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Author Topic: Zippo Lighter Sleeves, iPhone case...  (Read 697 times)
Seaton Spall
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« on: June 21, 2016, 09:01:20 am »

A friend of mine in China made those beautiful gadgets.
He is wondering how "authentic" steampunk fans will think about his crafts.
So, here I am.
Those small tanks next to lighters are lighter fuel tanks for refill.
And boxes are for lighter and tank storage.


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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2016, 10:45:56 am »

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when you ask if we think they're authentic, I think you are asking the question: "how will the Steampunk community like them." More specifically: "Will they buy them?" Right?

I can tell you that the Steampunk "high-tech" market is very special - and difficult. And I'm speaking as someone who exclusively lived from making iPhone cases and other Steampunk gadgets for a living professionally for 6 years (300+ phone cases and also other tablet cases between 2010 and 2013), and also having done work (commission) modifying a laptop computer for Sony America (2011), plus selling a couple of desktop computers.

I think the gas tank lighters may be more successful business-wise, especially if sold together with Steampunk clothing, to see why continue reading below:

My problem as a seller of Steampunk smartphone cases and computers is that the average long-time member of the Steampunk community was NOT my customer. Steampunks are mostly "DIY" or "makers" by nature. That means that experienced Steampunks tend to make their props and costumes, as opposed to buying them. In countries like the US where the Steampunk community is old, you will find the average age of a Steampunk is older. They are the ones who have the money to buy expensive toys. Young people have a hard time making the money necessary to support a Steampunk gadget business. This will give your friend some headaches.

I mostly sold to people who were just discovering Steampunk for the first time. Typically middle aged people. I ended up selling to mostly non-Steampunk female customers in the 30-45 years of age range (60% of the market) and the rest were men of similar age. Both middle-aged males and females tended to be new to the Steampunk scene, or they had never heard of Steampunk at all, and my products were their first introduction to Steampunk.

In contrast, people who sell clothing, such as corsets and top hats, sell a lot more to Steampunks who have been in the subculture for a log time. Clothes and "wearable items" are ubiquitous in Literary/Comics/Anime conventions and trade shows. I guess mostly because a lot of Steampunks don't have the patience or time to make their own clothes. It's just easier to buy them. Although to be honest, most people do try (see the Anatomical section).

But my advice is this:

1. Knowing what Steampunk is and being legitimately a Steampunk yourself is very important, because you are the "ambassador" of Steampunk to the buying public, and so you want to make your craft attractive, but also make sure it is of extremely high quality. People will ask you "what is Steampunk," and you'd better know the answer to that. If they like your quality and Steampunk as a subculture is "presented well," then these people will come back and bring more people to the Steampunk community.

2. Anything that is portable and clothing will sell better. The more portable the more you will sell. People want to show off their Steampunk items.  It doesn't do any good if your Steampunk stuff is locked at home (unless you do a lot of parties in your home). Because of this, clothing tends to do well. It's the easiest way to create a "fantasy."
« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 11:58:36 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged

SeVeNeVeS
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2016, 11:20:36 am »

In my opinion they look too busy and I would be inclined to ditch the skulls.(you did ask for honesty)

Steamworkshop did some great looking zippos, maybe have a search, sorry but not my cuppa as they are, welcome aboard btw.

Darn fine start and quality workmanship as far as I can tell, please do post any updates.
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Steamworkshop
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2016, 05:47:37 pm »

As someone who's sold a lot of Zippos, and other small devices this size, I can offer some advise on the small items.
I'm going to be brutally honest since I'm guessing that's what you want.

* The design is nice. They're bordering on being too busy for me but not quite over the line for most people. No design will please everyone but these will please a majority of people. I'd say they're spot on.  

* I don't like the use of "findings" (premade skulls etc...) but most people won't notice. They're cheap, easy and can speed up the process but they start to put you in the category of "gluing gears on it". As long as their use is limited I don't think it's a deal breaker. I do like the real parts, gears etc...

* Anything that's intended to be carried in a pocket needs to be smooth and as flat as possible. I'm looking at these small items and thinking that they'll catch on pockets and quickly wear holes of carried regularly. I make a point to smooth every edge and keep everything I add below a certain height.
The Zippo with the mask has two cogs on either side. I would grind them flat where they connect and smooth the edges of the gears.

*Correct me if I'm wrong but these appear to be glued together. I'm not seeing any signs of solder or brazing and it looks like some of the glue can be seen. If that's the case then these are not going to last long being carried and used. Especially with the components sticking up like they do.
Another problem with glue is it becomes obvious as the piece ages and develops a patina. Brass and copper will develop a nice dark patina over time with the crevasses and low points being darker.  The parts under the glue will remain bright and never develop a patina. You'll end up with the crevasses staying bright and shiny while the rest of the piece ages. It's going to look really bad.  

If I received one of these I'd be excited until I saw the glue.  

I'm just not sure where they fit in as they're too small to be a costume prop and not durable or practical enough to become a cherished item that's actually used.

Overall I'd say your friend has a good eye for style and design but needs to work on execution and practicality. I can see people purchasing these based on the pics but being disappointed by what they get.

I don't want to hijack the thread with my own pics but I want to show what I mean.

If you look at these pieces you'll see that there are no overly high spots and every edge is smoothed like it's been worn down over time. Nothing to snag or wear holes in pockets.

Also, look at the patina. I have a process to create this but it will develop after a short time of use as well. The low parts are darker giving a natural aged and worn look. If you have glue in the low spots they'll stay bright while the rest of the piece ages.

These will be around 100 years from now because they're not glued.



« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 05:51:41 pm by Steamworkshop » Logged

Maets
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2016, 12:32:03 am »

I agree with most of what has been said.  Especially the point about glue verses solder.  If glued then mostly just a trinket, if soldered then a keepsake.
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