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stoneagearchitecturalEspecially for my friends who are in the cold snowy parts of the world, while I am here in Hawai’i suffering with a fan on to keep my room cool enough to sleep in… 😀

A quote from Godey’s Lady’s Book 1870 –

“A fireplace goes farther than anything else in giving to a room character and beauty. Every parlor, dining-room, and nursery, at least, should have one. In the cool weather of spring and fall, when the morning and evening air is a little sharp, or when a long cold rain-storm is making everything damp, moist, and uncomfortable, there is nothing more delightful, both for old and young, than a brisk fire upon an open hearth. With what beautiful rosy light and a gentle warmth, it fills a room, and how it laughs and dances and seems to say to every one, ‘be glad with me!’ And then, aside from its home-like beauty and good cheer, the depressing chills and miasma, the floating seeds of disease, will be seized by its friendly flames and whirled up the chimney before they have time to lay a finger on us.” – Sarah J. Hale

nadeausauctionWhat does a fireplace bring to a room in a novel. Do they gravitate toward it for warmth? Do they need the light to decipher a strange message? Perhaps they need to burn a document or piece of evidence?

Is it a stately marble creation with grand designs? Is there a dent in the copper plating? Would it benefit from some cleaning? What does that tell you about the occupants of the house?

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timemachine1Dickens On The Strand was earlier this month. It included a holiday parades of pirates, fellow Steampunkers, choirs of carolers, beggars, a host of other memorable Victorian characters and also the suffragettes. This picture of me next to H. G. Wells’ time machine as I’m wearing my Votes for Women sash is fitting. I went back in time on the strand as I marched with the Victorian suffragettes in the parade.

We sung: All I want for Christmas is the right to vote The right to vote The right to vote All I want for Christmas is the right to vote So I can govern my existence

votesMarching as a suffragette was a blast but the real suffragette movement was serious business and a long hard fight. Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage in 1897. The movement began with peaceful protest arguing that if women had to pay taxes they had the right to vote.

But because Fawcett’s progress through peaceful protests was slow, a lawyer, Richard Pankhurst, his wife, Emmeline, and daughter, Christabel, made a fresh attempt to gain the vote for women and formed the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903. They pursued civil disobedience for the cause. Suffragettes protested by chaining themselves to railings and eventually by smashing windows.

As you make your New Year resolutions tomorrow, think about these brave women of the suffragettes movement who resolved to gain us the vote and did so, both Suffragettes in England and also in America. They gave us a great gift, the opportunity to vote.

Consider adding a suffragette sash to your Steampunk costume. I’m going to continue to wear mine. Also consider making one of your Steampunk characters a suffragette – it worked well for Mrs. Banks in Disney’s Marry Poppins film.

~ ~ ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 24 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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newspapers In my search for things to do during the winter months, I encountered and interesting note to Victorian housekeepers. So for our Steampunk folks, here are some tips on how to reuse your newspapers… just like they did way back when..

Peterson’s Magazine 1890

USES FOR OLD PAPERS. – Most housekeepers know how invaluable newspapers are for packing away the winter clothing, the printing-ink acting as a defiance to the stoutest moth, some housewives think, as successfully as camphor or tar paper. For this reason, newspapers are invaluable under the carpet, laid over the regular carpet-paper. The most valuable quality of newspapers in the kitchen, however, is their ability to keep out the air. It is well known that ice, completely enveloped in newspapers so that all air is shut out, will keep a longer time than under other conditions; and that a pitcher of ice-water wrapped in a newspaper, with the ends of the paper twisted together to exclude the air, will remain all night in any room in midsummer, with scarcely any perceptible melting of the ice. These facts should be utilized oftener than they are in the care of the sick at night. In freezing ice-cream, when the ice is scarce, pack the freezer only three-quarters full of ice and salt, and finish with newspapers, and the difference in the tie of freezing and quality of the cream is not perceptible from the result where the freezer is packed full of ice. After removing the dasher, it is better to cork up the cream and cover it tightly with a packing of newspapers than to use more ice. The newspapers retain the cold already in the ice better than a packing of cracked ice and salt, which must have crevices to admit the air.

so… let me know if you try any of these and how they work.

Keep in mind that modern day inks are different. If you choose to try these out please be VERY careful if you use newspapers around food. Be careful… Be safe…

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1883More on activities for cold winter nights! There are two activities detailed in this section of Peterson’s Magazine 1883 – December edition.

The first may look familiar… In my childhood we called it Telephone… but when I think about it now, Telephone wasn’t a good name for the game… after all who whispers to another person on the telephone… strange but true. The Victorian name for the game seems to fit the activity better!

CHRISTMAS GAMES.

CONFIDENCES is a capital game in its way. One lady whispers a remark to her neighbor about someone present. She would say, perhaps: “Young Mr. jones was coming home from a party last night, and lost his way in the fog, and had to leave his carriage, and walk home with two boys carrying lanterns.” And this is whispered hurriedly from person to person round the circle, and the amusing part of it is to discover how the story has become altered by being passed on in this manner.

Many games are played entirely for the amusement of children, and only joined in by the elders with that object. It is not always easy at the moment to hit upon something to please children, other than romping-games, such as “Post,” Blind Man’s Buff,” “Puss in the Corner,” “Hide and Seek,” “Magic Music,” “Oranges and Lemons,” “Throwing the Handkerchief,” etc. But these games, although very well for the nursery or for the play-room on a wet day, or for the garden on a summer’s day, occasion a good deal of noise when played in a drawing-room. Children are apt to become rough and quarrelsome when these boisterous games are indulged in for any length of time, and parents generally prefer to see their children amused and interested in a quieter way. “Shadows is a good game where with to amuse children, but it is best to play it in the school-room or in the dining room. The plan is to fix a linen sheet across the room, and to place a lamp on the floor behind it; the actors dance and perform a sort of pantomime, with much gesticulation and many quaint antics, and the shadows thus formed on the sheet are a source of great delight to the young spectators.

What games would your characters play on a snowy evening when kept indoors? Could you play these games in the public rooms on an airship? Hmmm… what do you think?

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childrenFirst, my apologies for my disappearing act. It was not my wish. Diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both my hands, I have done my best to recover the full use of my hands, but still have bouts of pain and I can’t feel my fingertips. So, I owe you folks posts.. and I will make them… just horribly late. So very sorry for the wait. – Raye

Since this is the winter, hopefully of much content for all of you… I wanted to post about Victorian Era entertainments and crafts. Hoping that if you do end up with some ‘snow days’ you might have something to occupy your time in a Steampunk way!

Peterson’s Magazine – 1865

PARLOR GAMES.
FOX and GEESE. – There must be an even number of players in this game, and a circle is to be formed standing two by two, so that those who are on the outside have each one person in front of them; these are called the Geese, and there must be some space left between the couples, to allow the one who is chased to run in and out of the circle. Two must be left out, one a Goose, and the other the Fox.

The Fox is to catch the Goose not belonging to the circle, who can run around the circle and also within it, which the Fox cannot be allowed to do; but when the Goose, who is pursued, places himself before one of the couples composing the circle, there will necessarily be three in the row, and as this is against the rule, the outside one of that three immediately becomes liable to be caught instead of the other, and must endeavor to avoid the pursuit of the Fox by darting within the circle and placing himself before some one of the players.

It is the object of the Fox to catch the player who makes the third one of a row and it is the object of each Goose to avoid the third place. The Fox can only catch the Goose as he stands the third in a row, or before he succeeds in escaping to a place of safety. If the Goose is touched by the Fox while in the position of third one in a row, or if touched in passing from this third place to one of safety, he becomes the Fox instead, and the other becomes the Goose again. It will be observed that the amusement of this game will depend upon the spirit and animation with which it is conducted. Great rapidity of movement is necessary.

While I was reading/typing out the instructions, it struck me that the game was still around when I was in school. Back then (in the 80s) we called it Safety Tag and played it in the school yard during PE Class.

Would this game occupy children in the common room of an airship? In a village in a remote part of the world after a long voyage? Aboard a submarine to entertain the families of crew?

What kinds of games would children in your stories play on long winter days/nights?

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paperbeadsI have some great friends.. old friends, but we won’t get into ‘how’ old… ’cause I’m NOT telling! Anywho, this old friend gave a beautiful necklace a long time ago made of paper beads.

Recently as I was talking to him about this series of posts he brought up the beads. His grandmother had made them as a child and had learned the craft from her mother, so he knew it was from the ‘right’ era. A little searching on the net brings up a love link for those who would like to make the beads for themselves.

Guide to Making Paper Beads

So here’s the crazy thought…

I’m one of those that sees crafts made of old books… and I wince. I love the idea of recycling, but I hate the idea that writing from another era might be lost forever when the book is consumed by the craft…

But, if you’re a writer (and most of us are) why not make these beads with your printed drafts?

Now, I know the concern may be someone opening up all the beads to read your work, but that’s a lot of unrolling… so don’t do it with your printed drafts if you’re worried, but I think it might be a nice way to recycle… or use those left over scrapbook papers!

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Florence_Stoker

Florence Balcombe Stoker

If you don’t have access to ShowTime and you’ve been wondering what Penny Dreadful is all about, let me clue you in. I enjoy the show and recommend it. Ethan Chandler a Wild Bill Cody type is hired by Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives to find and rescue his daughter, Mina Hunter, kidnapped by Dracula. Dr. Frankenstein teams up with them as well. And Dorian Gray is added to the mix.

This is my third post for Halloween month, October, so it’s Bram Stoker and Dracula’s turn. It is not a proven fact but it has been reported by many Stoker biographers that he died of syphilis. It was a disease that plagued many in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. When dracula attacks someone he infects them with vampirism and it’s easy to see the possible connection with a disease like syphilis. It’s not hard to discern his guilt and concern over possibly infecting his wife and also in being unfaithful to a woman he loved. Bram Stoker married actress Florence Balcombe in 1878. She’d previously been engaged to Oscar Wilde. From all accounts they had a strong marriage and shared a deep love for each other. We can see those intense emotions in Jonathan’s feelings for Mina.

Bram Stoker

Some interesting tidbits on Bram Stoker s he was  Irish, while Dracula is Eastern European For that reason, you may not have noticed the author’s Celtic roots showing in the story but I assure you they are there. It is said he actually wrote his first draft of Dracula while he was a guest at Slains. The Slain castle in Aberdeenshire Scotland is often considered an inspiration for Dracula’s castle in the book.

On his mother’s side Bram Stoker happened to be a direct descendent of ’Manus O’Donnell (Manus ‘the Magnificent. He was an Irish clan leader who led a rebellion against Henry VIII in the 16th century. Bram Stoker drew on his lineage to write of a man with a great past as a warrior and ruler now displaced by the passage of history, living in the shadows, in other words it is also the story of Bram Stoker’s ancestry.

It has been said that as a little boy in Ireland Bram Stoker’s mother often told him stories including horror stories. They must have included Irish folk lore.There are many tales of dark vampiric fey in Celtic mythology. These dark fey are often extremely beautiful and seductive. The vampiric fey, the baobhan sith,  always roamed together as sisters. In Dracula, Bram Stoker’s description of the three sisters in the vampire’s castle seems similar to dark Celtic fey.

Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair, as fair as can be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed—such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on. One said:—

“Go on! You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin.” The other added:—

“He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all.”

Because authors Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and Oscar Wilde pulled deep from within and wrote emotion and human pain into their stories we can connect with the horrors they created. We feel what the monsters feel. We can see bits of ourselves in these monsters …and that is what makes them scariest of all.

~           ~            ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 22 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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