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Assemblage!

Have you ever wanted to do something really badly, and then when you get a chance to you stare at it blankly, not sure how to get started?

I’ve been doing that with these assemblage steampunk pieces for several weeks. Arranging, rearranging, gluing, adding, then just staring. And staring.

blank assemblage
They’ve been looking like this for two weeks.

Well today I figured, enough is enough! For weeks I’ve been telling my design students to use “timeboxing” to get shit done; and today I put my money where my mouth is. My phone timer set to 25 minutes, I first attacked the mess in the studio, telling myself it didn’t matter if I got specific areas clean – just keep putting things away until the timer went off. I got a SHOCKING amount of things put away in that time, including using these adorable little boxes from the dollar store to sort my more special-er cabochons.

cabochons
cabochons

The timer went off a second time so I switched over some laundry and realized I was lightheaded. So – to the deck! I set my timer for 25 minutes again and grabbed some iced tea, my book, an umbrella, and some sun.

suuuun
suuuun

Aaaaaand timer went off, so back to the studio! Where I managed, after a few timeboxes, to get this far:

Getting there!
Getting there!

But wait… What’s that? TIME FOR THE POOL?! Well sure, if I MUST!

aaaaaaaaaaahhh
aaaaaaaaaaahhh

(I must)

My theme these days is self-care, so the pool is very important. I’m super lucky that my parents-in-law have this little oasis just five minutes down the road.

And when I came back… I had a nap! And THEN I finished these (not so very)little dudes. They’re belt leather, cardboard I metal-ized and patina-ed,beads, filigree, buttons, cabochons, watch bits, reclaimed jewellery , and aluminum and parawire.

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assemblage-20
assemblage-18
assemblage-21
assemblage-16
assemblage-13
assemblage-7

Hey, notice anything different? That’s because last week – instead of working – I made these fab little photo boards. My workbench is just getting too filthy for any usable photos.

photoshake_1437251768659

They’re canvas boards coverd in paper, paint, fabric and paper flowers, ribbon, lace, some rusty chain, and whatever else I could find. There are also a few other props hanging out in a new area in the studio as well. I think they worked out pretty well, despite my monitors being entirely non-calibrated and completely different from each other. What do you think?

Steampunk Inspiration

I’ve always felt a little squeamish putting the label “steampunk” on my work. Like putting watch bits in there doesn’t REALLY make it steampunk, you know? But someone else started calling it that when I made these:

Locks & Gears

 

And I looked it up and I thought… OK… cool! In fact I think at one point one of my retailers was calling these Steampunkersiseries or some such silliness. And since I’m the worst at naming things, “steampunk” is sort of what they remained. Which is fine maybe for something like this: 

Gears of Time

Steampunk

When I started doing these enormous pieces on belts, it felt better:
Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

Hood Ornaments - Wait, I mean Statement Necklaces

But it still never felt quite right. I will wrap just about anything old and vintage-y, including driftwood, calipers, watch bits, and metal flowers; and I CALL it steampunk; but it’s still never felt… authentic.

That’s the word I’m missing. Authentic.

What makes it authentic?

Last week I started digging around looking for what the real steampunkers do – someone who does steampunk cosplay wears WHAT kind of jewellery now? – and it turns out the answer is, not very much.

Quick Google Images search for "Steampunk Cosplay"
Quick Google Images search for “Steampunk Cosplay”

But I really want to do something that these AMAZING PEOPLE would like to buy – even just to wear with their regular clothes! I wanted to dig deeper. And that’s when it hit me: What does Victorian jewellery look like, anyway?

Pinterest to the rescue! I started digging up Pinterest images on victorian and even art nouveau jewellery and I was amazed, delighted, and surprised by what I found.

What surprised me the most was how CREEPY it was! It’s all snakes and bees and spiders! Nobody I have ever met at a craft show would go anywhere NEAR a spider necklace (no matter how cool they are).
Various photos, original posters available at my pinterest board (link above)
Various photos, original posters available at my pinterest board (link above)

So what does this mean? I’m not sure, but it’s powerfully intriguing. I am drawn to the insects and reptiles in a way I wouldn’t have expected. The intricate filigree delights me, as well.

I feel something new brewing, just under the surface. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like but I am sure it’s going to be fun trying to get there! And I won’t stop until it feels right. Until it feels authentic.

Steampunk Polymer Clay Gears

Last weekend was my birthday weekend (yay me! and my mom, too, we shared the weekend) so I didn’t get into the studio. But I DID manage to play some more with moldmaking the weekend before. I had SUCH fun and I can’t wait to make more of these steampunk polymer clay gears. You know by now that colour is one of my driving forces, and just LOOK at these! The antique gold finish just makes it, for me.

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I rolled up and slightly flattened balls of clay and made impressions in the balls using actual gears my husband had torn out of a clock for me. I baked them and bam! Molds. So for these delicious pendants (which are waiting for wire), I rolled up more clay and used the new mold to flatten them out. Brushed-on clay gave the pieces their colour. I poked holes in the top of each and inset a grommet (really just a little rivet for scrapbooking) and baked. When they came out, they got a light fingertip brushing with gilder’s paste – I used “african bronze” for these – and after it set, I burnished the paste. Finally, two coats of varnish to seal and protect the finish.

Tomorrow is my last day of work before I get a 9-day vacation. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be wiring up these suckers – and the tentacles, and the flowers I don’t even know if I showed you…. and and and!

Oooh, bonus pic: Some more rustic/organic beads made from my texture molds – this time coloured with paint!

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Steampunk Clay Pendants

I’ve been sculpting in polymer clay for a long, long time – before there was much online to help folks out. Recently I’ve been digging into it again and loving it! I even signed up for the Metal Clay class at Craftsy.com just today… can’t wait to find some time for it. But meanwhile, here’s something I’ve been doing recently: Steampunk Clay Pendants When I first got back into clay in terms of jewellery last year, I started sculpting little hearts and nautilus shells. I had all these leftover teeny watch parts that were too small to wrap, so I started jamming them into the clay. I was in love with them! But then my husband said, “That’s great Gayle. But how many of those can you make in an hour?” I feebly said, “um, two?” That was clearly not fast enough for my limited production time, so I took the lid off a watchmaker’s case and started cutting out circles. Voila! Steampunk Clay Pendants It didn’t get super fast though until I finally broke down and bought a pasta/clay machine. For the sake of 30 bucks I have no idea what I was waiting for! This thing is genius. It conditions and flattens the clay in literal seconds, with absolutely no hand pain. The last piece of the puzzle was PearlEx powders. I’d been seeing them around and finally I bought a case… and then another. And now I’m completely addicted! I made two dozen of these last weekend, and another two dozen throughout the evenings this week! Steampunk Clay Pendants All I need to do now is get ’em all wire-wrapped to make them ready for sale. My next batch, I’m thinking of doing a tutorial for it. SO pleased. So, so pleased. Steampunk Clay Pendants Also, am I the only one who just stares at her own work?! Especially photos where you can really see the details!

Components, Not Jewellery

New Steampunk Components

I hit the flea market & value village a couple of weeks ago. What a jackpot! Got a pile of watches for Laird to pull apart for me, some vintage and new earrings and chain, some metal bracelets I’ll use as the base for some steampunk pendants, and a little surprise….

New Steampunk Components

New Steampunk Components

New Steampunk Components

… Belt Buckles! Not sure if it’s going to work but I plan to wire some clock parts and vintage bits to these and see if we can make some nifty jewellery!