Steampunk Emporium eBook Review

Steampunk Emporium

In honor of National Craft Month, I thought I’d review one of my beading e-books, Steampunk Emporium. Now, for bead books I prefer a PDF downloadable format. I don’t feel that beading instructions can be correctly relayed with text only in an ePub file. The file does come with chapter bookmarks, but isn’t broken down further than that and the page numbers aren’t clickable. For ease-of-use, it’s best to read the Table of Contents then go to the appropriate chapter. A more hierarchical breakdown would be ideal for me.

Steampunk Emporium is a book that offers five main themes for jewelry-making: Atlantis Expedition, Zeppelin Pirate Attack!, Absinthe Fairy Interlude, Jurassic Valley Exploration, and Clockwork Tea Party. Within each of these categories, there are four or five projects ranging from mixed media designs to wirework. The skills required to make each piece also vary. For example, the Azure Cog Earrings employ simpler wireworking skills than the Adventurer’s Fob Watch, which definitely necessitates a familiarity with polymer clay.

So who do I feel would best benefit from this book? I think anyone who is involved in steampunk costuming would really like the variety of designs. For the average beader, the materials required are a little more involved. The components required for these pieces are not inexpensive, but the plus side to this is that each piece is unique and every step is outlined with a photo. Even if your polymer smiley faces, so to speak, wind up like Dali-esque melty faces, the photos will help, so I don’t think you’d be buying materials for the sake of having them.

The author, Jema Emilly Ladybird Hewitt, thought of everything. There is flash fiction at the beginning of each chapter, an explanation describing what steampunk is, additional resources to explore with clickable links to websites, a glossary, and a guide to working with vintage items that includes taking watches apart. It is themed very specifically to steampunk.

If you’re into steampunk — especially costuming — I do think this 130 page eBook worth a buy for the ideas that aren’t run-of-the-mill. Just keep in mind that the digital functionality of the PDF isn’t optimal.

Steampunk Emporium is available at

Ah, Chainmaille.

Celtic Wheel

In the “useful skills to survive a zombie apocalypse” category, I’ve acquired chainmaille-making skills, focusing on aluminum rings. (Which, incidentally, are a HECK of a lot lighter than other metals.) The trick to bending and weaving appropriately, is to a) be a touch obsessive-compulsive b) have the proper tools and c) realize that yes, indeed. Size does matter.

Anything seed bead or ring or component-related requires proper measurements to ensure that the elements fit together. (If seed beads or crystals aren’t cut precisely, it can throw a pattern off, too.) The important thing to remember with rings is that math is important! There is the inside diameter, outside, and gauge of wire to consider. Not to mention, what type of weave (4-in-1, Persian, Japanese chainmaille, etc.) you want to make.

There are tons of patterns you can explore for armor, jewelry, sculptures, and yes, the dreaded chainmaille bikini. (Though, why anyone would want to wear that much metal to cover their private bits is beyond me. Think about it. Metal is a conductor so if it gets hot? Well, you get the idea.)

But I digress. There’s a few books on the subject for jewelry-making purposes that are pretty outstanding. Classic Chain Mail Jewelry, which highlights my favorite weave — Byzantine — includes a ton of ideas for earrings, bracelets, necklaces and the like. There’s also an international organization of chainmaille specialists ( that offer a variety of weaves for you to peruse.

Rubber rings have been slowly added into chainmaille jewelry patterns for the past few years and I’ve dabbled a bunch with these. Link It! has some stunning designs that require bending and twisting — but again. Size matters, especially when you’re bending and twisting rings into submission. (Sigh. I’m behind on a challenge with these. I received a packet of teeny tiny rubber rings that resemble mold. Still haven’t done anything with those yet. Though I fear I should…)

Materials can get somewhat expensive especially if you’re working with natural metals (e.g. gold, silver, etc.) I focus on aluminum, copper, and rubber primarily, but the biggest trick I’ve learned to reduce cost of materials is to have a pattern that you want to make and budget for 10% extra (in case you screw up). Buying rings for the sake of purchase can put a real dent in your budget.

Bonus achievement unlocked! Don’t think I’ll have to spend much time researching types of weaves (and what they look like) for any story of mine. Though, the only real ditty I’m missing is what era these individual basic patterns hail from. (Chainmaille in general dates back to 400 B.C. and there are over 1,000 weaves documented.) Which is funny, because you’d “think” there’d be a historical book on the topic, but alas… Likely in the armor section.

    Mood: Inquisitive with a side of eyebrow raise.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: *ERROR* *ERROR* Does not compute. *ERROR*
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Some monstrosity of an elliptical machine.
    In My Ears: Come Back To Me Janet Jackson
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: Resident Evil: Apocalypse
    Latest Artistic Project: Holiday gifts
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology

A Day O’ Beaded Jewelry

The Tick Weapons Lab Avatar

Saturday was the annual recognition of small businesses everywhere. To celebrate, my local bead store (Fat Cat Beads) had a raffle for door prizes and offered a huge sale on everything from kits to precious stones. I was there for the day. Besides hanging out at my favorite bead-n-bitching locale here in town, I offered to make samples of a few kits, too. Truth be told: I needed the break. I have a lot on my mind and a ton of writing to do. Now that the weather has cooled off, I don’t need to hide in my cave anymore: I am planning on making great use out of my office.

But I digress. The first picture you see here is the Lotus Ring. This took me about a half an hour to make. The time-consuming part, is to decipher the instructions and figure out your ring size.

The second picture you see here is the Sunburst Ring. This ring took me about an hour to make; you can see from the close-up the reinforced stitches as I weaved back and forth through the transparent crystals.

I started (and stopped) two other bracelets that were a lot more stitching oriented. Those require counting and focus, so I didn’t finish them. This last one is my favorite of the day. Citrine gemstones were on sale, so I picked up these and made a bracelet with Size 6 Clear Crystal Japanese beads. These are often used as filler in between other beads or in a beginner’s kit of beaded kumihimo. I love the texture of this one and — better yet — it’s supposed to signify “focus.” Whether or not that’s the case. . . Well, the sentiment is a nice one, anyway, and it feels good to wear natural stone.

I’m also working on some original designs, homemade Pandora beads, and a “few” holiday-related gifts. No pics until AFTER the holly-days, ’cause that’d just be rude! (Apologies for the camera phone blurry-ness, by the way. I’ll probably make some rings for myself and upload pics after the calendar new year along with the others.)

    Mood: Back hurty.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: One with the potential for several more.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I lifted a needle and thread. That should count…
    In My Ears: The dishwasher.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Origins
    Movie Last Viewed: Spiderman the new one.
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Dig” The Lovecraft eZine Issue No. 19

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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