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May’s Trend Watch: Steampunk

Take a time (usually 1900′s) when steam was the power source for so much (trains, etc), add a lot of scientific funky inventions, and a whole lot of fiction – and you’ve got “steampunk”. It’s not a new genre, but it is one that continues to gain steam in first books, and now crafting as well. It’s a trend I’ve noticed more and more as I cruise the isles of my local bookstore. Recently with vintage inspired crafting products being on the rise, I’ve also noticed steampunk showing up in crafting stores as well. From jewelry to mixed media arts and everything in between – this funky vintage sub-genre isn’t limited to works of fiction anymore! It’s officially crossed over into crafting.

Doing a search on amazon.com for steampunk crafting books turned up some interesting options:

Steampunk Style Jewelry, by Jean Campbell:

Steampunkery: Polymer Clay and Mixed Media Projects, by Christi Friesen:

What I find really interesting, is that a number of books are available only for pre-order, meaning they haven’t been published yet. In other words, I think that this steampunk stuff is going to keep growing in crafting as a trend for awhile, thanks to titles like these -
1,000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear, and Art (1000 Series):

Steampunk Softies: 8 Scientifically-Minded Dolls from a Past That Never Was, by Nicola Teadman and Sarah Skeate:

While the books coming out are very cool, they are all over the craft spectrum. What about paper crafting?

I have found there are a number of products available that can lend themselves to a steampunk look, as well as a whole collection devoted to the genre. I’m talking about Graphic 45, who is leading this trend’s charge into paper crafting with their Steampunk Debutante line. I love the funky designs and the choice of color palette in this line, and I can’t stop playing with all the bits and pieces!

While this line has a feminine feel to it, the steampunk look can be equally masculine. Traditionally, the genre seems to lean towards the Victorian style and era. However, there really aren’t rules here. You could go for a high-tech wild west cowboy look (see Will Smith’s Wild Wild West movie for inspiration), focus heavily on trains and the mechanical aspects, or do your own thing entirely.

What elements in craft supplies work for a steampunk-inspired look? Mixing a vintage look with clocks, time pieces, gears, steam engine/train inspired pieces, cogs, wings, and other aged metals and funky stuff works great. Add some grunge with paints and inks, distress with sand paper, and have a ball. Once I started looking into this trend I realized that a lot of the products Tim Holtz designs would work incredibly well.

Above: Gadget Gears die cuts by Tim Holtz Alterations from Sizzix and sprocket gears from Tim Holtz Idea-ology.

Below: Timeworks masks and game spinners from Tim Holtz Idea-ology.

7 Gypsies has a line of Steampunk rub-ons, each filled with small images that could be used any number of ways.

There are many other products out there that could work great too. Just look for the elements and general feel that you’re aiming for.

What kind of projects could you apply this style to? I think just about anything! I could see some really great masculine pages taking advantage of the gears and such, but it works just as well for themes like travel, memories/time, girls, or anything else you’re scrapping about! I chose to use the gears as inspiration to do a page about my mysterious three year old (aren’t they all a mystery at this age?!).

My layout shown above features both Graphic 45 papers and Tim Holtz elements. I had so much fun with this! I used the sprockets with flowers and other embellishments, and often in place of where I’d normally lean towards buttons or flowers. This is such an easy style to try. I love it!

Supply List:
Graphic 45 Steampunk Debutante Paper Pad
Tim Holtz Idea-ology sprocket gears, game spinnersbrads, Locket Key, and metal charm
Girls’ Paperie letter stickers from Toil & Trouble and Tinsel & Twig sticker sets
Tim Holtz for Stampers Anonymous flourish stamp
Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Brushed Corduroy
Tim Holtz Distress Stickles in Antique Bronze
Making Memories Paper Reverie rose brad and letter stickers
Prima white flower
Tim Holtz Tissue Tape (Traveler)
Tattered Angels Chalkboard Glimmer Mist in Peacock

Why not add a bit of steampunk to your next project? The Graphic 45 line of papers is so lovely – I could see it working well for a number of subjects and also for cards, tags, and altered or mixed media projects too. Some of the designs are simply too pretty to cover up!

Or just try your hand at mixing more metal and punk into your vintage papers and see what turns out. I love the possibilities this trend has for all kinds of paper crafting – especially since it’s more masculine and boy friendly than many trends we see.

Now I’m off to watch the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or perhaps read a good novel, and get some fresh ideas for my {steampunk} crafting!

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