Generally, Steampunk is a fashion, design, and popular-culture phenomenon that combines romance and technology. Among its many influences are futurism, time travel, and the Victorian Age. These seemingly disparate facets combine into a resulting look that might be called ‘Mad Max Meets Jane Austen’
From Jean Campbell, Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, & Earrings, (Minneapolis: Creative Publishing International, 2009), p. 9.
To me, Steampunk is a nostalgia for a time that never was. I am a lover of antiques and junk. My pieces are created from things I find at flea markets and estate sales. I like the idea of breathing new life into old objects and transforming things that are broken into beautiful, wearable art.
All art in a sense is found art, the art of absorbing the world around you and re-creating it to find it again. I take from what I experience & feel to make wearable things.
I started my business 10 years ago on my tiny kitchen table and it is still growing. I am lucky to have my jewelry carried in local shops and to have been featured in local media. I also can be found out and about at craft shows in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas.
The name, Bohemian Romance, was the name of the very first pair of earrings I ever made and sold. Everything I make has its own personality, and often its own story.
I am a part of a local crafting community, Make: Tulsa, and I am happy to be a member among such talented, artsy folk. I help put on Swap-o-Rama-Rama, an annual sewing & upycling event hosted at The Philbrook Museum of Art.
What I love most about being a Steampunk artist & jewelry designer is the history behind the objects that I re-purpose. I will often track down the history of a piece before using it so that I can inform the buyer of its unique story. With every piece I make, you not only get a little bit of my soul, but you also get a little history.
Each piece has its own story. Sometimes that story is passed down through the object (a photograph will be signed with the family’s name; a watch will have a maker’s seal; an inkwell, used for display, will have its brand stamped into it; and a locket will still bear its original owner’s initials—the secret compartment will still hold a rose petal).
But sometimes the story is mine and I share that too. Like the coal miner’s tag I found in a jar of buttons; like the trip to Paris with my mom that we took to see art and go to all the flea markets we could find and where we stumbled upon these gold filigree pieces and hotel tags from a building salvage; and like the lovely woman who stopped by Alliday Everyday last year who gave me a bag filled with her old wristwatches for free because she knew I could make something beautiful with them—and the other woman, who hugged her because of her thoughtfulness.
And sometimes the stories are yours. People will tell me about their grandmother’s button box when they see that I’ve used clothing snaps & buttons in a pair of earrings; a man will talk about his dad when he sees how I’ve used washers in my jewelry; or a kid will ask, “What’s this?” and it starts a whole conversation that inevitably leads to someone telling a story.
My jewelry is largely comprised of upcycled, salvaged, or recycled materials. Among my favorite things are lock washers, skeleton keys, white pearl buttons, clothing fasteners, sewing notions, rhinestone costume jewelry, electrical tubes, and clock parts.
The limited amount of new items I use in pieces, like chain, earring wire, etc. are purchased from local businesses. Being a small business, I tend to favor other little guys.
I’ve found two books on Steampunk indispensable and highly recommend them to anyone who wants to know more about Steampunk art, culture, and aesthetics–Jean Campbell’s Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, & Earrings and The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer.
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