1.- The interviewee
Lee Ann Farruga. Known internationally as Countessa Lenora, Canadian Queen of Steampunk, she is the founder of Steampunk Canada, a national organization bringing together steampunks from across Canada and educating the general public about this genre/community.
A bundle of organizational energy held in check only by her impressive collection of corsets, the Countessa promotes Steampunk in a plethora of venues including the Steampunk Canada website, blogs, social media, local and national events, and at conventions large and small. Driven by her love of Steampunk she has brought the genre and local Canadian groups to the attention of publishers and major media companies and is campaigning to bring Steampunk to the attention of all Canadians through art galleries, museums, libraries and schools nationwide.
2.- The Interview
2.1.- Steampunk Jewelry in general
First of all Irene and I would like to thank your time and interest in this interview. As you know, we are looking for a real international insight with this brief interview series and there is no doubt that you are one of the main ambassadors of the Canadian Steampunk scene. Probably most of our readers have heard about you, but we do not want to miss this opportunity to share with them this video with your perspective about Steampunk.
Q.- We know what’s Steampunk for you now, but… what’s Steampunk jewelry? Which influences should Steampunk jewelry have?
A.- Steampunk jewelry to me means taking old styles, Victorian and Edwardian looks and materials, and having fun with them to make something new. Steampunk jewelry influences should come from the old: steam engines, machinery, and period architectural design, and the new: icons taken from steampunk works such as airships and kraken, and the artist’s imagination of course.
Q.- Would you dare to describe Steampunk jewelry with a single word?
Q.- There are some major international Steampunk events in Canada, we can think about Victoria Steam Exposition and Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition right now. Do you consider that this kind of events can be important for Steampunk jewelers? How?
A.- These kinds of events can be quite important for steampunk jewelry designers because it gives them a place to shine and have their creations appreciated by the very audience they are made for. Most of the attendees at steampunk events already have a love for this style of jewelry, and those who are new to the genre/community will come with fresh eyes for something different and interesting. It is also an opportunity for designers to compare styles and techniques to expand their repertoire.
Q.- What challenges do you think Steampunk jewelry designers face?
A.- I think the challenges that steampunk designers face are the same as those faced by other jewelry designers – coming up with something new and different. But they would also have to deal with how to beautifully blend the old styles with new ideas and steampunk influences to create artistic pieces that are pleasing to one’s eye. As well as how to make them feasible for the majority to purchase, while being enough for the designer to make a living.
Q.- What do you miss when you try to find Steampunk jewelry?
A.- I’m actually quite lucky to know a few very good jewelry designers who make quality pieces so I don’t necessarily miss out on anything when looking for steampunk jewelry. As well, it very often comes to my attention, instead of me having to look for it.
Q.- When Steampunk jewelry is brought up, do you think quality is receiving attention enough? Is there a place for Steampunk fine jewelry?
A.- I don’t believe quality is receiving enough attention. There are quite a few wonderful jewelry designers and makers who take the time and have the skill to make a lovely piece of steampunk jewelry, but there are still far too many who glue two or three plastic or low grade metal pieces together and try to sell it on Etsy or Ebay as art and at far too high a price for its actual worth.
There is definitely a place for steampunk fine jewelry. I would love to see more pieces with high grade gems, and finer metals like silver and gold. Steampunk jewelry is just like the clothing – it does not all have to be brown.
Q.- From our point of view, the cultural factor can be important. Steampunk is not new at all in Canada and there are deep Historical roots for it. Can this influence local jewelers?
A.- It would be very nice to see the cultural influence of a country or even a city or town influence a steampunk jewelry designer. In Canada, we have a grand and rich history that could be used to spark the imagination of our resident designers. In my article, that you have incorporated here, one can find much to influence their creations, as well as something to inspire them to research further into our unique past for ideas.
Q.- What do you think of jewels presented as fantastic devices with different symbolisms?
A.- This could be quite a lot of fun for a designer. One could also add stories to go with the symbolism of each jewel.
2.2.- About the interviewee preferences
Q.- How do you describe your style?
A.- My steampunk style is a mix of old and new, mainly Edwardian and contemporary.
Q.- Have you always had a knack for these aesthetics?
A.- I have always loved this look and it has been a big influence on my style for many years.
Q.- What do you look for when searching or trying jewelry pieces?
A.- Many of my jewelry pieces have quite a Jules Verne influence to them. I look for unique pieces. Most of my jewelry does not have gears on them. I definitely look for quality.
Q.- What is the biggest mistake to avoid when choosing jewels?
A.- Make sure you are getting what you pay for. Always buy from a reputable jeweller and always purchase a piece you love, and not something that is “in style” or you feel pressured to buy.
Q.- For the average person who is afraid of spending ‘too much’, what advice would you give him or her when shopping Steampunk jewelry?
A.- When shopping for steampunk jewelry (or any jewelry) always buy something you love, but also buy the best you can with what you have. You will always love many pieces, and within those you love you will always find something wonderful within your means.
Q.- Do you prefer big or small pieces? Do you want people to notice what you are wearing?
A.- When I was younger I loved more delicate pieces, but now that I am a mature woman, I find my preference has changed to pieces that are quite big and bold. I do love a statement piece of steampunk jewelry.
Q.- Is there anything else you would like to add?
A.- My final comments are…. For designers – have fun and let your imagination run rampant when making steampunk jewelry. There really are no rules. For buyers – it’s the same advice, have fun. There are no rules. Wear whatever tickles your fancy!
Disclaimer.- The opinions or statements expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of Decimononic.
3.- Next interviewee!
On the 15th of May, we are publishing the interview for Helen Jansen (aka Lady Helen Steampunk La Falconesse) and Iain Clark (aka Agent Darling). Agent Darling aka Iain Clark is an award winning manufacturing jeweller and the instigator of Steampunk in New Zealand. A time traveller of great skill and cunning, he is timeless. He lives in a little cottage in a botanical garden in a little town in SE New Zealand with his partner and fellow Steampunk organiser Lady Helen Steampunk, La Falconesse. Over the last 4 years, with the help of several others and the enthusiasm of the local community they have made Steampunk a national phenomenon and Oamaru is now as the capital of Steampunk in New Zealand.
Remember that all the published interviews are available for your delight: ‘Steampunk jewelry tonight with…’ the brief interviews series by Decimononic.