Monday, March 9

Steampunk Art : Interview with Winona Cookie Creations

Shop name :Winona Cookie Creations
Name : Ramona Szczerba
specialty : collage
Location : San Diego CA
Website :
Flickr :

Tell us a bit about yourself name, location, affiliations, personal stuff?
I live as charmed a life as I ever could have dreamt of in San Diego with my spouse and a dog and a cat. I am a proud member of Etsy SteamTeam, Etsy Dark Team and Metsy (collage art).

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
I find lots of vintage photos and line art online and in antique stores. I have a huge hard drive. That’s usually how the pieces begin: I see a photo I love and it just starts to speak to me. I tint everything to a uniform shade of sepia in a paint program and work with the composition a bit before printing the images onto acid free paper and cutting them out Then I arrange them on canvas or whatever else I’m working on (sometimes boxes or tins) and other elements: handmade papers, fabric, charms, lace, ribbon, foil trim, brass embellishments, jewels, glitter and of course, watch gears. Sometimes my pieces have moveable components and those are usually reinforced with cardstock and mounted with brads. Then I prop the piece up on my bookshelf and wait for a story to come to me. I usually have a name for the character (I keep a notebook of names) and a rough idea of what might happen, but a lot of times I don’t know where the story comes from. Making my pieces is the thing I like doing best. It’s what I wake up thinking about in the morning and the last thing I’m thinking about at night.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I am a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and I see patients about 3 days a week. I also design decorative figurines and table pieces for a company that makes Halloween and Christmas villages. I conceptualize, design and color the piece and ship the art to Hong Kong where they are sculpted and manufactured. If you’ve been in Michael’s craft store or Lowe’s around Christmas or Halloween, you’ve seen some of my designs. I have been doing that for about 7 years. Between the art and the psychology practice, I don’t have much time for hobbies, but I do like to bake and I make elaborate cakes and cookies for holidays and birthdays.

How did you first become interested in the Steampunk Culture and - Why do you like it ?
I was so thrilled to discover that there’s an actual name for the aesthetic I have always loved! I didn’t know about it until I began selling on Etsy. I’ve just tended to like old things better than new ones, fancy things better than plain ones and strange things better than normal ones. I had read “Diamond Age” and “Snowcrash” by Neal Stephenson and just loved them, as well as the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman, and between that and the visual aspects, it just started coming together for me, especially when I first laid eyes on the Neverwas Haul in pictures of Burning Man. Steampunk is such a fascinating amalgamation of things I find interesting: eccentrics, unlikely machines, archaic air and sea travel, undersea exploration, ray guns, robots, dashing outfits, parasols, octopi, absinthe, dirigibles – I could go on and on…When I joined the SteamTeam, it was just like coming home. I felt instantly connected to the other members and for me, that just doesn’t happen very often. I wore a steampunk outfit to Comic Con last year and it was so much fun to bump into a fellow steampunker among the hordes of attendees – instant connection!

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
Tell us more about it . Aw, man, that’s tough! They’re like my babies, I am attached to them all in different ways. I’m partial to

Josephine Crampton’s Companion

because I love her straightforward gaze and I had such a blast collaging that robot, much as I had a great time with the steampunk rhino in

Salome, Queen of Chalcedony

But I have to say that Sabina and the Full Moon is closest to my heart because it’s such a sexy piece and the story makes me cry even though it’s entirely made up! So how do you like that, I managed to mention three!

What are the 3 most popular items in your shop ?
The MOST popular items are the sold ones, and they aren’t in my shop anymore, but everybody loves Captain Octavio

The link is to a fridge magnet version because the original is in an exhibit. He was one of the first steampunk pieces I did, and he’s a lot of people’s favorite. I have lots of vintage pictures of handsome men, but none are as beautiful as Octavio!

I have a fascination with deep sea fish and I incorporated them into a piece featuring Octavio’s sons that’s also been popular,

Deep Sea Souvenirs

I am working on a companion piece that depicts the revenge of the fish – they’re holding the boys decapitated heads on strings. My mind is a strange place…

Absinthe seems to be a popular current obsession, and the original of this piece
sold right away. The magnet and prints are popular as well.

What is your newest piece ?
My newest piece isn’t completed yet, but I’m excited about it. Like many steampunkers, I’m fascinated with Nikola Tesla, and I’m working on a shadowbox featuring his (fictitious) insane older brother, Grigor. I also recently provided Capt. Octavio with a wife, Lucinda . She was a lot of fun to do.

Lucinda Octavio, Deep Sea Milliner

Any promotion you would like to offer exclusively on the blog .
I’d like to offer your readers 15% off of any item, $40 and over, in the shop until May 10th. They should convo me first and mention “Catherinette” and I will do a custom listing with the discount for them.

Who is you favorite steampunk artist ?
There are SO many, but I think Stephane Halleux .
does some of the most amazing pieces out there. I was lucky enough to get to see some of his pieces in person at an exhibit in La Jolla this fall.

What are your goal , project , plans for the future ?
I can’t seem to stop making this art, so I am going to keep on doing that. I have a notebook where I keep ideas for pieces and the list is getting quite long! I very much want to compile the pieces and their stories in a book and I am in the process of looking for a publisher so I can make that happen. I have an feature article coming out in the May/June 2009 issue of Somerset Studios magazine ( that I’m excited about too.

What advice would you give new artists?
What everyone says, which is to do the work that pleases you, not what you think other people want to see. But DO let people see it, because art is meant to be shared.


My name is Andrea said...

What a great feature on an artist I wasn't aware of! Thanks for sharing, I'm going off to check out both of your shops now!

Julie said...

Wow--I love her work!

Heather Leavers said...

oh wow! amazing work. I had to doubletake when I saw the banner (nifty items!) it's obviously a sign!

. c h o k l i t . said...

I adore WinonaCookie art and I adore Ramona. Thanks for the great interview!