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Meet the Maker: Transforming Science into Wearable Art

Amanda, owner of Neuron To Something, is creating art and jewelry from science

Amanda was inspired to create Neuron To Something by her passion for science and art. She crafts art and wearable pieces such as earrings, pins, keychains, and stickers that merge art and biology.

How do you cultivate creativity every day?

A lot of my designs are microscopic tissues or structures. I have been working with microscopes for over a decade, and I have yet to find two tissue samples or bacteria that look exactly the same. The microscopic world is vast and provides me with endless inspiration.

How has your art style evolved over time?

My style has evolved as I’ve learned new skills. I began my journey as a science maker with a Cricut. I wasn’t able to find vinyl decals for certain things that were scientifically accurate, so I decided to create my own. People started asking me where I got the decals, so I decided to open my online shop and sell them to other scientists and science enthusiasts.

As I learned how to find and use scientific public domain image databases, I began to collect vintage science illustrations that had been lost to time. I use these illustrations in some of my designs. I like to imagine that I’m rescuing these beautiful images from the wrinkled pages of an old, dusty book. As I learned new skills, like how to use Photoshop and Illustrator, I began to create my own graphics. I’m still learning and improving my graphic design skills, but with every design I create, I get a little better. My most recent endeavor has been with 3D printing. I don’t have any products that have 3D-printed components yet, but I do have some in the works. I guess you could say that my style has evolved a lot like scientific discovery does through much trial and error.

What inspired you to create along the intersection of art and science?
To me, science and art are already intertwined. If you have ever seen a beautiful sunset,
watched a flower bloom, or watched a bird fly, you may know what I mean. Science is how we explain this beauty in the world, and art is how we feel it.

What artists and/or scientists have influenced your art?

My educational background is in neuroscience, and the first time I ever remember being mesmerized by an illustration was when I saw Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s drawings of pyramidal neurons. If you’ve never seen them, they are somewhat informal black-and-white drawings done in a notebook with various pencils and pens. They were originally just sketches of what he saw in brain samples under a microscope as he pioneered the field of neuroscience, but now they are displayed in museums and art galleries.

I’ve looked through many microscope eyepieces, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see Golgi-stained neurons with my own eyes, and they are just as beautiful (or even more so) in real life as they are in his drawings.

What is the larger conversation around your products/art or the message you hope to convey?

I am an educator and a maker, and my goal for both of those pursuits is to make science more accessible. As a maker, I love blending science and art with anatomy, histology, microbiology, and medicine to anyone who sees my designs.

What does a day in the life of Neuron to Something look like?

Neuron to Something is what I once heard described as a “job hobby.” It isn’t my main job, but I spend most evenings and weekends working on items in my shop and going to the Post Office more than I ever thought I would. Most of my time is currently spent making items, keeping track of inventory, and packing orders for my online shop. I am starting to do in-person markets, though, so I am spending a good bit of time prepping for markets.

Visit @neuron_to_something on Instagram to see more of Amanda's art and etsy.com/shop/neurontosomething to shop her collection.

Science is how we explain this beauty in the world, and art is how we feel it.

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