Vintage typewriter key jewelry


Etsy seller FringeLore makes lovely jewelry with vintage typewriter keys and old cogwork parts. The soul recoils and throws up a bit as it thinks of some beautiful typewriter's tattooed ivory teeth being pried out with a flathead screw driver to make buttons, earrings and necklaces, but the results are undeniably striking.

Romantic Artifacts Necklace [Etsy]

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  1. God, I hate this “steampunk” trend where someone gloms together a random collection of industrial-era bits and pieces without regard to how the pieces actually functioned. Stuff with gears and cogs should do something cool, not just look vaguely mechanical!

  2. I’ve been intrigued by the steampunk movement for sometime, but this is the first time it has started look a bit tired, crap and self referential – next. . .

  3. In design they say that a new product that everybody loves is destined to fail, but one that engenders loathing in a significant fraction is sure to be a classic.

  4. Why is it that these post always include the pointlessly maudlin anxiety over the destruction of the source object as if the object is somehow singular in its beauty and value.

    If you really feel that old typewriters oughtn’t to be slain in the search for something new, then perhaps you ought to go round them up and USE them. As it is, they’ve lost their productive value, for the most part, and few indeed lament their loss. (I write as a devoted technophile who started college essaying on an electric typewriter). They are objects only, and like any object they become fodder for for the mills of progress the minute they outlast their usefulness. Do you guys sit around and lament the beating of swords into ploughshares?

    I’ve often wished you’d post a set of techno-aesthetics so I could figure out why you’re constantly asserting the need to move forward to the Next Big Thing while at the same time arguing for the importance of utterly trivial materials made obsolete by, yes, the Next Big Thing.

    Why is a 6 month old laptop an outdated piece of junk, whereas a 20 year old Mac SE is an object worthy of veneration? Because you wasted more hours of your life on the latter? Because you want to continue to flog the old horse about how Macs are “cool”? What gives?

    Personally, I could care less about the typewriter, though it’s a shame it was made into something equally useless but astoundingly more pretentious…

    Steampunk ~ redefining absurdity since 1987.

  5. The reason some of us don’t like seeing old stuff destroyed is because there is a limited supply of parts for vintage watches. I wear a pocket watch sometimes and wear a vintage mechanical wristwatch most days. They’re great. They keep great time, are unique, and have a soul that new quartz movements don’t seem to have. Seeing the movements being broken apart is a shame because there aren’t parts being made anymore. The tooling is gone, there are no more spares made except for mainsprings, so once they’re gone they’re gone. It’s like seeing someone taking pretty good ’67 Mustangs and making couches out of the seats and throwing the rest away. Is it a crime against humanity? No. Is it a waste of a classic piece of technology and throwing away a part of history? Yes.

  6. Maybe more like “steamkitsch”?

    30 years ago when I was 5, i remember the optometrists office had a whole set of framed wall plaques in this style. They formed the outlines of whimsical locomotives made out of watch gears, skeleton keys and rainbow dyed feathers.

    More Recently i saw a full color catalog from 1973 that offered Designer wall plaques from Taiwan in a similar style.

  7. Btw, I do love kitsch, and i respect any crafter who can earn a living by selling hand made goods.

  8. Beautiful! The key face really makes these pieces – of course, some more than others. It would be nice (if considerably pricier) if they wound up and ran down while gears visibly worked, but I can imagine the work involved, and I’m not volunteering.

  9. Watch gears and typewriter keys are little more than spare parts unless they are part of their sum;

    Alone and randomly brought together in these very overdone “art” pieces they mean nothing. As the first poster pointed out, a gear is meant to do something, not to simply sit there like the lump of brass it once was. Typewriter keys are simple round dots when there are no levers and type to impress characters on a piece of paper. These ‘steampunk’ pieces take once truly artistic creations, ones that took hundreds of years to perfect and would stylistically reflect the era of their construction, and reduce them to miniature scrap heaps that you can wear around your neck.

  10. I feel like we’re living in a cargo cult culture. Years ago, people the same age as this “artist” would have been building watches. Cutting gears from scratch, engraving guilloche patterns on a face, hand-bluing screws over a flame. We can no longer do anything that intricate, that purposeful. We can only recycle the cargo, make vague facsimiles. Who’s actually learning the skills that gave us these parts in the first place? How many people could actually make something as simple as a typewriter key from scratch?

    And would they ever get a post on Boing Boing?

  11. I think they look neat.

    -and until we interview the artist to see where everything comes from, I’d be willing to give the benefit of a doubt.
    Perhaps the materials came from items that no longer function as opposed to materials that came from functional items broken up solely for this purpose?
    A few assumptions are being made here to that regard that aren’t entirely fair to the artist.

    My argument FOR this stuff is that if these parts aren’t going to be or can’t be used for anything functional, at least they are given another life in the form of art.

    They also DO have a pleasing aesthetic quality!

  12. Wow. What is this “Steampunk”? Where can I find out more? Sounds so cool. I hope it catches on.

  13. Appropos of nothing, I still have my Grandfather’s old Underwood #3 typewriter, which has keys similar to the ones used in this jewelry, sitting on a shelf in my garage. I learned to type on that thing back in the pre-PC era and it was a PITA! It’s no longer working but I found a 1943 U.S. Army Underwood typewriter repair manual and when I have a free weekend I intend to teach myself how to restore the thing. These typewriters were so common that they’re worth almost nothing but you have to respect the craftsmanship that went into them…

  14. Fear not for the poor old typewriters. Jewelry made of old typewriter keys (steampunk and non) has become popular enough that “olde” key buttons are now being manufactured en masse. If someone is making sufficient amounts of jewelry with old parts, you might want to find out if those parts are in fact vintage.

  15. I am currently working on fixing a typewriter that a neighbor gave me. He bought it used for his business over 50 years ago. “Simple” is not one of the cuss words that I have been using while working on it. When I started I thought: “How hard could that be?” Great last words. I finally have it figured out and have a huge amount of respect for the people who designed and built typewriters.

    As for jewelry made with gears and found items, I like it, to a point. But that is like anything else; some is good, being surrounded by it is not so good.

  16. Blackhat, I think I have one of those 1943 Underwood army typewriters. I would be SUPER GRATEFUL if you could share that manual with me. Mine works fairly well, but I’d like to get it working really well. You can reach me at my gmail address that is the same as my user name here.

  17. My website has an image of an old typewriter on it. I was hesitant — I explained to the designer that, though I’m a writer, I’d never actually used one of those and didn’t think it said anything about writing, especially the web content writing in which I specialize.
    It’s beautiful, though, and it’s grown on me. Enough so that I can see using the keys for jewelry.
    Using a typewriter for work? You must be daft.
    How nice that such handsome objects as old typewriter keys can have new life as jewelry, while we humans can still use our nice new computers.

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