Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Stocking Stuffers for Women in Science

When I stumbled on the necklaces made by Uncorked at etsy, I was immediately struck by her clever re-use of laboratory supplies. If you have girls and women in your life who love science, these necklaces would be a great addition to their stocking this year. I would love to have one of these necklaces (the one with the family of mountain gorillas on it) myself. There are more than 50 different designs to choose from. I know you'll be able to find something you like too!

I asked Uncorked what prompted her to start making them. She said she has always loved to re-purpose things in her home and classroom (she teaches 6-8th grade science).

She has used test tubes as carrying cases for vitamins, in spice racks, and as push pin holders that hang on her bulletin boards. As for the necklaces, "One day with a regular test tube order I received a better grade of cork than what I was used to. The cork felt unbelievably cool and smooth to the touch and looked so beautiful that within seconds I was imagining my uncorked line!" she says.

Uncorked calls herself a "mad scientist" in her profile on etsy, so I asked her about what that phrase means to her. "I am the kind of scientist that gets "mad" when people think they cannot be scientific and artistic at the same time," she said. I completely agree. Science requires imagination, passion, originality, and an ability to think outside the box and improvise - all traits usually associated with artists. Uncorked has successfully combined her love of science and art with her test tube line.

When I asked Uncorked about what prompted her to start selling her creations on etsy, she told me that she "was trying to get some crafty girls in my school interested in the science fair by offering them a new category for the most creative project. The girls were all etsy addicted, and when I got home that night and googled it, I was quickly addicted, too!" It sounds to me like she learned about Etsy from her students. Neat!

In addition to teaching science, Uncorked teaches photography classes. Just as she encourages her science students' love for art, she introduces her photography students to the beauty in science. "I am determined to get my photography students to see the beauty in tesla coil, exploding glass and, yes, cork! And I am equally determined to get my computer students to see the beauty in their binary numbers!" she says.

Clearly Uncorked is passionate about what she does. "As a scientist I am continually inspired by the things I do not know. When a student asks a question in a way I had not thought about, I get excited. When I hear something I am unfamiliar with, the researcher in me kicks into high gear. I love to google! I am also a born skeptic so I love to experiment," she says. She also strikes me as a natural artist. "I have been an artist all my life. College was kind of a crossroads where I choose science as a career because I knew the art would always be there for me." Gotta pay the bills!

Her "uncorkedUCATION line" is designed specifically for girls to inspire a love of math and science.

The cork she uses in her pieces is a renewable resource (as are the glass test tubes). Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree.

She says the cork she uses "is grown in managed forests in Portugal and Spain where the bark is carefully harvested, once every nine years, in a centuries-old tradition with hand tools and without fertilizers or pesticides, a process that ensures the forests will remain undamaged."

The photo on the right shows what a harvested and still alive cork oak tree looks like. I passed through a forest of them in Tunisia, and they are amazing trees. The WWF has an excellent page devoted to the conservation of these unique Mediterranean forests.


Anonymous said...

What clever products and how creative she was in harnessing her students' interests.

Anonymous said...

Those necklaces are so cool! I'm going to have to check out her shop now!!


Bijoutery said...

This is just sooo cool! I'm a scientist (well, I'm trying to be, lol) and I just love these! It's neat to see other scientist/artist types out there as well. We're always taught that we should like one or the other (humanities vs science), but that doesn't have to be the case at all. I know that my studying geology has influenced my jewelry and makes it all that much more interesting and fun!

Devil's Paradise said...

wow! i love her work - i just hearted her shop =D

Artlife said...

You did a wonderful job on this feature recycledideas!!

tracychong said...

Thanks for highlighting her work. This is the first time I've seen her. It's wonderful! I totally agree with the whole scientist/artist thing.

punchanella said...

all i can say is, cool.

Moodwax said...

Just discovered these. Very clever!