Steampunk Community Blog
All things Steampunk!
Interview with Jema Hewitt, SparkleyJem Steampunk Artist
Jenna Hewitt is an author, and the leading designer for SparkleyJem. She creates Steampunk costumes and jewelry.
Q. What are some of your favorite items that you've created?
A.The absinthe fairy costume, the Steampunk in Wonderland mini top hat, the the Brittania union flag pin, and the Royal Genius necklace.
The absinthe fairy gown is a complete costume created as a showpiece for the victorian steampunk society convention in Lincoln UK. It is currently on show at Bradford Industrial museum till May. It includes all the underwear required to give a true victorian ball gown silhoutte, including hourglass corset and crinoline, with layers of net, lace and silk building into a huge skirt and elegantly shaped apple green bodice.
I started by creating the underwear for the gown, then cut the bodice to fit over the corset, the skirt was made to go over the crinoline cage in layers. For a comprehensive step by step of how this and other complex outfits were created you can read all about it on my blog sparklyjem.blogspot.com.
Absinthe Fairy Gown
Absinthe Fairy Gown
Absinthe Fairy Gown
The Steampunk in Wonderland mini top hat is a cute teeny topper made from Black Leather and lined in silk. It has playing cards, feathers and a huge red crystal heart as decorations.
To make a top hat I start by creating a buckram shape, flat pattern cut to my own design, I then glue and sew this together, add an extra layer of mull to soften the shape and give a true couture finish. the brim and crown are then covered separately with the top fabric, in this case leather. The brim is attached to the crown and the final outer decoration and lining are attached!
Steampunk in Wonderland Mini Top Hat
Steampunk in Wonderland Mini Top Hat
The Brittania Pin Is a smart cravat or lapel pin with tiny cogs appearing to float in glass above a union flag.
This is made by layering thin sheets of resin in a mould and embedding cogs in each layer, then the final layer is the union flag, when the piece is pulled from the mould the cogs appear above the flag! I then attach the pin to the rear of the piece.
The Royal Genius Necklace was inspired by the steampunk graphic serial Girl Genius, it has beautiful deep purple and red gems and Brass and gold cogs and filligree surrounding a two tone focal.
I used an assortment of wirework and jewellery techniques to join the links together, the focal was created with coloured and clear resins, again embedding gogs and gearwheels between layers.
Royal Genius Necklace
Q. It seems that you are multi-talented and are capable of creating a multitude of items. How long did it take you to create them and what types of items did you learn how to create first? When did you realize that you could venture into all sorts of DIY projects?
A. I trained in theatrical design at Nottingham Trent University and specialised in costume design, it was there that I learned how to create corsets for the theatre (this was long before they were fashionable again!).
I worked for many years in different creative businesses and environments, film and theatre companies as well as modelmaking and shopfitting and museum display businesses, honing my techniques and learning lots of skills from the people I was working with. I also took lots of classes and workshops with designers and makers who'm I admired.
I finally started my own company www.bridal-originals.co.uk to create coloured historically based wedding gowns for brides who wanted similar gowns to the ones they saw in period movies and fantasy films but couldn't find in shops. I strated making jewellery pieces to acompany and accessorize the gowns, tiaras necklace and all sorts of pretty things.
Along with teaching workshops and writing books on how to create the jewellery pieces I started writing magazine how-to articles and that has now branched into online tutorials and presentations!
I have always made things, I am a constant fiddler and doodler, I just can't imagine not having something half made and a book full of new ideas waiting to go! But I am still constantly learning and experimenting, each time i think of something I try not to be limited by what i already know, but be excited by what I might learn.
Q. Do you make any items for yourself and wear them?
A. I often wear my showpieces, in fact I make sure I always create them to my size, then I carve manequins to the same size as a corseted me when they go off to exhibitions to be displayed. You will mainly see me at London MCM expo and also at The Asylum in Lincoln, though I do pop up at other events whenever I have time, and an invitation of course ;).
They do get photographed a lot because they tend to be colourful and quite unusual, even in the amazingly unusal Steampunk scene! I like to create a full look, with Wig, makeup accessories etc just to complement the gowns.
Q. What do you love the most about the Steampunk aesthetic?
A. I absolutely adore the amount of creativity on the steampunk scene, every one is so unique in their approach to it. I'm drawn to stories and characters so I particularly like the alter-ego aspect of Steampunk, as well as the appreciation of really beautiful quality craftsmanship and design. I would always encourage people to own one truly exquiste and finely made thing than a dozen cheap and disposable ones.
Q. Tell us about your book!
A. My book is called "Steampunk Emporium" and It's an exciting journey into creating all sorts of gadgets, devices and jewellery. Each chapter is intoduced by my alter ego Emilly Ladybird with a new theme and a photograph of a character she's met. The reader then goes on to explore the artefacts of that character, how to make them and the stories behind them. It was terrific fun to write and I really loved using real people from the steampunk scene as my models too.
I cover all sorts of crafting skills, basic jewellery making techniques, sculpting in polymer clay, using resin and filligree and how to take a watch apart!
Q. What new projects can we look forward to from you for 2012?
A. For 2012 I shall be continiuing to promote Steampunk Emporium and I'm also in talks with a publisher for a sequal, with more maybe a little darker tone but still interesting characters and stories.
I will be at MCM and The asylum as well, selling jewellery and my book as well as showcasing my new creation! whatever that may be. I have a few Ideas but nothing concrete yet, I rather fancy some lighting up and moving parts on a headdress this time!
Q. What Steampunk music, films, books, etc. would you recommend? Have any of them been influential to your work?
A. Philip Reeves Larklight trilogy are the books I keep going back to for fun steampunk adventure. I also love graphic novels, so the adventures of Adele Blanc sec and the Girl Genius series are firm favourites.
Rather than reading specialist new "steampunk books" I take my inspiration very much from original victorian sources, so in creating new ranges of jewellery I have been inspired by the fact that Sir arthur Conan Doyle actually believed in the cottingly fairie hoax and the original stories of Jules Verne and HG wells. I love artists like Lalique too.
I am also part of a group of adventurers and writers who create ongoing stories on twitter and facebook, we all have separate storylines then the characters meet up to hijack each others storylines, loads of fun and well worth a follow! Just look for emillyladybird, jackunion1885, MSpeacey, count_rostov and BBSBrigadier.
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