Saturday, June 15, 2013
Steampunk jewelry, handmade by local artisans, hits North Texas
MCKINNEY The scrap heap is a source of inspiration for a pair of local artisans.
Dee Kautsch and her husband, Ed, fuse artistry and industry in the steampunk jewelry and lamps they create in their Aubrey home. The style is named after a subgenre of science fiction literature featuring an antiquated, mechanical setting.
“I loved it when I saw it and I knew that's exactly what I wanted to make,” Dee said.
Dee began making jewelry three years ago after a medical problem caused issues with her speech and memory and forced her to leave her job in mortgage banking. Ed joined her and started making lamps about a year ago.
The family has since turned their craft into a profitable business.
“We can't make enough at this point,” Dee said.
Creating a new piece begins with a scavenger hunt that sees the pair collecting spare parts to refashion from jewelers, flea markets, garage sales and salvage yards. Dee is always on the lookout online or in person for the vintage watch parts used heavily in her jewelry.
“[People] find that it's too expensive to get them fixed or there just aren't any parts for them anymore,” she said. “They will either give them to me and I'll offer to make them a piece of jewelry in trade, or I'll buy them from them.”
Once she's acquired a watch, Dee disassembles it to remove all the gears and any other useful materials inside. She then lays out all the pieces along with a variety of charms and bases to figure out how to place them in a new, unique composition.
“I try to repurpose a lot of things into my artwork. That's kind of how I started out in the beginning, using as much recycled materials as I could,” she said, adding she does buy sterling silver chains from jewelers to make pieces for people with metal allergies.
Ed, who also works from home for a technical support call center, uses a similar process to craft his lamps. He said he enjoys finding surprising ways to disguise and flip the light switches in his lamps, rather than using a turn or push button.
“My mind is very mechanical,” he said. “That's what takes the time, is getting all the parts. Then I can look at the parts and tell where they go on which lamp. I'll usually be building three or four consecutive at one time.”
Business really picked up for the pair with the help of some local stores. Initially, sales of their work were online only, but they're now featured at Antique Jewelry in Lewisville and Heirlooms in McKinney at 219 E. Louisiana St.
Having their work featured at those stores has helped sales quite a bit, Dee said, as have the art shows they have begun attending. She said they have been to five shows in the last six weeks and that at this point, demand has left their online inventory pretty bare.
“As the years went on, it's given me enough income where I'm able to stay home and do this as a business,” Dee said. “It's really been a blessing for me. It really has been quite wonderful. I'm very thankful that it turned out the way it has.”
Dee and Ed will be doing a trunk show in front of Heirlooms on Saturday. Their work can be seen and purchased there, at Antique Jewelry or through their etsy.com page at etsy.com/shop/steampunkballroom.
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
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