been taking Tinkertoys for granted all these years, and hadn’t even considered the possibilities for making cool, usable modernist housewares with them. Our minds began to race with ideas.

We’ve always thought Tinkertoys came only in primary colors: red, yellow, blue, green.

But have discovered vintage sets on Ebay of plain, unpainted wood

It looks like Nivola made one of his lamps out of black Tinkertoys. We’re wondering how they’d be sprayed white..or black…chrome yellow…or stained dark….

We like this kid’s creation in neutrals: white centers with wood dowels…

You can buy Tinkertoys new, or hunt down vintage sets on Ebay...

What would you make?

Related posts: constantino nivola’s yellow tractor paint floor
more from ‘artists handmade houses’ (our great book giveaway)
task lights suspended from the ceiling
are you a secret lighting designer?
great clip-on lamp shade (+ the search for glass fiber paper)

7 Responses to constantino nivola’s tinkertoy lamps (d-i-y, look close)

  1. liz 08.04.2011 at 2:58pm #

    Tinkertoys were one of my favorites as a kid. So many possibilities!

  2. unabridged 08.09.2011 at 10:01pm #

    A little while ago, I made a couple of Tinkertoy tillandsia trellises to go in my windowsills. Picked up two old wooden sets off of Ebay for the project for about $45 total. The weird thing was that, while I could have picked up some colored ones for much cheaper and then painted them, I wanted ones that I could play with over and over again. You can’t have too many toys that double as decoration, in my opinion.

  3. Sally 08.09.2011 at 11:18pm #

    Dying to see these. Got any photos?

  4. unabridged 08.11.2011 at 1:19pm #

    Sure thing. Here are a couple of Tinkertoy trellis photos, if you’re still interested. Obviously, I’m no master of the Tinkertoy (or the photographic, for that matter) medium. And truth be told, I pretty much lack artistic ability, in general. However, one of the great things about Tinkertoys is that, even despite a complete lack of talent, you can at least count on being able to create something with some structural integrity. And with the size and overall shape you’re looking for. So, that’s good.

  5. Sally 08.14.2011 at 9:54pm #

    Your Tinkertoy trellis photos are absolutely FAB. Perfect sculptures. Thank you so much!!!

  6. Joe Mello 10.20.2013 at 10:29am #

    Hello, I have a huge collection of Tinkertoys in their original containters from 1916, and bags of original spools and sticks, etc. without containers. So if anyone is seriously interested in using the extra tinkertoys for lighting and such, email me.

    Thanks, Joe

  7. Sally 10.21.2013 at 10:28am #

    GOOD to know. Thanks. May take you up onthat one day.

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