I’m coming out of grieving hibernation and ready to show you some pieces I’ve been working on. Long ago I discovered steampunk and my reaction was that of a little girl with a new kitten. “I love this but didn’t know what it was called!” When other creatives match their endeavors with steampunk, they too, have the same reaction.
I picked up The Steampunk Bible a few months ago by Jeff VanderMeer and love it. In the beginning, he describes how the visionaries Verns and Wells turned to their creative sides and single handedly invented science fiction. Okay, maybe not single handedly… But they each explored the extrapolation about technology -the elements of art and the decorative mesh with functional contraptions. While Verns & Wells continue to bicker over science vs technology, it was Edgar A Poe who married the two with plausible narrative. While Poe didn’t live to see the devestating power of industrialization, Vernes continued to outline mechanics in excruciating detail while Wells designed his stories with room for interpretation.
Fast Forward to Today: The allure of Steampunk is the ability to bring one’s individual philosophy and extend self-definition into a stop motion image of applied imagination. For us, it’s an opportunity to actualize fantasy based on a common thread: Trying on an identity that is totally impossible. Artists, musicians, authors are all practitioners of this enduring subculture. Contraptors are modern crafts people using archaic technology tools and live in a world of a gift based economy.
The aesthetics of Steampunk are inspired during Queen Victoria reign through to the Industrial Revolution. Repurposing the best of the Victorian period engage anarchists, contraptors, and artist to create a personal mythology that is authentic to denizens of the 19th century. Whether you’re a scientist or engineer converting electric lamps to kerosene or a designer fashioning a new cloak for the gala, Steampunk has a place for you.
There are at least 6 subgenres inside the sub culture of Steampunk and you may find that you prefer one over the other or enjoy combining a few of them to enhance your persona:
Lastly, we have madmen and heros, and it’s up to you to decide which one you are. With so many options, it tough to chose and I know I’m still deciding.
If you’re not familiar with steampunk, here are a few links to get you started.
Steampunk on Wikipedia
The Best Uses of Steampunk on Television
Steampunk Courtier Fashion
Steampunk Sewing Pattern Collection
New Work. Strange and Delightful Work!
Recently, Piedmont sent out a call for two different shows and we were given the choice of participating in only one. Envisioning the opportunity in both, we decided we would submit work to the call, “Things with Wings.”
Now here’s the situation, I’m about to reveal behind the scenes inspiration on this project. You can either read through to the end of the introduction or read this entirely. You’ve been warned. 😉
Just last Friday, I sent out an email campaign to my subscribers introducing a special project. I’m always throwing a curveball to my customers because something catches my fancy like responding to a call that requires a one-of-a-kind piece.
The email image below within the email links to my blog post. This image links to the same post if you’d like to take it now to read.
Wallpaper Anyone? This image is going to pull double-duty as a postcard I just realized that it will serve as a wonderful desktop wallpaper. If you’d like to use this intro as wallpaper, feel free! To download, just right click and save to your desktop.
**End of Intro**
Behind the Scenes:
When I called in to confirm my place, I briefly described to Nicole that we would most likely submit a tech bag with the designs that were inspired by DaVinci and paper airplanes. As soon as I thought I was finished with that description, my genius came out of no where and hit me in the back of the head with a frying pan. “Or….” I continued, “I could create a really cool little clutch. Think Mercury’s Wings meet Steampunk.”
Honestly, I had no idea where that came from but I knew exactly how it was to look.
After weeks of ironing out the details, procuring specific items, designing the finish, and 4 prototypes later, I had the clutch finished. From a steampunk perspective, this piece needed a backstory otherwise a handful of goofy wings stuck to the front of a purse just wouldn’t do it. So, for my clients, I built a small, yet exciting discussion about how I happened upon these wings. I realized that while I photographed the finished piece, it needed a hangtag as well as a postcard to send off and have printed. Throughout the rest of the week, I conjured a fantastic thread that would lead the participants with intrigue and mystery. So why not grow the project into a series of mysterious clues, investigations, and newsclips?
When I decided to create a postcard, I knew that I wanted the bag to be seen in it’s entirety. However, in my infamous way, I begin to edit out extraneous details and focus on the star: the wings. Knowing that the elements of steampunk had to be incorporated, they needed to be seen as they would be used. At the very least, let them be part of the cast of clues sitting on obscure writings on parchment.
The illustration is really coloring on top of the photographed wings. The slipper of the wing is an outlined pulled in from Illustrator and positioned on a separate layers. Millions of layers as a matter of fact -but that’s way too detailed for this piece. A victorian key, magnifying glass with a leather wrapped handle, a tiny compass, leather tie downs falsely riveted to background steel, and a gem of a piece borrowed from my inlaws: An authentic postcard of the Hindenberg dirigible postmarked from the Hindenberg itself!
There are watermarks on the edges of the parchment and steel that are industrial inspired designs and these will be seen on the clutch itself when it is revealed. Because every good mystery includes travel and a blueprint of sorts, this one includes measurements and instrument hints.
If you click the screen capture above, you’ll land on my blog posting that reads like this:
Once, there was a god of trade, thieves, & travel name Mercury. Inventor of the lyre and seen with the caduceus, it was told that he wore winged sandals as a messenger to guide and protect merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves.
However, one morning when Mercury happened upon a market, he found himself in the middle of a heated exchange. With an instant, Mercury disappeared and his wings torn from his feet.
We’re looking for the whereabouts of Mercury. If you know any information that can locate both he and his winged sandals, please alert the authorities. We will continue to bring you late breaking news as it arrives.
Thanks for your attention to this matter.
Lisa & Andrew
*End of Email
Next, I’ll be sending a few snippets of information and clues to generate a bit of excitement with my customers. I realize that these folks may not be my customers for my new steampunk endeavors, but at least they get a taste of how I enjoy applying creativity simultaneously in many different areas. Perhaps I’ll pick up a few enthusiasts along the way.
Thanks for reading and I hope that you got a sense of fun along the way.
Let me know if you’re into steampunk and what your persona entails -can’t wait to see your inventions. Oh, and don’t forget your goggles!