The phrase 'artisan keycaps' likely doesn't bear much meaning on your life, and nor should it, but after a stint of excessive spending on such luxurious things, and even going as far as to researching how to make them myself, I'm fully prepared to evangelise the concept. Yes, even a $72 spacebar.
Of all the wonderful creators and artists crafting bespoke keycaps, Jellykey, a subsection of Vietnamese company Joiha, are my favourite. Each key it crafts is a tiny microcosm of a greater concept: the outdoors, a koi pond, a lost city… and they're all as stunning as the last.
The latest in a series of fantastic group buys from Jelly Key is Born of Forest (opens in new tab)—a collection of keycaps featuring a selection of snowy mountains, trails, and forest scattered with log huts and littered with intricately crafted trees. The pièce de résistance is the spacebar key, a 6.25u long key of thick brush, cliff edges, and wooden cabins atop of bedrock.
I'll admit at $72 it is a frivolous purchase—the single 1u keys are cheaper at $50—but I can at least justify my own internal bargaining and eventual justification for such a needless spend.
I'm not a keyboard junky the way Jacob is. Apparently I should be ashamed of the 'shitty' brown switches in my current keyboard. Maybe I should be, but I simply don't care. I have little interest in keyboards that cost as much as decent CPUs, and certainly no interest in dropping $72 on one key. No matter how pretty. And I genuinely don't think it's even that pretty. It's not exactly 'art' is it. Alternatively, $72 nets you a whole mechanical keyboard from a company you've never heard of. Something like the ABKO K640 (opens in new tab), which looks like a unicorn has barfed all over the keys moments before a circus clown used it to clean the makeup off his face. It's probably awesome. It certainly looks awesome. If you squint it almost looks like a mini-landscape. I'm thinking Vegas at night. Keep your acrylic, that's art. Alan Dexter
I spend most of the day at my computer. Hell, sometimes all day. Prior to 2020, I would sit at my desk for eight hours or more, and this year my desk time has skyrocketed—as I'm sure yours has, too. So that's why I make a point of ensuring my desk space is as in tune to my mindset and as carefully curated as it can be. Taking pride in my desk space makes those hours sat or stood in front of it that little bit less constricting, physically and mentally, and I think we all need to find our own ways to do just that.
Spending time outdoors, specifically wild camping, are particularly calming activities for me, so I've been shaping my desk to reflect that. I have two Jellykey's keycaps so far, one with a murky green underwater effect and the other something similar with a stunning koi carp swimming beneath the surface. Atop of my Novelkeys deskpad, emblazoned with a foggy mountainscape and small campsite motif, I am reminded of the little things I love throughout the day.
As of a few weeks ago this setup has made way for a standing desk, which sadly doesn't allow me to roll out my favoured mousepad. Yet my end goal is always to have it as the centrepiece of my PC—and try not to spill coffee all over it—with my Jellykey-infused keyboard pride of place atop.
While the concept of a $72 spacebar is rather ludicrous in theory, in practice it can be something rather special to a select few people. And even if that's not you, you can at least appreciate the time it takes to craft such a wonderful bespoke keycap— because it sure sounds like you get your money's worth, and then some.
Thanks to the ubiquity of the Cherry MX mounting style, there's a good chance that your current keyboard is already the perfect potential home for such a beautifully made centrepiece.
You can read the detailed description of how each MX-compatible keycap is crafted over at the Jellykey website (opens in new tab), but for an idea of what goes into each and every one, the process of covering the ground in varying types of grass takes between 20-40 minutes per keycap. The landscape and mountains: 30 minutes to two hours. And that's just a few of the ingredients that go into every one.
Jellykey sells all its keycaps in one-time-only group buys, and the Born of Forest collection ends on the 26 June, 2020 (this could change at a moment's notice). From there it takes some 70-90 days to put the finished keycap together. It's quite the wait for a single product, sure, but I can at least assure you it will be like no other.