—First comes first. Would you introduce yourselves?
Irene López (IL): We are José Francisco Alfaya and Irene López and, as promoters of Decimononic, we have been active in the international Steampunk scene for some years now.
Sally-Ann Livingston (SL): I am a 39 year old, married mum of one. I first became aware of Steampunk as a genre in itself about three years ago. I love fantasy and science-fiction and have been a Live Roleplayer for about 20 years, so discovering Steampunk felt like a natural expansion of my experience of storytelling.
Malcolm Sinclair (MS): My name is Malcolm Sinclair. I am the creator of Steamretro, Gothic & Steampunk Emporium. I am craftsman, and I work making my steampunk art and promoting it in Internet. In the weekend, we enjoy traveling Europe with our traveler emporium; we will be near of you, soon.
IL: We love Dr. Mike Perschon’s definition of Steampunk as an applied aesthetic: ‘it is a retrofuturistic, hyper-Victorian, technofantasy look and feel applied to narratives, movies, art, gaming, and costumes among other items’. Steampunk has been one of our main influences in order to develop Decimononic. We can link it directly with other sources of inspiration for us, like some artistic and literary movements of late 19th and early 20th centuries: the dark side of the Victorian era, Symbolism and Decadentism, Art Nouveau and Art Decó, and the corresponding retrofuturisms are really significant for our creative endeavors.
José Francisco Alfaya (JFA): Steampunk provides us with the possibility to learn from the recent past in order to reformulate it and make the most of it to envision the future. It is as thrilling as it sounds.
SL: Having trained initially as a modelmaker, gaining a degree in Design Representation, I worked for three years but never managed to get into the field I'd hoped, that of Special FX and Film Propmaking. Instead, I ended up doing mostly architectural modelmaking which choked my creativity. I retrained as a Montessori pre-school teacher and did that for a few years. By the time I'd become a mother, the need to create things (aside from LRP costume and props) was re-emerging.
Steampunk has given me a focus. It has allowed me to re-invent myself yet again and to grow as a person. I find myself reading Gail Carriger books and listening to Professor Elemental! The best thing about it is that I get to work alongside my brother Matt of ArcaneArmoury!
|With Adam Mcskelly in Steampunk Doncaster|
With my craftsman works, I travel to a lot of diferent places where people does not know what Steampunk is. We go to motorcyclist or gothic events, and to medieval markets trying to show what it is this genre. I try to creat jewels of Steampunk inspiration but jewels wearable by a motorist, a gothic and a grandma from a little town.
—How was Decimononic born and why?
JFA: Decimononic was born as a transdisciplinary experimental project we started back in 2010. In our travels we had the feeling that the world is turning towards homogenization and, in addition, that this economic system based on mass produced disposable goods and programmed obsolescence is no longer sustainable. For this reason we wanted to do something to bring into focus the issue of singularity and the need to develop a new economic system based on restoration (Circular Economy). Thus, we stand up for recycling and reusing, and we look for quality and durability based on craftsmanship mastery.
IL: Considering the deep symbolic meaning that jewels can achieve, we decided to focus our activity on the field of art jewelry and our first collection, Machinarium, was inspired by Steampunk. Decimononic is conceived as an holistic aesthetical proposal and we want it to become our instrument to change the world for better.
—‘True Singularity’. I know well that this is more than just a slogan or a catch phrase. What’s the context for this expression, what does Decimononic want to communicate with it?
JFA: Our objective is empowering all those who are willing to make the most of their uniqueness through fine jewelry pieces conceived as ‘reminders of singularity’.
IL: In a few words, we intend to make ‘singular jewelry for singular people’. No more, no less.
—Sally, you decided to create Steampunk jewellery. Tell us about TheNavigatrix. What is TheNavigatrix? And, how and why did you start this project?
This was the first time I had created a character without the guidance of a LRP rulebook! I was quite pleased with the effect of the hairclip, made entirely from re-used materials I had to hand. Having recently moved back to my native Lincolnshire I was setting up my Reiki practice once more and being a stay at home mum, funds were short.
So when the thought that people might like to buy these pretty clips popped into my head, I immediately asked my brother if I could perhaps have a little space in his shop (I knew nothing about Etsy at the time). He just turned to me and said: "Why not make your own shop?"
—And, what about SteamRetro? How it started?
Malcolm Sinclair: It was for necessity ;)
After my last job as a chef, I decided to start something new, something that liked me. I start it like a hobby, selling in bazaars with good results. So, I decided to do become it my own job.
—How is the creative process of your jewelry pieces? How do you come up with ideas for new designs and collections?
IL: This is a difficult question because our creative processes are not always the same. Naturally we have a collection of both contemporary and classical jewelry books that is always useful as consultation resource (not to mention our digital boards in platforms such as Pinterest). Sometimes you see something and just think ‘would it be possible to transform it this way?’, sometimes you just wake up with a new idea. Architecture, paintings, literature… one never knows when a new idea is going to pop up and when this happens it is essential to capture it!
JFA: Once we have a first idea, the next step is drawing a sketch and analyzing the technical aspects of the manufacturing process. If it seems feasible, then a master piece is produced in order to make sure that it suits our expectations and time estimates.
SL: Starting with next to no budget, I began buying my materials from local charity shops. I realized that this was a good idea to base a shop around, supporting local charities and upcycling unwanted items. Having limited materials also meant that I would only make one of anything and for handmade jewellery that is ideal. My customers know that no-one else in the world will have anything quite like their purchase. I sometimes make runs of similar things such as the Scientifica test tube Keyrings, but they are never identical.
I love browsing images and use Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest quite a lot. I'm very visual. That gives me a feeling for the look, but the actual inspiration comes from the matierials themselves. When I have a pile of random oddments in front of me, I'll notice how two or three things sit nicely together and an idea is born.
My latest inspiration, however, has been born from combining my latest Live Roleplay character with Steampunk Multiculturalism.... so I've invented the 'Steamhippy!' I noticed the popularity of the Tribal trend in jewellery recently and have transposed that to Steampunk. My Aether Nomads range is the expression of that. I often write a little snippet of story when listing my creations as ideas pop into my head when I'm making things - look at my listings and you'll see these in quotes. With the Aether Nomads, however, a whole fictitious, Airship-based nomadic culture is emerging and so that is what I am currently working on. I'd love to make a comic book of it one day, even!
Matt and I attended a local Steampunk fair last year and met in person the couple behind Prior Attire. Izabela showed me her designs for Steampunk Bedouin costumes and I knew that she would be perfect to collaborate with. I lent her some pieces for her recent Steampunk Amazones photoshoot. It has given me confidence that there are people interested in expressing Steampunk from a non-Western viewpoint.
MS: Actually, I am a big fan of Industrial Revolution and Victorian Literature. My hero is Brunel; so, my inspiration often comes from a book of that period. We travel to London once a year if we can. I can find some inspiration there, in and in all the new things that I see there.
Besides, I found inspiration in the people I meet in Steampunk, in the events that we atend… For example, we got jewels inspired by the jobs of two writers: Scarlett Flame and Craig Hallam.
—Something that stands out from Decimononic’s activity is that you address Steampunk globally, without limiting yourselves geographically. In fact, 2013 was a proof of movement from your end, wasn’t it?
|Decimononic "True Singularity"|
temporary frame, but not to a geographical space. This means that, beyond the British Empire, Steampunk adventures may take place anywhere.
JFA: We can see this happening with the development of the Steampunk community all over the world, with its own particularities in every country. For this reason we visited Germany for some days in May last year, in order to spread our activity and gauge the pulse of the Central European Goth and Steampunk scene. In fact, our mother tongue is Spanish but our working language is English; this is a conscious choice to increase the reach of our activities.
—Why do you see Steampunk this way, as a global community?
JFA: Well, we cannot help but see it this way… we have learnt this from experience. As we wanted to go deeper in the concept of ‘Steampunk jewelry’, we chose to ask the community about it. After twenty four interviews with Steampunks from fourteen countries over two years, the natural conclusion is that Steampunk is boosting creativity and friendship everywhere.
IL: We have always believed in a multicultural approach to the Steampunk phenomenon.
SL: I'm fascinated by other cultures. We are one human family living on one planet, yet expressing life in a multitude of ways. Steampunk, being rooted in history, fact and classic fiction, allows people to become inspired and give form to their creative urges! It provides a common language for those who 'get it'.
MS: I think the world is a smaller place because of technology. Thanks to Steampunk, we met people from around the world. I think that initiatives as Steampunk Hands Around The World helps us to meet more people and promote the job of writers, musicians and artists from other genres.
—Has Steampunk changed you or made you get better in any way?
IL: Steampunk has become an inexhaustible source of inspiration and our involvement in this community has rewarded us with new friends. We think that Steampunk lets us reformulate the past to re-think the future in unexpected ways.
SL: It has opened it! I can now see more possibilities, more opportunities for creatively connecting with others to our mutual benefit.
MS: It became me more creative because there are hundreds of other steampunk jewelers, doing the same. If you are not good enough, you stay behind. It gives me motivation to create new stuff every day.
—If you could package a remembrance of the event as a present, which one would it be?
IL: Choosing just one moment in time is not easy, but I think I would underline the excitement of the kickoff on 1st February. Seeing almost 100 Steampunk artificers from dozens of countries so passionate with the idea of spreading the word was amazing.
JFA: Yes, when Kevin Steil contacted us we though that Steampunk Hands Around the World had a huge potential, but we never imagined that the results were going to become so spectacular. We can only thank him for counting on us for this project, we have been most honored to do our bit. And naturally we have to thank you for this interview, Josué!
SL: I am thoroughly enjoying connecting with others. I've learned so much about internet marketing through running an Etsy shop, but it is the people I connect with that I value the most. I love sharing others' amazing work, through my blogs, my Facebook page, the Steampunk Share Page and Twitter. I love the freedom to create my art, in the form of costume jewellery and accessories. I really enjoy being part of Weekend at the Asylum (Europe's largest Steampunk event), held annually in Lincoln. I share a stand with my brother Matt of ArcaneArmoury.
MS: We were invited to participate in Eurosteamcon Barcelona in 2013. We accept without knowing how many people would was there. The best part was a few minutes before the doors opened. We saw a lot of people dressed with Steampunk costumes, waiting patiently to go inside. It was a wonderful success and an unforgettable experience!
—There are a few more words from The Navigatrix:
I'd like to encourage people to use the Steampunk Share Page on Facebook. It is run by my good friend Georgina of Nevermore Dolls and Curious Doors. The page administrators form the crew of 'The Unpronounceable', a gargantuan airship bought from a different dimension. Do come and meet us and share!
All the best,
Next day: Steampunks around the world