Welcome to the first of many articles involving mechanical keyboards, a hobby that is growing every day thanks to its devout followers. Custom keyboards are almost like an underground secret club.
Not a lot of people explore beyond pre-built keyboards like Corsair, Razer, or Logitech. But now, there’s an untraversed landscape of keycaps, switches, PCB boards, and cases.
So in a series of articles, I’m going to cover the following topics:
- Artisan keycaps
- A guide to the world of keycaps
- Mechanical keyboard switch types
- How to build a custom mechanical keyboard
- Mechanical keyboard cases
- Best shops for mechanical keyboard goods
- Mechanical keyboard terminology guide
But today, I’m just going to try and drag you into the world of custom-designed keyboards with these artistic keycaps.
So what are artisan keycaps?
Artisan keycaps are exactly as stated – uniquely, crafted keycaps. I consider them miniature works of art, and you might too. There’s a whole world of them out there that adhere to a variety of aesthetic tastes.
Have a love for the forest?
What about love for chocolate and fruit? Maybe this chocolate-covered strawberry keycap from Keyclack.com would satiate that craving.
Or perhaps an amphibious fruit?
Maybe you’re a fan of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay
The point is, there are so many artisan keycaps just waiting to be adopted.
The Pros and Cons of Artisan Keycaps
There are, of course, pros and cons to considering artisan keycaps. As for pros:
There is something for everyone.
As I mentioned earlier, there is an artisan keycap for everyone. For me? I absolutely love keycaps with nature settings encased in resin. Someone else may have a preference for cats, so a lucky cat keycap may be a good choice for them.
Another may be obsessed with flowers – there are gorgeous roses as keycaps. There are plenty of superhero and supervillain ones out there.
75 percent of the time, these keycaps are gorgeous.
Artisan keycaps are crafted with a variety of materials – resin, clay, wood, acrylic, aluminum, etc. Most of these keycaps are pure eye candy.
They give your keyboards personality.
Like how every PC is unique, so too should be the keyboard. The keyboard, after all, acts as the adornment of a PC user’s “battle station”! Personally, I’m building a nature-themed keyboard, including an ocean-based wrist rest, GMK Camping novelty keys, a wooden case, and a couple nature-themed artisan keycaps… though one of them features a dragon in a river which is close enough.
As for cons:
Artisan keycaps are very expensive
Artisan keycaps are carefully crafted works of art, so expect to pay carefully-crafted-works-of-art money. An artisan keycap can run you anywhere between $15 and $300. For one keycap, but that’s okay, as artists should be paid not only for their time but also for the materials they used. But especially for their time to craft these exquisite compositions.
These painstakingly-created keycaps are fairly expensive but 100 percent worth it.
The quality is a gamble
Artisan keycaps are a bit of a gamble unless you seek out reviews. Some may be of great quality and craftsmanship and others are… well… you wonder why they would be on sale in the first place.
Non-resin keycaps can feel strange to press.
Artisan keycaps come in all different shapes and sizes (at least on the top, as the bottoms must be crafted to fit the switch), so if you plan on nabbing a keycap that isn’t flat on the top, you should place that keycap in an area you don’t press frequently.
Imagine pressing a spiked Koopa keycap.
Where can I purchase artisan keycaps?
You can purchase artisan keycaps at a variety of sites, including:
Of course, there are many other sites to explore, but the ones above should help you get started.
Artisan keycaps will help you get your foot into the door
Into the door of what? The world of custom keyboard creation! As stated, custom keyboards are growing to be quite popular, as they fit each person’s unique preference – and I’m not just referring to keycaps. However, those are different topics for other days.
Next week I will debut into the newer, potentially cheaper keycap sets – look forward to it!