Thursday, December 29, 2011

Crafting with Clockworks and Watch Parts

Gears, plates, dials and more are still growing in popularity with artisans and crafters of steampunk, trashion, neo-Victorian and beyond. Take a look at some of the basic components and it's easy to see why. Many watch and clock parts are made with beautiful brass that only improves with age, developing a nice patina in addition to the aesthetic charm of their shapes. Steel and aluminum also feature prominently in these components and they age nicely too.

Depending on how the crafter chooses to express him or herself, the possible design combinations range from edgy industrial to sentimental images from the natural world. Watch parts pair well with other mechanical components, but they're also lovely with flower and insect charms. It's this versatility that makes gears - from large clock pieces all the way down to tiny wristwatch wheels - such a popular choice for contemporary designers.

Are you a crafter who works with watch parts? If so, leave a comment and share your thoughts on what makes these pieces so appealing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Computer Buttons, Plastic Buttons, Electronic Buttons

What could be a more playful statement than a computer button ring, electronic button pin, or pair of calculator button earrings? Crafting with plastic buttons is a great way to simply create an eye-catching piece of jewellery.

Push buttons are also great for mixed media art adding a third dimension to electronic inspired designs. If you're commenting on electronic waste with your artwork, use buttons to depict a code or just to add texture.

Here are a few examples of jewellery crafted with buttons, along with some listings now live at Beyond Junk.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What is Steampunk?

Wikipedia defines Steampunk as:
"a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy."
You'll notice it's vague on aesthetics. And I like it that way, so I'm not going to add rules and regulations here. But I do want to talk about my personal inspiration and expression.

Alternate Reality Steam Worlds

In literature, Steampunk goes back to the late 1800's, inspired by the glory days of the steam engine. Think, HG Wells' The Time Machine, Jules Verne's A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, or Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. And more recently in film, Sherlock Holmes, The Prestige, Wild Wild West, Van Helsing and others.

I discovered Steampunk myself through a friend, then I explored more through blogs and on my favourite art community, deviantART.

To me, the genre celebrates steam, early electricity, and the beginnings of modern industry, enhanced by science fiction. During a 2009 trip to the UK, I visited the Manchester Museum Of Science and Industry (MOSI).

Browsing through the halls, it was easy to see why that machinery captivates so completely. Although not generally considered to be Steampunk, I enjoy retro computer imagery as well (see the last photo).

MOSI: Rail

Steam engine

MOSI: Power Hall

Steam machine

MOSI: The Baby

Replica of a computer from 1948

Neo-Victorian Industrial Style

Here are a few of my personal creations, inspired by some of the gear, steam, frills, and lace imagery I love. What's even better is that these pieces all feature recycled parts!

Steampunk Monocle Locket

45 Squared Pocket Watch Pendant

Airship Control Panel Pendant

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crafty Profiles: Dragonfly Key Jewelry

It's been awhile since I've posted a crafty profile, so I'm pleased to share a new artist today, Tashina Falene from Front Royal, Virginia. Her creations merge her love of the natural world with a soulful interpretation of vintage and neo-victorian imagery. Enjoy!

Shop: Dragonfly Key Jewelry
Goods: eco-friendly steampunk designs and vintage jewelry reinvented, all inspired by nature

Beyond Junk:
How did you get started designing jewellery? And what sparked your interest in steampunk and vintage?

Dragonfly Key Jewelry:

I was 13 when I started playing around with beads, but it wasn’t until I was 16 that I thought I could actually try selling my designs. I started participating in small church craft shows and have been growing bigger ever since.

For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed things with a story. If I can fill my whole house with antiqued and/or vintage pieces, I’ll be extremely happy. It was my first inspiration for jewelry and it will continue to be a standing part of my designs for many years to come.

As for the steampunk genre, I just began noticing it on Etsy and I fell in love with it. On a whim, I bought an assorted lot of watch parts and I haven’t looked back since.

Beyond Junk:
What inspired you to open an online store? How about craft shows?

Dragonfly Key Jewelry:
I’ve been doing craft shows for a few years now and love it even more than selling online, but I mainly only do spring and fall shows, so I knew I needed another outlet to keep my name out there. In my small community, there is only so many places I can sell my jewelry, and while at the time it was becoming successful, I wanted more control and not have to worry too much about a middle man, so to speak.

So when I heard about Etsy, and how they specifically cater to handmade, unique items, I gave it a shot. So far, it’s challenging, frustrating, but most of all rewarding. There’s nothing like reading about the customer’s experience with the piece, not something I usually experience at craft shows.

Beyond Junk:
Do you see your work as being environmentally friendly? If so, how?

Dragonfly Key Jewelry:
Well, steampunk itself is very eco-friendly in my opinion. In some cases, many artists leave nothing behind for the trash bin. Plus, you have the added wonder that these tiny little gears and tarnished faces were once loved and used in everyday life. Being able to provide people with the opportunity to something as special as that, with the added knowledge that these are essentially recycled pieces, then that makes my day.

Beyond Junk:
Tell us a bit about your plans for Dragonfly Key.

Dragonfly Key Jewelry:
For a while now I’ve wanted to do Men’s designs and I’m finally getting the opportunity to start designing some really great pieces I hope go over well with everyone that visits and buys from Dragonfly Key. And bracelets are something I’ve been considering as well and hopefully will have in the shop within the next year.

I want to continue offering unique but simple steampunk designs. I love it when customers tell me they’ve considered the genre now because they’ve either bought one of my pieces or they’ve just come across my store.

But most of all, I want to keep expanding and being able to do what I love. I’ve always believed that if I have one person tell me they love my work, then I know I’m doing something right.

Browse Tashina's naturally inspired steampunk and vintage designs:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vibrant Vintage Toys

Like the stickers I stocked before them, the vintage toys I've been adding to Beyond Junk are a fun and funky supply item that has very little to do with steampunk or trashion.

Although I'm still aiming to make Beyond Junk a distinctive resource for watch parts, computer parts, and industrial items, I'll definitely continue to add unique vintage or recycled items.

Think of the jackpot junk drawer from your childhood or the amazing bulk bag score at a local thrift shop. And as always, let me know what you're into and I'll see if I can source it for you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Antique and Contemporary Keys

Why do crafters like to work with these items? It's a question I ask myself every time I add something new to Beyond Junk. I've been adding keys lately - antique, salvaged, and new - to the shop because so many crafters enjoy them. In keeping with my philosophy of reusing and recycling, most of the keys I've sourced are antique or salvaged.

But the overall aesthetic is curious to me as well. Keys represent keeping secrets and finding treasures. A symbol of unlocking and revealing, keys have a mystery and romance all their own.

If you love working with keys, tell me, what draws you in? What is it about a key that captures your imagination?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bundles of Colourful Electrical Wire

Another recent introduction to Beyond Junk is a growing selection of electrician's wire. I've got colours, stripes, and raw copper.

As these listings make their way into the store, I thought I'd re-share a Funky Find from awhile back, the Electric Love Bangle & Ring.

The electrician's wire you'll find at Beyond Junk is a firm 20g copper wire, ideal for forming into rings and bracelets. It's substantial enough to hold it's shape with ease, yet flexible enough to shape by hand. The plastic colour coating is also quite durable.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Are you a designer, artist, or craftsperson?

Do you work with recycled or eco-friendly material? Ask about exchanging buttons to receive FREE advertising here at Beyond the Junkpile.

Beyond Junk Craft Supplies | Watch Parts | Computer Parts | Recycled | Sustainable

SleeplessStoryteller's Bits & Baubles | Steampunk Jewelry | Trashion Accessories

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Scavenger Hunting

I love markets. Read the post on my other blog about my Top 10 Markets and you'll see what I mean.

But when you're searching for just the right supply item or ready-to-upcycle vintage treasure, it can be hard to stay energetic in the long run. After your tenth trip to your local thrift shop, are you still pumped?

Scavenge at Beyond Junk
For crafters and artisans, it's frustrating that those great flea market and swap meet finds can be so few and far between. So I'm asking, what do you want to work with that you can never find?

Coins, Keys & Trinkets at Beyond Junk
Plastic Charms & Beads at Beyond Junk
Examples of hard to find gear:
  • Vacuum tubes
  • Letterpress blocks
  • Pocket watch parts
  • Vintage coins & buttons
  • Skeleton keys (antique or replica)
  • Tiny toys & figurines
  • Vintage beads & chain
Is your coveted supply item listed above? Can you add anything to the list?

Leave a comment here to let me know what you're looking for and I might just be able to find it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vintage Bottle Caps from Glass Garden Beads

Today I have an addition to the 'shelves' at Beyond Junk that I think just about any crafter can get excited about.

From Glass Garden Beads, I'm now carrying a selection of double-sided soldered bottle cap beads.

Each handmade metal bead is unique and delightful. So I'll let the photos do the talking. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Top 10 Markets

I've been to lots of exciting markets this summer, as a customer, and hopefully again soon as a vendor. When I attend, I'm either shopping or selling for SleeplessStoryteller, but either way, they're always a delightful experience.

I recently blogged about my favourite markets of all time on my other writing and crafting blog. But I wanted to share the link to that post here. If you love markets - fictional and real-world - head over and check out my top 10 list.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Funky Finds: U.S.E.D. Recycled Seatbelt Bags

I recently went looking for a diaper bag that would meet my needs for storage (including at least 1 bottle), but was also made with recycled material. I expected to be looking for quite some time, to find something that was also visually interesting. But my U.S.E.D. bag was a pleasant surprise.

Today's Funky Find: Universal Bag @ U.S.E.D

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recycling Your Manufacturing Off-casts

Some of the best recycled craft supplies I come across are the by-products of another artist's handmade wares. So I'm looking for a few good artists who might be interested in partnering with Beyond Junk as a supplier.

Do you manufacture a handmade product? Does your process create small pieces of waste material that could be reclaimed as crafting supplies? If so, I'd love to hear from you!

I'm specifically looking for:
  • metal discs or shapes
  • fabric or leather shapes
  • squares, corners, scraps, tags
  • wood pieces
  • paper cutouts
Let's work together on some joint marketing and social media!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Funky Finds: Electric Love Rings & Bracelets from grain

When you look at the wiring inside a wall or ceiling, you'll see little flashes of colour. But an opportunity to recycle? Actually, yes.

Today's Funky Finds: Electric Love Bangle & Ring @ grain

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hand-cut & Hand-punched Brass Bullet Shells

I recently started working with bullets in my other shop, SleeplessStoryteller's Bits & Baubles. Looking around Etsy and the greater community of handmade artists online, quite a few people are incorporating bullets into jewellery, creating charms, rings, cuff links, earrings and pendants.

Some designs are made from melted bullets, while some artists work with the entire bullet or just the stamped end. So I've started adding these as a supply item for Beyond Junk, and in addition to the first few below, I'll be listing whole casings as well as more variety in calibres and brands. Keep in mind that for both partial and whole pieces, the bullet has been fired and contains no active powder.

I'm really interested to keep learning about the many reasons artists are using bullets and what statements we're making by doing so. Whether you wear them or work with them, I'm sure they'll spark many more conversations.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Funky Finds: Brass Bullet Tie Tac

Many artists who work with recycled material have incorporated bullets into their repertoire of mixed media. I've worked with spent shell casings myself and probably will do again.

I find these pieces fascinating, aesthetically and for the social connotations involved in using bullets as decoration. Because so many people have strong feelings on this subject, I think bullet designs can be a great way to spark these conversations. So ...

Today's Funky Find: .308 Brass Bullet Tie Tac @ Bullet Designs

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

5 Reasons Vintage Stickers are Fun

Most of the supplies at Beyond Junk work best for jewellery, handbags, and mixed media artwork. Do stickers fit in? Not really, but they're hella fun!

One of my favourite things about having an Etsy store is the committee-of-one approach you can take to your mission and the decisions about what goes on your shelves.

So now that 80’s-era Sandylion stickers are here, I've got some fun thoughts on why I love them.
  1. Cool things from childhood make me happy.
  2. Stickers can perk up anything from your computer monitor to your bedroom mirror.
  3. They’re an awesome touch on handwritten letters, greeting cards, or special notes.
  4. Still highly collectible and a great gift with a vintage album.
  5. Perfect for scrapbooking, especially for childhood photos.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Funky Finds: TOMS Shoes

Today's find isn't a small indie business, but given their mission, I'm so glad to see them growing. In fact, I purchased a pair of these shoes myself.

They're a bit more than I like to spend, but so very worthwhile when you consider that for every pair they sell, TOMS gives a pair of their comfortable, durable, quality shoes to a child in need somewhere in the world.

Today's Funky Find: Earthwise Slate Women's Classics @ TOMS Shoes

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to Make Motor Winding Pendants

I've finally got another downloadable how-to article ready, this one about making motor winding pendants.

It's a bit higher in difficulty than my 1st two and requires an old DVD ROM and use of a Dremel with cutting wheel. But in my opinion, it's still pretty easy and fun.

And if you don't happen to have a spare obsolete DVD ROM or a Dremel, you can always get your pre-cut windings from Beyond Junk.

View the pdf or use the navigation above.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Funky Finds: Recycled Keyboard Shoulder Purse

I'm adding another new section here at Beyond the Junkpile. Short and sweet, "Funky Finds" will be just that. A quick hit of something new and cool in the world of recycled accessories and uber awesome junk.

Today's Funky Find: Recycled Keyboard Shoulder Purse @ Perpetual Kid

And if that's not cool enough, check out the matching keyboard clutch and accessory box.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cool Computer Junk

When I started taking apart computer hardware like hard disk drives and DVD ROMs to make jewellery for SleeplessStoryteller, I quickly started to wonder why so few people were doing it. After all, watch part jewellery has become quite popular, and I think for the same reason. The aesthetic of the mechanical is generally appealing to me, whether those moving parts are new, old, or somewhere in between.

I think one of the elements that makes computer parts different is that many people don't automatically know what they're looking at. If I pull a wheel or gear from a pocket watch, you might not be able to name it with an industry-specific term, but you'd know you're looking at a gear, wheel, plate, or related piece. This general recognition is not necessarily in place for computer parts.

So I'm sharing diagrams and part pictures of what I feel are the most visually interesting computer parts I use for jewellery design. In addition to using these for Sleepless designs, they're also offered as supply items at Beyond Junk.