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Beading Resources > EncycloBEADia > Style Snapshot: Steampunk, Rise of the Inventor

by Jamie Smedley, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®


A rising jewelry and style term known as "steampunk" is making waves in the fashion and accessories industry, influencing jewelry designers, artists, crafters and clothing designers alike to incorporate this inventive, time-merged look into their work.

The Story of Steampunk
The Steampunk style is a science fictional Victorian look rooted in the concept of antique technology and the euphoria of steam-powered inventions that sprang to life during the late 19th century. The Victorian industrial movement was a golden era where people thought big and worked hard to create items of lasting beauty. Within this style, special emphasis is placed on recuperating lost treasures and incorporating mechanical materials with imaginary functionality into designs. This waste-not-want-not philosophy is embraced by many because it feels contrary to the disposable culture we live in today.


Artists are encouraged to become both engineer and inventor to eclectically refashion their world around them as they would want to see it. Whether it is transforming a modern working desktop computer into a "steam-powered contraption," or fashioning a necklace adorned with clockwork gears or a secret mechanical purpose that only the designer knows about, the steampunk style can be incorporated anywhere.


Recreate This Style
Employ your thinker to create assemblages of mechanical and antique-looking items to portray advanced, fictitious technology that may or may not be functional--as you see fit. A key material to use is antiqued brass pewter and gold metal with an aged patina that can manifest in designs as watch dials, hands, gears and cogs along with chain, screws, nuts, wire and findings. Antiqued brass filigree charms, drops and links also play an important part in the look of this style along with gemstone, glass and crystal beads with mathematical chessboard faceting in the theatrical colors of rich red, jet black, sheer aqua and glowing amber.


It is also important to include found objects such as drawer pulls, escutcheon plates, locks with keys and old hardware or mechanical bits that add a special meaning or story to designs. When making steampunk-style jewelry and accessories, creative thought, artisanship and quality go into the inception of each piece with the intention of spurring the imagination and pushing the boundaries of inventive thought.

Design with...


Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "Steampunk: Rise of the Inventor," featured in a newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"I love checking out the new ideas of jewelry. The steampunk ideas have instantly caught my eye. I wish I had the money to purchase some of the supplies to make it."
- Karen

"Fascinating ... A really nice presentation that got my interest in creating some steampunk jewelry. Thanks for the inspiration."
- Catgondek

"Love it! Thanks for considering Steampunk an option!"
- Anonymous

"I really like the idea. I think it is genius and look forward to seeing more creations of steampunk in future articles."
- Donna

"I enjoyed your online article about steampunk. It is informative and inspiring - explaining the deeper ideas and imaginations the artist can use while creating. I love the idea of creating a machine with functions and powers that only the creator knows about. Thanks very much."
- Anonymous

"Very interesting! Actually, I loved it and it has gotten my "gears" turning. Thank you!!"
- Huffman


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Products sold by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® are intended for experienced jewelry-makers and designer-artists;
children 14 years of age or younger should use these products with adult direction.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Inc. - One Fire Mountain Way, Grants Pass, OR USA 97526-2373
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