What do circuit boards, old cabinet doors and gears have in common? They’re all materials Angelica Whitley of STEAM Girl Nation uses to craft one-of-a-kind, up-cycled jewelry.
Stop by the Charlotte Mini-Maker Faire on Saturday, October 13, 2018 to see Angelica craft some unique pieces live, and get the exclusive chance to purchase things live that nobody has seen before. “When I work live, I tend to only work with hand tools, for safety reasons,” says Angelica. “Our niche is that we use reclaimed materials. There’s so many wasted things that we use to create pieces. Our signature thing is that we make circuit board jewelry, so I’m constantly looking for old technology and computers that people don’t use anymore. I have a ton of scrap electronics that I take the boards out of.”
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Her favorite piece to work with is repurposed house materials, and she often uses cabinet doors for canvases. She’ll stop by Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, addresses of people willing to donate, and even a dumpster to find materials to build her next piece out of.
Angelica was always interested in STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. She went to performing arts school, but was fortunate that the program she studied in had a focus on academics as well as performing.
“I got to live in the world of STEAM before that was really a thing. There wasn’t a way to really combine them both, where I didn’t know whether to be the artist, or to be the nerd, and my struggle was I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just be both,” says Angelica.
Her background in the arts and her passion for technology and engineering helped her develop her niche, and find opportunities to upcycle materials that others had thrown away.
“I’m very inspired by art, but somebody has to develop the formula for paint. Somebody has to make it non-toxic, or eco-friendly, and that is the side of art that people don’t really talk about,” Angelica says. “Not only can you be a jewelry designer, you can make the tools, or make the materials that jewelry really comes from.”
After working in IT for 10 years, Angelica founded STEAM Girl Nation to demonstrate the practical applications of STEAM in the everyday world, and help inspire more girls to move in that direction. Don’t underestimate girls, or STEAM Girl Nation, Angelica says. “We’re more than a fashion company. I think it’s easy to put it in a box, like ‘of course girls are interested, it’s fashion.’ But there’s so much more to it that requires a broader range of skills.”
What’s next for STEAM Girl Nation? Angelica says she’s “very curious about metal work. I have a lot of scrap metal, and the best way to work with it is to melt it down. I also have shelves of glass containers and bottles that I would love to work with, but glass is a different beast, too.”
Angelica has turned her passion for the arts and science into a business she hopes will help empower girls to pursue their dreams, and believes an open mind has the power to make a world of difference. “I think feminism tends to strike a negative cord with people, but we’re not anti-men or anti-boys at all. We’re just trying to encourage the other side.”
Angelica Whitley will be at the 2018 Charlotte Mini-Maker Faire on Saturday, October 13. For more information on STEAM Girl Nation, check out Angelica’s website.