LEWISTON — Herenya Wilkey has a lot going on inside her head.

There are shapes like bird skulls or hearts — not the cartoon variety, but not quite anatomical either — lizards, fish and airships.

Then there’s the quaint technology — gears, screws and springs that powered an earlier century. They could have come from clocks or typewriters or old disassembled pieces of something left in a drawer.

It all combines and comes out of her fingertips in brightly colored clay, resins, glitter and shining metal.

“I just like making things,” Wilkey, 20, said. “I really can’t help it.”

A 2009 Boothbay Regional High School graduate, she makes art and jewelry in her studio, a corner room in her Sabattus Street apartment.

“I usually start out just working a piece of clay, shaping it and not really thinking about it,” she said. “It can turn out to be anything. I just have to see where it goes.”

She’s just started selling her pieces last fall under the name Ventricles Apart Crafts, placing booths at both PortCon and AniMaine in Portland September and November and the Lewiston-Auburn Mini Maker Faire at the Museum LA last month.

So far, she’s been well received. She’s sold a few pieces at the shows and started up her own online Etsy store.

“I’d rather sell in the shows, face to face,” she said. “I’m more comfortable doing that sort of selling and talking to people. It just seems more natural.”

Wilkey takes much of her inspiration from steampunk, a science fiction/fantasy and fashion genre that seeks to combine Victorian culture and technology with 21st century sensibilities. It’s heavy on gears, tubes of metal, corsets and long jackets.

She incorporates that into her work, but also her fashion sense. If she could get away with it, she’d wear her bright orange corset and long flowing skirt all day.

“I actually liked it before I knew it was a thing; that it was steampunk,” she said. “I’ve always loved it, and I love dressing like it. I’d dress like it even more so, but it would be hard get anything done in bustle.”

The main theme to her art and the namesake for her studio is the heart, miniature stylized versions in bright colors embedded with gears and springs.

“I had one woman who said she really liked them, but they weren’t anatomically correct,” Wilkey said. “Well, they’re not. It’s artistic license.”

She’s made pins, earrings, erasers, clothing buttons, wall hangings and paperweights out of the design.

“I actually sold quite a few to nurses and people working in a doctor’s office,” she said. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

She creates most by hand, molding the clay into the familiar shape before festooning them with gears and screws. She cooks them in her own oven.

“It can be hard to get them just right,” she said. “Sometimes they just come out perfectly. But sometimes, making hearts is like pulling teeth.”

She models her tiny bird skulls after crows and also shapes them by hand. She’s casted molds of some to make transparent resin skulls filled with glitter and gears.

Her airship pins are tiny versions of something she’d imagine a Jules Verne character would ride in, and she’s created a line of captain’s badges she imagines the drivers would wear proudly.

Her lizard design is modeled after her pet leopard gecko, Ira.

“It’s the inner dragon he wishes he could be,” she said.

She’s also a budding typewriter collector, with 12 in her assortment. She prefers them to her laptop computer, she said, but they don’t make it into her work — at least not directly.

“I write bad poetry and some journal entries for myself,” she said. “But if I have to write a letter to someone that’s ordered a commission from me, I’ll type up a nice little letter for them.”

Do you know a creative person with a technological bent? We’d love to talk to them. Contact Staff Writer Scott Taylor at [email protected], on Twitter as Orange_me or call 207-689-2846.


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