As I was trying to get my hands on a computer whose owner would approve of me permanently disassembling it, I imagined writing in my artist's statement that the hardest part of the project was simply gathering the materials. It wasn't. I put up notices on Craigslist and Freecycle saying I was looking for old computer parts and eventually a woman on Freecycle offered me an old printer. Without really considering how much the average printer weighs, I walked to One Logan Square to pick it up. Even taking a bus more than halfway back, I had to constantly stop and rest on the way home.
I thought the hard part was over. I brought it to school the next day, a Wednesday, (in a rolling suitcase) so that I could take it apart with Mr. VK's tools (a pair of pliers and two screwdrivers) while the school stayed open for report card conferences. I spent a good three hours sitting in the third-floor ballroom taking the printer apart while parents waited around giving me strange looks. The ink didn't come off my hands for days.
The next day I once again took advantage of the half-day and conferences to work in the third-floor ballroom with VK's tools, this time taking apart just the cool-looking pieces so I could use them. The biggest challenge was cutting the motherboard up into pieces. Motherboards primarily consist of fiberglass, copper, and epoxy resin, but there are many attached components such as memory cards and connectors to other parts of the machine that are impossible to cut through except with tools that VK probably wouldn't let me use even if he had. I removed as many of the attached components as I could with the pliers before deciding how to cut the motherboard. I used a pen to draw outlines on the smoother "back" of the motherboard. I had to keep in mind what kinds of jewelry I wanted to make, where the holes were on the motherboard (I could probably have made holes in it with a screwdriver, but they would have looked messy, so I preferred to use the ready-made holes), and what parts would be easy or hard to cut.
Again, I spent about three hours working before my mother insisted I come home. I hadn't finished cutting the motherboard so I used my own scissors, which worked somewhat but caused the edges to crumble and get lots of dust everywhere. Aside from the motherboard, I'd brought home some plastic gears colored wires that I thought I could use. The wires ended up being hard to work with so I gave up on using them. Fortunately I have my own hot glue gun and jewelry materials (cord, clasps, earring hooks and bobbi pins) so I managed to finish everything at home.
By the time I was done I was sleep-deprived, my arms were sore, my fingers were sore, my hands were covered in ink, and I'd probably breathed a lot of unhealthy chemicals, but honestly the whole project was incredibly fun. I'd never done anything like it before, so even though it didn't go as I'd expected I really enjoyed it.