Transistor Bending

Here is one of my most recent projects. Of course I’m a huge fan of retro technology and re-using old items, but this newest craft project has been one of my favorites. It also seems to have garnered more interest by passersby than some of my other projects.

I’m taking old vacuum tubes from broken radios and television sets and converting them into jewelry. I have to do a lot of searching for good vacuum tubes, most tubes are too large, or boring looking, but you really start to appreciate how different the tubes can get, and sometimes find a gem in the form of a perfect size tube.

If they need it I’ll clean them up before I carefully bend the pins down. This is the part that requires patience, when working with glass you have to move slowly and can’t overwork the pins. I’ll admit that I have broken a few tubes, and gotten a cut up a bit while learning good technique.

I usually add extra pieces of jewelry that I incorporate into the bending process. In most of my pieces I will add boss jewels or metals. With some pieces I take the bending process and do more complex work, not always folding the wires inward, but trying different patterns and shapes.

I also use the pins to harness the necklace chain to the tubes, it’s usually pretty easy, but if I have a bigger piece of jewelry being held on top, then it can get more difficult. I spend a lot of time searching in Beyond Beads for the perfect fitting jewel for each tube, but I’m trying to get the chains and clasps off of older pieces of jewelry whenever possible.

I guess I’m stuck in a bit of a Miami Vice phase now, but I think these chains look best shiny and short.

Insert “tube tied” joke here.

On the right is a close up shot of two pieces. The one on the left is the one I gave to Jean Jacques Perrey to match his spectacular suit, the other one is one of my personal faves (made from a vintage wallet chain). Notice the difference in jewels on top AND the different types of bent pins.