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. ;)

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