Emily, aka “Professor Raven” runs Professor Raven’s Curiosity Emporium on Etsy.
Steampunk: My Coal-Dusty Heaven
by Professor Raven
I am in finally in heaven: steamy, coal-dusty heaven. Several years ago, I knew that I wanted to create, I wanted to write, I wanted the American version of success. I ran out and bought tools and supplies, the likes of which I knew nothing. My first attempts at jewelry creation were amateurish, awkward, and not beautiful. But I learned, refined my technique, my pieces became a wee bit more sophisticated. I still had no real focus.
I found the Twilight series (don’t hate) and thought that could be my focus. However, since all of my Twilight-inspired pieces had my own brand of sarcastic gothism imposed, they weren’t run-away best sellers. I still hadn’t found my niche.
About two years ago, I was introduced to the steampunk genre. Not only was I in love, but I had found a creative home, a style I not only understood, but a style I felt understood me. I’ve always been an imposter: a lonely, weird soul pretending to be normal. In steampunk, I found a place to belong! The steampunk community has been mostly welcoming, societal outsiders like me, friendly, warm, and weirdly entertaining. I found my focus!
Since embracing steampunk, I’ve not only narrowed my focus significantly, improved my technique, and started branching out to new mediums. I’ve met authors, bloggers, and been embraced as an artist in my own right. Sure, I’ve run into the odd purist who thinks that “merely slapping watch parts on something does not steampunk make”, but for the most part this is a welcoming community.
At my shop, I believe that steampunk is a state of mind. I love combining industrial, Victorian, and gothic elements into a cohesive piece. I love talking with other Steampunks and getting their unique take on our genre. I’ve started listening to steampunk bands and their eclectic sounds.
As a “social misfit”, I’m a bit perturbed that steampunk seems to be gaining mainstream ground; while this makes it easier for us to be accepted and find low-cost goodies, it also makes it harder to craft the genre we want, and harder for the true craftsmen to grow. I don’t count myself in the latter group *yet*, but I’ll get there.
While mainstream acceptance of the genre and its presence makes it easier for us to “explain” ourselves, I can’t help but wonder: what happens when popular opinion leaves us alone? And just how much more unique would our gear-driven world be if mass popularity hadn’t intruded itself?