An artist expresses her passion and curiosity for old things.
Samantha Extance’s business, “Bohemian Romance,” is named for the first pair of earrings she made and sold. She lays all of her jewelry-making materials on her tabletop, where they “percolate” until she determines which pieces should go together.
Samantha Extance’s table is covered in a dizzying display of tiny metal gears, buttons, snaps, lockets, typewriter letters and more.
In their earlier days, the pieces made tools and machinery work or were attached to clothing of yesteryear. But through Extance’s perseverance, each piece becomes part of her “steampunk” jewelry creations, all sold through her business of eight years, “Bohemian Romance.”
You are a full-time event coordinator. How did you get started making this type of interesting art? I first started out making traditional jewelry, and then began using more unconventional materials — things I salvaged. It was my mom, who is also a jewelry maker, who introduced me to steampunk. I was drawn to the genre because it allows me to express my passion and curiosity for old things. I grew up going to flea markets every weekend and “dumpster diving” with my mom and Grams. History was always right in front of me, ready to be examined and explored.
What is “steampunk” to you? Steampunk as a genre of art, literature and fashion has been around a long time. I like how author Jean Campbell describes steampunk — “it’s ‘Mad Max’ meets Jane Austen.” For me, this translates into jewelry that is delicate, dainty and feminine while also being industrial, textured and tough.
Where do you find the pieces and parts for your jewelry? I get asked this question all the time. In fact, I just started a series on my blog, www.bohemianromance.wordpress.com, about good junkin’ tips and will be sharing some of my favorite places to hunt for items to repurpose. I make my jewelry primarily out of upcycled or salvaged items that I find at flea markets, estate sales, garage sales, and, sometimes, people just give me big boxes of “junk” that they think I can use or might be interested in. (They are rewarded with a big hug, or pie, or a piece of jewelry made just for them.)
It also helps that I get “care packages” from my family in New York of things that they find at flea markets. It’s like I have my own flea market army.
I’ll repurpose just about anything as long as it doesn’t break my cardinal rule: It cannot be fixed. I will not take apart anything that can be mended or is in working order.
You recently got married and hand-made all of the jewelry for your wedding. I got married last October to the love of my life, Rhys Martin. We’re both artists (he is a photographer and owns Cloudless Lens Photography), so we wanted our wedding to reflect our personalities and celebrate other local artists we admire.
If I had to describe our wedding it would be a handmade, thrifted evening that gave everyone a peek into what we love about each other, Tulsa and our individual crafts.
Where can we find your jewelry? You can find my jewelry at Dwelling Spaces and at Made: The Indie Emporium Shop as well as at www.mkt.com/bohemianromance. I’m also at local festivals and craft shows, and I create custom pieces. I love working with individuals on upcycling items that have sentimental value for them — like an old wristwatch that belonged to their dad — into something new that they can enjoy and that allows them to keep that memory or that person close.