Whenever you view GeekCraft Expo Midwest's Facebook event, you can see the amazing artistry of Lumen Electronic Jewelry—we used one of their pieces for our event image! We were able to talk with Lumen's Design Diva, Robin Lawson, about the twinkling jewelry she creates with her brother, Chief Geek Marty Lawson. Make sure to check them out in person March 25 and 26 at the Madison, WI Masonic Center!
GeekCraft Expo: On your site, you say you’ve "re-imagined the humble circuit board into a work of art.” What sparked that vision?
Lumen Electronic Jewelry: The idea for Lumen Jewelry was a literal spark. I was home for the fourth of July in 2010 and was inspired by the fireworks to add lights to jewelry. Being an engineer, I thought it would be attractive and unique to include the circuit as part of the design. I discussed it with my brother and he suggested we make them solar powered. It eliminates the annoyingly heavy battery that dies and needs to be replaced. Once he proved it could be done with only a few tiny solar panels, there was no stopping us.
GCE: Can you explain how your jewelry lights up?
LEJ: Because science! Our jewelry is solar powered, a perfect symmetry of "light in" creating "light out." Ambient light is absorbed through the jewel-like 1/4 inch solar panels and transformed into electrical energy. The electricity is conducted through the timing circuit and transformed back into light by the LEDs.
GCE: One thing that struck me is how you combine organic inspirations—like dragonflies—with technology. What’s your process of combining the two?
LEJ: The renewable solar power of our jewelry melds well with natural designs. Our jewelry charges and blinks in response to the rhythm of light around the wearer. I often get inspiration from geek culture, noticing what images or shapes are popular. I then perform a Google search for images until I find one I like, and begin designing the circuit around that. People assume our angular style is intentional, but it is actually a restriction of the free circuit design software we use. It can only draw straight lines, forcing us to create wonderful abstractions of our organic inspiration.
GCE: So do people just freak out when they see your jewelry?
LEJ: Yes, it's pretty adorable. Our people are easy to spot at a show or comic con, their gasp of delight is almost immediate.
GCE: In addition to completed pieces, you sell kits. Can the average person create a piece like this? What type of background knowledge would someone need to have?
LEJ: We have taught all ages to solder our kits, from 12 to 86. All you need is patience, the ability to hold a pencil steady, and a soldering iron (not included).
GCE: You have several new categories of jewelry on your site, such as tie clips and rings. Do you have plans to expand further? Tiaras?
LEJ: Oooh a tiara would be amazing! As a geek who loves shiny I want to make all the things, but as a business person I have to consider how large the market is for any particular item. I have considered adding more options on our website, such as barrettes cufflinks, but carrying all that inventory to shows is a pain. If enough people request it we'll add it, that's why we added rings and tie clips.
GCE: Is your jewelry suitable for children?
LEJ: Yes, they are even kid tested! A friend bought the chevron for their 7 year old and it lasted over a year before she broke the chain. The necklace kept on blinking.
GCE: What types of pieces are you bringing to GeekCraft Expo Midwest this year?
LEJ: Everything on our website from necklaces and earrings to pins and rings. We will have a few new color variations on the chevron and square available for the first time at GeekCraft Expo Midwest, so come by and check them out!
We want to thank Robin for talking about Lumen's incredible jewelry—make sure to take a look at it in person March 25 and 26 at GeekCraft Expo Midwest!