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