Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interview with Jema "Emilly Ladybird" Hewitt, author of Steampunk Emporium

Today I have not only a fun project to share with you I have an interview with the author of the book the project is from! But wait there's more! If you want to win a copy of the book pop on over to Recycled Crafts at CraftGossip.com to enter to win your very own copy of Steampunk Emporium: Creating Fantastical Jewelry, Devices and Oddments from Assorted Cogs, Gears and Curios.
The cute little gear earrings in the top photo were so much fun to make! And talk about easy! It's one of those instant satisfaction kind of projects. All I did was grab two gears and a hand-full of of Swarovski crystals in assorted sizes and shapes and followed the great directions in Steampunk Emporium and I had a fun pair of Steampunk Gear earrings!

Now onto the interview with Jema "Emilly Ladybird" Hewitt.

How did you first find out about the Steampunk look?

"I trained as a costume designer and always loved the late Victorian bustle era, so I started making my own slightly odd versions of Victorian clothes for dressing up and having tea in, I loved the "almost historical" look of films like Dune and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but it wasn't until I read "The Difference Engine" I realised that a genre name had been invented! I suppose I started to notice the altered steampunk Victorian things creeping into books, films and art more and more over the years and thought wow this is so cool! I want to be more involved."

Have you always crafted and designed or did you start so that you could make Steampunk style things?

"I have always been a crafter, even as a small child I was always sewing, gluing or painting something!Although I did well academically at school I realised that I loved designing and making too much not to do it full time, even if that meant a deeply precarious career. I went to college and university to study theatrical design, and met lots of other wonderful creative people in those early years. The great thing is because we shared interests and admired a similar design ethos lots of them have been quietly creating steampunk style art too over the years, and now we are getting back in touch and going "wow" at each other!"

What did you find to be the most fun part of writing Steampunk Emporium?

"I loved thinking up the themes and the characters, imagining all the gadgets and accessories they might want and then working out what those things might look like. The character photography was great fun too, I got the models in my studio, they had fun trying on different looks for the characters then laughed at me as I snapped away, saying "oh no! there's a dinosaur, look scared, oh no actually look totally unconcerened because you haven't seen him yet..." we had a real fun time doing that, then Julian worked to my brief putting the backgrounds in and aging the pictures till the characters came to life! The models are all real steampunk people too, they weren't just hired for the day, they love steampunk too!"

What is your favorite Steampunk object to make?

"My favourite is making my weird gadgets in pocket watch cases, every single one is a totally unique piece of art, and there's lots of scope for modelling,sculpting and using mixed media in those pieces too which I enjoy. I'm a real experimenter, always trying out new materials and pushing things to their limits. I've got into resin in a big way recently so I'm going to have to think of some ways of combining that with my old favourite polymer clay. I like thinking about the functions of each gadget, what the parts might do, how pieces could move or be read in an imaginary situation."

Since most projects use recycled materials do you ever find it hard to use an object you only have one of in a design?

"Oh goodness yes, especially as most of my work is for sale, I have real problems sometimes letting an object go, it can take weeks for me to put a favourite bit into a piece, but it will just keep coming back to me that it's the perfect thing so I'll give in, then I see it being worn by a new owner who obviously adores it, and I think, I'm glad I used that, it's time it had new adventures with a new owner! It's also what makes steampunk so special I think, the importance of handmade one of a kind objects. I know you can buy mass produced "steampunk style" finished pieces of clothing or jewellery now, but to me that's kind of missing the point, as well as expensive..."

What is next on your "to try" list?

"Well, only today I have been playing with fantasy film and "dip it" film, experimenting with making tiny absinthe fairy wings. I'm going to be making more steampunk style tiaras, I want to play with more moving pieces too, gogs and gears that turn and do stuff. When I started writing the book there was hardly any steampunk specific supplies available, for example I had to beg manufacturers to design stamps for me in cog shapes! but now there's so much steampunk style components and tools to play with, I want to have it all! I would love love love to own a sissex big shot and all the tim holtz cutters and textures, mmmmmm."

What is your favorite swear word? (taken from Ravelry)

"lol! I try very hard not to swear too much, but I do say "pants" a lot, (as in the english "knickers"). I got that one from my friend the fantasy artist Jon Hodgson when we were at college. I'm quite a calm person so I don't often feel the need to swear, but if I mess up with the resin or run out of a certain type of bead then I will let a cross "Oh Pants!!!" fly."

What music is your favorite to have on while creating?

"I love electro swing, so when I'm working on the dining table I'll often have a mix of that with classical and blues too. My husband works from home so I usually let him sort the music out, we have similar taste in the main so that's OK. In my studio I listen to radio four pretty much exclusivly, for which most of my friends mock me. I like hearing peoples voices around, without being expected to answer, I get very focused when I'm working and can't form sentences to chat. Working alone can be lonely at times but radio four is always full of interesting educational programs, and plays and stories, I'm always learning something new! Oh dear, I sound like a crazy lady!"

What books are you currently engrossed in?

"I mainly read novels and historical reference books, and I read voraciously, often two or three books at a time, so my current bedside books are... "Cake and Ale" a history of victorian food and eating habits. "Heartstone" by CJ Sansom, a tudor thriller, and Philip Reeves "Mothstorm" which is a riproaring childrens steampunk adventure. My copy of "The Steampunk Bible" just arrived, (in which i'm a featured artist), so i'll be reading that next and I'm hoping to get "Android Karenina" for my birthday..."

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your answers to my questions!

I hope all you Sweater Surgery readers enjoyed the answers as much as I did!

More about Steampunk Emporium: Creating Fantastical Jewelry, Devices and Oddments from Assorted Cogs, Gears and Curios from the publisher North Light Books:

The steampunk genre takes Victorian charm and steam-powered machinery parts and combines that with modern day elements and technology. In Steampunk Emporium, you are introduced to the rich charm and harrowing adventures of the steampunk world. Follow along with author Jema "Miss Emilly Ladybird" Hewitt as she guides you through several beginning-level jewelry techniques (basic wire wraps, using basic findings and so on) as well as some basic work with polymer clay, resin, shrink plastic and other mixed-media techniques. She then takes you on a jaunt through 20 projects divided between five themed chapters, each its own fantastical story. Projects range from decadent jewelry, medals of great distinction, wine charms for imbibers, and many devices of note, all featuring authentic steampunk style and whimsy.

Jema Hewitt is a freelance craft writer, as well as a costume and jewelry designer. She has written articles for both ?Making Jewellery Magazine? and also ?Craft Stamper? on many projects in the steampunk genre. Jema has been at the forefront of the UK steampunk movement for several years and her alter ego, ?Emilly Ladybird?, has a large social media following. She is a regular lecturer and workshop leader in the UK and has written two books on beading and jewelry making with New Holland and has two best-selling DVDs on tiara making (Rainbow Disks).


Susan Lutz said...

I haven't had much time for crafting recently, but this book makes me want to start again! Love the interview and the book. Thanks, Stephanie!

Cyndi L said...

Great interview! Thanks Stefanie :-)

Eileen The Artful Crafter said...

I love steampunk and I love the earrings you made. I'm going "shopping" in my hubby's toolbox right now. lol.

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