When planning 2012’s summer readers’ activities, Jackson County Library Program Specialist, Janis Mohr-Tipton, pondered ideas for a dynamic project that would appeal to teens. An innovative bead artist, Mohr-Tipton decided to combine her hobby with a growing trend first launched in Great Britain.
According to Mohr-Tipton, steampunk jewelry started in 1987 through an Englishman named Jetter. Later, it spread to the U.S. The concept began with a renewed interest in Victorian times. The fascination with that historical period continued into the following era, the early 1900’s that ushered-in steam power. The intrigue eventually blended with fantasy or science fiction movies such as “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Another such link occurs in the Jules Verne classic, “Twenty-thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” What resulted? –a mixture called “steampunk,” Mohr-Tipton explains. It influences fashion, costumes, decor, and other creative crafts.
The Program Specialist has brought instruction on innovative ways of making what’s deemed “wearable art” to several Upper Rogue libraries this summer. On July 26, White City Library’s young patrons filled the community room, for their turn at learning it.
Steampunk pieces don’t have to be expensive, says the instructor, who has picked up supplies at yard sales. “It’s recycled, or ‘repurposed’ jewelry,” she added. “These handmade pieces are simple to produce. An item usually consists of a small metal base, a few beads, wire, imagination, and glue. After the class, each participant takes home a lovely souvenir to keep or give to Mom.”
Using jewelry pliars, fast-drying glue, and simple ribbons, the instructor demonstrated how she might transform a once-discarded bronze earring into a unique pendant.
In Victorian times, the prominent fashionable colors included dark red, black, brown, grey, and purple, Mohr-Tipton said. Steampunk doesn’t use costly, precious metals such as gold or platinum. Most pieces bear the appearance of elegant antiques.
For anyone interested in learning more, Mohr-Tipton recommends the book, “Steampunk Style Jewelry,” by Jean Campbell.