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From Ukraine to Maker Faire Rome: Iren Steampunk, an example of resilience and creativity

Our interview with Iren Proskurina, founder and creator at IREN STEAMPUNK

Iren Proskurina is a Ukranian maker: a symbol of creativity and freedom that cannot be tamed. She will be exhibiting at Maker Faire Rome 2023.


Our interview with Iren Proskurina, founder and creator at IREN STEAMPUNK

It definitely is a worth-to-be-told story the one regarding IREN STEAMPUNK, an innovative jewelry workshop from Ukraine which, through many difficulties caused by the Russian invasion, is the symbol of a creativity and freedom that cannot be tamed.

When we asked her a brief introduction, she replied by quoting an expression she loves, actually coming from another maker she met at MFRome 2021 she’s good friend with now, and (spoiler alert) whose startup she’ll try some “synergy experiment” with at MFRome 2023 edition: “I remember when I first met Iren. She was wearing a never-seen-before owl-shaped necklace made out of clockworks that she had crafted herself. In a second, it was crystal clear that she had passion for creating peculiar pieces of art that were both beautiful and functional, but mostly: out of the ordinary, coherent and unique at the same time”.

To be present at Maker Faire Rome means a lot to Iren, especially since the current situation in Ukraine changed and influenced “the way of making art”.

Iren explained us that every object she crafts and that people will pick up in their hands is imbued with a particular spirit: Steampunk. A spirit of a parallel era to our own in which the basic technology is the one of steam engines, but futuristic: combined with elements of science fiction. Her workshop, besides being one of the first Steampunk workshops in Ukraine, has the widest range of jewelry in this category. All items are handmade from original watch mechanisms. Jewelry is created in small collections from watches that can no longer be repaired. Some models can no longer even be replicated and, therefore, are exclusive, unique-each piece is. All products are packaged inside an environmentally friendly box, for a wide selection of pendants, brooches, earrings, cufflinks and so on.

IrenFox Steampunk is participating in MFRome for the fourth time. She believes that this event is an amazing opportunity to showcase her project to the general public, meet new people, and learn new things.

In 2022, she took a break from her workshop for the first nine months due to a burnout she unavoidably experienced from volunteering for her Country as a consequence of the Russian assault. Her volunteer friends encouraged her to submit an application to MFRome 2022, and the confirmation of her participation pushed her to start working again. She revealed us that the first time she sat down at her desk and picked up her tools after a long break, she started crying. All the time she was in the Kyiv region, she did not evacuate anywhere. After all that she experienced, it felt like her artistic work, her own world, was all from a past life. This insane war took away from her the opportunity to do what she wanted and liked. Therefore, she decided that she had to return at least to a part of herself.


Let’s dive into Iren’s story and see what being a maker means to her.

Iren was born in Severodonetsk, where she devoted 11 years to professional sports and achieved the title of Master of Sports of international class in swimming. However, she realized that sports did not give her the vibe that she wanted to devote her whole life to it. In 2010, she decided to try different types of needlework, including felting wool, sewing, decoupage, modeling from polymer clay, assembling jewelry, and more. Before doing something seriously, she wanted to try different types and understand what she liked to do the most.

In November 2010, she took part in a local fair where, (not so) surprisingly, people liked her creations quite much. So her hobby turned into a full-time job, and she also got involved in organizing a local handicraft fair and became one of the group leaders. Her team from Severodonetsk made friends with a team of creators from Lugansk. They organized local fairs and visited each other to partake.

In 2014, during the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in Crimea, she had to start life from scratch in Kyiv. She just went to Kyiv to the fair with one bag of trade items and a backpack of clothes. A couple of days later, her region went under occupation. Iren remembers it as the beginning of a very difficult period in her personal and creative life and it took years to restore balance. Then, in 2022, the full-scale war found her at home in a village near Kyiv. She decided not to leave home until the critical moment came. She was lucky that on their side of the Kyiv region, the troops of the Russian army did not reach by only a couple of tens of kilometers. Her house remained intact, and her family survived. However, her parents fell under occupation again and continue to be there.

Now she is once again restoring the work of the workshop step by step. She’s resilient, all the people that have been attacked become so, she says.

Being a creator is about embracing your individuality and pursuing what you love. It’s about doing what makes your heart sing and having the freedom to express yourself. When people appreciate your skills and are willing to support your work, it’s like hitting the jackpot.

It’s a dream job that allows you to turn your passion into a livelihood. One of the most beautiful aspects of being a creator, for Iren, is the endless opportunity to learn and grow. There’s always something new to discover, whether it’s a different technique, material, or concept. Her message to all the MF community is: embrace this journey of continuous learning, and let your creativity soar!

IREN STEAMPUNK took part in Maker Faire Rome 2022: her artistic life changed during this last year, in a resilient way.

When she came back home after MFRome 2022, the next phase of her “war life” began. She learned to work in any conditions, even when there was no electricity or water. Blackouts could last for 1-3 days or 5-7 days in a row. She told us that she worked during air raids, drone strikes, and ballistic missiles right outside her house. She worked when there was a massive shelling of residential buildings and when she found out that one of her friends had passed away. She cried but continued to work… just to get away from reality and stabilize her emotional state. MFRome was a memory, but also a goal. She shared with us that the workshop, and the support from friends, even the ones far away, kept her afloat all this time.

She believes that when you have a knack for creating new things and giving old items a new lease on life, that’s a wonderful gift that you should honor. The ability to work with various tools is a valuable asset that opens up countless possibilities in life. It’s inspiring to see how many creators in Ukraine are using their skills to help the army during these challenging times. Repairing drones and repurposing electronic cigarette batteries into power banks are just some of the innovative ways they’re making a difference.

Some backstage and spoilers about her workshop at Maker Faire Rome 2023!

Iren told us that during the MFRome 2021 edition she had the chance to befriend with an innovator from Italy, Frank, who later on founded TERRAVIONICS, a deep-tech startup with a brilliant idea in the Agritech sector, and with a very energetic team she befriended with!

During the following MFRome 2022 they took part in MFRome 2022 as well and she was also hosted by them: MFRome was an occasion of great fun altogether and productive brainstorming time. For the MFRome 2023 these two makers are even thinking of maybe doing something“synergetic” together. So, stay tuned!

All the products that visitors will find in her booth are made from disassembled watch mechanisms and covered with epoxy jewelry resin. Steampunk? For Iren it is not a hobby, or the fashion of the day. It is her lifestyle, and a way to express herself. Each of her new customers for her is not just a buyer, it is an opportunity to meet someone she feels close in spirit and worldview. That’s why she enjoys contact with the public at fairs, it’s a way to get to know and introduce people to different cultures and worlds, even through a piece of jewelry that comes from a parallel universe, proudly made in Ukraine. 🙂

She’s currently working on an exclusive series of mini-paintings about the war, which she plans to exhibit for the first time at MFR2023. Those pendants will be a limited edition, not all for sale, but viewers can donate to support her as an artist. A photographer friend of hers will take professional photographs of the pendants, which she’ll share on her social networks.

As for her future plans, she’s working on creating a series of decorations from parts of downed rockets and other military pieces that she’s collected. Additionally, she’s hoping to travel to the USA and Japan to participate in those Maker Faire events, meet local creators, and visit their workshops. Finally, she’s planning to build a workshop room in the attic of her house so that she can work from home instead of dangerously commuting to town every day. Last but not least, she’d like to seek for funding for these projects of hers.

Learn more about IREN STEAMPUNK:

IG:  I Facebook: I Etsy:

Learn more about TERRAVIONICS: website e LinkedIn I ENG:

Come visit Maker Faire Rome from October 20 through 22 at Fiera di Roma and get the chance to meet both Iren and Frank. Tickets to Maker Faire Rome – online only  will be up soon. 


Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition has been committed since its very first editions to make innovation accessible and usable to all, with the aim of not leaving anyone behind. Its blog is always updated and full of opportunities and inspiration for makers, makers, startups, SMEs and all the curious ones who wish to enrich their knowledge and expand their business, in Italy and abroad.

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