Monday, August 13, 2012

Steampunkish Jewelry

Steampunk. That thing that's really cool right now. Victorian and Edwardian stylings, every shade of brown, gears and gadgets. My sister and I found a bunch of random toolbox objects and some wire and played around to make jewelry.

Backstory: My great-grandfather had all sorts of bits and pieces that he used for his job that we acquired when his house was cleaned out. My sister enjoys jewelry making and steampunk and had played with crafting neat jewelry before, and invited me to come play with some of the found objects.

How I did it: The rings I made from spring-like pieces, wire, and found objects.

The "jewel" on the ring was something I thought might have been an indicator light for electrical boards. It had a separated cylinder sticking out of the back. Out of six tabs I folded down three and rolled the other three to create a way to attach the "jewel" to the ring.

I took copper wire and wrapped it around the wire of the spring piece, trying to cover where the ends met the wire and create a somewhat asymmetrical design with longer pieces stretching between the coils. I threaded the wire through the tubes I had created by rolling down the tabs on the "jewel."

For the other ring, there was a threaded piece that I thought looked pretty cool, and it fit nicely between the end of the spring piece. I simply wrapped the ends where they met the coil, followed the threads of the threaded bit, then wrapped the other ends.

The only problem with creating rings out of found springs is that the size is not super easily altered, so these are both what I consider "accent" rings that I wear on my index finger. I would assume that I could have bent the metal to make it tighter, but I'd probably not have as smooth a coil as just leaving it alone.

I also made an earring with one of the indicator light "jewels," although for this I was trying to imitate a piece from a magazine my sister had and I was not as pleased with the results. I used a thicker copper wire to create the base shape for the earring, then used a thinner brassy wire to wrap the copper and attach the "jewel." This wire was a little less forgiving and thus the wrapping does not look as smooth as in the rings. I probably could have approached the process from a different direction and ended with a better quality piece, but since this was for personal use and just general having fun with my sister I wasn't too concerned.

My sister did have a few gears, and I decided to jam one of the "jewels" through the center and bend down the tabs to hold it in place. The "jewel" wasn't a perfect fit, so it sits a little off center and crooked, but again, personal use means it doesn't have to be perfect (this mantra is one of many I use to overcome perfectionist tendencies). I haven't really done anything with this yet, although I was thinking it might be a neat hairpiece, especially if I can figure out how to attach it in the center of a pin curl or victory roll. I also wanted to work on a "goggle" hairpiece to be attached in a similar way, so I guess I should figure out how that would work!

Finally, my "classy steam" piece: really, if you haven't made something from chandelier pieces, you haven't crafted things from chandelier pieces, which is apparently a thing I like to do. This is a necklace made from a length of chain, a jump ring or two, and some wire. I draped the chain on the chandelier crystal using the jump ring(s? I'll have to go find it and check) and used the wire to hold the jump ring to the front and make a loop to hang off another chain. I should probably tweak this a little and wear it places, just to have an obnoxious chandelier crystal necklace on.

What I learned: Wire can be really tough to work with, especially when you want a smooth finish. Great-grandparents can collect some of the coolest stuff during their lifetimes, and if you are lucky you'll get to play with some of it. (Side note: my great-grandfather had his workshop in the basement of his house. The stairs to said basement had been papered with drawings of nearly naked pinups a la Gil Elvgren. I thought they were really freaking cool. I don't know if my parents realized they were there or that I loved to look at them as a child.)

What I might try next time: Better tools and base materials, different techniques, recruiting help from people who know how to work with wire (it's good to have artist friends).

Final Thoughts: I don't wear jewelry all that often, mostly because I am not thinking about jewelry. I probably should, because these are kinda cool.

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