These Etsy artists are creating clocks and tiny robots out of computer parts

There are many things you can do with your old PC: donate it, cannibalize, turn it into a fish tank—but if you're the creative type you might want to upcycle the old components and turn it into something more artistic. 

That's what several Etsy shop owners are doing: recycling old computer parts and turning them into a variety of creative things, like jewelry and wall art. So, if you see anything you like, or a hunting for a gift for the computer geek in your life, grab it fast. These are one-of-a-kind items and once they're gone, they're gone.

HDD clocks

There's an overabundance of these on Esty, but it's easy to see why old hard drives are a popular item to turn into a clock. The platter's reflective surface and obvious shape is perfect for attaching a couple arms to, and the chassis is solid enough to hold a small motor and AA battery.

Most of these also have a custom stands attached to them, but artists Rita and Rob, owners of Tecoart, take that one step further by mounting one of their clocks to a Radeon X1550—which came out 13 years ago. The older graphics cards definitely make a better base than the monster, triple fanned ones we have today. (That would be a really expensive clock.)

The 90's, framed

This is one of the more unique presentations of old computer hardware that I came across on Etsy. Craftomoto owner Goga Pavlek has an entire series called 'Hard(ware) life in the 90's & other stories' in which she frames 'technical thingamajigs,' and includes a printed, historical blurb about the object on the back of the frame.

This piece, EDO RAM, contains 8 x 0.5 MB modules of RAM. That right. MB as in megabytes. Nowadays, 8GB of RAM seems like too little. How did we ever survive with 4MB?! Pavlek also has another piece of framed hardware with old VRAM modules. It's like bringing a museum exhibit in your home. Now when you tell your kids, "back in my day, we didn't have gigabytes" you can show them what you mean.

PC accessories (the kind you wear)

A lot of artists use resin because it's a versatile material. You can mix it with paint, pour it into molds to make figurines, even preserve inorganic and organic items. Or you can mash up a bunch of Intel and Nvidia components, pour resin over 'em, and turn your old hardware into jewelry. 

Pagane uniques has a few pieces like this up for grabs: a bracelet with broken computer parts floating inside colorful, translucent resin; and a resin ring made in the same style. These two pieces are a deviation from the usual resin-cast, flower-filled earrings and necklaces, but they are equally stunning. I hope they add more PC jewelry to their shop in the future.  

These adorable robots

Like the HDD clocks, there are also a lot of upcycled robot figurines on Etsy. But Nancy Solbrig, owner of LeeBots, has some of the most creative and carefully crafted robots on the site. Using 'found' materials, she created the bodies for these adorable little robots out of optical disc drive lasers. The rest of the robots she fashioned from transistors, dark annealed steel wire, and Guitar Hero guitar buttons.

Solbrig also does custom work. "I can, also make bots out of parts you already have. Items like a old video game console, video game controllers, an old computer, phone, etc can be turned into a cute bot," she says on her shop page. Gaming PCs don't come with CD drives anymore these days, so if you've upgraded your rig recently and don't know what to do with your old drive, maybe consider getting a little robot for yourself.

Joanna Nelius
When Joanna's not writing about gaming desktops, cloud gaming, or other hardware-related things, she's doing terrible stuff in The Sims 4, roleplaying as a Malkavian, or playing horror games that would give normal people nightmares. She also likes narrative adventures.