Monday, October 19, 2009

ARTISAN FEATURE: Debby Arem Designs Three Ring Circuits

Ruth Sandra Sperling

It was shortly after I joined my first Etsy Team, Eco Etsy Street Team, that I discovered Debby Arem's Designs and her repurposed circuit board creations - and loved them!! I have told my pro-environment family and friends about them with very positive responses!! So, here on my blog, I am finally doing a Feature of these great repurposed circuit board creations!! Some of them make me laugh and the rest of them I just think are really great -- one of these days I am going to get one of her clocks I think .... !!

Question: What is(are) your Craft(s)/Art(s)?

Answer: I use vintage circuit boards from the 1980's that have never been stuffed and repurpose them into many many different products! Since 1992, I've been making earrings, pins, and necklaces as well as men's cuff links and tie tacks. -- I also, along with my husband, make a variety of green office products such as clipboards in all sizes including magnetic ones for your fridge, bookmarks, key chains, pencil boxes, pill boxes,business card holders, magnets and rulers. -- In addition, we also make sun catchers, clocks, picture frames and last year we introduced a menorah for Hannukah! I've probably forgotten to mention something as our line has expanded so much in the past 17 years!

Question: Are there places you sell your Craft(s)/Art(s) on the Internet?

Answer: I of course have a shop on Etsy:
- as well as on ArtFire:
- on Da Wanda:
- on Cosa Verde:
-- and my own website: http:// !!

Question: Are there places you sell your Craft(s)/Art(s) off the Internet?

Answer: We currently are selling a variety of our green office products at the gift shop at Chicago's Museum of Science and Technology, the Newseum here in Washington, D.C., and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill's book shop to name a few.

Question: What/Who has been the inspiration behind doing your Craft(s)/Art(s)?

Answer: I have a degree in Fine Arts and a background in silk screen design.
I was and still am a bead artist ( you can see some of my work at another one of my Etsy shops as well as my own personal website -- I wasn't intending to start another company, but one day in the early 1990's, I literally wandered into the back room of my husband's company which manufactured PCBs and saw a circuit board for the first time in my life . I was immediately hooked and I remember thinking "These circuit boards have the most fabulous patterns - what great jewelry you could make from these!" -- I love to do custom work for people and have even combined my 2 lines and made necklaces using all vintage beads as well as recycled circuit boards! Here is an example of one of these custom designs.

Question: Can you briefly explain to our readers how you do your Craft(s)/Art(s) (methods, skills, materials)?
Answer: After a number of years of trial and effort figuring out how to ' cut' huge circuit boards down to size, we figured out the perfect method which still remains a secret to everyone else but us! ;-) I then add recycled metal from scrap metal facilities, vintage beads, and many times recycled old electrical components to create the pieces we sell. I use wire, jump rings and industrial epoxy to assemble our various products.

Question: How did you learn or develop your Craft(s)/Art(s)?

Answer: After LOTS of trial and error, cut fingers, and broken fingernails, my husband and I figured out how to cut some of the larger circuit boards that we salvaged into smaller more usable sizes. None of the circuit boards that we ever use have ever been 'stuffed' so they're all very smooth. -- People are always asking us this - especially in the case of a clipboard because they want to know if the surface will be smooth enough to write on and the answer is 'yes'! --- We were most fortunate because at the time, we had a neighbor who manufactured circuit boards and any prototypes that had imperfections had to be disposed of so we had plenty of material to work with to perfect our trade. We always joke that we were 'green' before it was a movement back in 1992 and our neighbor was wonderful and let us acquire circuit boards from her before they would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

Question: Are you continuing to study your Craft(s)/Art(s) - and, if so, how?

Answer: I would say that I'm definitely still 'studying' my craft because I'm always coming up with new products to add to our Three Ring Circuits line. My husband is wonderful as he's the one many times who figures out how to execute my idea. We work as a team many times to bring the product to the marketplace!

Question: What is your personal history in your Craft(s)/Art(s)?

Answer: I received my B.A. in Fine Arts from American University here in Washington, D.C. and have been an artist for almost as long as I can remember!
I got my first big break in the early 1980's when I had begun stringing and knotting beaded necklaces for friends. I feel like a dinosaur in that respect because I knotted all my necklaces and still do (which protects the beads and gives a nice finished look.) --- Nowadays, most people merely put the beads on wire which of course is much less time consuming. --- Anyhow, I approached the buyer at Bloomingdales' jewelry department to see if they might be interested in carrying my line which I was in the process of developing and that's when I got my first break - a trunk show! --- From there, I moved on to trunk shows at Saks Fifth Ave and a number of other upscale dept. stores all over the country and ultimately sold my necklaces through the Smithsonian's museum shops and mail order catalogs on a regular basis. When I began Three Ring Circuits, since I already had an 'in' at the Smithsonian, I was able to approach the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum who began to sell my recycled circuit board products.

Question: Are there other interests in your life that you would like to discuss here (hobbies, charities, other careers, etc.)?

Answer: When I'm not designing jewelry, my husband and I both volunteer with 2 rescue groups for dogs. We're always trying to educate people to 'spay and neuter your pets' and we try to help out as much as possible doing home visits, vet checks etc. I also am an avid knitter and gardener and love to cook!

Question: To anyone aspiring to do the Craft(s)/Art(s) you do, do have any suggestions or recommendations?

Answer: I'd say to definitely try to find circuit boards that aren't stuffed or you'll spend hours trying to remove everything!

Please Note: Features on RSS Designs In Fiber are based on the artisan's answers to questions I give them and the photos they send me or choose or approve -- I give all artisans I Feature full editing rights.

1 comment :

Beholden-To-Nature (Kenna) said...

How wonderfully creative and thrifty! Excellent!

Well, dear, I came by to tease you with some good news... but you have to come by my Blog to read it! ;)