How to Make Steampunk Jewelry - from the jewelry making journal


How to Make Steampunk Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Steampunk jewelry is a fun and fascinating style to work with. It combines vintage, hardware, imagination, gadgetry, and science fiction.

What is Steampunk?

It’s a fictional era that takes takes place during the British Victorian-Edwardian period – the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Sometimes there’s also a twist of 1800’s American Wild West theme thrown in.

Steampunk jewelry, fashions, and literature combine the best and most stylish elements of that period in history, and add a creative dose of science fiction / fantasy fun.

All of that may sound like a strange mix, but it really works together fantastically!

And although the steampunk genre began as a form of fiction, it’s evolved into a popular style to wear – and to make.

A clever setting of tiny antique gears and wheels distinguishes Violette Noble's Steampunk Cameo Brooch.

A clever setting of tiny antique gears and wheels distinguishes
Violette Noble’s Steampunk Cameo Brooch.

Steampunk Inspirations

Once you know the influences for this style, it’s easy to come up with fun components and designs for your own steampunk jewelry.

There’s lots of scope for creative embellishment!

Antiqued brass components like these lockets work well in mysterious steam-style designs.

Antiqued brass components like these lockets work well in mysterious steam-style designs.

The stories from this genre often involve the themes of

  • steam-powered technology (which is where the name comes from)
  • time travel
  • inventions
  • aviation and experimental flying contraptions
  • creative weapons with a Victorian twist
  • gadgets
  • discoveries
  • explorations
  • outlandish (and often scientific) journeys and voyages
  • mysteries
  • the occult (Victorian style)
  • diabolical criminal masterminds with cool gadgets who want to rule the world.
Joan Williams' Hand of Time Pendant suggests the time-travel theme in steampunk jewelry.

Joan Williams’ Hand of Time Pendant suggests the time-travel theme in steampunk jewelry.

Two Victorian-era science fiction authors whose books fuel the steampunk genre are Jules Verne (“Around the World in 80 Days”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, etc.) and H.G. Wells (“The Time Machine”, “War of the Worlds”, etc.).

Frozen Charlotte's Time Machine -

Frozen Charlotte’s Time Machine by Joan Williams sends this tiny vintage doll into the future in her pillbox contraption.

Real-life and fictional characters from the Victorian era often show up in steampunk stories and movies.

Folks who make frequent appearances include:

  • Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde
  • Dracula
  • Queen Victoria
  • Captain Nemo
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Jack the Ripper.
Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" was the inspiration for Shannon Lovorn's Nautilus Navigator necklace.

Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” was the inspiration for Shannon Lovorn’s Nautilus Navigator necklace.

Steampunk Jewelry Supplies

How to Make Steampunk Jewelry

Steampunk jewelry often includes gears, cogs, and vintage watch parts as jewelry components.

Jewelry in this style usually starts out with a bit of Victorian / Edwardian influence, such as:

  • vintage (or vintage-inspired) components
  • cameos
  • chains
  • velvet
  • lace or ribbon
  • black beads
  • other black components (Queen Victoria helped make jet and mourning jewelry fashionable)
  • corset-style closures
  • old photos and other vintage ephemera
  • vintage-inspired charms
  • vintage-looking flora and fauna items
  • vintage buttons and notions
  • old-fashioned keys and tiny locks
  • filigree
  • mini photo frames
  • lockets
  • items symbolizing the Victorian fascination with the occult
  • antiqued or oxidized metals – gunmetal, brass, silver.
Antiqued, vintage locks and keys of any wearable size work well in this type of jewelry.

Antiqued, vintage locks and keys of any wearable size work well in this type of jewelry.

Then add creative, vintage gadget / industrial / science-fiction touches, such as:

  • antique pocket watches (or parts of them)
  • clock hands
  • vintage compasses, astrolabes, and other navigation gadgets
  • antiquey scientific items
  • vintage-looking nautical or aviation parts, or themed items
  • miniature vials or bottles
  • vintage industrial-looking items
  • springs or coils
  • gears and cogs
  • hardware (browse around your local hardware store for likely steampunk jewelry components!)
  • dials
  • moving parts
  • hidden or secret parts
  • messages
  • optical lenses
  • tiny vintage gadgets
  • old typewriter keys
  • etc.
You can use antiqued jewelry photo frames for vintage images, scraps of letters or books, collages - or to exhibit a collection of steampunk gears.

You can use antiqued jewelry photo frames for vintage images, scraps of letters or books, collages – or to exhibit a collection of steampunk gears.

For some designs, you may want to include components that symbolize Victorian society's obsession with the occult and metaphysical experiments.

For some designs, you may want to include components that symbolize Victorian society’s obsession with the occult and metaphysical experiments.

How to Make Steampunk Jewelry

I think the best approach is to spread out all the likely components you have to work with.

Move things around on your work surface, trying out how they look together.

Think about ways to make the jewelry design look like a intriguing vintage gadget or industrial item.

Or find a way to make it look like it might have a secret, fantastic purpose other than ornamentation.

Think up the story of this piece you’re inventing – and the story of the adventurous steampunk person wearing it more than a hundred years ago.

Most steampunk jewelry is unique and one-of-a-kind, since it sort of grows out of the available components!

Steampunk Tie Clip by Jim Osment

Steampunk Tie Clip by Jim Osment – made to wear to his nephew’s wedding. The propeller spins nicely!

And don’t forget that steampunk can also be cleverly fun or funny.

For example, R.E. Blake plays with the Victorian fascination with ancient mystical subjects in this Eye of Horace Amulet (inspired by the ancient Egyptian eye of Horus):

Eye of Horace Amulet-Necklace by R.E. Blake

R.E. Blake’s Eye of Horace Amulet, inspired by ancient Egyptians’ eye of Horus

Combining Steampunk with
Other Jewelry Styles

You can come up with unique twists to this jewelry theme by combining steampunk with other jewelry styles or materials.

For example, you might merge steam-style with bohemian style, as I did in my Boho Steampunk Earrings Tutorial:

Or you might use steampunk jewelry techniques and materials to adorn a hat:

Steampunk Skeleton Top Hat by Roz Asquith

Roz Asquith used clock elements to decorate both the skeleton and the hat in her Steampunk Skeleton Top Hat

You could also embellish this Victorian-inspired bracelet from my Leather and Lace Corset Bracelet Tutorial, to turn it into a wonderful steampunk accessory:

Leather and Lace Corset Bracelet tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Leather and Lace Corset Bracelet Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

 

Original article - https://jewelrymakingjournal.com/how-to-make-steampunk-jewelry/


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