Sunday, March 21, 2010

Talbots Or ... Steampunk???

EDITED TO ADD: All the below sounds like superficial materialism. What I want to buy. What I want to wear. Not really. It's actually a metaphor for the fact that rather than go through life in an office, I want to live a life like Margaret Moth. I just think through visuals and things. Anyway, I'm on my way ... first stop this year: Istanbul, then India again ...

* * * * *

The more I see steampunk style, the more I realize I've been living a lie. Corseted into form-fitting Talbots wool jackets to be all uptight officey professional, which is what I thought I was supposed to be. Instead I'd rather be rockin' some  hardware and leather. You're gonna find some interesting shoes peeking out from under my tailored wool work pants this spring.

I was way ahead of the steampunk trend. Waaaaaaaaaay back, like when today's steampunk aficionados were still riding with their training wheels on, I horded packages of watch parts from Michaels stores. I'd drive from one to another to another, snapping up all the packages. Until I finally tracked down a paper catalog from an ad in the back of a magazine, and found a source to order an infinite supply of old watch parts at wholesale. Needless to say, this was before the internet.

I spent so many hours of life gluing old watch parts and metal pieces and mixing them with semi-precious stones to make bracelets, earrings, necklaces, brooches. Those pieces were ME. I even designed little price cards and other branded materials on the Mac that held like 64K of memory. Remember that tiny cute box? And floppy disks? My company's moniker was 7:51 co. Long story why, but never forgot it, so watch for 7:51 to appear on a project to be posted soon.

I held house parties and sold some pieces. Some. But way less than the $4K I invested in materials over the years. Meanwhile I was so envious of my friends going on European backpacking trips. Heck I coulda gone to Europe and left them in backpacker dust while I powdered my face in fine hotels! Instead I bought watch parts. I was so obsessed with watch parts.

Unfortunately, not many other people were. While friends bought pieces, strangers didn't. I sat at several "art fairs" which were more like "craft shows," watching a friend frantically stuff more glittery ribbon into round glass Christmas bulbs so she could keep up with the consumer demand on her side of the booth. She was very happy. She made a boatload of money. My booth side was pretty unprofitable. But I sure loved those watch parts, I could look at them all day. And I did. Alllllllllllllllll daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay looooooooooonnnnnnnnnng. And I took them all back home too.

I held onto all those gears & workings & gems & chains for years, through numerous moves. On our last move from Minnesota to Illinois, I decided, no more. I hadn't opened those boxes in a decade. Life was moving on. I had new obsessions, namely, Japanese kimono and haori. (Thankfully I was ahead of the curve on that trend too and collected some nice pieces on eBay cheap-cheap-cheap before demand rose. I will never sell.)

So without a care, I put the plastic boxes of thousands of dollars of watch parts and finished jewelry pieces in a box for the Salvation Army. It was a decent write-off.

Now today, I imagine the riches that Etsy could bring me, as I had supplies purchased in 1990 dollars! Maybe someone else had the foresight to buy all those parts at a Salvation Army store. I hope they got themselves a kick-ass vacation with all the steampunk merchandise they made with my watch parts!

Always be true to yourself. It will bust out sometime anyway. As I see more steampunk style, I realize I've always had the bug for it:

-- I love zippers and hardware, as posted here previously.
-- We live somewhat of an aviation lifestyle as that's my husband's hobby and we have a small airplane, so of course I own cool aviator goggles and a leather Amelia Earhart jacket. I was Amelia for Halloween a few years ago. I'd love to find an affordable Italian 1950s aviator goggle with antique brass and leather in good condition.
-- Of course anything navigation-related that's old and metallic ... love! Compasses, lust for them. Old maps too.
-- While I no longer have clock parts, I seem to collect clocks. And pocket watches are the absolute coolest.
-- Is absinthe steampunk? Really? I was obsessed with making an absinthe candle. Back in the mid-90s. Like I said, we shouldn't lose sight of who we really are.
--  I love anything riveted. I once took a jewelry-making glass -- again back in the mid-90s -- and wound up making a copper and silver picture frame with tons of handmade rivets. It was the coolest. I gotta find that thing. Or else take another class and make it again.

I want this on a wall in my house:

Cogs and gears. I love them as much as I loved the landscape of Tuscany. That might sound incongruous. But the obsession for the visual is the same. I love them for different reasons.

Oh, and this:

Although I'd like it better in khaki so it looks more safari, another style I adore.

Because I am an Adventurer.

It's time to break free of wool business suits and keep exploring the world ...

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