Scholars' Lab Blog //TinkerTank Jewelry
Blog //TinkerTank Jewelry



I’ve been working in the Makerspace/TinkerTank since my second year. I started by learning the ins and outs of the machines the space had to offer; button maker aside, the sewing machines and 3D printers seemed to be the most versatile and had the most options for the space. This semester I’ve been working with these (and other more primitive) technologies to create unique and personalized jewelry for myself and patrons of the TinkerTank.

The first wearable project I embarked on was an event where people could come in and transform vintage spoons into wrap-around rings. The idea was simple: go to second hand stores, buy up all their cool spoons, bring them back to the TinkerTank, cut them to the length of your ring size, and bend them to a circle. This process seems to be straightforward, it really is in theory, but it turned out to be pretty tricky.

Spoon too!

The first few rings I made went smoothly, they were very thin, ornamental rings, the types your grandma would get as a memento from visiting somewhere new. Because of their ornamental purpose, a couple of them were even made out of sterling silver, so they were easily bendable. After an attempt or two I had the process down with these. I cut the ladle part of the spoon off with a dremel or saw. Next, I used the vice to bend the ring into a square, 4 dents throughout the ring. I then used jewelry pliers to round it out, making tiny little pinches and pushing down with my hands. On the day of the event, I went to the SPCA rummage and chose my spoons for the 15 (fully booked!) attendees. I chose purely on looks, and didn’t pay much attention to the material to the spoon, because I hadn’t had any problems myself previously. The event came around at 5, and people chose their spoons, cut them with wire pliers or a little saw, and got to bending.

another Spoon!

It turned out that I had definitely bought some spoons that were way too thick. Some were just completely unbendable with just human strength. I overbought, so everyone was able to make a ring, but some were definitely more square-er than others, which I felt badly about. I think over the course of the year, I’ll be on the lookout for softer, thinner spoons, and hopefully have another event where people can have a ring that sits more comfortably on their finger. You can see the process and a couple examples below:

also Spoon!


The second jewelry project I’ve been working on started much more recently. A colleague that I’ve been working with since I started, Andrew Carl, introduced me to a new type of 3D printing: resin printing. With this introduction also came the idea to make our own watches. Resin printing is preferable to standard filament printing for this project, because it allows for exceptional detail and strength on smaller parts.

Step 1 to this project was to model and print watch face bases (circular and hexagonal shown below)

Design the part Print the part

Step 2 was to gut an old CASIO watch, put the clock parts in the shell of the new printed watch, add more resin overtop the combined parts, and cure again:

hex watch circle watch

Step 3 was to create a watch band. We explored sewing and printing bands, the sewed ones were adjustable with velcro, and the printed ones were adjustable by adding/removing extra links:

watch band

The watch is super fun and customizable: everything from color, shape, size, and band material/design can all be made unique to the person wearing/building. We’re now in the stages of figuring out the best way to make an event out of this project and share our work. Currently, the plan is to make and assemble a few fool-proof designs that we know work well (faces compatible with printed and sewed bands, band schematics that can also be either printed or sewed, etc.).

From there,to share our work with the UVa community, we’d host 2 events: the first being to collaborate and edit our final watch face designs and get familiar with/start the printing process. The second event would take place to assemble the physical parts or sew the fabric band.

Cite this post: Nora Dale. “TinkerTank Jewelry”. Published November 10, 2021. Accessed on .