Monday, April 6, 2009

Found on Etsy--Steampunk Jewelry

So today I thought I'd post about this Steampunk trend. I know, half of you are saying 'steampunk is so last week' and the other half are thinking 'what to hell is steampunk?' I didn't know anything about it until a few weeks ago when I saw some stuff on Etsy for the first time and then, of course, that day got my latest issue of Make which had an entire steampunk theme. Things always happen like that. You've never even heard of concept X and then within the week you've seen or heard 10 different references to it.

So according to Wikipedia, steampunk is "a sub-genre of cyberpunk science fiction with dystopian, noir themes usually in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting." Yeah, that doesn't really help me out much either, but once you see some of this work, maybe you'll get a better idea.

If you search for 'steampunk' on Etsy you'll get lots of results. Today I got 828 pages worth. There seems to be a wide range of what people label with this term, but I'm going to focus here on some jewelry. I think it's the most interesting and consistent as a style. Much of the jewelry in this genre seems to focus on cast-off bits of human ingenuity, which, of course, I love.

I think I'm drawn to metalwendler's shop because I get the sense that he has the same erratic approach to making that I do. He's got pieces ranging from exquisite mixed-metal brooches to steampunked vintage watch pendants to boombox belt buckles. Everything is beautifully crafted and all do seem to have that steampunk thing going on, but one would be hard-pressed to attribute them all to the same artist. Though there is value to having a 'look' to your work, it can be a slippery slope to the realm of somewhat tiresome. Shops like this are exciting to me. I love being able to really see the artist's explorations in (almost) real time. More metalwendler work can be seen at [Update: metalwendler has lots of different styles because there are actually 4 different guys contributing to the shop.]

19moons' shop seems to have the most consistently interesting pieces to me. She does a great job using interesting elements in a way that highlights their inherent beauty without completely obscuring their origins. She also has pieces in her shop that don't incorporate obviously reused parts, but they do share the same aesthetic. Check out more at

I have to include octopusMe here. In part because, visually, the work does seem to fall into the category, but the bigger impetus is to draw attention to a shop that has over 300 listings of various octopus tentacle jewelry. According to their description, all the pieces are cast in molds made from real octopus tentacles. Their sale numbers indicate a fairly large group of octupus jewelry wearers out there. Of course, it doesn't hurt that these pieces all seem to be extremely well-crafted. Needless to say, they are also pretty eye-catching. More tentastic pieces can be found at

After spending some time perusing various purveyors of steampunk, I've decided the pieces that seamlessly meld the antiquated and modern are the ones I find most intriguing. Well, those and the octopuses.

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