I adore crafting. I do. But I’m domestically awkward and most things wind up, well…you all remember the glue gun ball gown fiasco. When I got this book on Steampunk jewelery, Steampunk Emporium, I fell completely in love with it and I want to try to make something from it[s glossy pages–which will end in laughter, paint on the couch, and beads all over the floor, I’m sure. Today I’ve asked the author, Jema Hewitt, to come on and talk to us.
Jema Hewitt is a jewellery and costume designer living and working in the rolling hills of Derbyshire in the United Kingdom. Her love of all things steampunk gradually evolved through a passion for Victorian costume and an insistence that her friends dress up in bustles and go on picnics in castles with her.
Her steampunk Alter ego is Miss Emilly Ladybird, an adventuress who travels the world on behalf of her employers Dickens and Rivett auctioneers, looking for unusual artefacts and getting into mischief. Visit www.steampunkjewellery.co.uk for lots of stories about the pieces.
Steampunk Emporium is Jema’s latest jewellery making book, taking you on a rip roaring adventure with unusual characters and stories to accompany the crafting. Thrill to the daring adventures of zeppelin pirate “Andromeda Darkstorm” then make her storm bringer device, or take tea with the clockwork dolls then make a pretty chatelaine. This is a book to inspire the steampunk in everyone.
You can follow Emilly Ladybird’s adventures on twitter “emillyladybird” and join her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/emillyladybird for more fun and frolics.
In search of the perfect “cog”
by Jema Hewitt
One of the questions I’m asked most as a steampunk jewellery artist is “but where do you get your cogs?” As the genre of Steampunk rises in popularity in crafting circles, so has the enthusiasm for all things “cog” shaped, but what exactly is a cog? And why is it so important to Steampunks?
Firstly, what is steampunk? Well in a nutshell it could be summed up as Victorian style science fiction, it’s a creative movement which encompasses, art, literature, fashion and music, all inspired by airships, robots, submarines etc with lovely Victorian style in natural materials like brass and wood, with cogs, lots of cogs….
Now, to be pedantic, a cog is in fact just the little tooth part on a gear wheel, a gear wheel is the shape we normally call a cog, a moving part which meshes with another moving gear wheel as part of a larger piece of machinery. Just to confuse the issue further, A sprocket looks very similar to a gear wheel, but it only interacts with a chain or something like that, never another sprocket. (So a bicycle has sprockets, a pocket watch gearwheels)
There are hundreds of types of gear wheels, radial, helical, crown and worm, all of which get engineers terribly excited. This is all far too complicated for most people, so that lovely spiky shape is just called a “cog” for craft and steampunk purposes.
Its rise as a steampunk icon is directly related to its use in Victorian steam powered machinery, in which of course it was an integral moving part. Some Steampunks insist that a cog should only be used in this original form, as a true moving part in a larger functioning machine or artwork, while others are happy to stencil it onto a t-shirt, or embroider one onto a bag for instant recognition as belonging to part of the steampunk tribe.
I like to sit somewhere between these two camps, whilst I always try to make my cogs look functional, intersecting and if possible moving, in the devices and jewellery I create, there is also just no getting away from the fact that a cog is a gorgeous object in its own right. Those delicate little cut out teeth and interior are every bit as pretty to me as a piece of filigree, and I am happy to use them as purely decorative items in my art.
A cog stands for something small but important that is part of a greater whole.
So yes, I use cogs in my work, lots of them, and I mostly get them from watch and clock menders, who, if you pop round with a thermos of tea and some biscuits, show an interest in horology (that’s the posh word for clocks and watch making) will usually let you have a handful or two of old “cogs” (or gear wheels..) You can also purchase packets of new watch parts; teeny tiny shiny bits from specialist watch maker’s suppliers. Then there are the “craft” cogs, specially manufactured by companies like Ranger for use in scrapbooking and jewellery making, these are readily available from craft stores.
I do use cogs in my book quite a bit, but I also tried to find other interesting motifs that are integral to steampunk. Corsets, Keys, zeppelins are all fun, but not components in their own right. Cogs are like beads, totally addictive. You start stashing them, then not wanting to part with them, wondering what they were once part of, what they could be part of again, then it’s out with the wire and rivets and a new piece begins to take shape…..
~Jema Hewitt/Emilly Ladybird