TC Makers: Inside Will Rockwell’s Steampunk Workshop

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The Power And Weakness That Come With Being The Default

Hidden amidst the winding pathways of Llewelyn Park, New Jersey, America’s oldest gated community, steampunk designer Will Rockwell is building a future that never was. He began his career as a TV producer but he always loved to tinker with metals, leather, and wood – the three components of good steampunk. After building a set of Rocketeer-style USB keys, friends turned him on to Etsy. He opened a shop and almost immediately was flooded with orders.

These designs are a labor of love for Rockwell who scours the junkyards of New Jersey for cool odds and ends. He has two workshops, one in Pennsylvania and one in the basement of his 1912 home.

Rockwell doen’t expect to get rich with his hobby but he’s doing well, nonetheless. His unique style, nautical-themed designs, and electronic additions to his devices meld the modern and the mysterious in a quirky way. My favorite project? His electric guitar outfitted with wild effects and knife switches, although his handmade USB keys are still amazing.

Will is definitely following the maker spirit and is even making a little money. His world is one of the imagination, full of undersea starships and steaming hard drives run by pistons. It’s enough to make you think you’ve stumbled upon the world of Captain Nemo via the Jersey Turnpike.

TechCrunch Makers is a video series featuring people who make cool stuff. If you’d like to be featured, email us!.