Bruce Rosenbaum says he was "steampunking before he knew what it was," reports Megan Buerger in The Wall Street Journal (2/21/14). Originally, back in the 1990s, Bruce was in the "direct-mail marketing business targeting consumers based on major life events." On the side he "set up a workshop to explore his artistic interests." His first effort "was a mission-style coat rack festooned with Victorian hardware and topped with a World War II clock." He didn’t realize he was on the cusp of an emerging trend.
By 2007, he and his wife, Melanie, set up a new business, ModVic, which "began as a Victorian-home restoration company." That didn’t last long, thanks to the financial crisis, but Bruce and Melanie "re-launched the business, focusing on period furniture, such as clocks or arm chairs." Today, ModVic turns out "about 100 pieces every year that range in price from $5,000 to $250,000, sometimes more." Typically, they repurpose "salvaged, often antique furniture into functioning, modern pieces" — a desk made out of a bandsaw, for instance.
Materials tend toward "leather, copper, iron and bronze" and clients are often "history lovers who pine for the craftsmanship and detail of a bygone era." Gary Sullivan, a ModVic client, says that steampunking is on the rise partly because of "an exhaustion with modern objects that have built-in obsolescence." Bruce describes its appeal as the combination of "history, plus art plus technology," adding that "function is the key. Real steampunk art includes purposeful mechanics, not just random doodads. It has to perform."