Tuesday, November 11, 2008

creating steampunk - a personal history

yes, 2 posts in one day!
I'm stuck at work.. can you tell? :D
Anyway someone asked me about how I got into making steampunk jewelry and its rather funny. i have been making jewelry now for ... a long time. Since highschool actually. Then in the 90s when I was living in Montreal, I opened a tiny bead shop. At that time I had a strong interest in Victorian jewelry - in particular jewelry made with hair, and keepsakes. I made some really awful stuff then - but some nicer things that got sold in a gallery as well. One of the first pieces was a pendant with my BF's photo - set into a watch case - and covered in gears. I found it just recently... lol.

By the mid-90s though i had to give up jewelry. I made an attempt to become a silver smith - took courses etc - but my hands/wrists were getting wrecked. Carpel tunnel! Finally by '99 I quit it entirely and got into tech support.

I'm sure there is some direct relationship between goth, steampunk, SF and Geeks. Heck, I know what it is - cause that's me. Aging goth who has written SF forever becomes Tech support Geek, finds other geeks, phases out of Gothdom and transitions into ... steampunk.

I started hearing about steampunk as a more modern goth alternative a few years back. Then, a friend used to send me a bunch of links and we would chat about it, and I continued my non-jewelry making life. Then one day he sent me a photo of some steampunk jewelry that was really, really terrible. Just - poorly made, cheap and well.. ugly. Even in the photo I could see the glistening glue glob, the fact that the jump-rings weren't closed and that the weight (which appeared considerable) would cause the necklace to hang crooked AND break.

so i started making my own stuff.

I feel lucky actually - because most of my customers are amazing people. Sweet, interesting and so far, pretty happy. I always try and correct any issues (and trust me, even I can make some mistakes when making jewelry even after all this time) and they seem happy.

What more can i ask?
Maybe one day to do it full time. Call it a steampunk jeweler's dream. Though, i must admit, I love the cyberpunk stuff too.

i guess, really, it isn't that interesting a story after all.

New Steampunk Jewelry update

I'm finally getting the chance to write and update my etsy site with some new steampunk jewelry. Its not been easy. I'm getting over bronchitis. yuck.

Still, I've got some wonderful new materials, and have started using some of my treasures. Treasures you say? yes, steampunk jewelry treasures! I have some great materials - but finding the time and inspiration has been a challenge.

This piece feels really inspired though to be honest. It is made with a wonderful fused quartz glass tube that was originally used in stop-motion photography. Although it is glass - it is very sturdy because originally a current was used to trigger this bright flash. The shape of it makes for a stunning pendant. I've already sold 2 of a similar design....... and omg! one of my customers was so thrilled she sent me a present!!! how cool is that? Amazing! heh. AND the other lady wrote today to say she loves it very much and has sent me a commission.

::does a happy dance::

I designed a very silvery based chain made with bits of industrial hardware, similar to the designs of my Vacuum Tube pendants.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Steampunk Fashion - working Gear Jewelry!

Steampunk Jewelry movement #1
So here is my first "moving movement" = actual moving jewelry !
I'm really really happy with it. I think it really brings my own feelings about steampunk jewelry and the steampunk aesthetic to a new level for me on a personal basis. Its a really nice feeling to fix something - lots of repair work was done - fix it enough to make it "work".

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Scary Steampunk Halloween jewelry by clockworkzero

something scary for Hallowe'en... tiny jaws from some unknown animal that were quite old.
The watch parts already reminded me of jaws or claws. Since I did the "Art that scares you" fundraiser I thought of these.

Anyway, there is something very cyborg like in these pieces. what is nice about these crazy, scary pendants is that they are 2 sided. so you can wear them either way. something like a bone sculpture.

Ah well... can you tell I'm a fan of the Terminator movies.. the first 2 anyway. And yeup, the series as well.

I've got a friend who is looking up what kind of bone. I'll let you know.

Steampunk sculpture

I've finally had the time to create one of the sculptures that have been in my head for ages. Steampunk sculptures - small mock up models of what certainly would be a functioning Time Machine. It would be fantastic to make one that was large enough for a person to walk through!

The dial on this is very clean and lovely... and i love the roman numerals. the pointer can be moved as well.

I've posted this up at my flickr account.

Steampunk Jewelry and sculptues here in Toronto

The Royal Sarcophagus Society's
The Bazaar of the Bizarre
Sunday, Oct 19 ~ 11am-6pm
6 Noble St. (Queen W. & Dufferin)

Our first Halloween & Holiday Marketplace! Over 40 artists, clothing designers, craft-folk, publishers and other independent makers of all things exotic and macabre will assemble for this eccentric emporium of curious crafts. Admission is Free!

this will be great! I've been making so many things for this event - steampunk time Travel sculptures, steampunk necklaces and jewelry... all kinds of things. There will be new steamy earrings and pendants, brooches oh my!

as i've got time at work.. i'll make another post or two.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New steampunk jewelry!

wow! been an age since I've had the time to post here.
I've been really really working hard on a lot of new steampunk jewelry. Yes, clockworkzero's been a very very busy grrl. In addition to my steampunk earrings, brooches and necklaces I've been designing a line of cyberpunk jewelry.

You just don't see enough cyberpunk styled jewelry in my corner of the world :D
I love playing with all the beautiful machined parts - not just cogs, wheels and gears but actual part of computer and various equipment - thats what I adore about using electronic parts in my work.

This particular vacuum tube is really lovely. I made/ designed a special chain for it that really works. There is something very cyberpunk imho about it.

In addition to the Cyberpunk jewelry I've been making more "traditional" steampunk jewelry too. For some reason though, I'm not able to put up any more photos right now. :D so looks like I'll be posting again soon!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Non-Pro Inexpensive DIY Jewelry Photography

I'm on a budget. I can chose to spend hundreds (or thousands) on a Camera, Lenses, Light Tent, Reflectors etc. or I could pay someone with all that stuff to take shots. Unfortunately, I don't earn enough for a $2000 investment (or more) - where I'd prefer to put my money towards materials (or a vacation! please??!)

Please scroll down to see some of the excellent tips provided by others as well.

I did stock photos for a few years - and wow. did i learn a lot (and make little). Basically though, I'm pretty confident about my photos of the steampunk jewelry. They might not be the best/ most original out there... but they are detailed, focused and well lit.

I shoot all my jewelry in my kitchen where I get a lot of light. Sometimes, a bit too much light ... so I have some light gauzy curtains to help cut the glare. I'd love to buy a light tent - or made one - but I don't have time/space for all that.

I can get the results using a few simple things:

1. Tripod
2. Reflector
3. A non-SLR digital camera. It has a "live view" that allows me to compose the shot, do adjustments and check things like: White Balance and Exposure.. I use my trusty Canon G6 - which is now about 4yrs old and I bought a 2nd one off ebay for $200. FANTASTIC camera - sharp - lots of manual options - and does the job.

1. Tripod:
a tripod is a must! It doesn't have to be a full sized one - I've got 2 small tripods - but the thing it should do is allow the camera to point straight down towards the object you are shooting. That way, all you need to do is lay it out, arrange it and focus. I also use the timer on my camera - a 2 second delay - so there's no problem with camera shake when you press that button.

I used this tripod for a while but I have a slightly larger one now. I got it on sale at a camera shop for $15. I've been awesomely happy with this one: a Celestron Tabletop Tripod... which is $15 as well. Sturdy. I'd recc. it for most jewelry photography.

2. Reflector:
This helps eliminate shadows. If your light source for example is from the right side you'll have shadows on the left of the object unless it is incredibly flat. My jewelry might only be .5cm thick but it still casts shadows... so to eliminate those annoy shadows that can distort your object, place a reflector on the left side. It will bounce the light and get rid of a lot of shadows. You'll see these sometimes called "Bounces" for this reason

A reflector can be an expensive, but worthwhile investment for $50 + or it can be as cheap as a piece of bright white cardboard. I've used both. If you have an external flash you can point it at the white board and it will bounce off without giving you horrible flash-shadows and reflections. So costs can be $1 for some bright white card stock.

You should avoid using (imho) the flash units on most cameras... especially if you don't want - can't afford to spend a lot of money.

3. Cameras:
Do you need an expensive camera? Not for this work.
On my etsy site they ask for images about 1000px. - which is about the smallest my old G6 will take - I actually resize them down for etsy.com but I keep them larger for my Flickr. You *CAN* take great shots with a point-and-shoot camera - and a lot of them have manual options as well. (the canon G5 is a cheap cheap used camera that will be worth the investment if you are looking for jewelry photography camera for the web). Sure, people will tell you you Must Have X. But save your cash... unless you are planning on doing jewelry photography for a living. And even then, it can cost you more in camera gear than you could sell in 5yrs of jewelry making.
Who cares what megapixel! Its going on the web. You don't need 10 mpx to resize and throw out 9megapix of your photos. Look at used! Save that money! :D

Other Tips:

If you are placing an item - say a painted cup or glass - near a wall - make sure it is far enough away from the wall so it doesn't cast a shadow.

Use natural light - it often provides the best light but avoid strong direct sunlight... avoid those shadows!

Most of my photos have the brightness and are contrast adjusted, some times some dodging and of course cropping.

If you're having problems with the focus you are probably too close. Back up a bit, try it again. Don't forget you can crop down your image.

Get / learn some basic Photoshop. Even the older editions are worthwhile. If you are looking at using a different program make sure it has "Brightness/Contrast".

Use a light / bright - fairly neutral background. Try a few different colourful ones but remember the background should compliment and not distract from your product. Try different materials: lace, a scarf, some interesting prop.

Make sure your background - if it is dark especially - is free from dust. After you've laid out your jewelry - blow the dust away. Even if you can't see it, sometimes it will show.

Buy some lovely paper. A few sheets of handmade papers are a worthy investment.

Plan it out - take a bunch of photos at once - just swap out that paper! Later on you can review it all and chose a variety of shots.

Additional Tips from other helpful etsy people:

mamabetsy - who has some great close up shots in her shop suggested:
"people can use wax or tissue paper on the window to filter the light. I like to see different angles and hopefully the piece hanging, if that is appropriate. I think that focus, lighting, and clarity are key as well as keeping a consistent non cluttered look."

Good luck and good shooting! Lemme know if you have any ideas / suggestions or things to add to the Tips.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Steampunk Jewelry Designs

well, I been sick for days now. Bronchitis. But of course that doesn't really stop me. I just cough more. :D

I did manage to take some new photos today, which is always a challenge. I love photography - natural light! But this winter here in Toronto has been long and harsh, so daylight is often dim by the time I finish work. Oh well. I did get some good photos and manage to add a few more things to the etsy.com store. I'm really tired though these days and I can't wait for the weekend. I'll be finishing a few more pieces then.

Until the weekend...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Steampunk Jewelry on etsy!

I finally ... finally! got my etsy account set up. Shocking - but I already made my first sale. I'm dropping it in the mail in about 1 hour. Off it goes down to the US.

the url to my etsy account is

I posted my first piece up there - so far I've only got my steampunk earrings up and the steampunk jewelry - in particular a few steampunk pendents.

I re-photographed some of the work... which I hope will make a difference. I used some lovely Japanese papers. This one has 2 layers:

I think the blue works with the amethyst.
the lovely gears really work.

As well, I just found a Toronto Craft group on flickr. hopefully I'll meet some more canadian crafts people!

Friday, March 7, 2008

clockwork insects: my steampunk bugs

I don't think I really have had a chance to talk too much about the steampunk insects I'm working on. This one is the first, and so far the best. I do though plan on making a few small ones - only an inch or two across. Last night I was doing some soldering of old vintage brass onto old vintage watch pieces. This one though - the wings move - which makes it special I feel.

The drop is, I believe, Peridot, set in sterling silver. The shape worked best with this Steampunk Insect... suggesting beauty and danger. Perhaps a deadly drop of poison? I think it is a beautiful, dangerous clockwork insect. I'll have to see about designing a chain for it as well.
I love making steampunk jewelry. Makes my heart tick!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


yay! the Desolate Places Anthology is out finally. I'm one of the authors there... but i'm not saying who. lol. Yay! it is a science fiction short story about a technician who has to go into a ossarium - a bone yard, basically. The short story is called "Gifts of Bone".

anyway, thats the cover... it is really quite beautiful. I'm excited as all hell's get out. heh. my first published piece.

I get torn about making the jewelry sometimes because I feel like i should be writing. When I'm writing I sometimes think I should be making jewelry. But lucky for me - I can think about writing when I'm doing the steampunk jewelry. I'm thrilled anyway.

Steampunk Earrings - Commissioned work

Well, I completed some commissioned earrings this weekend. It was great fun actually. I love getting to know people.. and then making special things for them. Much much fun. I do commissions when I can get the time. Usually they work out very well. I usually spend time getting to know the person via emails etc so that I know what they like.

This started out as a request for 1 earring - as the buyer only one pierced ear.
Basically, she named a few pieces that she liked, and we discussed. Which ear (right side)? Colour of her hair? preferences of materials and lengths. I tried to make them all slightly different.

So I sent off these ones and said: choose one.
She said she's going to buy all three, which made me actually laugh aloud since it hadn't occurred to me she'd like them all. I'd have a hard time choosing to be honest. Currently, I'm making her a 4th as well.

one of them has one of the wings I like so much. the middle one has that lovely amethyst and the last one has a tiny Glow-in-the-dark watch hand! yay for glow in the dark!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dragonfly Steampunk Earrings

So as I mentioned yesterday, I was going to post some of my steampunk earrings. First there are these beautiful little dragonflies! As far as a set goes, they are nearly a perfect match. I'll be selling these on etsy soon.

the next pair of my steampunk earrings are quite a bit different. Here i've chosen balance wheels. What's a Balance wheel you might ask? They are the tiny wheels - weighted wheels that rotate back and forth in a watch. Each swing of the wheel makes the 'tick' in the ticktock of your clock. They've been in use since the 14C.

Above you can see two common types of balance wheels: the ones with teeth are on the bottom.
I've made a few pair of these earrings - though finding a matching pair of balance wheels can be so tricky! Every one is a bit unique though. In the above ones I've used amethyst... but on my flickr you can see some with faceted amethyst beads.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

steampunk jewelry: The Bee Necklace

So this steampunk jewelry sometimes takes an age to make. This piece though was well worth the effort and time. It's one of the Steampunk Insects: a steampunk necklace.
I've decided to call her:
The Bee Queen's Necklace

I've posted her up on my Clockwork Zero flickr account.

She is a lot more silver than she shows here. something was warm in the light when I took this shot.

anyway, the bee is sterling and she has gears, screws and a watch hand for detail. Dangling from the sides of the moon-like pieces are 2 little sterling silver spiders.

I've also been making steampunk earrings. more on those later.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Steampunk Earrings

I've been making a few pairs of earrings when I can get matching parts. Here are a pair with some beautiful metallic pearls balancing with small garnets. The Victorians loved their pearls. These baroque pearls are particularly fine.

pearl steampunk earrings
At the top I added these pewter-colour decorative pieces. They had a few more bits on the side which I clipped and sandedand filed clean. They add a bit more style I think... a little bit of an extra dash.

I've also been inspired...
The other night we stood out in the cold and watched the eclipse. I love it when the moon became that spooky red. No wonder it was frightening for so many people in the ages past. If i can find a nice coppery watch back I am planning on creating a steampunk brooch - or maybe a pendant of the event. Hopefully I'll have time this weekend to make more steampunk jewelry.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Steampunk Jewelry


Well, I'm updating this again. :D about time. Not sure if anyone knows or reads it anyway. I've got my livejournal blog under "Clockwork Zero" and my Flickr too. This is my blog where I can just discuss jewelry. In particular steampunk jewelry.

I've not been making Steampunk Jewelry for a long time. But I've been making jewelry in general for years. Over 15 years actually. and of course... once upon a time I had a bead shop too.
this means I have more materials than i have sense. heh.

Making Steampunk bijoux - jewelry - means I can combine my favorite things: Science Fiction and jewelry. All my work is for sale, and right now I'm having issues keeping up with the demand.

When i'm not making jewelry i'm out taking photos or doing urban exploration. I also do tech support. What a crazy life.