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.

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