The brief interview series
Decimononic Collection — A prologue by Kevin Steil (aka Airship Ambassador)
It’s flashy. It’s stylish. It harkens to ages past. It has something
for you, for your parents, and even for your kids. There is something that looks old but is actually new. And for something new, there might be a bit of a twist on an ancient idea. Steampunk and jewelry share a number of descriptive attributes and expressions. Both are about aesthetic and individualism, giving a teasing glimpse into who we are, and who we want to be. They are simultaneously style and substance, a show and a lesson, vision and reality. The use of either, or both, can inspire questions of adornment versus statement, and statement versus story. What begins in one form can easily evolve to another. One can inform the predecessor and the successor. For millennia, jewelry has variously been used as currency, symbolism, and a sign of wealth and of status, but it was and is primarily made for use as adornment. Craftsmanship expressed solely for beauty’s sake. Cultures and societies had their own ever shifting rules and interests, resulting in changing uses, demand, and manufacturing. Over time, with advancements at all levels and areas, jewelry became less of a rare luxury and more as available and affordable personal keepsakes. Steampunk is often an amazing representation of individualism and creativity. Multiple people may dress in the same character role, but each will be unique and stand alone as a reflection of who they are. Fashions are clearly the physical articulation of many voices – ours blended with society, culture, and history. That chorus shines when backed with outlook, manner, and intention. Even considered as simple adornment, jewelry is more than just a glittering bauble, and steampunk is more than recreations and reinventions of nineteenth century fashions. Combined, they enhance and showcase the beauty of each other, like gilded mirrors turning to cast their reflections. With earrings and pendant, a ball gown looks even more elegant. Badges and ribbons make a military cut jacket more regal. Charms and cufflinks present a captivating image paired with formal wear.
From glittering gemstones to metal bracelets, and everything else twisted, turned, refurbished, and reused in between, steampunk and jewelry move beyond ordinary adornment to become statement. Statements have meaning. Statements have power. Statements are actions. The statement might be as simple as a boast, or a declaration of pride, but it could also be a call to solidarity, or a shout against the -ists and –isms of the world. It could be the reminding hoot of self mockery, the beckoning of knowledge, or the bellow of authority. As statement, steampunk and jewelry can open the internal discourse about not only how a given fashion and accessories accentuate one another, but also about attraction and message. Why that piece and outfit? What draws us to inspect them further? What siren song resonates with us to pull us in closer, perhaps to make it part of our expression, also? Under that spell, steampunk and jewelry move their message from external statement to internal story. The significance shifts from exclamation to reflection, from ‘what’ to ‘why’, and from ‘doing’ to ‘being’. Transforming from adornment to statement to story, steampunk and jewelry in concert can be an invitation to conversation, an enticement to a tale, a caution of adventures ahead, or the quiet sigh at the end of a trial. A brooch first worn as ornamentation, citing a statement of honoring ancestors, becomes the anecdote of custom and tradition. The ring shown as embellishment transforms to be a symbol of character and therein lies the tale of our Gemini selves. The watch worn of necessity but also of style is a signal of value to one’s self and behind that, the saga of experience, belief, and trust. Glittering trifle or family heirloom, trinket or treasure, steampunk jewelry is as much a glimpse of ourselves as it is in how it makes us feel or how we appear. Adornment, statement, or story, each has a role to play. In the following collection, people involved in different aspects of the steampunk community reflect on their views and perceptions of the inclusion and use of jewelry where it intersects with steampunk. Their stories may give us pause to reflect on statement, and how statement can be born from original and simple adornment.
INTRODUCTION HILDE HEYVAERT DIANA M PHO VIVEKA GOYANES LEE ANN FARRUGA HELEN JANSEN & IAIN CLARK KEVIN STEIL JENNY SCHWARZ MARCUS RAUCHFUSS KAREN GROVER & THADEUS TINKER ERIKA MULKEY MIKE PERSCHON ROBERT BROWN BLOG ENTRIES ABOUT DECIMONONIC page 10
The brief interview series
Introduction It was clear to us from the very beginning that we wanted Steampunk to become one of the main inspiration sources for Decimononic. There was, however, a hidden challenge in this: how could we conceive ‘genuine’ Steampunk-inspired fine jewelry? Which characteristics would turn a jewelry piece into a Steampunk creation? How could we formulate something genuine, unprecedented, unique? An answer to this urge to give shape and consistency to the concept of Steampunk jewelry was imperative. Could we achieve this goal exclusively by our own means? Certainly not, and this is how our series of brief interviews was born: we wanted to give a voice to the Steampunk community in order to throw light on this issue. We have interviewed twelve Steampunkers from eight
countries: event organizers, fashion designers, musicians, writers... and we are determined to go on with this research activity. A year after the startup of this initiative we can only express our gratitude for the outstanding support of the Steampunk community. The truth is that the reach of this inititative has become wider than expected, providing us with the perfect chance to delve into the Steampunk concept, scene, evolution and prospects with a real international approach. All this without forgetting the development of Steampunk jewelry, of course. Share, learn from the past, dream a different future, create, be singular. Because Steampunk means all this... and much more. Follow us and join the conversation!
Steampunk jewelry tonight with...
The brief interview series
Hilde Heyvaert January — As we said in the
presentation post of this brief interviews series, Hilde Heyvaert is our first interviewee. She is a Belgian fashion & costume designer and editor with a college education and training in Graphic Design.
and, now that her old column, ‘The Steampunk Wardrobe’, is no longer in roulation due to the discontinuation of the Gatehouse Gazette magazine, she provides handy information for steampunks and dieselpunks on The Gatehouse blog.
House of Secrets Incorporated is her independant designer identity
Hilde, you have been fashion editor and reviewer for the Gatehouse Gazette since the very beginning of this initiative. Could you tell us how did you get involved in this project? Back in the day (somewhere in 2008) there was pretty much only Steampunk Magazine, and whilst that was a great initiative, it wasn’t the easiest to submit to, and it wasn’t released in a very timely manner (no one ever really knew when the next issue would be out). So at some point someone on the Smoking Lounge forum ventured that we might as well make our own magazine. Something everyone that wanted to would be able to easily submit to, and something that would have a steady release. We ended up going for 21 bi-monthly issues, covered a myriad of topics and ran several colums and had over a dozen contributors so I like to think we did a pretty good job on that. I was involved from the start, because I thought it was a great idea, and I thought it would be really cool to have a column that helps people getting to know some of the substyles of Steampunk and
Dieselpunk and help them with ideas for outfits and costumes. Especially if they’re on a budget. So basically I got involved because I happened to be around when it was suggested and started and thought: oh here’s a good idea! The Gatehouse Gazette may be no more by the way, but we haven’t really quit, we are now The Gatehouse blog so Nick, Marcus and I are still very active doing what we were doing before, just in a different format. Furthermore, you studied a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and you are specialized in advertising. And, as if that were not enough, you are a self-taught fashion and costume designer. All this background gives you a really broad perspective on the Steampunk scene and aesthetics. What’s Steampunk jewelry for you? On to my masters! That aside, to me jewelry is a necessary part of fashion (any fashion, not just steampunk) because it really adds to an outfit or costume, just
like accessories. It can really complete what you’re wearing. Or make a casual outfit just that little more special. Which influences should it have then? I don’t think anyone or anything should necessarily be influenced by certain things. I think that inspiration can be found anywhere as long as you keep your mind and eyes open. And what challenges do you think Steampunk jewelry designers face? I think that competition from big chains such as H&M, TopShop etc poses a very real problem right now. They have the size and means to produce bits and pieces at far lower prices than independant designers can. I have to admit I know little about the business and process of making actual proper jewelry as I’m not schooled in that. Which would be your main recommendation for them?
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Photo: Bert Van den Wyngaert
Make sure your work is visible in the community, be on twitter, tumblr, (if you must the dreaded facebook, I hear it’s important to be on there but I’m point blank refusing to make that step as that’s the one social medium that holds literally no appeal to me), etsy, livejournal. The more exposure, the more people will get interested in your work and buy it. Don’t be afraid to ask Steampunk blogs and magazines whether you can get a feature on them. And no matter what obstacles get thrown in your way, if this is really your thing, keep at it. Nothing great ever comes easy, and it’s worth fighting for. When Steampunk jewelry is brought up, do you think quality is receiving attention enough? Is there too much glue and resin in the market? People that have the money to spend on fine jewelry definitely want quality. So they will definitely make sure to check that out before buying. I personally care a lot about quality. Generally I see designers provide a lot of information on materials used etc
Photo: Bert Van den Wyngaert
of their pieces for (potential) clients and I think that’s definitely the way forward. Is there a place for Steampunk fine jewelry?
the progressions in that discipline I must admit. I think people are going to keep on looking for high quality pieces, a good ratio of quality vs cost. And for things that really last.
Definitely. Jewelry not only often provides the finishing touches to an outfit or costume, but it is also a fine way of carrying a steampunk detail with you where it is impossible to fully dress the part. I can imagine someone wouldn’t get away with a full steampunk (or dieselpunk for that matter) outfit at most office jobs, and certainly not at jobs that require a uniform. So it would be a good way to keep something small with you at all times. I can imagine that even in situations like those you may be able to wear say a necklace or something like that. And even if you are lucky enough to be able to wear steampunk all the time, then it’s still great to have jewelry that compliments your outfit and provides a nice finishing touch.
Hilde’s style and preferences
Which direction do you think the future of jewelry design is moving in?
What do you look for when searching or trying jewelry pieces?
Oh gosh, I don’t really know, I don’t follow
Whether it’s something that fits my style,
How do you describe your style? An amalgam of contemporary steampunk, Japanese fashion styles (otome-kei, morikei and steampunk lolita), Doctor Who fandom and some Dieselpunk. Have you always had a knack for these aesthetics? When I was younger (and by younger I mean when I was a kid and in my teens) I used to wear far more colour, but it’s steadily evolved into this. I don’t think I ever managed to dress in a way that society would see as “normal”.
The brief interview series
Photo: Noura Khenfi
and whether it’s something of good quality that will last. I don’t want a piece that will come apart within a year or two, I want something that I’ll still be wearing when I’m old. And preferably pieces that are wearable in daily life as well. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I can pretty much always wear steampunk, but even I sometimes have to tone it down and I like to be able to wear my jewelry at even those occassions. It’s all fine and great to have pieces that are awesome with certain costumes or outfits, but it’s a bit of a waste when they’re sitting in a box for the majority of the time I think. Personally I will invest in pieces that will last if they are pieces I can wear whenever I want no matter what the occassion. For things that are solely suitable with certain costumes I tend to look around in the high street. Is there anything you miss when you try to find Steampunk jewels? Actually a good internet buying guide would be welcome. Right now everyone can go on etsy but let’s face it, you will get overflooded by results. Don’t get me wrong, things like etsy are a great tool for
sellers, especially those starting out, it’s definitely one of the best things out there. But it would be great if there were a site (or even just a blogpost compiling things) online listing good reliable sellers and what they specialise in (because not all types of jewelry are the same). What are some of your favourite materials? I prefer to work with cotton, lycra and corduroy. I know that corduroy is seen in some countries as that foul thing worn by old people and art students but I absolutely adore it. I work with a lot of different fabrics mind, but those are my ultimate top 3 (in no particular order). I’ve also got a soft spot for lace and faux fur, although I don’t work with either very often. Can you give us some background on your label, House of Secrets Incorporated ? How can jewelry enhance your own designs? I think jewelry gives a lovely finishing touch to any outfit or costume, it
enhances any label and anyone’s designs really. Not just mine. Same with accessories. But I digress. I started House of Secrets Incorporated back in 2004 I think. Originally it was a bit of an amalgam of stuff I made because I used to LARP (live action roleplay) a lot and thus I tended to make all kinds of different outfits and costumes. But as time went I started specialising in Steampunk more and more. Of course then college (I’m in the first year of my masters now) started eating all of my time as my studies progressed so I’ve had to put it mostly on hold sadly due to lack of time. I will get back into it fully once I graduate and I’ll return to mostly making steampunk and dieselpunk designs as that’s what I really love. Have you ever considered the possibility of designing jewelry? To be honest I haven’t. I don’t have the room to set up all the needed equipment and whilst I think it’s a great discipline, it’s not my proverbial cup of tea. I’m fine with making the occassional bits and pieces
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“Don’t let anyone persuade you from doing your own thing. Steampunk has very little in the way of actual rules, and aside from following those it’s all how you see things. There’s always going to be people trying to enforce their vision onto you, if they have things to say you actually like and want to work with: awesome. If they don’t, then don’t be afraid to go in against what seems the popular opinion and stick to your guns.” out of hobbyshop materials but I have no desire to be an actual jewelry designer. My thing really is working with fabrics and it’s what I enjoy the most. I don’t have the training for it either. Everyone can bake some shapes made out fimo (or any other clay) and glue them to a premade base ring, but it’s a whole different thing to learn how to make actual proper jewelry out e.g. silver. I don’t mean disrespect to people making things out of clays (or plastic for that matter), don’t get me wrong, there’s people out there that make fabulous and good quality designs, but there’s a whole difference between doing that and actually smithing things out of metals. The two can’t be compared in my opinion. Is there anything else you would like to add? Don’t let anyone persuade you from doing your own thing. Steampunk has very little in the way of actual rules, and aside from following those it’s all how you see things. There’s always going to be people trying to enforce their vision onto you, if they have things to say you actually like and
want to work with: awesome. If they don’t, then don’t be afraid to go in against what seems the popular opinion and stick to your guns.
The brief interview series
Diana M Pho February — Diana M. Pho (better known as Ay-leen the Peacemaker) is our February interviewee. She is the founding editor of the awardwinning multicultural steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana, a blogger for Tor.com, and a current graduate student in Performance Studies at New York University. Her academic work can be found in the books The Steampunk Bible, Steampunk II:
Steampunk Reloaded, Steampunk Magazine Anthology #1-7, and the upcoming academic anthology Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style from SUNY Press.
steampunk can be – and should be – considered a verb, and I’ll get into that a bit more later). As a style, steampunk is “19thcentury inspired science fiction and fantasy.”
You have been invited to participate as panelist in the next TempleCon and one of your pannels asks a big question: ‘Culture Shocks: Is Steampunk Really A Subculture?’ This a key question for us, indeed we have recently published a blog post entitled ‘Steampunk raison d’être: it’s all about values’. Insisting in the importance of values and cultural factors, which relevance can they have when choosing jewels? What can you tell us about the roles mass media, consumerism and style play in defining the concept of Steampunk and its aesthetics?
Photo: Philip NG
First of all, Diana, we want to thank you for accepting our interview proposal. We have been readers of your blog Beyond Victoriana’s for a long time and this is the reason why we have thought about you. When talking about Steampunk jewelry most members of the SP community, such as fashion designers or photographers, would probably bring aesthetics into focus. However, you can offer to the Steampunk community a wider view. This said, what’s Steampunk jewelry for you? Thanks for having me here, Jose! It’s a pleasure to hear from readers of the blog, especially those who are looking to explore the more complicated issues that arise with steampunk style. “What is steampunk jewelry?” is a big question, but I think I should expand it to address that that bigger question first: “How do you define steampunk?” To me, steampunk is defined on two levels: as a style and as a method (yes, I think
And so, I’m pretty open about what “steampunk jewelry” would be. It could be historically-based or imaginatively constructed, and I don’t believe that you necessarily need to “stick a gear on it” in order for it to be considered steampunk jewelry. What makes jewelry steampunk, in my opinion, is to somehow connect that object to the relationship between that society and technology – with a dash of the fantastic, of course. Clockwork mechanisms can be used as cultural signifiers, but pieces that have interlocking or moveable parts, materials that evoke a tactile mechanized age (it could be actual metal, or metal-toned, in my opinion, but can also be wooden, or woven or otherwise). Also, I’m in the camp that steampunk art doesn’t equal functional art (I know there’s many who disagree), and the same goes with jewelry. The most important aspect, though, is that the piece has to be evocative of the 19th century.
I just had TempleCon this weekend, and it was a big success! A shoutout to the organizers for pulling off a fantastic convention, and to my fellow co-panelists who helped me out. I won’t go into too much detail about how all of these aspects play a role in the formation of the steampunk aesthetic (that’s what my current research is on, and it’s way too large to explain in an interview!) but I will point out some observations I’ve
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“As we explore the possibilities of steampunk jewelry — and using the steampunk style in general — we should also be conscious of the historical roots of our art, and even moreso, what messages we express when we incorporate it into our fashions.”
Photo: Anna Fischer
made about steampunk “values”. You point out in your article the Birmingham school’s definition of subculture, which states that subculture is a reactionary “unnatural break” (to use Dick Hebdige’s famous phrase), and that researchers like him and others were intrigued by the punk ideology’s relationship to deviancy. Hebdige ultimately argues, however, how deviant subcultures become eventually subsumed back to society, as mass media and commercialization assimilate and reabsorb the subculture in its attempts to understand it through mass media, and capitalize on it through consumerism. According to his theory, media impact is also an inevitable aspect toward reabsorbing a subculture into the mainstream, but it is also shows how the media is in a constant reciprocal communication with the subculture: mass media influences how a subculture is seen by outsiders, including those who eventually enter the subculture itself. This you see already in the steampunk community. For example, the catchphrase
that “steampunk is when Goths discovered brown.” The quote is attributed to Jess Nevins, a sci-fi scholar, but the steampunk author Cherie Priest would quote him in her interviews, and suddenly all of the news sources spout this as if the phrase is made of gold (or, in this case, brass) and newcomers and outsiders alike see it as a common joke in their understanding of steampunk. But that stereotype about steampunk would’ve never happened it if wasn’t for the soundbite that the media couldn’t resist. Moreso than that, you can’t assume that subculture exists in a complete vacuum to larger society – it is reactionary, after all. What Hebdige argues that I do not agree with, however, is the eventual docility of the subculture as it is “tamed” by the dominant culture. The Birmingham school is very fascinated by the radicalization (and de-radicalization) of subcultures, but I’d also throw in the Chicago School for Sociology’s understanding of subculture, which states that subculture is a reaction to address a prevailing problem. If you
look at steampunk from this perspective, especially with its Maker influences, the common understanding among steampunks is that mass consumerism and a sense of an aesthetic and creative void in everyday life are the “problems” they are reacting too. Both perspectives are interesting, but they are also lacking with that where I see subculture progressing today, especially in steampunk. Both of them focus on the deviancy of subculture, which I think plays a role in the participant appeal of steampunk in North America. As a community as a whole though, North American steampunks are NOT as deviant as they would like to think they are. Additionally, I would argue that steampunk not is seen as inherently subversive or radically political (and remember, folks, this is coming from someone who does use steampunk politically, so I’m not condemning people who are also political activists and radicals in steam). The issue I have is that people tend to conflate subculture with counterculture, and attribute this myth of inherent deviancy in steampunk
The brief interview series
to their understanding of the subculture. Steampunk (at least how it exists in North America) is not a counter-culture movement whatsoever. The style is unconventional from the modern day, but the motivations for the aesthetic fit into the same cultural pattern of Anglophilia and the North American fascination with the frontier story. On the other hand, however, steampunk, as an “empty” aesthetic vehicle (so argues Mike Perschon in his definition of steampunk) has the potential for politicalization. I’d push his argument further, however, in saying that steampunk is not just an empty aesthetic waiting to be filled, but steampunk aesthetic has to be performed in order for it to acquire meaning and that meaning always has sociopolitical ramifications. Steampunk subculture is a remix culture in its conception, taking bits and pieces from history, art, speculative fiction, and twists it together for an intertextual, ironic result. But these gestures are not meant to be “empty” in the sense that it has no political or cultural meaning (as postmodern theorist Fredric Jameson would argue in his understanding of pastiche), but that meaning is open to reinterpretation in ironical ways that is ultimately political (as what theorist Linda Hutchinson argues in her understanding of the postmodern as parody). By saying “performed aesthetic,” I’m not saying that we are all theater actors, but all of us perform: that is, construct ourselves in ways that always signify some sort of message to the greater world. We do it in everyday life as it is: each of us has “masks” or “roles” that we take on depending on where we are and who we are with. And for steampunk, performance happens in large and small ways: whether you are a musician, and artist, a writer, a cosplayer, or a simple fan who likes to read the books or wear the clothes. Every person is applying the aesthetic onto something (whether to a book, an artform, their bodies, or their worldview) and that application is the performance. Thus, by defining the steampunk style as a performed aesthetic, it classifies the style as an enabler, a tool for participants to use in engagement with others, and that a person’s use of the aesthetic has direct political and social consequences that must be taken into consideration as well. Geez, long answer is long. What challenges do you think Steampunk jewelry designers face? Is there a place for Steampunk fine jewelry? Challenges in the steampunk world? As creative artists? Or as producers in
a consumer market? Well, I don’t think the first is very much an issue, if an artist is looking to present their work in the community. Artistically, I can’t comment on since I’m not a jewelry-maker myself, aside from a concern about where steampunk jewelers would take their inspiration from (more on that below). So while the greatest challenge isn’t in the community or as an artist as much as the monetary expectations. We’re a niche community and a DIY community, and in general, people are very supportive of the arts in steampunk. An unfortunate result of people’s perception of “what makes an artist?”, however, is the assumption that art = capital, or that good art “should” earn money. And thus, what you get is a ton of artists trying to sell their goods and over-saturating a limited market. Sure, one of the “perks” of steampunk “going mainstream” is the opportunity for artists and crafters to earn income through their work, but I actually think this mindset goes against the original DIY ethics of the community and threatens to reduce the community ethics to shallow materialism and “looking shiny.” Part of steampunk’s nascent ideology involves reclaiming the title of artist for the common person. In today’s society, the word “artist” has become so specialized as an occupation that people don’t consider their creative works as art or themselves as creative producers. But steampunk is one of the many areas in culture where that mindset is changing. So I think the greatest challenge for steampunk jewelry designers is to realize that 1) you have a niche market and 2) while many steampunks like to buy things, many are also thinking that they can make those pieces themselves. And that mindset should be okay too. That being said, there can be a space for steampunk fine jewelry, but jewelry designers shouldn’t go into the aesthetic hoping to get rich quick by selling steampunk things. That just reduces the types of creative relationships that artists can have in the community. We are sure that crosscultural influences should become determining for the future of Steampunk. How do you think this is going to be reflected in the jewelry field? Perhaps should ethnic jewelry play a more important role? First of all, I’m hesitant to proclaim that the role of crosscultural jewelry will be a 100% positive thing, because that brings up the issue of cultural appropriation. Sure, we can have Native steampunk and African steampunk and Asian steampunk
jewelry pieces (in fact, you get hundreds of choices just by looking up those keywords on etsy), but how many of those pieces help the cultural communities they are inspired by? Or would it be the case of outsiders profiting off of marginalized cultures? I wear culturally-specific Buddhist jewelry myself, but it has personal and religious meaning to me that I wear in everyday life as well. I’d actually be hurt to see someone wear the same items but treat them as mere decoration. Not to say that crosscultural jewelry isn’t possible, but designers should be VERY aware about what materials they are using, why they are using it, and if it is respectful use for those items to be worn by people outside of that culture. I am particularly interested in the British Raj, there is no doubt that England and India influenced each other considerably. Have you found traces of this in the Steampunk scene? Do you think that the important role of jewelry in Indian society was reflected in any of the the victorian design trends? It’s true that Indian designs have influenced British fashion. Paisley print is just one example (though Paisley itself has a long history as an international textile). I don’t know, admittedly, much about the Indian history of jewelry, but I can recommend a really interesting book which talks about the cultural dynamics between Indians and the British and how it was reflected upon the body in terms of fashion and lifestyle: Imperial Bodies: The Physical Experience of the Raj. We have some Queen Victoria Indian silver rupees, stuck under the authority of the crown. Although its numismatic value will fade away, we would like to pay tribute to these small pieces of History and some of them are becoming pendants. From your point of view, which role do antiquities play in this field? Generally, before using any antiques in art, the questions I’d ask are always: 1- Where did it come from & who used it? Always, always do some research and get any antique items assessed before incorporating them into your art. Something might be especially culturally rare or important, and in those cases they may be better to keep as a whole or not incorporate it into any jewelry piece. 2- Would it be more ethical to return the item to the original people who owned it? In the past, there have been many cases where religious or culturally significant
Steampunk jewelry tonight with... 17 items have been lost, stolen or looted from their original communities (usually in the process of colonization or occupation by outside powers) and those items end up being “owned” by other people. And by returning, I don’t mean just handing it over to the first person of that culture you see, but donating it to a larger organization that promotes cultural awareness for that community, for example. If those Indian rupees are ethically OK to use in light of those two questions, then I would have no problem with seeing them in fine jewelry. You are a Russophile, that’s not a secret. Do you think that Slavic cultures are represented enough in the Steampunk scene? I’m surprised you know, actually, since I don’t mention it very often in online spaces: I studied English/Russian in school, speak (admittedly, bad) Russian, and lived abroad in Moscow for a time, so yes. I am a bit of a Russophile. But I would not state that I am a representative to speak about Russian culture at all. There is a HUGE Russian steampunk community, actually, and I think they represent themselves rather well. I also know several American steampunks with Russian or Slavic ancestry, who had done creative things with their work and designers who use the cultural markers rather well. As you know, the jewelry heritage of the Imperial Family was spectacular. Could court jewelers such as Fabergé or Bolin that evoke the grandeur and sublime taste of the Romanov Dinasty, inspire Steampunk jewelers? They could, of course, and then consider the French influences that also is linked to Russian imperial art and jewelry. The Russian nobles took a lot of artistic influences from Europe in general, but French and Italian (as with the construction of St. Petersburg) in particular. I’d also suggest looking into Russian amber, which is very common in Russian jewelry (and, in connection, the history of the Amber Room), and in Russian lacquer art. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was a well-known jewelry collector. Do you think that jewelry for men may recover the importance that it had in other periods of History? Men’s fashions in steampunk are more elaborate in comparison with what they had been in the past; starting in the 1700s there has been a turn in Western fashion towards more “modest” styles of dress for men (with the exception of
Photo: Rachel Klingburg
subcultures, of course, like dandyism) that have continued until today. With the amount of baubles, trinkets and tools that steampunks carry around in general, I think it’s possible to look into men’s steampunk fashion as being more open to accessories than in mainstream fashions. Historical events like the ‘Opium Wars’ are amazing inspiration sources to lay the ground for Steampunk. Irene and I visited China in 2011 and I have been fond of Asia for years. The Chinese saying goes “Gold has a value; jade is invaluable”; jade stands for beauty, grace and purity and is believed to protect the person who wears it. We have in mind some ideas using carved jade, but we do not aspire to imitate Eastern cultures… what can you tell us about Orientalism and cultural appropriation? Can this become relevant with reference to the Steampunk concept and style? What about jewelry? First of all, please don’t, don’t, DON’T refer to wars that promoted the cultural destruction and social upheaval of an entire nation by a foreign power WHO SMUGGLED DRUGS INTO A COUNTRY
IN ORDER TO INCITE ITS POLITICAL RUIN as an “inspiration” for jewelry. That is one of the symptoms of cultural appropriation, which very real painful histories of other people are blatantly ignored or disrespected, and it’s assumptions like that which GIVE the fashion industry a bad rap for being culturally insensitive and racist (though there is plenty of evidence that this happens often enough). That being said, Asian materials can be used as inspirational sources, but also be aware that Western accessibility to Asian products has a fraught history, which was one of the main justifications for the colonization and strong-arming of Asian nations in the 18th and 19th centuries. Orientalism, in a nutshell, is also connected to art and politics. Though people recognize it as a school of art, it was a school of art whose opportunities to create said art were established as a result of the conquering or subservience of other nations to the West. Some Orientalist artists were fantastic proto-ethnographers in their methods; others indulged in blatant stereotypes and fetishizing of
The brief interview series
the Other; even more artists never even traveled to the country they painted or wrote about, but fueled their imaginations of the “idea” (which was oftentimes biased and uninformed) about these “faraway lands where time stood still.” All of these aspects are prevalent in the school of Orientalist art, so I’m not condemning the school of art, but acknowledging the multiple paths that art took, which all were not necessarily good for nonWesterners. In fact, it was Edward Said who first proposed in his book Orientalism the cultural theory that art and media that reflect the stereotypes of a violent, hypersexualized, “barbaric” Other has direct political results where the West had justified the subjugation of other nonWestern peoples using those stereotyped idea of the “inferior Other.” Cultural appropriation is an entirely gray subject in general: how to define it, how it affects people, what we can do to prevent it. Heck, that’s why I have panels where we can discuss this very issue with folks! There are resources and discussions people can turn to in talking about the issue, and I’d particularly recommend Nisi Shawl’s work on cultural appropriation and her book on Writing the Other (which can also be applied in thinking about clothing & other arts, I think). Diana, let me clarify something regarding my reference to the ‘Opium Wars’ in the previous question: we didn’t want to offend sensitivities or rise controversy. However, inspiration can arise even from the most abominable deeds, including war; I couldn’t help but remembering Pablo Picasso and his Guernica, even considering that this Spanish artist was not a ‘war artist‘. This said, I would like to add that Decimononic is not intended to be inspired by destruction; however, ‘Opium wars’ are just one example of Historical events of the Victorian era that can be of help to shape Steampunk accurately, a resource to minimize ‘eurocentrism’ or avoid obscurity… ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ as Mr. Santayana said. Anyway, as a cultural product Steampunk cannot remain on the margin of conflicts, don’t you think? There is a difference between paying tribute to history and ignoring the consequences of history when making art. Picasso was particularly touched by the horrors that had happened during the Spanish Civil War and “Guernica” is a tribute piece to the people who have suffered during those bombings. Of course, I just wanted to make it *very* clear to readers the importance about being respectful to your subject in art.
Gaining inspiration from something does not equal respect if that inspiration comes from a place of ignorance. When looking at how steampunk can address various 19th century histories, then, I’d state here that this period was one of “fear and wonder.” It was the Age of Invention and the Age of Anxiety. It was the last moment before our current time when people trembled with excitement and trepidation about the future. Steampunk’d objects, in combining the speculative and the technical, are filled with the potential of creating wonderful things of beauty that comment upon how we see ourselves in the world. Especially in terms of fashion, the steampunk aesthetic priorities how people – using our hybrid bodies made up of the real and the imaginary, of science and art, of past and present – envision a better world, despite its flaws. This is part of the appeal of steampunk, I think: that engagement with beauty on a visceral and social level in all of its forms. Is there anything else you would like to add? To sum up, I’d like to end with this reminder: as we explore the possibilities of steampunk jewelry – and using the steampunk style in general — we should also be conscious of the historical roots of our art, and even moreso, what messages we express when we incorporate it into our fashions.
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The brief interview series
Viveka Goyanes, aka Amoelbarroco March — Viveka, as you already know this is a very special interview for us. We have been friends for years and we are very thankful for your support. First of all let’s introduce you to our readers with your profile in Tumblr, for example; it goes ‘Barrocker, crápula, delirium tremens, aesthete, dandybilly, a pirate´s song. Obsessed with Venice, past
times, refinement and silent cinema (for example)’. It’s quite cryptic and mysterious… but you know that already.
Your designs have been awarded several times (First Price Creación Joven Injuve, Second Price Sculpture Young Creators Salamanca, etc.) and your talent has attracted a wide array of collaborators that have helped to shape Amoelbarroco as a multidisciplinary project (fashion, photography, video and sculpture just to say a few). Can you tell us about your experience building such an invaluable network? Do you have any tips for jewelers like us?
the first outcome, but research is a good way to achieve good results.
It happens that people with similar interests and taste feel attracted to each other, nowadays the Internet offers us good chances of meeting kindreds and work together. From a looong time ago I regularly collaborate with friends that have their own creative projects. I like to work with people I feel comfortable with, sharing my ideas and trying new ways to represent them, I also feel fortunate to be able to develop my work this way.
What’s Steampunk for you?
You were born in A Coruña, a city in the North-West of Spain, but you have lived in other Spanish cities such us Pontevedra, Madrid and, currently, Salamanca. So… would you say that living in different places has influenced you? I could say I usually carry my world with me to every place where I move to, and this world grows, inevitably, assimilating pieces of each city as memories, mental souvenirs. So yes, I think I’ve been influenced by all these different places in one way or another, also by the cities I had the chance to visit as a traveller, specially Venice. Fashion and Art meet at Amoelbarroco. Tell us about your alter ego, please. Amoelbarroco will be 10 years in 2013! This alter ego is a sort of idea, signature or concept created to hold all my creative activities, most related to art+fashion stuff lately. A significant part of my life has been dedicated to the construction of this long-term project.
A good tip is not being afraid of trying new things, maybe you mightn’t be happy with
From our point of view, many of your designs would perfectly fit Steampunk aesthetics. Have you been told this before? Yes, in fact I’ve been reviewed by Steampunk blogs sometimes. I think about my work as a Frankenstein’s monster of influences, all molding the same body, and some of them can fit also on Steampunk aesthetics/inspirations.
It’s a mixture of certain cultural stuff and certain aesthetics, mostly focused on XIXth century. Literature like The Anubis gates by Tim Powers or The Age of unreason by Gregory Keyes summarize the essence of Steampunk to me; a kind of fantastic reinterpretation of our past and history (or selected parts of them) under a contemporary glance. This idea can also be translated to a concrete image or into fashion, of course. I guess the worst part of the thing is that today is closer
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to become a cliché, always repeating the same elements (brass gears, ahem) again and again, when it could be a rich source of inspiration.
Steampunk Jewelry And then, what’s Steampunk jewelry? Maybe a kind of jewelry constructed with a strong inspiration from historic pieces, but with an obsolete technology vintage look. You have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. How are jewelry and art linked? As could happen in other disciplines, I guess jewelry can become art at some point, Lalique was the perfect example, it depends on the aspiration of artists and the manifestation of their work. My idea is almost the same as Wilde’s in his essay The close of the Arts and Crafts. Can someone have too many jewels? It’s never enough!
Many of the Steampunk archetypes are reflected in your fashion collections. For example Private Mythologies, Part I (La poupée pirate) and Part II (Dandypiracy). Taking into consideration that you have designed accesories and jewelery, how could these archetypes inspire fine jewelry?
baptized as ‘Atelier Incroyable’ can be found in Ooops, the shop of Teatro Circo Price in Madrid. Circus and freak shows were very famous during the Victorian era and are relevant in the Steampunk scene (Steampunk Circus or Circus Oz, for example). Steampunk cirque based fashion and jewelry sounds crazy?
Mmmm, my jewelry designs were compositions of found pieces, not really original jewels, but yes, anyone can have their own interpretation of piracy or elegance, for example, and this can be reflected in fine jewelry creations.
Absolutely not, this sounds really interesting if it’s made with good taste!
Have you ever considered the possibility of designing fine jewelry?
Not madness, nowadays crafts are completely popularized and extended, this makes more difficult to find original and good quality pieces, it happens the same with photography, for example.
I would like to design every kind of attire or fashion object, I wish I had the chance to do it. Your collection ‘Supervillains Romantic Circus’ shows that circus is another of your obsessions. In fact your most recent proposal, a collection of collars and bow ties
Talking about madness, is it just us or… is there too much glue and resin in the market?
Salamanca is a beautiful town with 150,000 inhabitants and the oldest university in Spain (it was founded in 1134 and it is, besides, the third oldest European university in continuous operations). The Art
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Déco and Art Nouveau Museum Casa Lis in Salamanca holds 19 collections of decorative art from the late 19th century and early 20th century with some 2,500 well preserved items. We are fascinated by Modernism, so… would you share with us your thoughts about how it has influenced you and how could Steampunk fashion and jewelry be influenced too? I love their collection of chryselephantine sculptures, antique dolls and little automatons….and the clothing all they are wearing. Lately I’ve been influenced by this sculptures, yes, specially the ones representing dancers or people in costumes. They recently managed an exhibition about Diaghilev’s ballets and I were delighted by all this stuff. You could appreciate this inspiration in my forthcoming collection. This museum is worth to be visited if you’re interested in all these subjects and I’m sure their collection can be really inspiring for Steampunk fashion or jewelry makers.
The General Spanish Civil World Archive is also in Salamanca. In this location there is a Freemasonry Exhibition where many different attributes (objects that members use to represent the doctrines and myths of their Order) are displayed. In fact, the Masonic hall includes even the recreation of a Lodge! Many different classes were involved in Freemasonry during the Victorian era (Rudyard Kipling reflected this accuratelly in “The man who would be king’), although generally membership was seen as a prestige position in Victorian England. Getting back to the point, wearing symbols of an active organization -such as Masonrycould lead to confusion, but there were a number of Victorian secret societies, both real and fictional, that are no longer active. Do you find these kind of objects (sashes, aprons, collars, jewels, swords, mallets…) as inspiring as we do? Maybe we should design some pieces rooted in this…
That is a great idea, in fact, they describe some of their ritual objects as jewels. The final touch is essential and it can be achieved through details or small ornaments like these. It’s interesting, as well, the mysterious halo that impregnates all these objects…maybe this can be found in new brand creations too. Is there anything else you would like to add? Yes, a commentary that has a lot to do with we’ve talked about: these are hard times for artists and artisans, people should invest their money in quality unique pieces that last forever much better than in big companies stuff! These unique pieces involve authentic beauty!
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“It’s a mixture of certain cultural stuff and certain aesthetics, mostly focused on XIXth century. Literature like The Anubis gates by Tim Powers or The Age of unreason by Gregory Keyes summarize the essence of Steampunk to me; a kind of fantastic reinterpretation of our past and history (or selected parts of them) under a contemporary glance.”
The brief interview series
Lee Ann Farruga April — Lee Ann Farruga. Known
internationally as Countessa Lenora, Canadian Queen of Steampunk, she is the founder of Steampunk Canada, a national organization bringing together steampunks from across Canada and educating the general public about this genre/community. A bundle of organizational energy held in check only by her impressive collection of corsets, the Countessa promotes Steampunk in a plethora
Photo: Lex Machina
Steampunk Jewelry in general
First of all Irene and I would like to thank your time and interest in this interview. As you know, we are looking for a real international insight with this brief interview series and there is no doubt that you are one of the main ambassadors of the Canadian Steampunk scene. Probably most of our readers have heard about you, but we do not want to miss this opportunity to share with them this video with your perspective about Steampunk.
There are some major international Steampunk events in Canada, we can think about Victoria Steam Exposition and Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition right now. Do you consider that this kind of events can be important for Steampunk jewelers? How?
We know what’s Steampunk for you now, but… what’s Steampunk jewelry? Which influences should Steampunk jewelry have? Steampunk jewelry to me means taking old styles, Victorian and Edwardian looks and materials, and having fun with them to make something new. Steampunk jewelry influences should come from the old: steam engines, machinery, and period architectural design, and the new: icons taken from steampunk works such as airships and kraken, and the artist’s imagination of course. Would you dare to describe Steampunk jewelry with a single word?
These kinds of events can be quite important for steampunk jewelry designers because it gives them a place to shine and have their creations appreciated by the very audience they are made for. Most of the attendees at steampunk events already have a love for this style of jewelry, and those who are new to the genre/community will come with fresh eyes for something different and interesting. It is also an opportunity for designers to compare styles and techniques to expand their repertoire. What challenges do you think Steampunk jewelry designers face? I think the challenges that steampunk designers face are the same as those faced by other jewelry designers – coming up with something new and different. But they would also have to deal with how to beautifully blend the old styles with new
of venues including the Steampunk Canada website, blogs, social media, local and national events, and at conventions large and small. Driven by her love of Steampunk she has brought the genre and local Canadian groups to the attention of publishers and major media companies and is campaigning to bring Steampunk to the attention of all Canadians through art galleries, museums, libraries and schools nationwide.
ideas and steampunk influences to create artistic pieces that are pleasing to one’s eye. As well as how to make them feasible for the majority to purchase, while being enough for the designer to make a living. What do you miss when you try to find Steampunk jewelry? I’m actually quite lucky to know a few very good jewelry designers who make quality pieces so I don’t necessarily miss out on anything when looking for steampunk jewelry. As well, it very often comes to my attention, instead of me having to look for it. When Steampunk jewelry is brought up, do you think quality is receiving attention enough? Is there a place for Steampunk fine jewelry? I don’t believe quality is receiving enough attention. There are quite a few wonderful jewelry designers and makers who take the time and have the skill to make a lovely piece of steampunk jewelry, but there are still far too many who glue two or three plastic or low grade metal pieces together and try to sell it on Etsy or Ebay as art and at far too high a price for its actual worth. There is definitely a place for steampunk fine
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“There is definitely a place for steampunk fine jewelry. I would love to see more pieces with high grade gems, and finer metals like silver and gold. Steampunk jewelry is just like the clothing – it does not all have to be brown.”
Photo: Iden Ford
jewelry. I would love to see more pieces with high grade gems, and finer metals like silver and gold. Steampunk jewelry is just like the clothing – it does not all have to be brown. From our point of view, the cultural factor can be important. Steampunk is not new at all in Canada and there are deep Historical roots for it. Can this influence local jewelers? It would be very nice to see the cultural influence of a country or even a city or town influence a steampunk jewelry designer. In Canada, we have a grand and rich history that could be used to spark the imagination of our resident designers. In my article, that you have incorporated here, one can find much to influence their creations, as well as something to inspire them to research further into our unique past for ideas. What do you think of jewels presented as fantastic devices with different symbolisms? This could be quite a lot of fun for a designer. One could also add stories to go with the symbolism of each jewel.
About the interviewee preferences
How do you describe your style?
When shopping for steampunk jewelry (or any jewelry) always buy something you love, but also buy the best you can with what you have. You will always love many pieces, and within those you love you will always find something wonderful within your means.
My steampunk style is a mix of old and new, mainly Edwardian and contemporary. Have you always had a knack for these aesthetics? I have always loved this look and it has been a big influence on my style for many years. What do you look for when searching or trying jewelry pieces? Many of my jewelry pieces have quite a Jules Verne influence to them. I look for unique pieces. Most of my jewelry does not have gears on them. I definitely look for quality. What is the biggest mistake to avoid when choosing jewels? Make sure you are getting what you pay for. Always buy from a reputable jeweller and always purchase a piece you love, and not something that is “in style” or you feel pressured to buy. For the average person who is afraid of spending ‘too much’, what advice would you give him or her when shopping
Do you prefer big or small pieces? Do you want people to notice what you are wearing? When I was younger I loved more delicate pieces, but now that I am a mature woman, I find my preference has changed to pieces that are quite big and bold. I do love a statement piece of steampunk jewelry. Is there anything else you would like to add? My final comments are…. For designers – have fun and let your imagination run rampant when making steampunk jewelry. There really are no rules. For buyers – it’s the same advice, have fun. There are no rules. Wear whatever tickles your fancy!
The brief interview series
Steampunkers in New Zealand This is our first ‘group’ interview, many thanks for accepting our invitation. Having this opportunity to interview you is very exciting for us, both for your long path in the Steampunk community and your vast experience in the fields of fashion and jewelry. You have been pioneers of the Steampunk scene in New Zealand. Would you be so kind to tell us about its development process and current situation? Helen Jansen (HJ).- He started it! Iain Clark (IC).- I was making ‘steampunk’ jewellery before I knew it was steampunk. My Matauriki ring is a device for navigating the galaxies. Then I made a steampowered beer tankard for a dinner party as a talking point. This worked. So many people had ideas about how to modify it or make their own that I decided to put on an exhibition in conjucture with the Oamaru Victorian Heritage
Helen Jansen & Iain Clark May — Iain Clark (aka Agent Darling) is an award winning manufacturing jeweller and the instigator of Steampunk in New Zealand. A time traveller of great skill and cunning, he is timeless. He lives in a little cottage in a botanical garden in a little town in SE New Zealand with his partner and fellow Steampunk organiser Helen Jansen (aka Lady Helen Steampunk
La Falconesse). Over the last 4 years, with the help of several others and the enthusiasm of the local community they have made Steampunk a national phenomenon and Oamaru is now as the capital of Steampunk in New Zealand.
Celebrations as a showcase for Oamaru talent and extending the Victorian theme through the Science Fiction influences of Jules Vernes and HG Wells. From wondering how to fill a small room at the local gallery we ended up filling it and over flowing into the main street. Part of the success was that Weta Workshop were very generous and send a copy of all the Dr Grortborts portraits and ray guns to display. They have been very supportive ever since.
District Council have put in a steampunk inspired children’s playground in the harbour area with the world’s largest pennyfarthing sculpture.
Oamaru is New Zealand’s favourite Victorian and Steampunk traveller destination, why?
IC.- Oamaru is an unspoilt Victorian Town with fantastic original limestone architecture which provides an brilliant backdrop for anything Victorian and we have celebrated our Victorian heritage for the last 20 years. We are very lucky to have a visionary entreprenuer who created a huge steam train that sat in the middle of the main street for several months over 2010-2011. This put Oamaru on the map in a big way. He has since moved it round the corner and created a steampunk tourist attraction that is open all year round. There are all sorts of bits of steampunk right through the town, Iain’s time machine is in a Victorian Cafe, there is a steampunk surf board at the surf shop, one or two shops display Steampunk fashion.
HJ.- Because we have been able to draw in the community and involve them in the excitement of the genre with street parties and various events. The
Dear Helen, you are the promoter of New Zealand’s Fashion Show and Gala Ball in Oamaru. What are the expectations for the next event?
There were 6,000 visitors through our little town gallery in 4 weeks and people came from all over New Zealand. It even brought local people who were unaware that the town had an art gallery. We have had a hugely successful exhibition each year ever since.
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“As far as steampunk jewellery designers are concerned we need to keep pushing and challenging ourselves rather than settling for something comfortable and easy. I put myself in the mindset of a craftsman working with Peter Jackson who has come and said, “I’d like you to make some pieces for my next film”. This means you have to push yourself and exceed your own expectations so that the world will be fascinated and intrigued by your creation.”
HJ.- We have had 2 very successful events and this year it is extending into a Festival over 3 days with murder mysteries, a street fayre, the history of steampunk, steampunk short story readings, a music extravaganza and dirigible/airship racing as well as the fashion show and gala ball. See www.steampunknz.co.nz. As a result of the activity in Oamaru there are other groups all over NZ popping up with their own brand of creativity and expression. Facebook: steampunk NZ.
Steampunk Jewellery After this brief introduction about the Steampunk community in New Zealand, let’s ask a fundamental question regarding Steampunk jewelry: what’s Steampunk jewelry for you? HJ.- Beautiful, intricate, and useful. IC.- It is a fascination with the mechanical, using inspiration drawn from one’s surroundings. Although watch movements
with crystals and other things stuck on made great costume jewellery I believe it is time to evolve the concept into the next stage. May international Steampunk events in New Zealand, such us the Oamaru Steampunk Festival, be important for national or international Steampunk jewelers? How? HJ.- it provides an opportunity to exhibit work but the festival is not a convention. There are no stalls. IC.- The exhibition is a marvellous opportunity to show of craftmanship. Anna Repp from Chicago sent her jewellery over last year and people can have a stall at the Victorian Celebrations Fete. Which influences should Steampunk jewelry have? Do you think that traditional Māori crafts could become a relevant influence for the Steampunk community of Aotearoa New Zealand? For example surface patterns such as spirals, ridges, notches or fish scales…
HJ.- Steampunk is going to evolve and draw influences from every corner of craftsmens’ imaginations. What keeps it steampunk? A base line of Victorian aesthetic. We already have a Maori artist in Oamaru who is heavily involved in the steampunk art world. Many steampunkers around the world use the influences of their indiginous arts and crafts. IC.- Steampunk takes its influences from everywhere. Traditional arts and crafts are very significant I already involve these elements into my jewellery and I have used the ancient Maori/Polynesian navigational systems as inspiration for my Star Navigator ring. Dear Iain, we have heard about your large scale creations. Tell us more about them, please. IC.- The giant robot is now known as the Guardian of Oamaru stands on the Northern boundary of the town. I created this with my engineering partner, the lovely Lisa Storhannus and a friend, Graham Paton. It stands 5 m high and is made of about 3 tonnes of car parts. I
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was inspired by the work of the late Chris Meder who was an integral part of the success of the first exhibition with his monster chopper bike and excquisite birds made from scrap parts. This has been so successful that Lisa and I were commissioned to make a giant boar and this now stands outside North Otago Motor Group on the main street through town. People look for the Toyota parts in it. We have been very impressed by your awarded Star Navigator Ring Matauriki. How did you come up with this idea? Is there a place for Steampunk fine jewelry? IC.- I love the stars. As I gaze up into the heavens on a clear night I wonder how I would navigate and explore such an incredible space.The Matauriki ring is the end point of a series of rings that evolved over time. As I made one I could see the potential for something else, to expand and elaborate on ideas and so made the next. As I did this I would watch the appendices to The Lord of The Rings. Richard Taylorâ€™s comments about the level
of craftmanship that he expected from his workforce lead me to dig deep into my own resources. Absolutely there is a place for fine jewellery in the steampunk genre as there is in any genre. It is a form of artistic expression. I have a fascination with complicated detail and stories. My entry into this yearâ€™s NZ Jewellery Competition is called London by Gaslight. It illustrates the tension between desire and unattainability as the wearer is tied into the neck piece and the garnets represent drops of blood from the person who tried to get too close. The tops of the gaslamps are spiked preventing her from freedom of movement. Could you tell us a bit more about your technical preferences? For example, do you have any favorite materials, patinas, decorations, etc.? IC.- All my jewellery is made by hand, from the drawing to the sawing and the engraving. I work primarily in sterling silver for prototypes and first runs which means I can make limited edition pieces which can then be made in other metals.
I like working in palladium and 9 carat white gold with a high platinum content. Traditional oxydation for sterling silver and black rhodium are the patinas I use and whilst CAD is an attractive option for providing complex detail, I prefer to use hand decoration because of the challenge of materialising my creativity using traditional resources and a bit of ingenuity. Do you think that menâ€™s jewelry should receive more attention? HJ.- Men look wonderful in jewellery and the western culture is relaxing over expressing themselves in this way. IC.- Yes. Traditionally in New Zealand men would wear a wedding band or a black onyx or gold signet ring with a stone. Now with international influences men are feeling more comfortable with larger pieces and I have seen some enormous rings coming out of the States. My rings are made to cater for a finer look despite the size and be worn on a daily basis. For the average person who is afraid
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of spending ‘too much’, what advice would you give him or her when shopping Steampunk jewelry? HJ.- There is plenty of steampunk costume jewellery which serves the purpose for the daily ‘out there’ look. Go with your heart. Save up for a special piece. IC.- A well made piece or a good piece will give you pleasure for many years and become part of your collection. As a jeweler of international renown, what would you advise to other aspiring Steampunk jewelers? What challenges do you think Steampunk jewelry designers face? IC.- Creating the steampunk look. Just as there are period influences in all jewellery, art deco, art nouveau, we want people to look back from the future and say that is definitively steampunk. Which direction do you think the future of jewelry design is moving in? Are there any trends you see happening in Steampunk jewelry in
the near future? HJ.- In the near future there will more development of fine jewellery. IC.- Good design follows function. Each culture has its own trend so it is too broad to identify any specific trend in the steampunk world. Victorians had a love of the small mechanisms and little hidden secrets. Steampunkers are already influencing exclusive watches. It is mainstream high street costume jewellery in the UK. We see the influences in fashion. Have you ever heard about 3D printing? Could you make any prediction regarding technical advances and their impact in the jewelry industry? HJ.- 3D printing is going to be a wonderful cheap way of reproducing anything in plastic resin. It can be coloured and adorned to fit the genre. Steampunk is a rebellion against the ubiquitous plastic world we live in. There is a demand for hand crafted, quality jewellery.
IC.- 3D printing and CAD design represents an opportunity to create the mechanical design of the steampunk world in fine detail. Phineas Squid here in New Zealand has already produced a few items. Is there anything else you would like to add? HJ.- If there is anyone who would like to exhibit at the 4th “Steampunk: tomorrow as it used to be” exhibition in Oamaru in October this year please contact us through www.steampunknz.co.nz and we are happy to consider entries to next year’s Steampunk NZ Fashion show too. IC.- As far as steampunk jewellery designers are concerned we need to keep pushing and challenging ourselves rather than settling for something comfortable and easy. I put myself in the mindset of a craftsman working with Peter Jackson who has come and said, “I’d like you to make some pieces for my next film”. This means you have to push yourself and exceed your own expectations so that the world will be fascinated and intrigued by your creation.
The brief interview series
Kevin, there is no doubt that you are a leading figure of the Steampunk international scene. We do admire your dedication to spreading Steampunk, specially knowing that this is a one man project. Considering that you have a worldwide vision, we are most glad to count on your participation. Tell us a bit about your project. When and why was Airship Ambassador born? Thank you for inviting me for this interview, I am very flattered! Airship Ambassador was born from a desire to participate more in the community. I was at the Nova Albion convention in March 2010, meeting friends and making new ones and when I was heading home, I thought I had something to contribute to the community and thought about the ways I could express that. It started simply enough with a blog, and after a few essays about my thoughts on steampunk, I settled into a niche of interviewing people in the community.
Kevin Steil, aka Airship Ambassador June — Based in Bellevue (Washington), Kevin is a prominent figure in the international Steampunk scene, awarded by his spreading role of the Steampunk current events and literature. Go ahead reading in order to learn more about Airship Ambassador, promising projects and much, much more…
James Ng, who does Chinese steampunk artwork, was the first person I interviewed. I was enthralled by his artwork, which now hangs in my living room, and we’ve become good friends since then. After that, there were authors, artists and convention organizers, among others, and there have been a few more essays and reviews. But the ideas didn’t stop there and started flowing constantly about what could be done and what I could do in the community. That’s when the website started, about five months later. There were so many websites to track and I thought it would be handy to share them all in a central place for easy reference. From there, it just kept growing and growing and now that steampunk is so popular, it’s getting more challenging to keep up with the news and information each day. There’s also a new BIG project from Airship Ambassador already in progress. Hopefully I will be able to share, and show, more in a few months.
While it is a fair bit of work to stay up to date and in touch with so many people, it really is very rewarding. I also work to make sure that Airship Ambassador has a global view and presence, but it is difficult to keep up with groups and activities around the world. I’ve been ‘meeting’ people around the world, and their help has been invaluable in learning more of what is happening. And so a quick plug – I know there are steampunk communities all around the world, and I want to hear from you. If your group isn’t already listed on Airship Ambassador, please say hi and send along your information. It has also been a lot of fun to learn much more about cities all over the world and hear people’s first hand accounts of living there. It’s one thing to read about a place or watch a documentary, but it is so much more vivid and personal to read someone’s letter and see their pictures. Whether it’s Hong Kong, Bucharest, Sydney, or Barcelona, that connection to other steampunks around the world makes it a bit smaller, a bit more neighborly, and a
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lot more connected. Have you found big differences between the different Steampunk communities around the globe? There are some differences in expressions, although I think they are influenced by locale, culture and opportunity. There are some great pictures from steampunks around the world showing that variety in the amazing outfits that people create, including items and designs from their experiences, their heritage, and their other interests. It has been wonderful to see the personal spin people put into their work from every country in the world. Beyond that, however, at the heart of it all, I find steampunks to be much more similar in nature than different. In my readings and travels, I have met some really great people in our community – kind, caring, generous, thoughtful, helpful, and above all, very, very creative. I am very grateful for the new friends I have met, and expect to still meet, along the way. I have had the opportunity to learn many things from people, and for me, that
learning and sharing with others has been a great addition to my life.
links and jacket pins, although earrings wouldn’t go amiss.
Do you think that these differences could be reflected on the jewelry field?
But, let’s start from the beginning. From your point of view, what’s Steampunk jewelry?
Most definitely, yes! Jewelry has such a long and varied history, thousands of years, which provides a treasure trove of influences and inspirations, and in every age, there are technological developments, shifts in perspectives and thought, and an ever-growing creative awareness which all drive new ideas of what could be done. In the steampunk community, we see this in jewelry and accessories of all kinds, functions, and materials. There are rings, cufflinks, and pins made from clock parts, gears, and filigree. There are flora and fauna born of metal, wood, and shell, and there are wholly unique items re-created from salvaged parts of all kinds. Steampunks are definitely a group who see beyond the primary use and intent of something and can imagine what ‘could be’. Personally, I’m always on the lookout for new additions to my collection of cuff
For me, personally, I think steampunk jewelry would express and connote the aesthetic and ideas of steampunk – 19th century designs (filigree and scrollwork) or re-used items found in that time (gears, artwork), combined in a way that evokes a feeling of something old but in a shiny new way. Would you dare to describe Steampunk jewelry with a single word? Awesome! Creativity is the word I keep coming back to, but it is what drives everything about steampunk and it is something that is visually and viscerally expressed in jewelry. Our personal adornment not only attracts the attention of others, not only reinforces an image that we wish to project, but also provides a small glimpse
32 The brief interview series
“Creativity is the word I keep coming back to, but it is what drives everything about steampunk and it is something that is visually and viscerally expressed in jewelry. Our personal adornment not only attracts the attention of others, not only reinforces an image that we wish to project, but also provides a small glimpse into who we are as an individual. It talks about our interests and what we wish to share about ourselves. Everything we wear, from the flashy “Look At Me!” piece to the deeply personal sentimental item, whispers some aspect of ourselves.” into who we are as an individual. It talks about our interests and what we wish to share about ourselves. Everything we wear, from the flashy “Look At Me!” piece to the deeply personal sentimental item, whispers some aspect of ourselves. We have previously mentioned the different nuances of the Steampunk communities around the world. Communities gather in conventions, in fact you keep updated a fabulous map with national and international Steampunk conventions. Do you have a favorite event? Do you think that these events can become important for Steampunk jewelers? There are so many great events around the world and I wish I could attend each and everyone one of them. As it is, though, there are budget and time limitations which cruelly conspire to keep me from doing so. There isn’t any one favorite event, although there are several I enjoy regular attendance, and even more that I look forward to. It looks like I will only be able to attend
the European Steampunk Convention virtually, and I also must admit feeling some longing and disappointment when I’ve seen pictures from events in Spain, Italy, and Brazil. It would be fun, and personally rewarding, to attend those events across the pond. One day, hopefully. As for steampunk jewelry, I’d say that every steampunk event is a good event for jewelry, whether it is being displayed or vended. It all becomes a chance for people to see what is possible, and at all times, serves as an inspiration for each of us to wonder ‘what if’. Also, if vendors are able to travel to new areas, then they’ll bring and introduce their unique design style to a whole new audience. Everyone wants to have something unique. Regular publications such as magazines or newspapers are valuable resources to keep a united community. Which Steampunk publications would you recommend to our readers? Do you think that traditional advertising in printed media is still useful in the 21st Century?
There is a wild and growing selection of blogs, forums and media for people to choose from, each meeting a different need for people. Airship Ambassador focuses on daily news and weekly interviews. Steampunk Scholar has insightful book reviews and commentary. Silver Goggles and Beyond Victoriana discuss multiculturalism. In addition to the Brass Goggles and Steampunk Empire forums, there are Rauchersalon, French Steampunk, and Golden Gear. For periodicals, there’s El Investigador, Exhibition Hall, and the re-launched Steampunk Magazine. Advertising and promotion is still necessary for any individual, group and business trying to get their message out and attract followers, but it’s only as effective as its medium. Print newspapers are clearly losing ground in the face of continuing digital migration. Magazines come and go, but do seem to find a loyal niche readership. Digital publications have greater accessibility and immediacy
Steampunk jewelry tonight with... 33 but someone still needs to see an article or advertisement before it can be effective in communicating a message and accomplishing any other goal. We are constantly bombarded by advertising of all kinds, and while we may want to shut it all out, what many people would appreciate is targeted useful information that addresses their specific needs and wants. Targeted marketing is big business, and vendors want to spend their money wisely. Having millions of people see an ad isn’t worth a penny if no one buys the product but a targeted promotion aimed at a known group of potentially interested consumers, that could be gold. Steampunk literature is one of your main fields of expertise. A piece of jewelry plays an essential role in the plot of The Gold Bug, the unforgettable short story written by the American master Edgar Alan Poe. Do you remember any other book in which jewelry has a prominent role? Hmm, that’s a tough one. Growing up, the most interesting bit of jewelry I’ve heard of in a story would have been the ring containing poison, attributed to Lucrezia Borgia, although I’m not sure how true that really is. I suppose there is the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra in the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie. It was a pendant for awhile before being used again as the staff headpiece, and it certainly was an integral clue to the characters search. The only other actual jewelry in a story that I can speak to would be the Heart of the Ocean, that blue diamond necklace in the movie Titanic. Here, the necklace drives characters in different ways and represents different things to each person. For one, it’s a treasure to be recovered and finding it would be vindication of his beliefs. For another, it was a reminder of another life, which was rejected, and a motivator to live one’s own life on one’s own terms. The Gold Bug has just reminded us that the Victorian era was a time of archaeological expeditions. Could Egyptology become a major source of inspiration for Steampunk jewelers? Which other inspiration sources would you suggest? Egyptology should always be a source of inspiration! Aside from 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, dinosaurs, and the original Star Trek series, one of my key interests as a young boy was ancient Egypt. I was intrigued by the pyramids, the hieroglyphics, and the exquisite craftsmanship in all things. My parents
took my sister and I to see the King Tut exhibit when it first came to the United States in the ‘70s and that was an impressionable and memorable experience to see the exhibits up close. A new King Tut exhibit has just opened in Seattle and I’m looking forward to getting my ticket to enjoy the wonder again in person. Archaeology, discovery, and Egyptology was very popular in the nineteenth century, although not always with the most noble of intentions or methods. Whether in revealing or in plundering, the richness of Egyptian artwork was shared around the world. Exquisite craftsmanship, quality workmanship, and stunning design styles have been (mostly) preserved and displayed for cultural benefit. Looking at other ancient cultures, Aztec, Mayan and other pro-Columbian design could be quite impressive. Less ancient but still long lived and remembered would be Asian, African and Indian. How could those styles be used appropriately, without appropriation? What forms could steampunk jewelry take using those aesthetics and sensibilities as a foundation? What ring, pin, or pendant could an Ambassador wear to show honor, homage and respect, as well as wearing something totally awesome? Archaeology, heritage… some jewelry pieces have passed on from generation to generation. When Steampunk jewelry is brought up, do you think quality is receiving attention enough? As a collector and antiquarian, quality is an important, even essential, aspect of an item. I grew up in a home filled with antiques which were valued not only because they were old but also because they were usable. They were quality items, designed and built to last, and treated with respect and care. While some steampunk items are treated as mere costumery and thus short lived, I do not think it is inappropriate to set an expectation of long lasting quality for steampunk jewelry. Those items need not be worn only with steampunk outfits for occasional events; it would be nice to see those pieces used in everyday wear and use. Also, there’s nothing worse for a steampunk outfit than to get a new bit of jewelry and have it fall apart during its first wearing. Personal experience, sadly. I bought this great pin only the have the center stone fall off within the hour, then the pin itself broke off from the shield. It was really disappointing. May jewelry for men be recovering the importance that it had in other
periods of History? Jewelry for men seems to come and go, and take different forms. Sometimes it’s all flashy and overdone, sometimes it’s classy and elegant. Right now, I don’t see a lot of jewelry on men, aside from wedding and commitment rings, watches, and the occasional earring. It would be nice to see men’s jewelry return to prominence again, not as a show of wealth or power, but as a sign of elegance, of personal grooming and care, of respect for others, of presenting an image which says not only “I want to look good” but also “I want to look good for YOU”. I used to have a watch for each day of the week, but when the battery would wear out, I was slow to get a new one. When the band broke on the last watch, I stopped wearing one altogether. With my steampunk outfits, though, I’ve been adding jewelry back into the mix and image. I still don’t wear a watch, yet, but my Mom has passed along two of her rings to me, one from my grandmother, both of which I enjoy wearing as a special addition to my outfits. The other thing I really enjoy wearing out, and trying to wear daily now, are cufflinks. Certainly they’ve gone out of style in the last few decades, except for formal fashions, but I’ve really enjoyed building a new collection of them, not just for my steampunk wear but also for my everyday office wear. Maybe it’s because no one else is wearing them, maybe it’s because of how I feel wearing them, maybe it’s just because they are kind of cool, speaking from another age, but I certainly do enjoy wearing them and rotating through them so I get to wear each set. Is there anything else you would like to add? Thank you for inviting me for this interview, and your support of Airship Ambassador. I’ve enjoyed talking with you about the intersection of steampunk and jewelry. I hope everyone finds at least one piece that really speaks to them to add to their own steampunk wear, and that all of us can support the artists who are bringing us new works that speak to our appreciation and sensibilities for something old.
The brief interview series
About Australia, Steampunk literature… and Steampunk Jewelry, of course. Dear Jenny, we would like to thank deeply your time and interest. Let’s go ahead with the first question! You studied Australian Social History at Murdoch University in Perth. Taking this into consideration your interest about historical fiction makes sense, but what why has specifically Steampunk -and not any other uchronic genre- attracted you? I joke that writing Steampunk lets me correct history’s mistakes. But if that was all I aimed at in my stories, I’d be writing “alternative history” fiction and not Steampunk. The appeal of steampunk is its anachronistic and punk edge. You can explore the issues of today in a time distant enough to allow for some romantic re-imagining. Jenny, you are our first Australian interviewee. What can you tell us about the Steampunk scene in Australia and
Jenny Schwartz July — Jenny Schwartz is an
Australian author, happily abusing her history degree by writing steampunk. Her setting for “The Bustlepunk Chronicles” is also her hometown, Perth. There’s a lot of history in Perth and a tradition of tall tales. Steampunk fits right in!
its evolution through time? Lots happens in Australia in a disjointed kind of way, so summarising is tough. I’d say we’re enthusiastically exploring questions of identity and history. We love the social aspect. Activities range from participation in events such as the Katoomba Winter Magic Festival to formal balls. Professor Von Explaino has a list of happenings and groups. You are very active not only in the Australian Steampunk scene, but also in the international. In fact you will be coordinating the weekly #steampunkchat on Twitter at 9pm Fridays (New York time) this summer. Why staying updated regarding the international Steampunk activity is so important for you? Community. The diverse experiences and creative energy of people involved in Steampunk is addictive. There’s a buzz in seeing the world through other people’s eyes. Also, the people I’ve met through Steampunk chats are insightful and amusing. They brighten my day.
One of the most notable characteristics of Steampunk is its outstanding community of writers, with initiatives such us The Steampunk Writers & Artists Guild. Do you think that an International Steampunk Professional Jewelers Guild would work? Definitely. The exchange of ideas and the support of people who understand the frustrations and joys of your craft are priceless. Your first Steampunk novel ‘Wanted: One Scoundrel’ is available separately and as part of the steampunk anthology, ‘A Clockwork Christmas’. It is set in the Swan River Colony, the precursor of the state of Western Australia, and recovers the first gold rush that took place in the early 1850’s. As you know, the population of the country grew from 400,000 to over 1,000,000 during 1845 to 1896 as a consequence of gold discoveries. We assume that you have chosen these events due to their historical trascendence, is this correct?
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Yes, I guess I caught the “gold fever” of the era. They were adventurous times, and times of great change. That makes for lots of conflict—which every novelist loves. I also like the fact that if you walk through the city of Perth and its port of Fremantle (the photo is of High St, Fremantle), you can see buildings from this era. That makes the setting of the story really come alive. The odd thing is, after I’d finished writing “Wanted: One Scoundrel”, my dad mentioned how his granddad had arrived in Perth in 1895. So it turned out there was a faint family connection to the gold rush era I’d chosen. Sadly, Great-Granddad never struck it rich. This Victorian gold rush resulted in the use of a lot of gold in the making of Australian jewellery, an influence that separated it from the styles of the UK and Europe. There is no doubt that the historical importance of this precious metal has shaped the Australian tradition in the jewelry field. Anne Schofield wrote in her book ‘Australian Jewellery of
the 19th and 20th Century’ that the nineteenth century jewellers were ‘obsessed with the idea of finding symbols or emblems to express their newly acquired Australian identity. They used Australian flora such as native pear, banksia and fern as decorative motifs and Australian fauna, particularly the kangaroo and emu’. Do you think that these influences prevail in the creations of local Steampunk jewellers? I think our national motifs are underutilised by local jewellers. I’m far from being an expert, but I wonder if the fear is that using kangaroos or koalas or golden wattle (some people call it mimosa) will lead to it being dismissed as “tourist souvenirs”. Of course, as soon as I say this, someone will point out some awesome Australian Steampunk jewellery that I don’t know about. But let us start from the beginning: how would you define steampunk jewelry? Steampunk jewellery is inspired by Victorian Era fashion, but appeals to
modern sensibilities. It’s not scared to challenge our expectations. Would you dare to describe Steampunk jewelry with a single word? Attitude We do believe in a multicultural approach to Steampunk. Western Australia and India are geographically close and this is reflected in some way in ‘Wanted: One Scoundrel’, first part of your ‘Bustlepunk Chronicles’. As per your own words, ‘my Bombaytown is modelled on San Francisco’s Chinatown, but with an Indian character’. We are developing our ‘Raj Collection’, influenced by the British India. Would you give us any advice to get satisfactory results when approaching Steampunk from a multicultural perspective? Your Raj Collection is a fascinating idea. I like how with the Kerala Pendant you’ve given the wearer a sense of the history the piece connects them to. I suspect the
36 The brief interview series
popularity of Steampunk is fed in a large part by people’s search for a sense of connection – to other like-minded people and to their own (and others’) history. For me, drawing inspiration from a cultural tradition demands an artist respect that tradition. I find sites like Beyond Victoriana and Silver Goggles are good at making me stop and question my assumptions and biases. What challenges do you think Steampunk jewelry designers face? This is an exciting time for creative artists inspired by Steampunk. Elements of Steampunk are going mainstream, like corsets in fashion and Princess Kate’s cute “fascinator” hats. The challenge is to establish who you’re going to be. Will your jewellery be for everyday wear or for special Steampunk occasions? Will it be accessible or pushing boundaries? And I’d guess there are practical issues, like finding a price point that works for your customers. As a writer, would you say that
accesories can become essential to define a character? We believe that jewels, as pieces of art, can play significant roles due to its emotional burden. Have you ever considered the possibility of developing a story with jewels presented as fantastic devices with different symbolisms or powers? Funny you should ask that … I don’t want to let too much slip, but there is a very important emerald playing a role in my next Steampunk novella, “Courting Trouble”. I’m also writing a full length novel at the moment in which a Faberge egg becomes a weapon. So, yes, I agree absolutely that jewels and jewellery have fabulous possibilities in Steampunk stories. The stories that have been woven around real world jewels, like the Hope Diamond, are fascinating. Greed, romance, intrigue, betrayal, violence. So many emotions swirl around jewels, readers can’t help but be drawn into bejewelled tales. If everything goes well, the second novel in the ‘Bustlepunk Chronicles’, ‘Courting Trouble’, will be available
this Autumn. What can your readers expect from it (and its sequel ‘Curses and Confetti’)? Esme and Jed (my Australian suffragette heroine and the brave American inventor who dares to woo her) are back from more adventures in both novellas. In “Courting Trouble” I show readers more of my imaginary Bombaytown. I really wish this place existed. I’ve imagined it so vividly I want to walk through the streets and stop for a cup of chai. In “Curses and Confetti” the action moves to a seaside funfair (on a sidenote, I think there should be more funfairs in Steampunk) with a new and deadly Steampunk device, the Gypsy Oracle. We have recently published a blog post entitled ‘The 5 secrets of Steampunk fine jewelry’. When Steampunk jewelry is brought up, do you think quality is receiving attention enough? I hear complaints from a number of people along the lines of – Steampunk is more than adding a few decorative gears to something. I suspect the issue
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“This is an exciting time for creative artists inspired by Steampunk. Elements of Steampunk are going mainstream, like corsets in fashion and Princess Kate’s cute “fascinator” hats. The challenge is to establish who you’re going to be.”
is the blurring line between Steampunk and Steampunk-inspired mainstream products. Real Steampunkers care about quality. They appreciate craft and workmanship. It’s part of the Steampunk ethos to value creativity and skill, and to wear it with pride. Is there anything else you would like to add? I’d like to thank you for inviting me to be interviewed as part of “Steampunk Jewellery Tonight”. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed answering your questions.
The brief interview series
Marcus Rauchfuß August — Marcus Rauchfuß is an anthropologist and a minor scholar of the Cthulhu Mythos and H.P. Lovecraft. Besides, he is also heavily into Steampunk and Dieselpunk: he collaborates with The Gatehouse, promotes EuroSteam and many, many other initiatives… and, by the way, loves travelling.
Photo: Annika Lundkvist
Marcus, you live in Munich (Germany). Is this your birthplace? I actually live in Augsburg, I only work in Munich. My birthplace is not worth mentioning. I consider Nottingham in Great Britain to be my home town (I spent some of the best years of my life in Nottingham). What can you tell to our readers about the German Steampunk scene? The German Steampunk scene has been building steam (excuse the lame pun) in the last two – three years. We used to be few and far between but now there are gatherings (mostly in pubs) all over the place. I organise one in Augsburg on a monthly basis. There is also things going on in Mannheim and northern Hesse. The Hamburg area also has a very active scene and the first big German Steampunk Convention, Aethericus, is going to happen there in August You are not precisely a newcomer to Steampunk. In fact, the first post of your English blog The
Traveler’s Steampunk Blog is dated 1st July 2008? What ‘hooked’ you to Steampunk? That is actually a long story, so I try to make it short: As you can see on my blog, I have a thing for airships and zeppelins. I have been a zeppelin fan for as long as I can remember. But I actually joined the scene more or less by accident after reading about Abney Park on a gothic forum in early 2008. If we are not wrong, you have been the main promoter of EuroSteam. How did you come up with the idea of organizing an event conceived to spread and strengthen Steampunk across the old continent? Well, I am friends with the sci-fi author Lavie Tidhar who has also written the Bookman series of steampunk books. One day Lavie and I had a conversation via Twitter and he suggested, Europe needed was a big steampunk convention, so I thought: OK, let’s do it! There was a fund raising campaign,
how do you think that it could have become more successful? More and better incentives/bonuses for donators, and I think in the current economic situation, most young people (i.e. those below 35) do not have that much money to donate. Also: We got very few donations from outside Europe, there was little interest from the international scene outside Europe for the fundraiser, although Evelyn Kriete helped promote it. Would you say that EuroSteam has the potential to become the seed of a Steampunk European Network? Or could we be even more ambitious considering that the EuroSteam organization has been contacted by sympathizers from outside Europe? I certainly hope it is the beginning of a network across Europe, and it has already reached further: Latin America and Japan have shown interest and so have a few bands from the US. If the first European Steampunk Convention is a success, maybe there will be a second and this could be world-wide. Who knows.
Steampunk jewelry tonight with... 39 Dieselpunk very interesting too and would like to pay more attention at this later on, and we have begun to wonder how should Dieselpunk jewelry be… although we are going to leave this for the future. In any case, and going back to Steampunk jewelry… do you think that men’s jewelry should receive more attention? Absolutely yes! I am hard-pressed to find anything I can wear and usually have to make do with the odd pin or brooch. Luckily, I recently got a tie-clasp when I visited the SteamUp Festival in Prague. Jewelry for gentlemen is definitely missing. Photo: Annika Lundkvist
Photo: Annika Lundkvist
“If it is a piece of jewelry a protagonist in a Jules Verne/ Gail Carriger/CM Priest/Morris and Ballantine novel would wear during an adventure, it is steampunk jewelry.” Photo: Annika Lundkvist
We know that the preparation of EuroSteam has already begun in Spain. The Decimononic team will be happily attending the EuroSteam party at Ithilien (the only Steampunk pub we have heard about in our country) and we are expecting a full weekend plenty of activities. Do you have any advice or suggestion for the ‘EuroSteamers’? All you have to do is get a group of people together in a place with internet access, have a webcam and a monitor ready and join us online. The size of the event is entirely up to you. If you can get dressedup for the occasion, this is obviously a great thing and adds to the atmosphere, but if you do not own anything suitable, you can still join us. Even if you are a lonely steampunk in a really remote part of Europe, you can still simply join us online. You can also try to infect some friends with the steampunk virus and have a little party! Conventions are among the classical media used by crafters to get exposure. EuroSteam is a particular
case due to its virtual nature… do you think that it can be seized by artisans like us in any way? Absolutely! There are non-virtual events happening and we already had requests by several artist asking if they could participate and display their art. I support this but if an individual event wants to have crafters is entirely their decision (but I cannot see why anyone should say no). Do you think the Steampunk community can get to a common definition of Steampunk jewelry? That is a tough question… See below… In any case, would you dare to give us a definition of Steampunk jewelry? If it is a piece of jewelry a protagonist in a Jules Verne/Gail Carriger/CM Priest/ Morris and Ballantine novel would wear during an adventure, it is steampunk jewelry. We are aware that you are very interested not only in Steampunk, but also in Dieselpunk. We find
We wrote recently a blog post entitled ‘The 5 secrets of Steampunk fine jewelry’. Do you consider that quality is receiving attention enough or maybe not? Hmmm… Judging from the majority you get on Etsy, most of the stuff is average. I guess everybody tries to do the best they can but there are few master craftsmen out there who do steampunk jewelry. On the other hand, the true master work is being drowned out by the mass of average stuff. Before finishing this interview we cannot help but asking you something about H. P. Lovecraft works. You are a big fan of Cthulhu Mythos with all its tentacular creatures… could this be related to the profusion of octopuses in the emerging ‘Steampunk cosmology’? Nope, in my case, I was into Lovecraft and Cthulhu years before I was into Steampunk. I actually did my Master Thesis in Cultural Anthropology on the influence of H.P. Lovecraft’s work on pop-culture. Is there anything else you would like to add? Thanks for giving me the chance to write a few lines for your blog, I should use this opportunity to plug my own upcoming book, but since it is only available in German, there really is little point.
The brief interview series
Karen Grover & Thadeus Tinker September — Karen Grover (aka
Lady Elsie) and John Naylor (aka Major Thadeus Tinker) formed the Victorian Steampunk Society with the idea of setting up a U.K. festival for steampunks in 2008 (this to welcome over 1000 steampunks from all over the world). They have also promoted music events in London and Lincoln, with the best steampunk bands they can find. Lady Elsie and Major Tinker have been able to attend events and conventions in Canada and the U.S.A., which has given
them a unique insight to Steampunk in different places. Later this year Major Tinker will be attending an Event in Holland (‘Journey Vernesque’). In 2011 Major Tinker curated a Steampunk Art exhibition in London held at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum. This 3 month long event also had 3 themed weekend with talks, workshops and music. This was visited by steampunks and art enthusiasts alike. Both are respected makers of Art and Costume. So accessories as well as Jewellery are very important to them.
Photo: Victorian Steampunk Society
England, Lincoln and Steampunk We are most honored to welcome you to our series of brief interviews. After all, there are not many Steampunkers worldwide that can compare to you in terms of recognition and influence due to your terrific efforts developing Steampunk. Dear Thadeus, you are Chair of the Victorian Steampunk Society. This gives you a formidable perspective on the British Steampunk scene, would you tell us a bit about its development process and current situation? TT.- We see ourselves as Steampunk Facilitators and enable people to experiance steampunk for themselves, in whatever way they can. Steampunk is very healthy in the UK at the moment. This year there has been many kinds of events which have enabled steampunks to meet up and socialize, which is very important. As steampunks can meet somewhere at an event most weekends in the UK, ideas and fashions, within the genre can grow and change very quickly.
We are a social lot, and tea, of course is central to British culture. So that gives us an excuse to meet up. KG.- The scene is developing the whole time as new people join in and realize their potential and creativity. As this is a very welcoming community, advice on how to do things is freely given by many makers. Whether you want to make music, art, clothes, literature or accessories. Be Splendid is the motto of the Victorian Steampunk Society. In a recent blog post you explained that it makes reference to three dimensions: our interactions with other people, the way we present ourselves and all our creative activity. We find this motto really stimulating, what inspired you to coin it? KG.- In our everyday lives it is easy to forget the impact we have on others. Our families, work colleagues and friends all see a different side of us, so if we can be the best we can, in our interactions things can only become better. This can then rub
off on them and their interactions. Slowly the whole area will become ”splendid. If we all do our bit to make the world a little bit more splendid, that is not a bad thing. The Asylum is the largest and oldest European Steampunk festival. It takes place in Lincoln (UK) every year and you have been its main promoters since the very beginning. Why do you think it has been so successful? KG.- The Asylum was born from a thread on Brass Goggles of having a large UK event. The discussion went on for a year of where it should be, and who should organise it. So in spring 2009 Tinker and I found a venue in Lincoln and put our faith in the Steampunk Community, and launched The Asylum. We then went and met as many steampunks we could from the south coast to the north east to tell them of our ideas and see what they wanted form a festival. We then listened to the ideas and put on an event that Steampunks wanted. We still listen to new ideas and try to give folks what want.
Steampunk jewelry tonight with... 41 Steampunks want to meet together in an environment which is not only welcoming but aesthetically pleasing. We have found both in Lincoln.
“Thank you and ‘Be Splendid’.”
TT.- I have always been fascinated by Vampires and spent many hours reading Victorian Gothic Fiction, as well as watching the classic horror movies. I love the modern twist we are giving to these stories now. They seem to have been given a new lease of life in recent years, without losing the central crux of the vampire genre. The Vampire is an evolving creature and I am loving how modern writers are giving them a new direction. So the Vampire hunter needs an ever changing arsenal of weapons to fight them. Films are also exploring these themes in new ways.
We have just returned from the fourth event and one of the items was The Asylum 2013. A chance to help shape next year’s event. We both are passionate about working with the VSS to make the best event we can. As you know, we were planning to trade for the first time in this year’s edition, but unfortunately an unforeseen obligation stands in our way… we hope to visit Lincoln in 2013. In any case, in which ways do you think it can be valuable for crafters in general and jewellers in particular? KG.- The Asylum is the biggest gathering of Steampunks in the UK, if not Europe. You will not see such a vast array of outfits and accessories anywhere else. So for a maker/ crafter this is invaluable. There are styles and fashions in Steampunk , so to see what people are wearing can only help maker see what customers want to wear. Talking to potential customers, and hearing, first hand is so important. When you make something and an other steampunk picks it up and coverts it, is one of the biggest trills you can get. This can’t happen on the internet or an online shop. Probably many of our readers have never heard about the Steampunk Traders Association. What is its mission? TT.- The Steampunk Traders Association, is a way of supporting small traders who are steampunks, active in the community, who are making steampunk items. It was a way of offering trading opportunities to sell to steampunks direct at events, and to promote their work. Many have exhibited at events and art shows run by the VSS.
Steampunk Jewelry Dear Karen, you are both makers: you are very well known as textilier extraordinary and Thadeus’ abilities as crafter are not less valued. Do you have any piece of advice for Steampunk jewelers? KG.- Look at what steampunks are wearing and design pieces to complement the styles worn. Look for new ways of using found objects and items. There are many who just use the insides of old clocks or watches glued onto broach backs. Not very inspiring. If you take these watch parts and use them with other objects in an interesting way. Get the best finish you can to your pieces quality does show through. Put your own twist and take on the pieces, and be confident it your style.
a good foundation for Steampunk fiction… what do you find so interesting about the vampire myth?
This said, what is Steampunk jewelry for you?
Could this become an inspiration source for a Steampunk jeweler? Perhaps could you give us any idea?
KG.- Steampunk Jewellery should compliment my steampunk style. Which changes, depending on the event and my mood. It is so much more than just cogs.
TT.- Steampunk amulets against Vampires. To be worn around the neck to ward off the Vampire Kiss. I would feel very safe with one of these.
Which influences should Steampunk jewelry have?
Is there anything else you would like to add?
KG.- As your readers will know, there are many influences in steampunk. As long as it is aesthetically pleasing and well executed, steampunks will be proud to add the piece to an outfit. I do not think there are ‘must have’ elements to say an item is ‘Steampunk’. It is the overall look.
KG.- Thank you for allowing us to ‘talk’ to your readers. Steampunk is a very creative and rich community, we are very proud to be a part of it and by the events we run, enable others to experience Steampunk as well.
Photo: Lex Machina
Would you dare to describe Steampunk jewelry with a single word?
We do hope you will be able to attend Weekend at the Asylum in the future. Details of our events can be found here: http://steampunk.synthasite.com.
Thank you and ‘Be Splendid’.
We wrote recently a blog post entitled ‘The 5 secrets of Steampunk fine jewelry’. Do you consider that quality is receiving attention enough or maybe not? KG.- Quality will always show up shoddy workmanship. There is a market for quality pieces made from precious metals and stones. There are some very talented jewellers in the community who are making some very fine work from these materials. The potential customer does have to find them. So, no, there is not as much attention for the quality pieces. Thadeus, there is no doubt that vampires fascinate you. Bracers, infestation emergency kits and other Steampunk vampire-hunter’s equipments are among your creations. Most of the masterpieces of vampire literature, such as Varney the vampire, Carmilla or Dracula were published in the Victorian era, so this seems to be
The brief interview series
Erika Mulkey October — Erica Mulkey, aka Unwoman, is a Bay Area-based cellist/singer/composer/producer.
she plays cello with Stripmall Architecture, Vernian Process, Abney Park, and other acts.
She began playing cello at nine years of age and piano at eleven, and also plays cello banjo and theremin. In addition to her solo act which is frequently featured at major steampunk and related conventions all over the US,
Photo: Audrey Penven
As a kind of disclaimer I am going to begin this interview clarifying that we are fans of your creative activity. Erica, many thanks for accepting our invitation to be interviewed and share your insight about Steampunk, fine jewelry and music. It is a real pleasure for us! Your most recent album, The Fires I Started, is the successful result of an outstanding Kickstarter funding campaign: you got more than three times the initial goal! I am one of the backers of the campaign and would like to congratulate you for this painfully beautiful bunch of songs, my favorite one is The Bridge. Are you satisfied with the feedback you are receiving? Yes, definitely! People seem to be loving it, and I myself am quite proud of the work. And the prouder I am of something, the more I can get behind it to promote it, and the more people will hear it! May we expect some tour dates out of the USA?
I would love to play overseas, but unless there are major events paying for my plane travel, it’s just not feasible at this time — I barely have enough fans to tour the US profitably. Your works are very well accepted within the Steampunk scene. Why do you think this is happening? Would you describe your music as ‘Steampunk music’? Besides, what is Steampunk music? I talk about this a good deal in my tour documentary, Beautiful Fish. I make retrofuturistic music, which definitely has a place in steampunk worlds, in my opinion. I think the steampunk scene embraces me because I play so many steampunk conventions, and because I’ve played with a lot of explicitly steampunk bands, like Abney Park and Vernian Process. You have collaborated and/or performed live with many artists I do admire: a pioneer in dark electronica as Martin Bowes (Attrition), the ‘cello rock’ group
Rasputina, the tribute band Spellbound (long life Siouxsie!), Sam Rosenthal (alma mater of Projekt and Black tape for a blue girl), etc. This probably means that we have both some goth background… what brought you to Steampunk? Oh yes, I definitely have a goth background! I have been going goth clubbing since I was 16 and I still frequent San Francisco’s Death Guild almost every Monday, when I’m in town. My musical influences include the dark poetry of goth, the experimental side of industrial, and many different eras of art music I studied in college. Because of the anachronistic nature of classical music, especially playing cello, the music I wanted to make never fit in the goth/industrial labels, and steampunk seemed much better for it. I fell in love with other aspects of the steampunk culture as I got to know it more, the literature and fashion — though those weren’t a far leap from the science fiction novels and elegant gothic clothes I’d always loved.
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“Steampunk jewelry designers probably get a lot of feedback from people, just like I do. I’ve learned it’s best to take people’s requests with a grain of salt; to listen to criticism but stay true to your own vision.”
Photo: Audrey Penven
I have been very close to the goth scene for many years. Irene and I attended Entre Muralhas Festival in August, that takes place every year in the awesome castle of Leiría (Portugal). We had the opportunity to enjoy there the concert of Jerome Reuter (Rome), one of your favourite musicians. History is one of the main inspiration sources of Jerome, that is something we all have in common. As in Rome’s lyrics, would you say that some historic accuracy is important in order to give sense to Steampunk? That festival sounds lovely! Yes, Rome is one of my top five most listened bands right now. I gave Jerome a copy of The Fires I Started and was utterly thrilled to hear from him that he liked it (and apparently he doesn’t like many things.) As for historical accuracy, the more people know about history, the better, but one of my favorite things about steampunk is that it’s liberated from mimicking the past precisely. We aren’t re-enacting the past; we are shaping the future without forgetting it. I myself aim to write lyrics
that are timeless, that people can’t pinpoint exact events that inspired them, historically or personally. And what about Steampunk jewelry? Does it need to drink from the same sources? Should historic accuracy be seriously considered? I don’t think so — I think historical inspiration is enough. Obviously, beautiful things from the past can be repurposed in terrific ways, and historical accuracy can be an interesting detail about a piece — but if it’s a perfect reproduction, it’s not steampunk in itself, though it can still work great in a steampunk outfit.
a somewhat elaborate bronze chain piece with a rusty old key from my late grandfather’s collection as its centerpiece. Both of these are modern configurations of old-fashioned items. I also have a ring I wear frequently which features a watch movement, which is quintessential steampunk because it declares that gears are beautiful enough to be seen. Would you dare to describe Steampunk jewelry with a single word? Versatile.
But, let’s not go too fast. What is Steampunk jewelry for you?
Most of us have some jewelry pieces with a special meaning. Do you have any jewel that you would label as ‘Steampunk’ that you are specially fond of?
Right now, as I ride a train from Boston to Portland, Maine, I am wearing earrings and a necklace I made — I make jewelry for myself, not for sale. The earrings are from antique carved ivory flowers and were originally screw earrings but I’ve turned them into dangle earrings with bronze chains. The necklace is
I found a gold and facetted-stone chaos star pin in an antique store — it’s from 1885, decades before Michael Moorcock created the concept of the chaos star — and I put it together with black lace and thin bronze chains for a choker. The piece, and the way I found the pin, both have meaning for me.
44 The brief interview series
Photo: Audrey Penven
What do you miss when you try to find Steampunk jewelry? Well, if there’s something I want that doesn’t already exist, I generally make it. But I’m interested to see how 3D printing can combine with old-fashioned jewelry to make very old and very modern styles fuse. I think we’ll be seeing more of that soon, and I am guessing it will probably be done both poorly and well. Oh, I am so thrilled that you have talked about 3D printing… we do think that this going to become a new industrial revolution and we are willing to make some experiments pretty soon. Besides, we have been told very recently that our work ‘also strikes a sweet spot between modern minimalism that I could wear to the office and steampunk’. Is it easy to bring Steampunk to everyday fashion? I think steampunk styles fit with some, but not all, modern fashions. Elegant or bohemian-casual modern clothes work great
with steampunk jewelry. Blue jeans and corporate t-shirts, probably not so much. When Steampunk jewelry is brought up, do you think quality is receiving attention enough? Some months ago we published a blog post entitled ‘The 5 secrets of Steampunk fine jewelry’, is there a place for Steampunk fine jewelry? Sure. There’s a place for really affordable pieces as well as fine jewelry. I certainly own some very cheap pieces that I absolutely love, but I can imagine wanting a really amazing piece that would last forever. Do you prefer big or small pieces? Do you want people to notice what you are wearing? I usually wear small pieces. I want people to notice many aspects of my outfit at once, not necessarily one more than the others. As an artist, what challenges do you think Steampunk jewelry designers face? What would you tell them?
Steampunk jewelry designers probably get a lot of feedback from people, just like I do. I’ve learned it’s best to take people’s requests with a grain of salt; to listen to criticism but stay true to your own vision. It can be a challenge figuring out what your style or your unique voice is, when your earlier work is necessarily inspired by others. Correct me if I am wrong, but your artistic name, ‘Unwoman’, comes from Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. It makes reference to the label given to sterile, feminist, or politically deviant women. I have to admit that I have not read this novel, but it seems quite dystopian, with a strong political load. Would you describe yourself as a ‘political person’? Yes, The Handmaid’s Tale is extremely dystopian, and very politically provocative. I do consider myself political. In fact I love that every interview becomes political because of the name I chose! One of the statements the name makes is, I have no desire to live up to the patriarchy’s ideal of submissive womanhood. In this way, and in the sense that I keep aware of politics
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Photo: Audrey Penven
and participate in demonstrations a few times a year (not as often as I would like) I am political. Talking about politics… what do you think about the political approaches to Steampunk? Do they make sense for you, or do you think more of Steampunk as an aesthetic trend? I absolutely love political steampunk. In fact one of my favorite people, Margaret Killjoy of Steampunk Magazine, is a big force in keeping radical politics and political discussions of all kinds in steampunk. I also believe steampunk should welcome those who view it merely as an aesthetic movement — because as they go deeper in they’ll realize that the literature, even the clothes, have cultural history beyond just beauty. And steampunk’s aesthetic is a political statement as well, against carbon-copy consumerism. I am remembering one of your tweets, that goes: ‘A thing I like: not putting copyright notices on my CDs and, now, records. Just lyrics and credits
and art’. We do believe that current copyright laws do not really protect the creator or encourage innovation, in fact our default choice is a Creative Commons license (BY-NC-SA). Would you share your thoughts about this subject with our readers? Absolutely! The tweet was actually more about the fact that as a self-published artist I can choose to put whatever copyright notice I want, or none at all, on my work — rather than an anti-copyright stance. I strongly believe in the consensual collaboration community of creative commons. Artists should, if they really want to, be able to clutch their creations tightly to their breasts and say, if you share this or remix it, it’s a crime. But they should also know that being open with them is infinitely more rewarding! And of course if you want to disseminate art or information, you must set it free. Alright Erica, thank you again for your time and interest… is there anything else you would like to add? Thank you so much for the interview!
The brief interview series
46 I am not going to be wrong if I say that Dr. Mike Perschon is one of the best known Steampunk connoisseurs all over the world. His academic approach to Steampunk has turned him into an authorized voice and we are thrilled to share views with him. First of all we would like to congratulate you for your successful PhD defense. This is the culmination of a long process, what’s your next goal? More sleep, more time with my kids, more time with my wife. Not only both Irene and I have got university degrees, I have postgraduate education and Irene has some years of experience as scholar. Besides, we have some friends who are making career as university teachers in Spain. I guess that we follow up the evolution of college education in some way and, in fact, we are very interested in the thesis of academics such as the Royal Society Research Professor Tim Gowers, who are questioning the traditional peer-review system. Does this ‘publish-or-perish’ system need a revision? Definitely. I work at a teaching institution where our workload can involve research, but doesn’t necessarily have to, and I can readily attest that it makes for a more congenial workspace. Research institutions tend to have an unhealthy tension about them. And what do you think about initiatives like edX? May this be the future of universities? I’m unfamiliar with edX, so I can’t comment.
Mike Perschon November — Dr. Mike Perschon (aka Steampunk Scholar) is a father and a husband, living in Canada. He teaches English fulltime at Grant MacEwan University, researches steampunk, and blogs about SFF books and films. He is a Dungeon Master and on occasion, sits on the other side of the DM’s screen. Mike used to be an indie musician, and was “Most
Promising Art Student” in high school; sometimes, he still finds time to engage the pen, pencil, and Photoshop. While he wishes he’d gone to film school instead of seminary, he’s making up for lost time now, engaging the world of creativity instead of theology.
Taking your own experience as point of departure, does the academic world welcome the study of ‘atypical’ subjects such as retrofuturisms? How can these movements contribute to the research activity of universities?
as opposed to Alternate History/Uchronia being a feature of steampunk.
I think it depends on your department. Some are very forward thinking, and encourage new and potentially atypical subjects. In my experience, English departments are fairly conservative: they’re looking for another Victorian literature guy, not a guy looking at neo-Victorianism in Science Fiction, which is too bad, given how it could give enrollment a boost. Your definition of Steampunk as an applied aesthetic has become widely accepted: ‘it is a retrofuturistic, neoVictorian, technofantasy look and feel applied to narratives, movies, art, gaming, and costumes among other items’. Some time ago we dared to define Steampunk as a ‘Victorian retrofuturistic uchronia’. Would you share with us what you like and what you don’t from this definition? Well, for starters, the use of Victorian without any modification. There are certainly works of steampunk that can be defined as Victorian, but there are many other works that lie outside the world and time of the Victorians. I’ve been thinking I need to amend my neo-Victorian aspect to “Hyper-Victorianism,” since steampunk is often about an exaggeration of the Victorian period. As for uchronia, steampunk uses elements of alternate history, but is as often about alternate worlds. Stephen Hunt’s Jackelian series, Felix Gilman’s Half-Made World, and Chris Wooding’s Retribution Falls all take place in secondary worlds, not alternate histories. Again, I’d say the steampunk aesthetic gets applied to the genre of Alternate History,
This said, how would you describe Steampunk jewelry? Again, we see elements of the aesthetic. Steampunk jewelry often includes two or three of the aesthetic elements – a Victorian-era cameo combined with clockwork, or something like it. Would you dare to define it with a single word? I can’t – while I’d readily admit that the majority of steampunk jewelry I’ve seen in vendors’ halls is hopelessly derivative, there are still those few artists who are creating unique and interesting expressions that defy a uniform assessment. Christopher García stated that ‘some of the best scholarship being done on the subject of Steampunk has been by Mike Perschon on his blog, Steampunk Scholar’. We do agree with him and, besides, your blog includes some awesome top lists (literature, comic, cinema…). Why blogging? I’ve been a performer my whole adult life. I respond well to a crowd, and I knew that having a blog might attract one. Your readers push you to write. They ask when you’re going to comment on this book, or that film, or they challenge your arguments. I met a Polish cartoonist through the blog who really challenged me, and I can say with confidence that I would not have finished the dissertation if it hadn’t been for my readers like him challenging and interrogating my thesis. As Steampunk scholar and blogger, what would you tell Steampunk jewelers? What challenges do they face?
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“I think the steampunk blogger and the steampunk jeweler face the same problem: how do you make yourself stand out from the countless other bloggers and jewelers claiming to do the same thing? I think you have to craft a niche for yourself.” Steampunk literature, can you think about any book with jewelry playing an important role in its plot?
I think the steampunk blogger and the steampunk jeweler face the same problem: how do you make yourself stand out from the countless other bloggers and jewelers claiming to do the same thing? I think you have to craft a niche for yourself. Making steampunk jewelry won’t make you unique any more than having a steampunk blog. They’re a dime a dozen right now. But focus, consistency, and quality will set you apart from the crowd. I decided early on to have a literary focus, since few steampunk blogs were just about the literature. Then, I endeavored to update regularly. And I won’t update if it isn’t up to the quality my readers have come to expect. This makes the work harder, but ultimately, it gets people like Chris Garcia saying nice things about you, I guess. Not so long ago we made this question in our interview to Kevin Steil (aka Airship Ambassador): ‘Steampunk literature is one of your main fields of expertise. A piece of jewelry plays an essential role in the plot of ‘The Gold Bug’, the unforgettable short story written by the American master Edgar Alan Poe. Do you remember any other book in which jewelry has a prominent role?’. Based on your comprehensive knowledge of
Dead Iron by Devon Monk features a clockwork amulet that she describes as a mix of device, art, and design, or something like that. It’s effectively a doomsday device, but also a thing of beauty. While the film isn’t steampunk, the clockwork vampire device in Guillermo Del Toro’s Cronos is certainly steampunk in its aesthetic, and would definitely be considered jewelry. I think we’ll see more crossover from steampunk art into the fiction, in the same way the goggles were given explanation in Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, or Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer. Being not only researcher but a Steampunk aficionado too, do you have any jewel you would label as ‘Steampunk’ that you are specially fond of? Ornate pocket watches are my jewelry, in general. I don’t own a particularly ornate one, but I once saw a pocket watch that had a ship’s wheel as the hands, and I thought that was very cool, since I’m a big fan of Captain Nemo. We think that Steampunk jewelry for gentlemen should receive more attention and this is why we are developing the Sky Captain series, which includes lapel pin, tie clip and cufflinks. Do you agree with us? Is men’s jewelry not receiving attention enough? It’s all about the market. Women are socialized to wear jewelry, so it only makes sense that the lion’s share of products would be for women. That said, I think we’re again speaking to the idea
of standing out in a very large crowd: designing steampunk jewelry for men would definitely make a jeweler stand out. May men’s jewelry be recovering part of the importance that it had in other periods of history? It depends on the culture and period. But insofar as lapel pins, tie clips and cufflinks go, I’d definitely say yes. We don’t see people wearing those in everyday circumstances. I know my students would notice if I was wearing such items. They draw the eye, and in a world of t-shirts and blue jeans, it certainly makes a fashion statement. Some months ago we published a blog post entitled ‘The 5 secrets of Steampunk fine jewelry’. Is there a place for Steampunk fine jewelry? Absolutely. My wife can’t wear base metals, so I can only buy jewelry made, as you say, “from the best materials” for her. That alone would be a reason. But I think quality is valuable – I love what Dark Garden corsetry does: again, in a vendor’s room filled with cheaper corsets, Autumn Adamme’s fashions always stand out. Last but not least, some exciting news: you have a new project called ‘Force Moreau vs the Martians’. Would you be so kind to tell us a bit about it? It’s a mashup of H.G. Wells’ most famous novels. It will be a combination of webcomic and serialized fiction: I’ve really missed writing creatively and drawing, so this is a way to get back to that. In short, imagine that the Time Traveler finally returns, and when he does, it’s to a world where the Martians also came back, and this time, they didn’t catch a cold. He discovers a world where humans have been driven underground, as one of the characters from War of the Worlds imagined they’d might. And to strike back, they’ve called on Dr. Moreau to enable them to fight a guerilla (or gorilla!) war against the Martians. I have initial sketches, but between graduating and grading papers, I won’t be able to make the big reveal until November. Watch for it at Steampunk Scholar. Is there anything else you would like to add? Just a huge thank you to the steampunk community that cheered me on over the past four years. As I’ve already said, I could never have done this in this time frame without the generosity and helpfulness of the steampunks I’ve met both in person and online. Photo by www.thesteampunkmuseum.com
The brief interview series
December — As per The Steampunk
Museum, “Captain” Robert Brown is a Steampunk songwriter, novelist, community organizer, blogger, game designer, craftsman, and fashion designer. He’s been interviewed by several TV shows and Magazines, like MTV, and the New York Times. He is the founding member of Abney Park. In addition to writing all of Abney Park’s songs, he also creates an unending supply of Steampunk instruments for the band, from Guitars, to Keyboards, to “hornpipes”.
Robert is an avid blogger and is an outspoken inclusionist for Steampunk culture, fighting for the right for anyone’s daydream in the community. He regularly posts articles on Steampunk, including definitive pieces designed to direct the culture in positive and friendly directions, as well as videos posts of “how-to’s” on Steampunk mods and fashion. He has released an Airship Pirate RPG, and written a novel, “The Wrath of Fate”, both of which tie together all the stories, characters, and settings from all of the songs of Abney Park.
Photo: Abney Park
Dear Robert, we feel privileged for having this opportunity to share our thoughts with you, thank you so much for your kind attention. Abney Park is one of the most popular bands within the Steampunk scene and you have been directly involved in its growth and development for many years, so this is a great satisfaction for us. As per your lengthy career and your contact with Steampunkers all over the world, what do you expect about the future of Steampunk? Which trends do you identify? May there be a ’Steampunk Revolution’ coming? I think we are seeing the Steampunk Revolution now. The level of global enthusiasm is so great I could spend days just listing all the amazing things happening. I had originally hoped steampunk could save the world from what I deem a horrible fate. The thesis of all product designs these days is “Profit is the only important outcome of any product design, so design for profit, not art.” This has jaded the aesthetic of modern design.
For example, I recently purchased what I consider to be the most beautiful laptop sold today: the Macbook Pro Retina. Its not plastic, taky, covered with stickers… all the flaws seen in so many other laptops. But the Apple design philosophy is, however, to make a product with no design at all. As plain as possible, they call it “simple” or “clean”, whereas I call it a cop out. Its like guys who can’t think of how they like their hair to be, so instead they wear a hat or shave there head. Maybe thats what looks best on you, but don’t call yourself a hair stylist. “Clean and simple” is the default state BEFORE an artist begins: it shouldn’t be the final design. My hope is that steampunk can return beauty to design. Museums are filled with the undeniably beautiful creations of mankind, but some how modern man has decided to give all that up. instead of striving for beauty, we strive for profit, and in doing so we create cheap to manufacture disposable garbage. My dream is that Steampunk will show the corporate CEOs that we all still want beautiful things. I’m sure its a pipe dream, but I’m good at day dreams.
From your point of view, which challenges is Steampunk going to face in the next years? Becoming a joke. There is a lot of comedy in steampunk, which I love, but their is also a serious fire, and some amazingly cool and talented people, the likes of which the world has never seen before. My fear is that mainstream culture will turn this into a gag, based on the weakest parts of our scene, and that will scare away the real talent. Robert, you sing and play several instruments, which musical influences would you emphasize? Which kind of music do you listen to at present? I mostly listen to historical music, and ethnic musics. I really love stuff from the east coast of Eruope an the middle east. Russian pop, bulkian, gypsey, bellydance, etc. I have a huge love of Flamenco. I also really love old vintage recordings. I have a Victrola, and a stack of records from a time long gone by. To hear that old machine recreate a world long gone is an amazing experience.
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Photo: Abney Park
Anyone who attends one of Abney Park concerts realizes soon that aesthetics are a key element in your performances. Clothing, accessories… do you have any jewel that you would label as ‘Steampunk’ that you are specially fond of?
“Be original, and be talented, put in effort and you will create something amazing.”
I think one of the simplest ways to achieve a steampunk look is through color pallet. Achieve that, and its almost impossible to fail. Vary from the recognized color pallet, and you have to be very skilled to still pull off the look. Garnets, Amber, gold; anything in sepia tones. “Things stuck in Amber” are ESPECIALLY steampunk, even metaphorically speaking: its a bit of time gone by, trapped for all the future to see. That is steampunk in its very essence.
right in. I love it when talented artisans do amazing things with steampunk, and I think all steampunk makers should strive towards that, but I also think haphazard can be a cool.
Being a man, do you think that jewelry for gentlemen should have a specific persona in mind? I’m not sure what you mean. If you mean “a man’s jewelry should be suggesting a fictional character,” I would say, “it doesn’t have to.”
Photo: Abney Park
In any case you are not only a multi-instrumentist frontman, but also a writer. ‘The Wrath of Fate’, published in 2011, explores the fictional backstory of Abney Park’s members as airship pirates. Writing a complete book may be quite different from writing lyrics, are you happy with the experience of this first publication? Yes. The book has been selling amazingly well. In fact, at least from our online store, it outsells our music. Its a lot of work, and a part of me is not suited for that work, as I’m horrifically dyslexic, but its very rewarding an I plan to continue it. So… may we expect new books in the future? Hopefully. I am about three quarters of the way through the sequel, but a misplaced glass of water completely destroyed the laptop I was writing it on. The hard drive has now been sent to a data recovery center in the hopes of saving the novel. Keep your fingers crossed, the pain of recreating it is more then I can bare to imagine at the moment.
Steampunk has turned into a real thing. A real world, real people doing real activities. It doesn’t have to be reenacting the fictional anymore. From a Victorian persons perspective I live in a future world, surrounded by beautiful Victorian things that do amazing stuff. I enjoy crazy contraptions, even talk to them, and travel the world in flying machines, etc. A Steampunk’s life is a REAL thing, not make believe. I think the make believe is great, but you don’t need to have it to be steampunk anymore. Do you think that there is not enough jewelry for gentlemen compared with what is available for women? No, I there there is a good balance now. I own far more jewelry the most nonsteampunk men would own. Also, with men, there is less of a social pressure towards wearing something new and fresh each time. Men typically choose to have a few iconic things to represent them, as opposed to a variety of things to choose from. It might seem odd to someone outside the scene, but steampunk men are VERY manly men, and we follow the traditional rules of manliness more then run-of-the-mill conventional modern men. We have launched recently our Sky Captain Series, that includes sterling silver lapel pin, tie bar and cufflinks. When Steampunk jewelry is brought up, do you think quality is receiving attention enough? “Quality” is tough pin down in steampunk, since Steampunk has a lot of DIY built
What I don’t approve of is the “low effort art”. Glueing a gear to a neck tie does not mean you’ve created an awesome steampunk neck tie. It means you were lazy in concept and execution. (I use this as an example because I have never seen this, and therefore nobody can get mad at me! ;) What is receiving more attention for sure is your music, there many closed dates to see you performing life worlwide in 2013: Brisbane, Eindhoven, Houston, Leipzig, Portland, Seattle, Tucson… may we expect some tour dates in Spain? I would love that. We had a date book in Spain last year, but the festival went bankrupt, and the show was therefore cancelled. Where we appear is never up to us. It’s all up to the promoters bringing us out. All I could do is cross my figures, and hope! :) This is going to be our ultimate question. Not only you are composer, musician and writer, but also instrument maker… many Steampunk instruments such as guitars, keyboards or even hornpipes have been created by you. As creator and a member of the Steampunk scene, do you have any piece of advice for Steampunk jewelers? Have a great concept beyond “it’s steampunk” then do a masterful execution of that concept. Steampunk itself shouldn’t be your goal. Don’t look at other “steampunk things” and copy, but go to the source definition, and re-imagine that. Create “Victorian Science Fiction” in the most amazing way you can, don’t just copy what you’ve seen others do. Be original, and be talented, put in effort and you will create something amazing. Thank you so much Robert, we look forward to meeting you at our stall at Wave Gotik Treffen 2013!
The brief interview series
50 1.- Craftwork. Exclusivity is the real luxury We all know that fast food chains are convenient and affordable; however, nobody turns to them when looking for ‘haute cuisine’. With fine jewelry happens exactly the same, no surprise. In that sense high jewelry is not different from haute couture. Using Wikipedia as source: ‘Until the 1950s, fashion clothing was predominately designed and manufactured on a made-tomeasure or haute couture basis (French for high-sewing), with each garment being created for a specific client. A couture garment is made to order for an individual customer, and is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric, sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, handexecuted techniques. Look and fit take priority over the cost of materials and the time it takes to make’. When fine jewelry comes into play, a plus of uniqueness and sophistication is required. The way we see it, the pleasure of exclusivity is the essence of luxury. And, as we always say, there is nothing more exclusive than something that is one-of-a-kind. Quoting the words of Ms. Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia since 1988: ‘Craftsmanship is luxury. A product is luxe when it is handmade, tailored for few. Luxury meaning exclusiveness’. Keep in mind that… • Steampunk luxury jewelry will normally be manufactured on demand, resulting on one-of-a-kind jewels. • Steampunk fine jewelry needs love, nurturing and caring hands… but this is not enough.
The 5 secrets of Steampunk Fine Jewelry Have you ever wondered what is Steampunk fine jewelry? So do we, and we are glad to share with you five hints or clues to distinguish real Steampunk fine jewelry.
Key question to be addressed: • Is this piece valuable? Is it exclusive? Has it been fully handmade by a professional jeweler?
2.- Best materials only Traditional fine jewelry is made with precious metals and gemstones. Despite this concept is undergoing a revision, fine jewelry will always require extraordinary ‘ingredients’. This is, raw materials do matter. Universal acknowledged materials are: 2.1. Precious metals A metal is deemed to be precious if it is rare. Historically speaking, the best-known precious metals are the coinage metals gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in art, jewellery and coinage. Platinum is only used for top-of-range pieces. 2.2. Gemstones The traditional classification in western countries, which goes back to the Hellenistic period, begins with a distinction between precious and semi-precious stones. This classification has suffered changes over time and depending on cultural contexts, which has made very difficult to determine what constitutes precious stones. Jade, for example, is considered the most valuable gemstone in China. At present, and depending on fashion trends, market supply, treatments, etc., several gemstones are used even in the most prized jewelry. In any case, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds are still the most valued gemstones. Not only the type of gemstone is important, but also additional parameters: 1. Color.- When talking about colored stones, most dealers assess the color
component of a stone at between 5070% of its value. A rich, bright, intense and vivid color is always best. In fact gemstones should not be too dark or too light. Ideally, they should look good under any light conditions. Gemological Institute of America (GIA) suggests to describe color for colored gemstones as Hue, Tone and Saturation. 2. Clarity.- Colored stones are almost never as clean as diamonds, in fact many of the most valuable gemstones like emeralds, rubies and alexandrites are rarely clean. Even in some cases it is the inclusions which cause the optical phenomena and enhance a stone’s value. 3. Cutting.- The most usual method of fashioning a gem is to cut the surface into a number of flat faces, known as facets. When reflection arises, aspects such windowing, meetpoints, girdle and good polish are decisive in order to distinguish between well and poorly cut gemstones. 4. Carat.- A carat is a metric unit of weight used in the gemstone industry to describe how much a gemstone weighs. A carat is equal to one fifth of a gram and there are five carats in one gram. Remember that valuable gemstones are generally sold by weight and not by size. 2.3. Antiques The use of antiques (this is, vintage elements) may be an option to link a jewel to a historical period. However, we think that this can only make sense if this does not entail damaging consequences for the antiques. The idea of wearing a bit of History can become very attractive, but artistic heritage is important enough to be respected. We need to be sure of the approppriateness of using antiques, analyzing ver carefully the legitimacy of the item origin, its authenticity and its real value.
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Keep in mind that…
Key questions to be addressed:
• Silver plated items have no precious metal value (Silver plate is a cheap base metal with a thin, almost microscopic coating of silver over it, usually applied using electricity). • Synthetic gemstones are not considered as valuable as natural gemstones. • Paying attention to the gemstone quality and condition is a must (be very careful with arising damages, such us chips, discoloration, fractures or scratches).
• Is this piece original in design terms? • Is this piece evocative of the 19th Century? Would the designer be able to drive me to its roots?
Key questions to be addressed: • Is this piece made with really extraordinary materials? • Will I receive a Certificate of Authenticity issued by the manufacturer of the jewel?
3.- Outstanding inspiration and design Luxury is not mere opulence. This means that the use of valuable materials in the manufature of a jewel is a necessary but not sufficient condition to consider it highend jewelry. From our point of view, Steampunk fine jewelry has to be evocative in some way of the 19th Century. This requires solid historical accuracy accompanied by exquisite innovation. Luxury, as Steampunk itself, is experimentation too, and has nothing to do with plagiarism. Copycats are not welcome.
4.- Details, details, details Because details do matter. Which kind of details are we thinking about? We could take into consideration factors such as: • Superior quality. In fact, Steampunk fine jewelry should guarantee a lifetime of (careful) use. • Unquestionable manufacture. Remarkable professional jewelers have technical knowledge, experience and resources to achieve the desired objectives. Education and tools are fundamental; attitude is the final push needed. • Technical specifications. Gold international caratage, sterling silver hallmarking, gemstone classification and/ or grading, etc. Keep in mind that… • Devil is in the details. Key questions to be addressed: • Is durability compromised in any way? Or could this jewel become a legacy? • Is this jewel appropriately presented? What about use and care intructions or packaging?
5.- Accurate cultural awareness Keep in mind that… • Steampunk evolves and Steampunk fashion changes through time. Steampunk jewelry, as artistic manifestation, has its own trends.
Jewelry is almost as old as humankind itself, with 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewelry. It has always been linked with wealth, power and status. Besides, jewelry is one of the most symbolical crafts and its value as
amulet can largely exceed the human need for ornamentation. We all know that there is an emerging Steampunk cosmology enriched with symbols of its own: gears and watch parts, locks and keys, compasses and sextants, penny-farthings, medical equipment, octopuses… however, we think that going further is necessary. Due to this ancestral background, Steampunk jewelry should pay attention to its historical roots and to the messages that result from them. There is no need to say that it is important to be careful when using iconography of cultures we are not familiar with: elements such as religious, ethnic or symbols need always special consideration. Keep in mind that… • Some symbols may seem quite fancy, but respect is more important than fashion. No offence intended. Key questions to be addressed: • May this piece acquire any meaning for me? • Is it susceptible of causing offence to anybody due to cultural heritage reasons? We hope these tips to be useful and look forward to hearing from you. We are Decimononic, pioneers in steampunk fine jewelry. Proudly taking steampunk fine jewelry to a new level as a way to empower every individual person. Bonus: If you are interested in Steampunk jewelry you cannot afford to miss our brief interviews series: ‘Steampunk jewelry tonight with…’
The brief interview series
The definitive guide to buy Steampunk jewelry in five steps Are you wondering how to buy Steampunk jewelry? Then maybe we can help you a bit… in fact, fine jewelry with Steampunk inspiration is our passion! Well, this guide may not be the definitive one… but we are sure that it is going to be helpful. In any case
don’t take our word for it, go on reading and see for yourself!
1.- What are you looking for? Identify your style
enjoy this blog post entitled ‘The 5 secrets of Steampunk fine jewelry’.
If you are trying to find ready-to-wear Steampunk jewelry, you probably have a clear idea about what is Steampunk. As you know, the Steampunk genre is rooted in the Victorian era: we just need a pinch of uchronie and retrofuturism, et voilá!
Besides, your own personal style (or the style of your persona… archetypes matter) will be conditioning your choice. Would an air pirate wear the same jewelry than a scientific? Would an explorer wear the same jewelry than a dandy?
3.- Durability, quality, inspiration? Determine the jewels’ value for you
This means that your first challenge is probably to define what you are exactly looking for. Here are some useful ideas. 1.1. Victorian era jewelry We are convinced that antique jewels, Victorian replicas or even modern jewelry pieces inspired by 19th century designers can suit your needs. These jewelry pieces will give you a Steampunk touch per se, but obviously there are many alternatives to get a convincing Steampunk attire: clothes, accessories, etc. 1.2. Steampunk-influenced jewelry Are you a purist or you simply prefer to rely on your accessories to design a jawdropping Steampunk outfit? Then this is a possibility that you need to considerate… but it is going to raise a key question: What is ‘Steampunk jewelry’?! We have to recognize that this question is a bit tricky and even we are still trying to get an answer with the assistance of the international community (thanks to our brief interviews series ‘Steampunk jewelry tonight with…’). It seems widely accepted that Steampunk jewelry shoud have the power to evocate the Victorian era (in terms of design, materials, cultural/ symbolic awareness, historical accuracy, etc.); if you happen to be in the quest for Steampunk fine jewelry, you will seriously
‘Our personal adornment not only attracts the attention of others, not only reinforces an image that we wish to project, but also provides a small glimpse into who we are as an individual. It talks about our interests and what we wish to share about ourselves’. Kevin Steil, (Airship Ambassador) interview
2.- Everyday use or special occasions? Find its purpose The intended use is very important in the fashion realm. The same way you choose a different outfit to go shopping or to attend a wedding, you are probably going to choose different jewels to go to the movies with some friends or to attend a Steampunk convention. To get a ‘steamy touch’ for your everyday wear you may prefer a discreet jewelry piece, while you may want to dazzle with an outstanding jewel in an event. If you are going to use a jewelry piece occasionally, durability may not be among your main worries. Remember, however, that quality is always noticeable; a professionally manufactured jewel made of precious materials such as sterling silver, gems, etc. has always been synonym of distinction and good taste.
One of the issues frequently pointed out by our interviewees is that quality and durability of Steampunk jewelry are not always up to standard. Purchasing a lovely jewel that ‘falls in first round’ is never a pleasant experience, so we encourage you to pay attention to this in order to avoid unnecessary disappointments.
‘Real Steampunkers care about quality. They appreciate craft and workmanship. It’s part of the Steampunk ethos to value creativity and skill, and to wear it with pride’. Jenny Schwartz interview Are you looking for disposable jewelry or do you want jewels for a lifetime, designed and built to last? Would you like to pass on this jewel to your daughter or son, for example? If it is a present, do you want to give something that is going to be soon forgotten or something that will make that special person feel unique for the years to come? Answer these questions and you will be closer to your target.
4.- How much are you ready to spend? Quantify your budget Jewelry or fine jewelry? Although there is quite expensive jewelry, fine jewelry has normally higher prices due to the materials and techniques used. We always recommend to set a budget and stick at it. Logically, the amount to spend will differ depending on your preferences. Many times this is a very conditioning aspect, but if you are willing to invest in jewelry you should ask something to yourself: do I
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want to buy cheap, use-and-throw jewelry, or do I prefer long-lasting premium pieces? Naturally top-quality jewels are less affordable, but they are going to pay for themselves in the long run.
‘When shopping for steampunk jewelry (or any jewelry) always buy something you love, but also buy the best you can with what you have. You will always love many pieces, and within those you love you will always find something wonderful within your means.’ Lee Ann Farruga (Countessa Lenora) What do we think? Once you have experienced quality, you will not step back. Think in the long term.
5.- Where are you going to find it? Steampunk jewelry shopping resources Alright, you know now what you are looking for! This is a great step forward, but there is one more issue to solve… where can you find Steampunk jewelry? These are the main options we can think about. 5.1. Online stores and marketplaces We think that marketplaces are the favorite option for those who are, like you, searching for gorgeus Steampunk jewelry. If you live in the USA, Etsy is going to become your reference (but do not forget alternatives such as ArtFire or Zibbet). If you live in Germany, Spain or UK, you should have a look at DaWanda, for example.
5.2. Physical stores When you are looking for Victorianstyled jewelry, many traditional jewelry shops, antiques or even big retailers can become good options. On the opposite, if this is not the case and you want ‘genuine’ Steampunk jewelry (if this exists at all) the range of options is not so wide. There are some physical shops here and there, and if you are lucky enough perhaps you will find one of them at your fingertips. Some of them are Clockwork Couture (Burbank, USA), Otherworlds (Edmonds, USA), etc. 5.3. Events 5.3.1. Alternative fashion/ lifestyle markets Some of them are itinerant or take place periodically (weekly, monthly…) and some of them do not. Do you live in London? Then we are sure that you have visited Candem or Covent Garden. However, don’t lose the faith if you cannot find alternative markets close to you… have a look at the next bullet point! 5.3.2. Cons Parties, gatherings, conventions… specific events usually become one of the best opportunities to buy items that you can try and check out before paying. This can be your chance to gauge the Steampunk scene, have a good time and increase your jewelry collection. Some of the best known cons worlwide are International Steampunk City (Waltham, USA), Oamaru Steampunk Festival (Oamaru, New Zealand), Steampunks World Fair (USA), SteamCon (USA), Teslacon (Washington, USA), The Asylum (Lincoln, England), Victoria Steam Expo (Victoria, Canada), World Steam Expo (Deerborn, USA), etc.
Keep your eyes wide open and you will find Steampunk jewelry in cons sooner or later! Do you have any additional tip for those wondering how and where to purchase Steampunk jewelry? Leave a comment and share your knowledge! And naturally do not miss this chance to search for inspiration at our catalogue of artisan Steampunk fine jewelry… ;)
54 The brief interview series
Decimononic designs and manufactures unique creations, mainly handcrafted fine jewelry and accessories inspired by Steampunk, biomechanics, Art Nouveau, ancient civilizations, 19th century, industrial culture… making the old new and the new old. Decimononic was born in 2010 as a creative project and its members believe in the beauty of craftwork, the power of experimentation and the value of singularity. From their headquarters in Madrid (Spain), Decimononic crew are active members of the national and international Steampunk scenes, always willing to collaborate with other artists. In this quest aimed to pioneer singularity, Decimononic has developed a comprehensive aesthetic proposal based on exhaustive research and a mission of empowerment. The concept of Steampunk jewelry is one of its main fields of interest and for this reason the brief interview series ‘Steampunk jewelry tonight with...’ has been underway from January 2012. Source: The Steampunk Museum
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56 The brief interview series
麓 IRENE LOPEZ Born in Guadalajara (Spain) in 1979, Irene L贸pez lives currently in Madrid. With an Environmental Sciences degree by a prestigious Spanish university and some experience as scholar including two research stays at University of California (USA), she has a promising career as civil servant. Previously involved in some underground scenes, Irene participates in the Steampunk community since 2010. She is one of the founders of Decimononic and, as Managing Partner, she is responsible for its creative and technical sides. As a firm believer in the DIY philosophy, Irene has always been interested in several handicrafts. She has training as silversmith and gradually improves her skills as pupil of the Argentinian jeweler Alejandro Allocco at present. Besides metalsmithing, her main areas of interest are gastronomy, literature, music, photography and modern History; Irene is charmed by Dieselpunk and is always keen to learn about the Spanish civil war and World War II. Source: The Steampunk Museum Photo by Marco Fernandez.
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JOSﾃ右ﾂｴ FRANCISCO ALFAYA Josﾃｩ Francisco Alfaya was born in 1978 in Vigo (Spain) and lives in Madrid at present. With professional background in Sales and Marketing, he has proven experience in SME internationalization (B2B) and managerial positions. He has travelled through Africa, Asia and Europe. Close to different underground scenes since mid 90s, Jose Francisco is an active member of both national and international Steampunk scenes since 2010. In this context, he spreads Steampunk genre as blogger and featured writer. As Managing Partner and founder, he is responsible for the conceptual and strategic development of Decimononic. The main interests of Jose Francisco are music, literature, photography and technology. Besides, he is fascinated by the dark side of the Victorian era, orientalism and wuxia genre, and Dieselpunk with noir flavour. Source: The Steampunk Museum Photo by Marco Fernandez.
58 The brief interview series
LEGAL NOTICE The orignal contents compilated in this document and this document itself have been published under a Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA (Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike). However, all images belong to its owners. This document has informational purpose and is not intended for sale. The opinions or statements expressed in these interviewes are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the views of Decimononic. The layout of this document is a work of the gifted designer Miguel Vรกzquez (www.zforvazquez.com). Kudos! We would like to sincerely thank the warm welcome of the Steampunk community to this initiative, the support of our collaborators and very specially the contributions of all the participants in this series of brief interviews. Thank you all!
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Do you wonder what is Steampunk jewelry? We are trying to give depth and consistency to the concept of Steampunk jewelry through this series...
Published on Feb 19, 2013
Do you wonder what is Steampunk jewelry? We are trying to give depth and consistency to the concept of Steampunk jewelry through this series...