Steampunk at the Farmers' Market
A Michigan steampunk artist has her greatest success selling handmade jewelry close to home
Most people go to farmers’ markets for deals on fresh produce, but during the summer at the one in Flint, Michigan, you can find Heather Wright selling her steampunk jewelry, made by hand from clockworks and other objects. She does so as part of the Art & Craft Street Fair, which take places each Saturday at the local farmers’ market from mid-June through mid-August. Doing business as Scared Crow Steamworks, she also sells online and at the Motor City Comic Con near Detroit. But she’s had her greatest success at this small event close to home.
Her creations recently caught the eye of Michigan Radio, the state’s public radio network, as reporter Lester Graham interviewed her as part of a series on “Artisans of Michigan.”
Wright, who has a background in graphic design and web design, began crafting the jewelry in 2014. Previously, she had been making journals and sketchbooks, mostly on horror themes. “I was very slow to get into steampunk,” she says, but “I’ve always had an affinity for the Victorian era.”
She obtains parts for her work from eBay as well as friends who hunt for antiques and know her interests.
“I try to be meticulous about finding things at the right price and of the right era for my aesthetic, and to make sure it’s going to be the best quality,” she says. “I don’t just buy whatever I see.”
Once she has the parts, she scatters them on her desk, allowing her to see combinations she might otherwise miss. “I might put some things randomly next to each other and go, ‘Whoa, that looks pretty awesome,’” she says. “I’ll keep that in mind, or I’ll see if I can do something else. It just helps my creative process.”
To fabricate her work, she uses jewelry tools and a Dremel rotary tool with drill and brush attachments. For gluing, she likes E6000 adhesive because it bonds strongly and it’s flexible when it dries.
Each finished piece is one-of-a-kind. “I like my pieces clean,” she says. “And I always try to make the back look as good as the front. That’s what I was taught in graphic design school.”
She designed her website using WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin for online stores. Unlike many e-commerce sites in the steampunk world, this one dispenses with the fanciful graphics, textures and color schemes. Instead, her creations speak for themselves. “I like to have it simplified so you’re not overwhelmed,” she says. “You can just look at the artwork.”
Given her appearance on public radio, we wanted to know if she had any PR tips to share with other makers. But “I honestly have no idea,” she says. “They were looking for someone in Flint who did something handmade. I don’t even know how they found me. They contacted me through Facebook out of the blue.”
Her advice to other artists: “Never let anything get you down. It’s really important to believe in yourself and your work, and stay true to your vision.”
You can view some of her past creations in the gallery below. See her website for currently available items. All photos are used by her permission.
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