Upcycle Final Report 2020: Electronics Jewelry

I have a considerable amount of electronics waste in my house. From motherboards to hard drives to printers, a combination of my work in IT and my roommate’s propensity for gathering E-waste has lead to a house filled with useless gadgets. My goal with this project was to turn the E-waste that I am so annoyed by into something that can really appreciate.

With material choice secured early on, the question lies in what to make with it. There is no shortage of art using electronics on the internet, a quick cursory search results in the likes of the artist Gregory Arth making beautiful paintings using circuit boards as a canvas.

Photo credit: Gregory Arth

Photo credit: LoadingStill

After researching for inspiration I turned to look at what I had available to me. I knew I had plenty of electronics but I wanted to know what specifically caught my eye. Upon searching through my shelves I found a few pieces that caught my eye.

The materials I was working with were a few old spinning disk hard drives, some resistors, capacitors (both electrolytic and ceramic), LEDs, and step-up transformers. The old hard drives looked the most interesting to me, their complexity and reflective surfaces drew me in. In particular I really started to look at the read-write heads, the little key shapes pieces that touch the reflective platters to transfer data.

They have a very dynamic shape and I enjoy their silver and copper color palette so I started to remove these read-write heads from each of the hard drives. I had to be extremely careful as to not damage them since they are extremely fragile.

This is what the undamaged ones looked like after I removed them.

Fortunately, I also have a large amount of jewelry making equipment in my home that I could pair with these electronics. I started playing in this space, making jewelry out of the different components and seeing how much I liked the end result.

This process resulted in a lot of trial and error, most of my time was spent removing materials after I realized I didn’t like them.

Manipulating the tiny pieces of jewelry was also quite difficult for my hands. I’m not the most dexterous person and I have to be very focused in order to bend wires with any accuracy.

Finally, I ended up with a necklace and two earrings that I was happy with. I stayed with a simplistic design since the electronics themselves already felt very busy. Every time I addes more components I started to like the pieces less.

My design process for this project was complicated, but it always is when I work on creative projects. I don’t normally define my process in terms of a flow chart or one step after the other but rather like a equation, similar to the equation for combustion, where if all needed elements are in place then I start to create things I’m happy with. The equation goes as follows:

Inspiration + Space + Motivation = Creation

Inspiration here meaning the consumption of content to inspire ideas. If i wanted to write a book I would read, if I wanted to pain I would go to art galleries to see paintings. Nothing is created in a vaccum and I have found that I need inspiration to work.

Space here means both physical, mental, and temporal space. I need to be relatively free to explore ideas and have enough time and mental energy to do so.

Motivation here is exactly as it sounds, simply my motivation to get things done, if I am entirely unmotivated or depressed then I am unable to create.


I had a lot of fun working on this project. The meticulous jewelry work was calming and I ended up with something I was happy with. I am looking forward to the main project in this class!


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11 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Patrick. This is my “critique” for your upcycle project. This was a very interesting choice of material you chose, I found it great that you came up with something so unique with these materials. Both the earrings and the necklace give off a steampunk aesthetic, I could see these pieces being sold at music festivals. I found it fascinating that you chose those specific pieces to put on the necklace as opposed to any other pieces. To me, the necklace looks like 3 talons of a claw, where the bearing resembles the knuckle and the point on the end resembles the nail. I also enjoyed the idea that you implemented a hi tech item into a lo tech context. The material choice for the earrings is very clever too. The resistors acting as the connection to the hoop made me smile. I like the choice of component used for the hoop as well, it has a design of its own which again brings a steampunk aesthetic to this piece. Outside of the deliverable, they step by step process that you included in this report made it easy for me to follow along with your thought process. Maybe a next step could be using the LEDs for a light up effect? Great work Patrick.

  • Benjamin Chang
    February 12, 2020 3:43 pm


    I really enjoyed your presentation today, I found your ability to talk easy going and everything flowed well. As for your creation I really enjoyed the way you went by choosing and constructing your jewelry. I very much enjoyed your ability of choosing objects for their face value appearance, oppose to their function. I find many everyday object and even pieces of objects to retain a lot of crafted beauty. The use of hard drives was brilliant, I love how you noticed the parts in a different way. Overall, I found your up-cycling project pleasant and quite unique, well done!

  • Patrick,
    I like the way that the necklace design came through. It reminds me of an artifact you’d see in Mad Max, or like the necklace from Black Panther. The three points make the design look complete, but it may be cool to consider what the necklace would look like with a whole bunch of these keys pointing out stacked around each other, given that the weight of the whole thing remains reasonable. The earrings also came out well, it would be cool to implement the resistors more in some way in this design. Like what was suggested, use a whole bunch of them and could be used to give an electric feel to the design. Overall great process.

  • Benjamin Robles
    February 12, 2020 11:33 am

    Statement of Meaning: besides your artifact, I love love and can really relate to your innovation/creating process of how it is an equation of motivation + space/time + inspiration = creation.

  • The aesthetic of the jewelry gives me steampunk : The simplicity of it and being able to see the physical parts from the dissembled parts used. I think it was really interesting that you picked apart these very technical objects and made art out of them, that’s something I wouldn’t have thought of.

  • Ryan Weatherbee
    February 12, 2020 11:30 am

    Great project! The necklace looks neat and unique and overall, it looks very pleasing to the eye. I was wondering, was there a specific aesthetic that you were trying to match with the necklace that you built?

  • I loved how unique your project is. Do you think the sharp edges on the necklace might be of concern? If it’s meant to be worn would I scratch the persons chest? Maybe in future iterations, you could file the sharp points down?

  • Jason Fontillas
    February 12, 2020 11:29 am

    I like your philosophy for the creation regarding the inspiration+space+motivation. It really shows in your process when you took apart the hard drives and kept adding more and more into the earring and necklace.

  • For me, a statement of meaning for this project is using something that is typically viewed as very functional (and not typically beautiful), like old electronics, to create something typically viewed as beautiful (and not very functional), like jewelry. Very cool idea and I think you achieved your desired aesthetic.

  • I totally agree with your decision to keep it simple. I think that you made a great choice and let the pieces speak for themselves. I would totally wear the earrings!

  • Kensue Kiatoukaysy
    February 12, 2020 11:25 am

    I like the idea of using the aesthetics of something used as a indicator such as the colors on the resistors, and turning them into another use. I think the simplicity of the jewelry itself was it’s own aesthetic


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