Living Columns & Blogs

When toys turn into new art forms

Legos are used for art, jewelry and more.
Legos are used for art, jewelry and more. TNS

To date, almost 100 toys have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y. The National Toy Hall of Fame was established in 1998 and toy inductees include: soap bubbles, Rubik’s cube, rubber duck, stick (yes, because every kid plays with sticks), the cardboard box, chess, Hot Wheels toy cars, little green army men, doll house, Star Wars action figures, dominoes and others. Anyone can nominate a toy into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Final selections are made on the advice of a panel of judges that’s made up of historians, educators and others in the field of play.

This prompted me to consider how vintage toys are repurposed into new art forms. I found some pretty interesting collaborative efforts, mainly in the areas of fashion, art and jewelry design.

Crayola crayon and colored pencil necklaces are the result of a designer using a pre-fab necklace, rope or chain link to string through a group of pre-drilled crayons or pencils to make a colorful necklace. Colored pencils also can be chopped up and strung in the manner of small scale beads to make bracelets, necklaces, etc.

Another unusual toy-inspired work of art are the Lego toys that have been made into high fashion, ultra-expensive jewelry pieces. For instance, the Chanel clutch purse based on Lego designs ranges in price from $9,900 to $11,000 each. These purses are true works of art, hence the price tag. The purses come in bright colors just like original Lego building blocks and feature geometric shapes. Since their introduction, the Chanel Lego purse has been seen in the hands of some of today’s trendy celeb-fashionistas such as Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West.

Purses are not the only Lego-inspired artwork out there. The Smithsonian Institution’s annual Craft2Wear event featured jewelry using Legos. Actual Lego blocks are strung together into necklaces, earrings and bracelets by several designers the world over. Some are enhanced with sterling silver, set precious stones and gold leaf.

If you are a gamer, then consider a PlayStation wallet. Inspired by Sony’s best-selling video game console introduced in 1994, the PlayStation wallet is modeled after the look of the original PlayStation and like some of their games, the wallet is hand held.

Beanie baby purses featuring stuffed animals still focus on the famous Ty tag and animals with clever names like Beary Bag (bear) and Hutch Clutch (rabbit).

Who knows — maybe we will see the introduction of Rubik’s cube bracelets, little green army men earrings and soap bubble wand barrettes.

Lori Verderame is an internationally syndicated columnist, author and award-winning TV personality who stars on History channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island” and Discovery’s “Auction Kings.” With a Ph.D. from Penn State, Verderame presents antique appraisal events to worldwide audiences. Visit or 888-431-1010.