Steampunk artists often make use of old mechanical watch parts to lend gears and cogs to work. Shining bronze metal composes much of steampunk jewelry, contrasting with the soft velvets and feathers of hats and jackets.
Steampunk hats can take the form of pillbox hats, mini derby hats, tiny pinned-on hats, and even crowns. Feathers often make prominent appearances in steampunk headgear, as do metallic materials.
Steampunk contains the refinery of a Victorian parlor, but also the globe-trotting adventure of Carmen Sandiego.
When you get carried away with the steampunk style, it’s easy to start imagining steam-powered television sets and rock bands in the 1800s.
- Gallery: Steampunk Hats
- Gallery: Steampunk Jewelry
- Handmade Steampunk on Amazon
What is Steampunk?
Where sci-fi and Victorian technology intermingle.
Steampunk is a cultural movement that’s rooted in a blend of 19th century Victorian style, steam-powered machinery, and fantastical science fiction elements.
Steampunk started out as a literary genre in the 1980s, and over time, it evolved into a cultural trend that encompasses artwork, architecture, fashion, music, and beyond. Steampunk is often linked to and inspired by the works of authors Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and HG Wells, whose work features fantastical, apocalyptic themes and fantastical machinery.
Commonplace elements of steampunk style include gears, brass, and iron, leather, and lace, among many others. Steampunk enthusiasts frequently host conventions and theme parties where they celebrate all that is steampunk.
Steampunk Hats: Handmade steampunk hats of all kinds.
Steampunk is a style trend that follows the fantasy world of Edwardian and Victorian times. Like a whimsical Jules Vern novel, steampunk uses historical style along with elements of clockwork whimsy to create a new kind of nostalgia.
Steampunk hats can take the form of pillbox hats, mini derby hats, tiny pinned-on hats, and even crowns. Feathers often make prominent appearances in steampunk headgear, as do metallic materials. All of the following hats were handmade by independent Etsy artisans.
Steampunk Clockwork Mini Tricorn Hat
From Carlee, the artist:
A lovely little mini tricorn to go with any steampunk outfit. The hat is made with a base of buckram covered with cotton fabric. A group of gears the left side of the hat. A splash of rooster feathers covers part of the crown. A cute bow covers the back of the hat with trim running around the brim of the hat. This hat comes with a comb and two loops, one on each side, for bobby pins for easy attachment.
Lacy Blue and Green Feather Headband
From Kristin, the artist:
“Iridescent dark green feathers are tipped with black and are layered between gorgeous blue polka-dotted guinea feathers. The cool shades in the Lacy are a lovely compliment to blue or green eyes, and the sleek plumes look beautiful with any outfit. Mounted on a wide black fabric or skinny satin headband.
Feathers are attached securely to high-quality fabric or leather headbands in coordinating colors.
Each headband is lined with quilters felt in a pretty black/ white flower and vine pattern for added comfort, durability, and of course, style.”
Industrial Waste Scarf Cloche
From Belle, the artist:
“Dichotomy in hat form. Vintage in shape and silhouette, post-modernist in decor, this cloche embraces history and the future and is at home in both worlds.
Handblocked black wool cloche. Attached is a scarf that I made out of this amazing gunmetal fabric that looks as if it has had acid poured on it. The band matches the scarf.”
From Vienna, the artist:
“Inspired by hats from the 1780s and 1880s, this chapeau is made from a pale Danube blue silk taffeta (a muted seafoam color) and black English net. Smaller than its 1780s predecessor, the ‘Bonnet Hat,’ the size is closer to those of the 1880s at 11” in diameter with a buckram base.
The hand-ruched trim of the same fabric with pinked edges is backed by a net and placed along with the crown.
A vintage black ostrich plume decorates the brim. Delicate use of metallic thread the same color as the silk is used throughout on the brim edging stitch and the ruching.”
The Lady Explorer Cloche Hat
From Renee Ormsbee, the artist:
“The latest in my line of one-of-a-kind upcycled hats, this lovely black straw cloche is perfect for your next trek across the plains.
I started with a basic black straw cloche, it already had a lovely shape, so I left that as is. Then I added a softly scrunched hatband of buttery brown faux suede with an embossed paisley pattern. The band is fastened with an antiqued brass-colored metal buckle, and I finished off the hat with five quarter-sized antiqued metal cabochons.
This lovely hat is hand decorated and made to last for years of use. All of my hats are one of a kind however if you want something similar or custom made I would be happy to work with you to achieve your fantasy topper.”
Exquisitely Elegant Fascinator
From the artist:
“This is a beautiful piece I made with a smoky gray sheer silk fabric layer over black silk. It is adorned with embroidered designs along its sides in a matching gray. The center has an embroidered design in gold as well as glass beads. The feathers add a very special touch, as they are very light and their natural colors enhance the whole piece.
It’s lined with black silk and hand-shaped using millinery buckram.
It can be attached with a hair comb, bobby pins, or hair clips.”
Neo-Victorian Steampunk Hat
From Belinda, the artist:
“I just love how these Lil gem topper hats turned out… I have them embellished in many colors.
This one is black with shades of green embellishments and a black tulle bustle and train in the back.
This Lil gem topper sits perched on top of your head and is held on by an elastic band that you put under the back of your head.. then just place it where you want it on your head and it will stay in place.
I like to wear them towards the front of your head, tilted to the side and on the ball of your forehead.”
From Shay, the artist:
“Red and black fabric with a leather-look (lightweight and a nice leather texture), and black lace trim hat clock gears and winding key. Creates a beautiful look. Hats are held on by headbands with teeth grips, for no slips, easy to wear on anyone! The perfect new look for that Gothic Lolita, neo-Victorian, steampunk look.
Hats are awesome for everyday wear, overfalls, and for the costume, we create for all styles of Lolita, Gothic, Victorian, steampunk, dance, and more.
All hats come from a smoke-free home, But I do have a cat, but all hats are pre-bagged and are stored away from her. For any more questions, please feel free to contact us. I will gladly send any close-up photos as needed.”
Steampunk Mini Crown
From the artist:
“This mini-crown is a Steam Society original design and has been made entirely from scratch. Made from a handcrafted wireframe, this crown has been painstakingly covered with exquisite abstract cogs-and-gears patterns and a delicate silver pin-stripe overlay. This crown is perfect for wearing on New Year’s Eve to Masquerade Ball on board a time machine. Check out the matching miniature top hat I have listed for a stunning couples outfit!
This crown is 4″ tall, 7 1/2″ around the base, and 10″ around at the widest point. This crown is loaded with cogs and trinkets in steampunk style and is suitable for a royal trip back in time to the Victorian era. I layered shimmering brocade and sheer flower appliques, a lace bow, and copper metal trinkets on the side of this crown for a fantastical effect. The trinkets include gear-like pendants, a magnetic copper lock, and (my favorite) a tiny ornate copper hinge. The crown is lined on the bottom with plush brown fur. I have a particular affinity for decorating the undersides or interiors of my costume accessories, and this crown is no exception. I lined each section with feathered ribbon, which peaks out subtly.”
Dandy victorian Mini Topper Hat
From Kat, the artist:
“A sophisticated little topper hat fit for any dandy! This small top hat was inspired by the dapper Victorian woolen spats and ever-present watch chains that were staples of the Victorian era. The crown of this hat is made from grey wool and features a line of little black buttons going down one side and a lovely brass faux watch chain draped across the front.
The brim of the hat is covered in black taffeta and features ruffles encircling the base.
Topping everything off is a curled black ostrich feather! The ‘Dandy’ is a fabulous addition to any Victorian, Steampunk, or 1940’s inspired outfit – be the dapper dandy of your dreams!
This hat is worn on the head with the help of an elastic hat cord that hides under the hair and is pulled around the bottom of the head near the nape of the neck.”
Handmade by Hey Sailor at Etsy.com. You can also find more swift hats from Kat at Hey-Sailor.com.
Steampunk Artwork – Welcome to the World of Steampunk
Meet the Author and Jewelry Designer
Jema Hewitt answers our questions about the world of Steampunk jewelry. Learn how she became interested in Steampunk and what inspires her designs.
Jema Hewitt is the author of Steampunk Emporium: Creating Fantastical Jewelry, Devices, and Oddments from Assorted Cogs, Gears, and Curios, a book that combines jewelry-making tutorials with lots of eye candy to help give you a peek at the world of Steampunk.
Jema spent some time answering our questions about the history of the Steampunk movement and telling us what inspires her designs.
Her responses will help you recognize Steampunk jewelry when you encounter it in jewelry stores and artisan fairs, and maybe you’ll even decide to try your hand at jewelry this type of design.
What is Steampunk?
Jema: Well, at its most basic it’s Victorian-styled science fiction. It’s a creative movement which encompasses, art, literature, fashion, and music, all inspired by airships, robots, submarines, etc. with lovely Victorian style, and fashioned in natural materials like filigree brass and wood… with cogs, lots of cogs.
As far as jewelry design goes, I believe it’s important to continue the concept of beauty of form with function. Steampunk jewelry can be so much more than just a piece of an old watch glued to a brooch back. Each piece should tell a story and inspire the soul, be it expensive fine silversmithing pieces, or inexpensive costume jewelry. Beautiful quality and craftsmanship is key factor in Steampunk.
What first interested you in the world of Steampunk?
Jema: I started making corsets when I was studying theatrical design at college, and I always loved the Victorian Gothic look, but I got bored with black.
I started making Victorian outfits in mad colors and fabrics, and I loved the elegance of the styles, the femininity, and the fabulous fabrics and trims.
Then I started creating jewelry and accessories to match the outfits and persuaded friends to dress up and have picnics and go on ghost hunts with me! I think a lot of folks were doing “steampunk” before it was properly labeled, then all those people went “Oh is that what this style is?” I only really noticed the term Steampunk being used in 2006 and 2007, and that’s when I started using the character of Emilly Ladybird as my alter ego.
Had you made other types of jewelry before becoming interested in Steampunk?
Jema: Oh yes, I learned silversmithing as part of my art foundation degree, and I had worked in the bead shop in Nottingham, teaching bead weaving techniques and tiara making, as well as writing some books on basic jewelry making and tiara construction. I also sculpted a lot in polymer clay. But my personal work was always slightly whimsical and tending towards the Victorian anyway.
What was your first piece of Steampunk jewelry, and how was the design process that first time around?
Jema: Oh gosh! I’m not sure I can remember my first piece, especially as my style evolved slowly into what would be termed “Steampunk” now. However, the first sculpted pocket-watch was the large Mortalometer, which was really fun, I had the idea of packing the empty watch case with polymer clay and incorporating lots of techniques, including sculpting and mixed media into the design. I must admit I was really thrilled when it all worked, and it sold almost immediately!
What has been your most successful piece of Steampunk jewelry, your personal holy grail?
Jema: I think I still might be working on that one! Every piece is my favorite till I move on to the next one! I was particularly happy with the mermaid bracelet from Steampunk Emporium. It was one of my first forays into working with silver metal clay and was quite scary because it’s an expensive medium. My Dad and I walked along the beach in Wales to find the sea-glass I used in it, so it has some really special memories there, too.
What are your favorite tools for creating Steampunk jewelry?
If I’m working in polymer clay, I love my pasta machine and texture stamps, for metalwork it has to be my Dremel drill and rivet setter. I love tools though; I’m a total tool nut. It helps so much to have the right thing for each specific job. Decent pliers and a jump ring opening ring widget are essential, too.
Where do you get your inspiration? How do you find appropriate components?
Jema: I am inspired by stories and original Victorian art and crafts. So I will create a piece for a specific character, one from a book, or played by a Steampunk friend, at a convention, or one that I’ve created for the purposes of the piece. I like to look at original jewelry and take elements of the designs to re-interpret from people like Lalique and Mucha.
I collect pieces from junk shops and antique fairs, and friends all over the world send me odd things they’ve found, then I use lots of modern stores bought bits and pieces, often painting or distressing them to fit in with the overall aesthetic. Etsy and eBay are great resources.
Tell me about your new book, will it help someone new to the culture of Steampunk (and possibly jewelry making) create something new and adventurous on their own?
Jema: Oh I do hope so! It has lots of stories and photographs of characters within my Steampunk world to illustrate the different projects; each project has a little history of where it came from and how it relates to Emilly’s adventures, along with the step-by-step photos. I cover a lot of different techniques and include something for every skill level as well as objects for both ladies and gentlemen. There’s a whole section on the origins of steampunk and plenty of resources listed for components and more information.
I love that people are posting pictures of the things they’ve made on Emilly Ladybird’s Facebook page too. There’s a lot of support and fun to be had in the Steampunk community. We are a very friendly bunch!
Thanks so much to Jema, for answering our questions and helping us become familiar with the world of Steampunk. Follow her on Facebook and read Miss Ladybird’s blog to learn more about this unique style.
If you like Steampunk, be sure to take a look at assemblage art techniques, and think about ways you can recycle unused jewelry to create new designs.