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Circuit Breaker Labs' Preske: not your average chemist!

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Amanda Preske
A jewelry artist with a PhD in Chemistry? Circuit Breaker Labs, the creation of Amanda Preske, specializes in making jewelry out of circuit boards incased in resin. “It’s cool to see old tech used in new ways,” she tells us. For Preske, the beauty is in showcasing the details and patterns on the surface of the boards.

A self-taught jewelry artist, Preske started making jewelry at the tender age of 10 aided by several magazines - including some of ours! A dear aunt enjoyed stringing with seed beads, but a family vacation to Arizona was where Amanda truly fell in love with jewelry making after seeing all of the Native American bead weaving. It was everywhere! 

At 14, she started selling her work at craft shows. Later, during a visit to a bookstore, she came across The Art of Resin Jewelry by Sherri Haab. She was impressed with the versatility of resin, and started experimenting using a circuit board from her brother’s broken computer.
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Her experimentation turned into a business where she created and sold jewelry made out of circuit boards throughout college, while completing a PhD in chemistry.

After she graduated during the economic downturn of 2008/2009, she was was laid off from her internship. “Yeah, I didn’t even know that could happen,” she laments. So, she concentrated more on her jewelry business.

When asked if she used her experience as a chemist to create new resin blends, she was quick to point out that she is not a polymer chemist, but specializes in semiconductor synthesis, but she gushes “I’d love to find more ways to incorporate science into my jewelry.”

Preske leverages her scientific knowledge to market her work to people who appreciate what she does. She tries to have a diversified approach to her business including social media, indie craft shows, science festivals and other events. She’s even been featured in a video on the Huffington Post.
 
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Her work appeals to a lot of IT professionals. “They get excited when they see my badge reels. All of them have to wear badges, so they like to see the different computer parts on them.”

Preske strives to spread the message about the importance of recycling, and emphasizes the distinction that her work is upcycling rather than recycling. 

It is important to Preske to only use broken electronics such as computers, cell phones, printers, and exercise equipment. She has developed relationships with repair shops that give her their waste to use in her work. “I also try to intercept electronics from people looking to throw them away.”

“It is really sad. Only about 30% of the electronic waste in our country is recycled,” said Preske. “I try to help keep businesses from sending their electronics to the dump.”

Preske’s goal is to reuse materials and recycle the waste to their virgin forms. “All of my remnants go to a R2 certified recycling center,” says Preske. “It is important to make sure that the place you use is compliant, so they don’t just get shipped off to third world countries.”
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Preske wouldn’t recommend cutting apart circuit boards to the average jewelry maker in their home studio.

“Safety is a big concern. There are several hazards to cutting up circuit boards at home. When I am working, I look like someone in a space suit,” Preske describes. “I have a designated area with filters and proper ventilation. There are bad things in circuit boards and you have to protect yourself.”

“Circuit boards are made from layers of fiberglass and copper. The small fibers in fiberglass can get stuck in your skin and cause irritation. The processors and resistors have transition, or heavy metals, that can really mess up your body by  causing metal poisoning,” Preske warns. “It is also important to know the vintage of circuit board to know what prevalent materials were probably used to make it.”

But all of Preske's pieces are completely safe to wear. Per her website, "everything is thoroughly cleaned and outfitted in vintage, vintage-inspired, or recycled silver settings. Some pieces are made with one of a kind settings that Amanda hand solders together. Every piece is finished with domed epoxy resin. The resin acts as a lens and magnifies the circuit board underneath, creating a beautiful way to view the circuit board."

Circuit Breaker Labs creates a range of pieces for men and women, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, cufflinks, tie bars, and a whole host of other neat products. Learn more at CircuitBreakerLabs.com or on Facebook.

 
FIND MORE: resin , pendants , found object

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