Tell us about yourself.
I’m Amanda Preske and I’ve been a maker since I was old enough to use scissors and markers. I started a jewelry business in grade school because I had made way too much jewelry for anyone in my family to wear. I went to two universities in Rochester, NY, used my business to support myself through college, and now hold a PhD in chemistry. I worked on synthesizing semiconductor nanocrystals, which are really awesome materials that emit different colors of light based on their size (usually that kind of thing is material dependent, not size dependent!). Faced with working in a research lab for the next 30 years, I opted to venture out on my own handmaking STEAM-inspired products.
What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
I’ve produced a line of wearables for men and women that incorporate recycled circuit boards. I’ve been making circuit board jewelry in my signature style for nearly a decade. Each piece is carefully cut and cleaned before being covered in a layer of epoxy resin. The resin has a high surface tension, which allows me to create a “bubble” over the resin, which acts as a lens. I make all kinds of things including traditional jewelry, items for men (cufflinks, tie bars, tie tacks), belt buckles, badge reels, and so on.
What inspires you to make?
I have this indescribable internal drive to make things. I feel restless when I’m not making something or doing something. Even when I was working in chemistry, I found a project that allowed me to make crystals all day. I’ve turned jewelry making into a career, but when I’m not making jewelry, I’ve got my hands buried in something else.
What is something you’ve made that you are most proud of, and why?
I’ve recently gotten pretty proficient at soldering (and the other associated skills with metalsmithing like cutting, filing, cleaning, and polishing), which has opened up a whole new world of possibility for jewelry design. I work primarily in copper and silver, and layer rounded elements to create visually interesting necklaces and earrings (see green necklace with three connected circles).
What tips or advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Maker?
Jump in! When I started getting into jewelry making, it was before the days of the internet so I relied on magazines and books to learn basic techniques. If it’s something with more of a learning curve, I’ll sign up for a class. So far I’ve taken classes on photography, metalsmithing, and glass flameworking, and I’d like to learn how to throw clay on a wheel and work with circuits some day.
For more info check out the 2016 profile page for Circuit Breaker Labs.