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Is it Steampunk?

by Matt Bowness | August 22, 2013

Almost every day someone comes into my shop and uses the word “Steampunk” in some way.

Most of the people who use it are not very familiar with the term, having only heard it a few times from friends.  The most frequent question is,

"What do they call this type of stuff?  Steampunk?"

and my answer is usually,

"Some people call it that."

sometimes the conversation goes a little further and they ask,

"Well, what do you call it?"

and I answer,


So, the first reason I hesitate to call my jewelry "Steampunk" is because Steampunk is defined as " a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century."  I have never used a piece of steam powered machinery in any of my designs, and it is very rare for me to uses something that actually dates from the Victorian Era.  Most of the antique pieces I use date from about 1900 to 1970.

So, I think it's safe to say that, under the strict definition, my work is NOT steampunk.  And I'm positive that if you asked a hardcore steampunk fan they would agree.  This is why the word 'Steampunk' is used very sparingly on my website.

Okay.  So that's the strict definition.

I follow a few steampunk discussions online, and a lot of internet tough guys are always willing to jump down someones throat if they post a photo of something that is not strictly 'Steampunk'.  That's the second reason i don't call my work 'Steampunk'. What these hardcore fans don't seem to realize is that, to most people, if a piece of jewellery has an old watch part on it, then it's 'Steampunk'.  It might not fit their narrow definition, but their narrow definition is not helping the cause of making steampunk a more popular genre.

Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there.  If the vast majority of people consider something to be 'steampunk', when the hardcore fans don't, then I think it might be possible that the definition needs to be loosened up a little bit.

Personally, I don't care what you call my jewellery, as long as someone likes it enough to actually wear it.

Posted in definition, steampunk