18 Feb 2011

Book Review: Kilobyte Couture

Kilobyte Couture: Geek Chic Jewelry to Make from Easy-to-Find Computer Components by Brittany Forks; published by Watson-Guptill Publications

Although I’m not a geek (or at least I don't think so!), I am an electronic engineer who loves jewellery, so this book caught my eye in the library today.

The book shows you how to make jewellery from electronic components for some ‘geek chic’. Most of the projects are very wearable and not too out there.  Having one or two pieces like this would certainly be a conversation piece amongst techie people although I think these designs would have limited appeal to non-techies.

The book provides a good introduction to the electronics components used: resistors, capacitors, thermal fuses, and LEDs and good clear basic instructions for how to make jewellery using these and standard jewellery findings. The photography is good and the diagrams are excellent.

The book mentions where the components are available in the US, and provides part numbers for them. The whole book is very US-centric, but all the materials mentioned are widely available outside the US so not a worry.

The main downside of this book is that is has a very narrow focus and the projects lack variety. Essentially, the book shows you how to use electronic components instead of beads again and again. I would have liked more variety in the materials used e.g. circuit boards, cables, floppy disks, computer keyboards , CDs etc. all offer interesting  possibilities for jewellery making.

My other gripe is that though the cataloguing details in the front include ‘recycling (waste)’, the book clearly says to use new components due to the potential risk from lead solder in used components.

Finally,  being a pedantic engineer, I found some of the project names annoying  - LAN Party Dangles, Byte Bouquets, Bitmap Bookmark etc. as the relationship between the basic components used and technology referenced is pretty removed, and makes me questions the author’s geek credentials.

Ultimately, I would recommend this book to beginner jewellery makers, who are interested in the ‘geek chic’ look featured. For more experienced jewellery makers, I suggest getting hold of some electronic components and just having a play.

12 Feb 2011

Bottle caps galore

As shown in my last post, I sent a couple of bee bottlecaps to sonjaboo.

Mr Mango is a big real ale fan and I've been hoarding collecting all the bottle caps, thinking I could use them for something. The bees ones are my favourite so I was excited to be able to share them.

However, this made me realise how many I'd collected and with little inspiration as to what to do with them and a very long list of projects already,  I've concluded that I should get rid of them as  part of my decluttering. The trouble is that I'm loathe to bin them while other people are buying new ones to craft with.

So I'd like to give them away / swap them / sell them but haven't worked out how or where. Any thoughts, anyone?

11 Feb 2011

Matchbox Swap part 2

Now that Sonjaboo has received her matchbox, I can show you what I sent her. Amongst her interests, she mentioned that she liked bumblebees and writing themes. She was also keen to receive something British ( as she's in the US).

I not sure what sort of writing themes she had in mind, but I do enjoy some wordplay so I decorated the outside of the matchbox with phrases associated with bees:

The birds and the bees
Busy Bee

The bee's knees

Oh, beehive! (for a touch of Austin Powers!)

I was surprised at how many bee related phrases there are. Some of the ones I didn't include were:
  • Mind you own Beeswax ( I thought that might be a little rude)
  • Queen Bee
  • A bee in your bonnet
  • Make a beeline for...
I decorated the tray outer in a yellow and black stripy pattern from a magazine page - finally found a use for all the Engineer and Technology magazines I never get round to reading. 

The inside of the tray with flowers, a bee and a butterfly:

Inside I included a couple of crafted items - an embroidery of a black cat, inspired by Sonjaboo's stained glass piece

and continuing with the bee / wordplay theme, a magnetic bookmark featuring Bee Quiet and Bee Have, the bees from an old British cartoon called Stoppit and Tidyup.

For the crafts supplies, I included a couple of bottle caps featuring bees, some British stamps and a few yellow beads.

I had hoped to squeeze a few more things in but in the end it was a rather tight fit just getting these items in. If I did it again, I might make my own matchbox that I could tweak slightly to let the bottle caps fit in side by side, so there would be a bit more space.

All told, I had a lot of fun making the matchbox.

6 Feb 2011

Rainbow embroidery sampler

I love my sewing machine (a Bernina activa 230PE) but I haven't really made the most of all its features. One thing I'd really like to use more is some of its decorative embroidery stitches. However, the stitch card it came with doesn't really give a full idea of what the stitches look like in use.

So, I decided to make a sampler which I can refer to when I want to select a stitch. I actually started this in November, and have been working on it in small bursts. Today, I finally finished the samplers off.

Each one is postcard sized (10 x 15cm) for easy reference and storage.

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