OPIM Innovate’s 3D Printing Jewelry Skillshare empowers students to learn more about themselves and their hidden capabilities 


When I saw the title “3D Printing Jewelry Skillshare,” I felt both intrigued and nervous. If you know me, you can characterize me as a jewelry fanatic. From Rainbow Loom to Tiffany & Co., I have always adored the art of jewelry, so I felt excited to get the chance to create my own. On the other hand, I felt concerned because I had never even touched a 3D pen before this workshop. I feared that I would grow overly frustrated with my perfectionist self and that the experience would result in stress rather than enjoyment. Fortunately, the positive environment created by second-year, Audrey Larson and fourth-year, Mariah Donahue, encapsulated the purpose of OPIM Innovation which is to encourage students to create.  

The center for OPIM Innovation is located in room 391 of the School of Business. The space is free and open for anyone who wishes to fulfill their creative urges from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. Here, students have access to machines and materials that allow them to experiment with 3D printing, coding, circuitry, VR and more. Not only can students participate in workshops, but they also have access to OPIM Innovation’s Coffee Chats in which guest speakers from major companies — such as Google and NASA — come to share their experiences and provide networking opportunities. OPIM Innovation also offers lab kits and virtual kits where students receive mini-tutorials on how to use the many instruments in the center. These kits can be completed either in-person or from the comfort of your own room.  

Yesterday afternoon, the program hosted a workshop on how to create 3D-printed jewelry. Many people already know of their large and bulky 3D printers that are revolutionary, yet still a little inconvenient and at times inaccessible. 3D pens are a newer concept as they were only recently invented in the past five to 10 years, Larson explained to us.   

Larson and Donahue gave participants a quick run-down of how to use the 3D pens to create either necklaces, earrings or hair clips, as well as providing us with the plastics, clasps, earring backs and pliers. They even had laminated templates for students to trace over if they felt anxious to go free-handed.  

Apart from the tutorial on how each piece of material worked, the instructors of this workshop generally stepped back and allowed students to essentially do whatever their hearts desired. They stayed readily available to assist anyone that needed them, but did not impede anyone’s creativity or vision. They genuinely expressed a desire for each of us to unlock this skill and a fondness for it on our own.  

Whenever someone completed an accessory, Larson and Donahue celebrated and encouraged them to continue creating. They also snapped some pictures that will appear on OPIM Innovation’s Instagram page in the near future to further uplift the crafters.  

Larson and Donahue both work at OPIM Innovations as student lab specialists, meaning they have general training for every part of OPIM Innovations, but they also have their own focuses.  

Donahue has a role as a web developer and had a hand in the program’s merging of their marketing and technology. She has been working here since her freshman year and is now a senior. She shared that her favorite part of working at OPIM Innovations is “seeing all of the UConn students’ creativity.” Whether students come in for class projects, personal projects or simply just for a fun experience, Donahue loves to watch them unlock their creative potential.  

Larson is now in her second year and works in planning, organizing and running events for OPIM Innovations. These events range from activities, carnivals, fundraising and more. She also shared that her favorite part of working for the program is watching students take part in interactive experiences. She felt especially passionate about this specific workshop because she — thanks to the support of the Werth Institute’s F3 Program — has her own jewelry business called “Unfolded LLP.” She sells jewelry with traditional materials, but through OPIM Innovations, she found an interest in 3D printing and sought to make this workshop a place in which she could merge the two practices.  

Larson also shared that her favorite event she’s taken part in since her start working at OPIM Innovations was the Makerspace Bounce, a large scavenger hunt students took part in and had the opportunity to discover all of UConn’s resources in innovation, research and creativity. She loved seeing the excitement on students’ faces and their genuine interest in learning.  

OPIM Innovations will host an event called “Women in Making Forum” on Saturday, March 25. This will be an all-day event in which participants will learn about different kinds of jewelry making, 3D sewing, data analytics and more. There will be free Moe’s, as well as an opportunity to get scholarship money.  

The main thing I took away from this workshop, aside from a cute 3D-printed necklace and pair of earrings, is that there is something for everyone available at OPIM Innovations. For more information about the program, visit innovatelabs.uconn.edu.  

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