CJGrand and a Steampunk Obsession
Wickipedia describes Steampunk as “…a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne…”
How do I translate Carol Cowan’s style of handmade jewelry? To me it’s a blend of punk, goth, history, romance, science, and her own imagination. Somehow her creative genius has worked magic on all the tiny bits and pieces of machinery, stones, beads, and crystals that inspire her.
Enjoy this interview. Check out her unique creations and her blogs. Let her know the inspiration you receive when you view her one-of-a-kind jewelry.
How did you get your start in the world of art?
I’ve been creating things all my life. I use to make and sell designer teddy bears. I loved making them but I got tired of the craft sale scene. There was too much competition and back stabbing by other venders. At the time there were no online sites for selling handmade items, in fact there was no online yet.
A few years ago I started buying small stones and minerals to make some unusual jewelry for myself, but I soon found I had more than I could wear in a lifetime. (It also ignited a passion for collecting rock and mineral specimens for display.) I realized that if I wanted to continue creating my jewelry I would have to find something else to do with it. So I created 'Healing Fashion' (metaphysical healing stone jewelry) and began selling at a few sci-fi conventions (one of my other passions).
It still wasn't enough to satisfy my need to create. That's when a friend suggested opening a shop on Etsy. So on December 30th 2007 I opened 'The Grand Design.’
It was at a convention that I discovered steampunk and it has become my greatest passion. I think I’ve been waiting for this genre all my life.
Do you have a ritual you perform before you start creating?
No real ritual, I usually just play with whatever parts and pieces that interest me at the moment and wait for inspiration to hit.
What do you like best, the creative process or the final creation?
Definitely the creative process but I never feel they are quite finished.
What are your favorite art media, tools, and supplies?
I love to tear things apart and make something new from the pieces. That’s why steampunk jewelry has become such a passion. It seems everything I look at now I’m thinking what else could I make from this.
Pliers are my most commonly used, and abused, tools. I must have at least half a dozen different shapes and sizes.
When a creative block happens, what process do you go through to get the creative juices flowing again?
I find I’m most inspired by other people’s work. I’m always very careful not to copy anyone else’s designs but sometimes just looking at what other artists have done helps inspire me to try something in a different way.
What do you hope your art says about you?
I’ve never really considered what my art says about me. I guess the best thing it could say is I have some talent. That is something I’m never sure of. I always find I like other peoples work better than my own. At least that keeps me constantly pushing myself to do something better.
What is your greatest dream and greatest fear as an artist?
My greatest dream would be to sell enough of my work to not have to continue working at my dreary uninspiring day job. My greatest fear is that one day I will simply run out of ideas, or that no one will like them. I am terribly insecure.
What are your goals in art, and in life?
My greatest goal is to spend more of my time on things I enjoy than things I don’t. I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to simplify. Spending time with friends, pursuing hobbies, and working as little as possible seems like the best way to spend the rest of my life. I’ve had it with the rat race. The rats have won and they’re welcome to the prize.
Tell us a little bit about yourself—where you grew up, your life now, other creative pursuits, other interests and hobbies.
I’m a collector by nature. I collect many things including dragons, teddy bears, sci-fi memorabilia, rocks and minerals but my biggest collection is hobbies. My hobbies include photography, which is where my formal training is, although I’m not working in the field, sci-fi and fantasy costuming, special effects makeup, and astronomy to name a few and lately I’ve been playing with needle felting.
I’m a displaced city girl living in the country. I grew up in Brantford, Ontario but moved to a small town when I married a farmer. He works on his parent’s farm and we live in town, I haven’t been completely converted yet. I work in the local drug store and I hate it. I only wish I could pursue my art and hobbies full time.
Do you have more than one shop(s), and/or a blog?
The Grand Design (my shop on Etsy)
My various blogs, at least the ones I try to keep current:
My Facebook page: