Thursday, December 17, 2009

Steampunk Jewelry in Toronto

So every once in a blue moon I do a Craft show around Toronto. Eons ago when I did them in Montreal they were fantastic. Toronto though has more of a mixed reaction. I'm not complaining though - I always sell something at the shows, even when people around me aren't.

Last week though I had a strange experience. A couple came over to me and asked if Iworked for another person. (Dave?? I can't remember). No, I make all my own stuff all by myself. Sometimes the cat keeps me company but mostly its me & parts.

"But your jewelry is a lot like his!"
"Well, not really. Your work is very nice."
"We should tell Dave(?) to come and see your stuff. He's going to be Furious. He'll be soooo angry! We should tell him to come see your stuff!"
um... no really. Perhaps you should NOT send Dave(?)-the-Enraged-Jeweler to come see my stuff. I really don't want to meet him anymore.
"Oh it will be FUN! He'll be really upset but he'll get over it!"

This coming Sunday I'll be at the TRANZAC - a little space just south of Bloor Street, at 292 Brunswick Ave. I'm going to have a bunch of new work there. I love the vibe at these craft shows - its always amazing to meet other crafts people.

Somehow though I'm not sure I'm looking forward to meeting Dave(?) though. If you hear about an incident at a craft show.. think of me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

TIPS for ETS Sellers #2: Whats in a Tag - ETSY Tagging Tips

Last night at the Speakeasy Craft show in Toronto I started talking to someone about the tags they use on Etsy. I'm fairly certain that this would apply though to many, many other sites perhaps like artfire.

Most people think of tags as descriptions - and in Etsy's case they have some general rules around tagging. Certainly the right tags will get your product found - when you search for something on etsy after all you will notice the various categories. Mis-tagging can get you in trouble sometimes... listing something as vintage when it isn't... but general mistagging can just get your work buried.

If you ever browse the categories (and really - you should! Not only is it a good way to stumble over a great gift but its a great way to see how others are tagging their items) sometimes you'll find some piece of jewelry (or whatever) that is completely mis-tagged. Perhaps it is a newly created necklace that has somehow ended up in the "Supplies" category. These mistakes often go unnoticed by the seller - and what will happen is that your work will be buried in the zillions of supplies.

General rules - lets call these the Basics:

1. CATEGORIES - not all my work goes into the Geekery Category though certainly some of it does. The JEWELRY section is hundreds of pages deep but if that's where your item goes... thats where it should be.

2. SPELLING: is of course critical. One thing to consider though is that American vs British spellings can make it difficult to find some items. Since the majority of buyers are from the USA - consider your options carefully and I would suggest that if the majority of your customers are from the USA - then certainly appeal to them.

3. APPROPRIATE: its really critical that the tag you use is appropriate. You do yourself no favors by marking something with an inappropriate tag. No one wants to look for shoes and find your piece of jewelry made with a doll that happens to be wearing shoes. They won't click on it - and you have wasted one of your Limited number of tags. When I search for supplies it irks the crap out of me to search for steampunk and end up with teddy bear material. My reaction is WTF followed by annoyance. I immediately know someone is trying to take advantage of the popularity of steampunk............. or they just don't know what they are doing. I will NOT buy from someone who can't be bothered to find out about Steampunk Jewelry, or what is a good tag to use for their product.

There are only 14 tags on etsy so use them wisely!

Create a list of possible TAGS. Have a close look at what other people are using for their tags - it might not be the best choice but when you are trying to brainstorm some appropriate tags it can be easy to overlook some.

Now to the nitty-gritty of your Tags...

Tags help the buyers find your work, but with 45,000 tennis bracelets what will help them find you???

This is where a little site called CRAFTWEASEL will really come in handy. Here's the description of their Tag Finder tool: "Tag finder helps you choose the best set of tags for your items" - and pretty much it does what it says.

So lets have a look how this works - and I can give you an example. Since I'm fairly familiar with the term Steampunk... lets go with another tag that sometimes applies to my jewelry: GOTHIC.

Craftweasel tells me were 1100 items or so listed with this term - and the prices - the Mean/Median price. Right away I can see that most of my items will be out of the Mean And the Median price range. (google up the terms for an explanation). Immediately I know that this might not be a good tag for my products. Why? Because my price range is higher so if someone searches and lists "low to high" price my work will be buried...
Does this mean I should not use the tag "gothic"? Not necessarily... so lets look a bit deeper into the stats provided.

Personally the 2nd chart I look at is the graph: "Graph of related tags with most views/day"
Under the term "gothic" I find that jewelry is very low in this list - clothing related items being HIGH. It would be a great term if I made gothic clothing. Alas, its already dropping in my list of Possible tags.

Is that it? No.. Dig around look at the "RELATED TAGS". This is actually a fantastic bit of information. I always sort it by "Average Views per Day". What are the top few average views that are related to what YOU sell? Are any of those tags related to what you sell? What is the average price? Is there any YOU can use...

keep building your list of the best tags for your work you can find. It is how people FIND you on etsy. Check back periodically and see what getting more hits using CraftWeasel. Ask some friends - "if you were looking on google what terms would you use to find my work?".

And one final tip..........
every so often tag your shop name (or your personal name) in with the tags. You might also list your city or town. Not everyone knows to use the "shop local" option - and that only shows 100 shops anyway - so put your city down as a tag... not on every item but at least on one or two in your shop.

Did you find anything interesting in this post? Please let me know!

Monday, November 23, 2009

some Steampunk Earrings...

I don't make a lot of earrings. No idea why - probably because they are a bit of a PITA for me personally. Or maybe it was the trauma of all the ugly earrings I wore back in the late 80s? hm. So when I make earrings I really try and come up with something pretty, and unusual.
Anyway, one of my most popular designs are simple and elegant. They are the ones I call my "Silver and Black Star earrings". I have had more compliments on these ones then just about anything else. They are, for me "steampunk earrings" but... I suspect they are just the perfect combination of elegant and classic. Maybe one day I'll make a few variations but right now they are my fav. The black star-gear washers are a lovely matte black - which works well against the shiny silver discs. I love working with sterling silver - but I just wish I could afford to use more :)

The next pair of "steampunk earrings" are really much more (IMHO) Cyberpunk. I often wonder if cyberpunk though is as popular as steampunk. I love it. That modernistic slick look, which is to me much more MATRIX-BLADERUNNER oriented then the gear-driven, brass and watchparts look of the steampunk jewelry. This pair of earrings will be quite limited in their run. Alas! sigh. I think they are very difficult to find - the main component being the Magnetic Switches - which are Just Super cool.

I'll have to dig up some other photos somewhere of some of my other earrings. :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tips for Esty Sellers - Successful Marketing Ideas - part 1 of ?


Alrighty! I don't have the biggest esty store, nor the most sales, nor am I the premier of steampunk jewelry designers. (heh). But I did 8 years of web-hosting server-side support for UUNet/worldcom/mci/verizon - and a lot of that involved Stats. And sites. And marketing. So I picked up a few things, and spent a lot of hours talking to web-designers and marketers. Maybe You can find a few tips here in this article about how to become a bit more successful - or at least give it a try! :D As a person who's worked for a company more than some change their socks, I've seen Names come and Go..... so...


Have you googled your personal name lately? What kind of results do you get?
Are there 10,000 similar names, or just a few pages?

One of the most important things you can do when you are choosing a shop name is to come up with something memorable - and unique. If you have gone by a standard default *myname1234* or something along the lines of DebbieDoesEarrings - chances are you might be doing your shop a disservice. Someone will find your shop - but will they remember it two weeks from now? Or will they think, "hmm.. debbie. earrings." and use that as a search and get 5 million pages - with your shop name buried somewhere 108 pages into the results?

You want something unique - and perhaps reflective of what you do. I chose clockwork = because its memorable and reflects the materials. Zero was my old Nickname. Google up "clockworkZero" and you'll notice the first 10 pages or so all link back to me - and thus to etsy. When I first started out all the results led to someone else who had a similar name who has now vanished under my tagging.

Is it too late to rebrand? Not really. If you realize your old name was/is a poor choice - there's a few things to do. Contact your old customers and let them know you've changed your shop name - use it as an opportunity to create hype! "I'm relaunching - just an FYI! Come see what is new!" etc. It gives you a great excuse to send a simple email to friends, family and customers - without banging them on the head begging for sales.

Include your old shop name in your etsy tags for a while - this will give people the chance to search and find you - so add your OLD name to all your current listings...

BUT My cards .... My Marketing ! All the time/money/ideas I've already put into Debbie74832x!
Ask some tough questions: 1. is it working? 2. can it work better? If someone doesn't have your business card In Their Hand - do they remember you?
Luckily you can still have your old shop - BUT - redirect the customers over to your New Shop Name! Use up those business cards (though personally, I've never minded someone crossing out old info - for enviromental reasons - and printing in the new name/tel #).

1. Add your shop name to you signature as well - everywhere you can.
2. Add your shop name to your tags on etsy. It doesn't have to be in every listing but put it in a few. People don't often realize when they go to etsy that they need to define their searches by shop name.
3. Use your old name in tags in your blogs etc. Some places will allow name changes but you might need to pay a fee. It can be worth it. If they can't do it ... start planning the name change and announce it where ever you can. "I'm moving my blog to..."

Brainstorm with friends or hold a contest for a new name. Create hype. Get excited about your relaunch and people will get excited with you.

How do you check to see if it is working? Obsessively google your name?
Too much work. You might do it for a few days but 3 weeks into it you will forget.
There is an easy solution: Google gives you tools.

1. STATS. If you haven't set up stats on your esty page.. hie thee hence and find out how. There is a ton of info on the etsy forums. Stats are your friends. View are lovely - but 80% of visitors will only look at your main page you need to know if your Old name and New name is working. Stats will be a critical critical ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY tool. kinda like fingers. really.

2. ALERTS. Every time someone mentions ClockworkZero and the word Steampunk (and a few other things) I get an email from google. I want to know who mentions me, why, where and when. Its a great tool to see how often your current name is getting mentioned. When you've rebranded with your new shiny name... see the difference. Set up your own google alerts here: and then see what happens.

And if you are Debbie74832x - you can rebrand. DebbieDoesEarrings is currently available. ;)

And do let me know what you think about this article. Want more tips? should i bother?

Steampunk Jewelry Explosion... the Aftermath!

holy crow. I've managed to complete more new pieces of jewelry this past 2 weeks than I have in months. Most of it is a steampunked style of jewelry - pocket watch pieces, gears etc. And of course a few pieces of "cyberpunk jewelry".

With the weather halfway decent I could finally take some photos. Thats the problem with a Natural Light obsession. Cloudy dark days don't do it for me. Bright sun also has its own problems. Today looks like another good day - bright and flat skys.

What does this all mean? Basically I've been working like a fiend to get new designs up to Etsy. I do not know if the Shopping Holiday craze has decended or the sporadic marketing attempts I've been doing.

In the past week I've almost had 30 items up on etsy. For me that is a HUGE number. I custom make all my designs... so its just me sitting there in my little crowded room, trying not to drop tiny gears on the floor where they'll get lost in the cracks. This should be easy but it isn't. :D I work a few hours every day for my brother - doing that driveway thing - but when its done - in theory I've got a few hours to make some steampunk earrings, some necklaces and work on some weirdo sculptures.

In reality:
5 hrs for my brother: 9-2pm. or so
1 hr for: lunch, minor cleaning: 30 min. shower, dressing, more minor cleaning: 30.

Suddenly it will be 3pm.. emails. Posting stuff. Shopping. Making dinner.
Wait! the light is great.. take those photos!
Wait, another email from someone re: steampunk jewelry!
Wait.. wait.. wait..

Next thing I know it will be 5:30 and I've CREATED NOTHING... but dinner.

So to get 28 pieces of jewelry up on etsy is an accomplishment. I don't know how other people manage to list 50 or 100 or 200 things. omg. They prob work full time at it. Or have a co-op or something. Listing 28 pieces is for me an EXPLOSION of jewelry.

But now .. I've had sales. The last 2 weeks have been almost as busy for my store as the time that I had the article about my work and etsy in WIRED Magazine. I'm tripping over myself to make sure the work gets sent out promptly and well packaged. and now i've gotta plan for 3 craft shows in Dec!

rains it pours. make hay while the sunshines. It will likely be very quiet in January!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Steampunk Jewelry: Insect mania... :D

So a few days ago I said I'd post some photos up. So far I've been slacking. Actually I've been painfully busy. There was the most fantastic party this weekend - great people and music - and OMG models. Models wearing my jewelry. it was an EVENT! :D

anyway, it seems of late I've got a lot of insects around my etsy shop. I love bugs, beetles, bees and spiders. Suddenly I realize I've got a LOT of steampunk insect themes. Maybe there is an entomologist hidden in my soul yearing to create? I would love to study insects but I think I'll have to beg off for a few years while I'm fixated on the steampunk jewelry. So, here's a few of my steampunk insect themed jewelry. Maybe I have the same facination with insects that the Victorian's had? To be honest they make me jump but I do like them.

So Above in this post: Beetle Wing Necklace: Made from real insect wings :) Scary but true - they are this incredible chrome green colour.

Image 2: this fantastic Steampunk Bee necklace. Not the best photo I know... there are more photos on my - this is a really elegant creation. I searched for months to find matching small gears for this piece - they flank the wings and there are matching watch gears too. The only little element that is not an exact match is the fact that one side has a brass coloured gear while the other is silver. Oh well. :D I could have removed them but then it would lose such a nice element of this piece. More photos of it and a longer description are over on my little site.

Then we have another bee. this is much more "fun" then the queen bee here - an interesting combination of a new "vintage" designed pressing and a light bulb! :D

This piece was a nightmare to photograph. The bulb was so difficult to get right and the light has been terrible of late.

It came out fairly well but looks much better in person. Thebrass gear in the centre is really quite fantastic. I wrote a bit about it... Its called (i feel appropriately): The Mystery of Bees

Now lets see what else I've got up on etsy that will go into this post.
Basically this was the piece that started the "Clockwork Insect" post.... I finally finished it last week and got some time to take photos. I'm so pleased with it. It is just FANTASTIC really... I Love it. Sure someone else will love it too... but I just hope whomever buys it will like it as much as me. lol. Does anyone else have that problem?

I photographed it with natural light but had to remove a lot of colour from the wood in this shot via photoshop. The wings reflected all the colour... you can still see a bit of warmth to it.

There is a great description of this unique piece of steampunk jewelry... while its still for sale. I am suspecting someone will buy it. Wouldn't it be great against black? Stunning!

And you know..
just to through a Monkey into the mix...
I'll be putting up my Monkey soon to my etsy site. Sort of a monkey wrench into the works of this post ;)

Friday, November 13, 2009

On the Front Page on Etsy! minature working telescope!

Well, thanks to people who let me know :D it was 6am... lol. And at that time I was sort of asleep listening to my husband breaking something in the kitchen which turned out to be our coffee pot! :Sob: No coffee.. but Front Page!
Craftcult has a widget and you can find out if you've been featured on the front Page on etsy. What I hadn't realized was that the Mini Telescope was featured there once before!!

I had been speaking with my husband about "things we want" and a telescope was one of them. An amazing telescope... but here in the city its hard to see the stars. Anyway that compelled me to find someone who had a few for sale and I got them all. They were in pretty rough condition (some of them) - with lose glass - dirty glass (an actual fingerprint!) and some terrible goop. I disassembled them and voila! I found an awesome chain that is a great match and added some vintage charms.

I suspect it is the photo. It was a real trick taking it but I use an old Canon G6 with a flip out screen and a macro lens attachment.

and it seems.. alas.. i can't show you the photos of it. sigh. I'll try and figure something out!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Steampunk Jewelry Explosion!

Steampunk Jewelry Explosion!........
well its close to being an explosion. For the first time ever I've managed to get up more than 20 items on etsy. Sure took long enough. A year and a half! lol. But not just that.. there is a crazy bunch of jewelry everywhere - piling up and waiting to be finished - every.where. Steampunk jewelry, cyberpunk jewelry, geek jewelry... gears cogs wheels wood, bits and bobs, glass.. a fair amount of glass bits... fragments and EPROMS and vacuum tubes and switches and so MUCH stuff... its spilling out.

I'd show you all a photo of my work space but I'm too embarassed.

I'll be putting up some new photos very soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - Contest details

Well. The Leviathan contest - is almost closed! Enter to win now... :) for the draw for the Steampunk'd book cover I made. The draw is Oct 30th. The contest is open to Canadians - and this is a great prize. Scott has signed the copy of the book that goes with the cover - so if you are a Big Fan this is a fantastic way to WIN! :D

I got to read an Advanced Readers copy of Leviathan... which is really a fabulous Steampunk novel. I suspect it is YA - but as an adult I found it fantastic. Good solid story, interesting concept (mechanical vs a "natural machine"), and well.. I'm going to buy another copy (so i have the new cover). It allowed me to get a feel for the design - and to get the measurements as well so the book cover could be easily removed if the winner wants.

It features a really nice leather and faux-suede cover. I chose to use the faux since it is actually a lot sturdier than real suede and has an awesome feel to it. The "artwork" on it is set on a leather background - a dark near-black chocolate leather.

The main part of the book covering has a pocket watch - Swiss - dated pre-1920. I chose that particular watch face because it is around the date of the book was set. There is a bit of an abstract selection of gears at the very center. Below that a few gears flow down into a large selection of gears taken from a few different pocket watches. The larger gears are winding wheels - the nicest of which has a machined patterning called Damaskeening in it that makes it shine. That particular gear is surrounded by a Date Wheel... that is taken though from a men's wrist watch. I created a "Frame" around the leather with these wonderful brass corners that have been carefully aged to give it the look of green patina as if it were copper. The green was matched to compliment the hue of the suede.

The nicest touch that I'm quite happy with is a Steampunk Bee near the bottom of the design. This silver-plated bee has had some added elements - little bits of gears that were added to the wings, and a few extra details. I plan on making a few steampunk necklaces based around this design that will go up on my ClockworkZero site. I've only though got a very, very few of the bees though so it looks like it will be another limited edition. sigh.

I found it quite interesting the role that bees played in the book - and actually they are one of my favorite elements as well. Bees and Gears and STeampunk jewelry oh my! The illustrations by Keith Thompson are really amazing. The one with the pocketwatch was part of my inspiration. I'm currently working on 2 different bee necklaces.

Its too bad I couldn't give you all a better Heads Up on the contest. Sorry about that! I'm going to advertise the contest now...
but even if you don't win do buy the book!
I know I'll be anxiously waiting for the next one.
Do head over to and enter the contest!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Steampunk Telescope necklaces and a craft show in Toronto

I've done a lot of new work for the Craft Show tomorrow: 557 Queen Street West in Toronto - its the Underground Craft Show. It is one of the 2 shows I've signed up to do.

so for the Underground Craft show I've been making and making and making stuff. Steampunk jewlery. Cyberpunk Jewelry. Geek jewelry. Lots of jewelry but almost no sculptures. No time. I am thrilled will a lot of it. If people come to the show tomorrow I suspect they will see some of the best work I've done - and some of the most unique. Still will the rain and crap weather I really worry. Maybe no one will show. In which case I'll have work to photograph and place on etsy.

A few pieces are up there now - but these of course may sell tomorrow... My new Favorite: a mini steampunk telescope necklace! and of course the Steampunk Russian Pilot necklace/brooch (it can be both).

I'm really thrilled though that my beetle wing necklace sold - the 5 wings. It has probably more hearts then almost anything else. Over 30 I think. I'll be working today on a 2nd one too.

But.. this craft show thing stresses me out. I've done so few - and they always go well - but i fret. Plus I worry mostly about money. Its the independent artist dilemna. Do I sell online or do shows? Do i try and get into shops? Because the work takes so long to make, and its just me sitting here in my chilly room full of watch parts, machines, gears, glass and remains - it means I'm a one woman shop. I honestly don't know how people manage to keep 100 items in their stores on etsy.

And, this has been a learning curve! I never realized how competitive the Craft Show market is in Toronto - and between now and christmas I've got only 2 small shows lined up. Part of the reason is that I didn't know that 10,000 jewelers would apply and secondly, to be honest, it was partly cash. I needed to pay for the tables - and had a serious cash crunch due to some confusion with my "pay". (yes there are quotes there). So rather then sign up with bouncing cheques I didn't sign up at all. Now of course I have the cash - but there is nary an opening in sight. sigh. Next year I'll be better!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Steampunk & Cyberpunk style for TV Costuming!

I had a lady approach me to ask if I could design some jewelry for a "cyberpunk" styled TV Commercial! oh yes. yes i can :D Could I get it to LA by Thursday? Could I do it on a budget? Hella yeah! Lucky for me I like a challenge - and getting a deadline done. I had 2 necklaces (and a bracelet) completed in 24hrs.. and shipped. Shipping though was expensive - but thank gods I got the cash back. $50+ but it was there in Thursday morning (shipped Tuesday pm).

Whats the commerical about??? ... I am sworn to keep it a secret! Something cyberpunk.

Evidently the commerical is a Big Deal. Of course, who knows - it might not even show on the final cut, or it might just be itty-bitty on a person in the background. but... Does it matter? Not really.

I know my work will look so good as costuming. Seriously. I can picture someone with a few layers of it on. The Vacuum Tubes hanging down - some of the bigger ones that are very sexual, very odd and Full of Mysterious things. Those look fantastic on men. Maybe some of the smaller ones for a woman. The funny thing is that no one really recognizes them much any more. They look like capsules.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Before and After Photos - taking good photos for Etsy

So I have to admit I did a long stint helping review work for Stock photography - in a now sadly defunct site. It was a real eye opener. After you have seen 300 photos of a bunch of carrots your eyes glaze over... and then some clever bugger comes along and sends a photo of a bunch of carrots and you say, OMFG look at those carrots!!!

That's the secret of a good photo. I'm not even close to achieving that.. but I learned a lot of tricks Even when i take a great and interesting photo - I still get emails from customers saying: Oh is so much better in Real life!

I try not to spend too much time ditzing around with photos. If I spend 4 hours playing with photos - and i still pay myself - my jewelry would be Much More Expensive. And to be honest I feel its not fair. A customer isn't buying a photo. So I try and limit my "ditzing around time" to about 30 min. Less if I can. Usually I have 2 shots I might spend more time with. As well I try and use all 5 photos. Photos help sell the work.

After having sold nearly 140+ pieces - this equals about 700 photos just to etsy. Thats about 350 hours of photo time. If I was working a 40 hour week that would be over 8 wks. 2 months of work. And that won't count all the didn't-make-it photos. The ones with the hairs and dust and omg-is-that-a-fly?? on the shots.

You really want to get as close to a good photo right from the start. As important as it is to take a good photo there are a few BASICS. This little article won't help much for someone who has no idea about photography. You'll have to check some other sites to help with that.

  • 1. Exposure. If your photo is over-exposed there is not a lot you can do to correct it if all the highlights are blown out. For me personally its easier to correct under-exposure. The more over-exposed the photo is the harder it gets to correct.
  • 2. Centered - for Etsy and similar sites its really vital that your product is centered. Oh sure it can be artistically placed to one side. It can come at a slant. But if you are cutting off a section of your work or say the really pretty beads aren't show then your customer won't see them. You've got just a few chances to grab their attention - so if part of your photo is missing - chances are good they won't click to find it.
  • 3. Large as Possible - You want to fill up at least one of your photos with the product. You might not get in all of it - but get the bulk of whatever it is - in the center and Large!
  • 4. Focus. - in focus not blurry. Did you use a tripod?
  • 5. Minimal Shadows - yes. sure daylight is great - but direct sunlight causes shadows. Shadows create distortion. In the tiny thumbnails people review the shadows will look like part of your work. Use a bounce. (another photo term for you to look up). A bounce will help minimize the darkness. I have used: pie plates, pot lids, pieces of paper - as well as a store-bought Bounce. The paper works fine.
  • 6. WHITE. Anything in your photo that is white should be white. Are your whites white? If your white beads look GRAY or Yellow.. you need to get a photoshop-type program and adjust them. This is critical. If your customer thinks the beads are yellow and gets white beads they won't be pleased. I won't click on any photo of anything where the product looks gray. Brighten it up.
  • 7. Straight... this depends on the shot but a good example is the huge number of shots we use to reject because the horizon was crooked. I like things that are straight in the photo - especially if I suspect the person was trying to make it straight.
  • 8. Background. I prefer neutral backgrounds. Not too fancy. If i have to spend 40 minutes dicking around with "composing a background" - say one of lace and a pretty book etc. That is 40 minutes I could spend writing, making new jewelry, sleeping. Because these are product shots you want a good, interesting background - but not one that distracts from your work. As well if I create a photo with a book, some lace, pretty flowers - I will make sure I use that in several product shots. But here's the catch - I don't want all my pieces to have the same look. Thats why I will often use layers.
EXAMPLE -- I took this yesterday. To be honest I wasn't in the mood for taking photos, so they are kind of not my best shots. Perfect for this post though...

1. underexposed. I was being lazy and didn't set up a tripod. Hand-held at 1/30 F2.8 ISO50

2. crooked - I should have spent a bit more time laying it out. sigh.

3. strong shadows. Not terrible - but I didn't use a bounce - see above: lazy. grey.

4. bland background - bland but one of my fav's. it has a lot of black spots but I knew i'd be correcting and adding in a layer.

AFTER: time - 22 min

1. exposure fixed. used - brightness & contrast.

2. straightened (still not perfect but not bad. It is straight and cropped square. My only nitpick would be that the chain is more exposed on the left. shrug).

3. shadows minimized. Cloned out most of the strong ones and dodge out others.

4. background was okay but I added a layer of texture. I did this because I use that textured paper a lot and want something different. Plus - this is a "mechanical" piece. The original background was subtle and organic. I wanted something a bit more textured. In a larger version - clickclick on it - the On-Off switch looks 3d. It does stand a bit forward of the chain so thats okay.

5. cropped - this will be the main photo in when I upload the photo. I look at the photos reduced to 30%. If they look interesting when they are tiny .. thats great. Sites like etsy want squares. Since I was a bit lazy I added some of the background to the right side of the photo. Really I should add a bit more to the bottom so it is centered - but I've hit my 20 min time limit. This will be the main photo in the Etsy upload.

one thing I did that isn't the best is along the left side of the switch it is a wee bit blurry. Thats an editing issue I will correct. later. maybe. but because there will be 4 other photos I won't worry too much. This recycled necklace is made out of different electronic elements. Steampunk jewelry 0r cyberpunk jewelry or maybe just some real geek jewelry. And yeah, the switch does work. :D

Do let me know if you liked this article!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

What is Steampunk Jewelry? and WTF is steampunk anyway? Science Fiction Dreams....

Sometimes I stumble around when I try and explain "what is steampunk" or why do I call my "steampunk jewelry". I'm sure for many "steampunk jewelers" they see it as a "victorian influenced jewelry" - Victoriana, New Gothic, something-with-watchparts, a Trend.

For me its a lot more personal.

I write Science Fiction / Horror short stories(and gawds, some has even sold) while I'm pounding at the SF novel(s). I've also created jewelry since my teens - which was like 1000 yrs ago. I even made watch-part Victoriana jewelry in 1993 for a gallery in Montreal. (it didn't sell. lol. "too odd").

So Steampunk jewelry - and the cyberpunk jewelry - is a personal style. But I get asked all the time about "why I call it steampunk.. and wtf does that mean?" I also get asked "what influenes your style?"

I tell people i make: Steampunk Jewelry. Cyberpunk Jewelry... Geek jewelry. To me it is basically all the same - its what i make - from the one thing that has influenced my entire life, that I read, watch, fan, and create.

Its all really one source.
Science Fiction.
I'm very familiar with the literary end of the genre of Steampunk and Cyberpunk. I'm a Science Fiction addict. Read it. Write it. Watch it. Talk about it. Start Communities about it. About the genre and sub-genres too. And Steampunk is a sub-genre - of literature - Of Science Fiction. (oh sure lets just start a debate if Science Fiction qualifies as literature? Pull out your gloves!). I still have my 100s of books bought in the 1980s. I've read SF since I was old enough to read. But the authors of my youth are still beloved. K.W. Jeter (Dr. Adder still scares me). Gibson (always). Sterling. Cadigan. And of course that new guy, Richard Morgan.
Steampunk and Cyberpunk. Wild. Alternate histories. Dystopic. Brilliant. It has evolved out of books like many of the ideas created by William Gibson - its muted - and gone wild on the world. Its Memed. Its broken out. And the ever so helpful wiki also sums it up nicely: "Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk and shares a similar fanbase and theme of rebellion, but developed as a separate movement (though both have considerable influence on each other)."
So I had quit making jewelry for oh.. 8 years. 10ys? Carpel Tunnel got so bad that I would wake up with numb hands - so I bid goodbye to all the bead work. Masks, beads, watch parts, bones, etc all got tossed into a Very Large Heavy Box. And stored.
And then a few years ago someone said, "hey what do you think of this piece of jewelry?" It was a photo of a chunk of crap. ::cough:: whoops. It was a $25 rusty washer on a chain, glued to something, iirc, not crap. Not good eitehr. And I immediately thought, wow. I could make something much better than that.

I was working in a Geek Shop at the time. Tech support. Web-hosting tech support for a backbone provider. I'd been there since 2000. I went home that night and dragged out my Piles Of Beading Crap, sorted through masks (once-upon-a-time I was a maskmaker), and found the stuff from 1990+. Watch parts. Gears. But since then I'd also accumulated a packrat-on-crack variety of Computer bits, findings, electronica, hardware and whatnot. Shiny bits.

And at that moment I thought: once upon a time I made this stuff. I still love it. There's gotta be a way to combine the things I love: geekery in all its flavors, Science Fiction, Cyberpunk, Steampunk (though i didn't quite know to call it that yet), TheInternetz, ComputerCrap, hardware, gears, bones (yeah i have this thing for bones and have a collection), everything...

all into something. Something new and for me, personally exciting.

I wanted to create again: items of adornment, curios, small sculpture. I wanted to make new works that were beautiful. And somehow I wanted to merge it with all those influences of my life. So I started making jewelry again.
Its steampunk, cyberpunk, geekery. And hopefully its beautiful, and elegant, and sometimes I think it shows how much I love what i do and where it comes from. Sometimes it is a bit scary, strange and peculiar. At least it isn't boring.
And maybe next time someone asks I can point them to this post and I can ask, "ever read any Gibson?". Maybe I'll say, "couldn't you see someon in Blade Runner wearing this?".
And maybe one day I'll be watching some ultra-cool SF movie, and someone will be wearing a slick piece of old tech turned into Cyberpunk - one of my own vacuum tube necklaces, a pair of magnetic switch earrings or some bone & clock gear creation - and I'll think: finally. Yeah.
Some time when they turn one of Richard Morgan's books into a fantastic movie, they'll think: wow, we need some real science fiction jewelry, something cutting edge, unusual and wild.
Now thats the dream. ;)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

CyberPunk Teminator sculpture: Spiny Rat skull - something completely different!

Sometimes it isn't just about jewelry - it is about creating something radical and different... I guess this qualifies. Natural history..or perhaps Un-natural History? Well, you won't find this on etsy - it sold before it was even completed. lol

The concept here encompasses the mythos of the "Terminator" movie series. Why restrict the creation of cyber-monsters to humans? Here this skull shows a bit of steampunk and cyberpunk influences - two genres of Science Fiction that have influenced countless movies. This piece was has a strong literary influence as well - this was inspired by a short story by Kat Eason, where rats and re-engineered werewolves fight among the remains of a future city.

This skull is from a South American spiny rat (family Echimyidae). I carefully wired the jaws to open and close and the wires come through the where the optic nerves were - and thread through the base of the skull. All together it took about 15 hours to complete. Tiny watch parts were set into the bone, including two watch rubies.

I really love how the teeth look in the profile piece. You can see how deep they are set into the skull. Science fiction and a love of intricate and tiny things has influenced my life - not just in what I read but what I create. Steampunk jewelry but also the cyberpunk sculpture as well.

Monday, September 7, 2009

jewel beetle wings and other steampunk things

I spent a part of yesterday drilling out beelte wings. They really look fantastic. Plus.. i love drilling things - funny but true. I even made myself a version of this necklace ::GASP:: = something I rarely do.

The colours are really stunning. I never thought I would wear chrome green.. lol. its GREEN but how amazing really. Depending on the light there is hints of yellow as well as hints of an incredible blue.

I have been really busy this weekend. I even got a fanpage up on Facebook - shocking but true! so far a few of my friends/ ex-coworkers have joined which is kind of fun.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Moving Steampunk jewelry - Spinning Monster! Yes, Here there be monsters!

Today I finished uploading a beautiful (to me) necklace that moves so very well, I had to go out and YouTube it. found some "music" - by NorthbyNorthwest. just some mood stuff to replace the dead air sound. lol

"Here there be Monsters" is an unusual themed piece of steampunk jewelry full of detail and charm. It is part of an old pocket watch that has a wave pattern around the base that was the inspiration.It is very detailed piece that has a beautifully engraved balance. The hairspring on it is intact and the balance wheel spins easily as it gets touched by a finger. The engraving is also on part of the movement plate - and the fine patterning on metal is also called Damaskeening. Often the older watch pieces get damaged - especially the hairsprings - but this one is wonderful and should be carefully spun.

So I'm making up some of the more rare and unusual pieces - and obtaining dates where I can. Getting dates on some pieces is a royal PITA. Why? Well - Waltham pieces for example - have serial numbers but there isn't a easy way to go through them. What needs to be done involves going to the Waltham site - and manually looking through the records. The records are actually just photos of the serial numbers someone wrote down a hundred years ago or so.

Its cool but tiresome. I have one beautiful movement (partial) and it appears to be serial 9006663 - which was made sometime in Sept-October of 1874. hows that for cool?!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Commission the win! Clockwork Beetle in Flight

Well, turns out that the guy had gone on vacation for a few weeks. I am so relieved!

He bought the 2nd Clockwork Insect I made - and I'm posting it off now.


In the meantime I was feeling quite geeky. Must be missing the old tech support job or something. So I was playing with EPROMS. I'm making a series: Dancing Cybermen - of brooches. Not just brooches but Super Geek Robot brooches - and turning those old EPROMs into jacket pins. They are uberly geeky.

They kind of dance too = jiggly legs and arms. So you know - an EPROM is a Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory, is a type of computer memory chip that retains its data when its power supply gets turned off.

And this one is an intel made in 1982!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sigh. Commission

Sigh. Commission.. fail?

The steampunk insect here .. was a commission. Or so I thought.

It took many hours to make - just to get it right. But I've not heard from the person in over 10 days. I dunno if he thought it was too expensive (like under $100) - and it easily took around 10hrs to make. Plus materials. It isn't like I make a lot...

I'm really kind of disappointed.

It is always possible though.. something has gone wrong. Or he's on vacation.

so what do i do? Sell it or ...wait?
anyway.. I just wish I knew. He was very very keen and wrote a lot
and has been quite specific.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Steampunk Clockwork Jewelry - Insects & Bugs

I have been spending hours working on Clockwork Jewel Beetles and its driving me crazy! LoL. Seriously - there is something about hunching over bits of watches and gears and beetle wings...

yes beetle wings!
Ages ago I bought some Jewel Beetle wings - which is kind of gross - but still very very cool. They've been used for hundreds of years to make jewelry and in ... embroidery. They are this insanely beautiful chrome-green colour, and they are hard as heck too. I actually have to drill through them.

See, this is how the crazieness begins. Hunching over beetle wings til my shoulders creak with tension... taking it apart no less than 15 times. Drilling holes (in wings!) - finding out that for some reason the glues I thought would work - CHANGE THE COLOUR! eeek! buying the old glue - in general I use only a tiny amount of glue anyway on the wings --- after all who would want to cover up that gorgeous green!

Anyway, I keep getting New Ideas as I was making them. There will be 2.... One will be a commission and because I really want these things to come out perfectly, there was nothing to do but take them apart and redrill wings, tinker and tailor and redo them.
One clockwork beetle will go for sale on and one is a commission. I was contacted by someone who wanted me to make something like the one that sold (pictured above). Of course............. I can't just duplicate it (even if that were possible). Nope. Gotta improve on the design... gotta take it apart. Gotta try 12 different "tails".
In the end I hope I'll make $0.36 cents an hour. ;) And as I sit here writing - I'm thinking I could make another one. .
yup. there's someone crazy living in this house.
it must be The Cat.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Steampunk Jewelry - new work finally!

Steampunk jewely - finally some new stuff! lol.
This little piece is my snake goddess - steampunk meet goth!

I've been swamped lately and then had a sudden burst of creativity. It happens - I don't know if other artists feel the same way - but all of a sudden everything started coming together. I created 3 or 4 new necklaces... all steampunk. :D

I love making steampunk jewelry - and combining new and very old materials. I lucked out and found a few very nice pieces.

I've been absolutely stunned at some of the prices work is going for these days - some is quite cheap (but then you get cheap looking stuff). But MY GODS - some of it is so very overpriced that I almost fell over when I saw the Cheap Looking Stuff that was so very over rated. It was stunning.

I'm sure I'm opening myself up to some possible flames... but holy gee some of it looks....... terrible. But then I guess it is just my tastes aren't that common. I'm sure there will be some people who think my own work looks like crap too. :) heh.
maybe this is how old jewelers felt when they saw knockoffs and chrome and plated materials? Did they think, "omg who would buy that?" and "are you joking?" Come to think of it: my dad gave me the same look when I showed him my work. :D

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Steampunk book coverings - Works in Progress

Well, went over to my friend's place yesterday to "sew" the book covering for the Simon and Schuster commission for Scott Westerfeld's new book, Leviathan

I've chosen two materials - and likely will go with the first one... Its a nice faux-suede, a bit heavier than the other colour. There's a camel-brown (not really beige - but sorta!) and a green. The green - sort of an olive military green - is quite nice but a bit lighter. I had cut the patterns out - and drawn lines where I needed to sew.... but since i've no machine - I had to go to my friend's place to do it.

Of course going to a friend's place means coffee, lunch and more coffee. We're both photographers so I spent time reviewing her latest work, giving opinions on her jewelry designs (great idea but it will be tricky!) - and talking.

We finally got around to sewing around 4pm. The first, lighter material - was easy. The second one (camel colour) was ................ well. Looks like i need to learn to mark patterns better. After 2 shots we had it done.

I'm a bit nervous. The book covers are pretty exact. Its what they wanted - as far as I can tell. And I detest the idea of them being floppy. So they are snug. How many books will they actually fit? No idea. In my mind they likely won't be used all over the place. Come on, if you won a prize that is covered with silver and gears - how often would you tote it around? Maybe a few times - to show off? How many times would you put in other books? Maybe once or twice.

I think this will look so fantastic that someone will just simply leave it on Leviathan and adore it that way :D

Anyway, the covers got sewn. Now comes the FUN part! For me sewing is Not Fun. but anyway.... i'll be laying out some ideas and sending it to the people at Simon & Shulster Canada and seeing what they think. If it all looks good............. then away I go!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting Glued - or why Epoxy is just like Baking

Oh boy! I've just received some DiamondGlaze and it looks goooooood...
I suspect - should all go well today - I make actually start making some new steampunk jewelry.

I'm also going to be testing out some new glues. It looks warm enough to open the windows -- because I certainly don't want lung damage. One of the test glues will be the e6000 product - which looks good in theory though - holy crap it has a number of warnings on it. hm. I'm always reluctant to use things that can end up getting absorbed into the skin.. and you know - cause some weird long term effects.

Anyone want to talk about glue? lol. Its def one of my fav subjects. Getting one thing to stick to another. I've really no great luck on soldering to be honest. Mostly due to the range of materials I use. Soldering steel? arg. soldering copper to brass, brass to steel, steel to aluminum, ... i seriously get nightmares.

Unlike my Dad - who has a lifetime of luck and skill - I just am not a fan of epoxies. Nothing wrong with a good old epoxy. Really expoxies - the 2 part kind - rule the stars. Unfortunately epoxies and I aren't the best of buddies. I dunno. I mix well. Really I do. I suspect it is the measuring. Maybe what I should do is load up 2 syringes with hardner and glue and then squeeze out exactly the correct amount.

I think using epoxies is much baking. Seriously... I'm a cook. I can't bake. Oh sure, once ever 5 years I will bake. In fact I baked up some awesome banana bread last week. But really all that ... measuring. it drives me crazy. 1/4 of a teaspoon? Are you kidding me? What happens if i am making a half batch? I then either wing it or google up "whats a half of a quarter of a teaspoon?".

Evidently my poor broken brain agrees. Measuring epoxy is Just Like Baking. I end up with too much glue or too much hardner, or break the not-to-be-broken rule of "Mix Yer Epoxy for One Solid Minute or Else".

I suspect I don't have the attention span of 60 seconds. sure thing I can spend 45 minutes taking apart a piece of machine, or 2 hrs picking through gears the size of a 1yr old's little toenail, but can i sit there mixing Epoxy for 60 seconds? seems not.

To be fair though - there are some epoxies I've had luck with. Just not a consistant result. I'm going to try out this stuff and will let you all know.

so any one out there love a glue?

ClockworkZero out :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

stumbling back into the fray...

Been ages since I've had the desire to blog. I've kept an LJ for 8 years - so really I sometimes get worn out and have to disappear for a while. But once again I'm baaaaaack.

I've been working on some new steampunk jewelry - but more and more I've been tinkering with some bone/gear and metal sculptural pieces. Sorta cyberpunk/steampunk, since they are in a way sister genres. I often though wonder if I'm alone in that thought. Is there anyone else out there who is a steampunk/cyberpunk jewelry maker? hm. I'd be happy to get to know you if so.

But there is some Big News:

Last week I was approached by Simon & Schulster Canada to help promote a new YA Steampunk novel by Scott Westerfeld called LEVIATHAN. I just got the wonderful Advanced Reader's Copy. Now my job is to make a book "slip cover"... a fancy-dancy book cover to go over the cover - allowing the reader to take it off to protect another book. Its likely been far too long since I've done leather work to do an amazing job - and not everyone loves leather. I know many people who won't wear leather - so I'm leaning towards a sewable material. I doubt it will be faux-leather, because mostly that stuff doesn't have the right feel. I am thinking though that this will likely end up being more for display vs real use... so likely the front will be quite 3D.

I've got a few ideas for it as well. Perhaps an airplane. Perhaps a bee - since bees are frequently mentioned in the novel. One of the super fancy bees might be nice but perhaps a bit too delicate. Then of course there should be some clockwork looking things right? Maybe a lovely large shiny gear? Or a pretty porcelain pocketwatch face? Some combination?

I'm going to do some metal corners too... perhaps in aged brass, some kind of scroll work.

Now I might need someone to do the sewing unless i can find/borrow/beg a sewing machine. Or i can handsew it. But ideally, I would be able to make a few of these book slip covers. They'd be perfect gifts... but I suspect they will take quite some time to make. Will people be willing to buy them is always the question.

I'm quite thrilled to be given the opportunity to do something outside of my regular steampunk jewelry. Not that i don't love it - but I love getting a challenge. I've seen many a hideous book slipcover - and I've seen some very nice leather ones too - but I am looking forward to designing something original and hopefully stunning. hmhmhmmm.

time to go shopping and see what interesting materials I can find!
Maybe I should write to Scott and see if he has any ideas. what a fun challenge!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

EarthHour in Toronto - lights out

well folk, just a quick update, for the night. There's many new things happening in my life.... but for now, its lights out here soon in Toronto. We're shutting down a bit early and enjoying the darkness.

It's Earth Hour - our second - and the city is getting dark. I do hope our neighbours know about it = the lights are a blazing.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Steampunk Jewelry on WIRED Magazine - Etsy, Technology & ClockworkZero's steampunk jewelry

So there's this Geek Magazine i've read for the last decade: WIRED has a very positive article on ETSY. For all you etsy people out there - do take a look. Share it around - its nice to have some super positive ETSY articles - and WIRED is so well read. Consider yourselves as part of the revolution!

Clive Thompson who wrote the article bought one of my steampunk/cyberpunk vacuum tubes last year. Although I'd read his stuff for years I didn't know he was The Clive Thompson. Months and months later he contacted me and said he'd like to mention my work in an article. I was thrilled - but thought it would be a lot less - something minor - and he said in April maybe.
Except it is NOW - LOL omgbbqwtfomg I've had a few sales.. and so much positive little emails from strangers. It's been great. Now i've grabbed somehow a little bit of web fame.

If anyone here DIGGs stuff or Stumbles - can you do me a fav and stumble/digg the article? please? pretty please? shugar?

So chances are good .. i'm quitting my day job.
what do you think of that?! craaaaaaaaazy

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Time Crunches a Steampunk Jeweler's Brain

Finally! an update.. but not a huge one. Time crunches my brain, but I'm planning on changing that. Although I've been working on a time traveller device that would allow me to actually go back to the days when i had more time to make jewelry, the device is sadly missing something vital. All it does is just sit there! ;)

So I'm thinking of quitting my day job. The one that pays the rent and bills, and making this a full(er) time venture. its madness. The economy sucks. The sales are a bit slow. but my well paying job... sucks. i get home so depressed and sad, usually with a headache. Sometimes with a migraine.

Between my husband and I we will... be okay if i quit. They won't give me a leave and there are no other positions in the company now. They are asking us to work longer hours (without pay), dress up in Business clothes (no idea why), do more and more. The end result is some hard misery.

So although it seems madness, I told my supervisor this week I'm going to leave the job in April. I'll be doing some hours for my brother, helping people set up web stats (something i'm really good at), and basically... making steampunk jewelry. crazy but true.In other news!

I finally finished my Steampunk Bee design, and I'm really happy with the elements. My husband suggested the price, but I think its a bit too high. I'll be eventually changing it a bit to something slightly more affordable I hope. I love bees........... i should do more bees! And i will too.

So here's the photo. Let me know what you think. There's a few more photos up on etsy - my clockworkzero.etsy site: steampunk bee

The silver bee has been adorned with some simple gears taken from a vintage watch. She is connected to these absolutely gorgeous pocket watch pieces by faceted iolite set into sterling silver. Iolite is a pretty stone - a blue grey colour. I've also added some tiny iolite beads in between the links.

Now the pocket watch pieces are just incredible. It took a long time to find a nice pair that both had some damaskeening (that is the patterning in the metal) and the elaborate engraving. They aren't quite a matched set - since the engraving is a bit different - but they are almost a perfect match in size. Do have a look at the close ups I've provided - since they really show off the fine quality. As you can see these pocketwatch pieces come from Waltham pocketwatches. Based on a guesstimate and a comment from the watch repairman that I got the orignal watches from they were made around 1900-1920 or so.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Steampunk in Toronto!

wow, a long time since i have been here.. i'll be better at posting in 2009. most of my posts go up to my livejournal. Anyway...t hings are going like crazy in the Steampunk Jewelry department. I'm really excited to see how Toronto is growing into loving Steampunk. Yay Toronto :D

I spent the holidays working on some new designs and finishing some special projects.One of the nice things that happened was that my jewelry got used in a photo shoot. I had no idea what to expect though, so it was rather difficult to get all excited about it. Anyway, I got a few of the photos yesterday. I'm totally amazed. They were a lot better than I expected or hoped for.

there's a bigger version on my Flickr. anyway, its thrilling to see my jewlry being worn :D

ClockworkZero (steampunk jewelry):
Tasha (stylist) and

Bella (blonde model)

Elyse (purple-haired model)

Jenni (make-up artist)

Starkers (wardrobe)

And Danielle King (photographer): and