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Why Steampunk? I put that question to a variety of talented artist. Asking them why they took their art in a Steampunk direction, these were their answers:

Cherries Jubilee, is not only a talented dancer but she also embellishes fabulous Steampunk designs on shoes, transferring them into wearable art and some of the most gorgeous shoes you will ever see in your life.  I asked Cherries Jubilee, “How did you first get interested in Steampunk?”

“I have been attending science fiction/fantasy/horror conventions almost since the phenomenon started, but I was finding it difficult to do interesting costumes after a while. I could not really pull off the “green slave girl” any more and I had done every female companion to Dr.

Who, so I was looking for something else. I was looking for a more free form kind of costuming – not copying something that had already been done, but creating characters of my own in a style that I could wear into my 90’s if I wanted to. About six years ago, I saw some Steampunk at Norwest Con and fell in love with the idea. They were already talking about creating a local Steampunk convention and I was really excited because I could bring in neo-victorian style and, to some extent, manners into a con culture that had grown more than a little crass. I saw an opportunity to bring couples dancing into the sci-fi culture and I got to wear corsets and really cool granny boots. My only thought was, “Sign me up!”

airship-voyager-sqpenny_farthing_20121Camryn Forrest creates serious art with her stunning snow globes and water globes. She is a snow globe engineer. Her work is whimsical and technical, heavy and light, just the way I like my steampunk. So I asked her, “Why Steampunk?”

Camryn Forrest said, “I love the contradiction of steampunk and snow globes. One of the first times I told anyone what I was doing, he said ‘That doesn’t make any sense. Those two things do not go together.’ And that egged me on: I loved the challenge of proving it could work.”

Next, I asked illustrator, writer, costumer, graphic artist and founder and vice chiar of Steamcon, Diana Vick, “What drew you to get involved in and take your art in a Steampunk direction?”

 

8383773791_7f5d80f934_bShe replied, “Steampunk is a very creative genre and I like the imagery.”

 

dawn1Dawn Donati creates unique and gorgeous Steampunk Stained Glass art. So I inquired, “When did your first become interested in Steampunk?”

“Along my travels some of the vending I did was in Victorian reenactment I am well versed in the artclothing aspect.  steampunk was a natural progression for me. What intrigues me is the inventions and the people who create them, the stories they tell – the community. The ingenuity and historical knowledge of the artists is just delightful. I have noticed the steampunk movement is growing I see it all over in art, clothing, movies – it’s fun to see peoples interpretation of what steampunk is. Or maybe I’m just so immersed myself such a hopeless romantic for the opulence of this movement there is no saving me.   For my next endeavor I would like to bring stained glass in to steampunk as a noticed art form.  How Victorian is stained glass – take steamed powered concepts add a splash of industrial machinery a dash of filigree embellishment and there you have steampunk stained glass…. well that is what my mind’s eye would like to see.  I am working on my kaleidoscope and a signature piece.”

mlt_headshotThen I asked Steampunk artist – painter, sculptor and jewelry designer – Michael Treat,”What inspired you to take your art in a Steampunk direction?”

“For me, I think it all started when I began working with materials that are dominant in the 197102921162471135_cgqtnxyz_cSteampunk genre including leather, unbleached fabrics, lace, grommets, eyelets, tack and  wood. Oh–and of course all of those metals! I very much enjoy working with brass, copper, wrought iron and rusty steel with all of their tarnish and patinas. I enjoy working with each material individually, and combining them in new and different ways. As I learned more and more about the genre, and researched what it was about,  I realized that I had found a place to incorporate those elements and the styles into just about anything I had could imagine. I love the Steampunk genre because of the modification process that Steampunk allows, and often even demands! I also really feel a sort of kinship with the American Old West. I admire the optimism that came along with all the hardships and uncertainties of that time period. I also enjoy how that unique creativity, optimism and sense of possibilities and vision is reflected those who live the Steampunk lifestyle today.”

mesteampunksoulsMichele Lynch’s mix media art, art dolls, tree toppers, ornaments, jewelry, paintings and so nevermoremuch more are incredible. Not only the art itself, but I also love what she writes about them. ”The soul sucker mix media dolls or sculptures started after I took a full time job with the soul sucker corporation. I find myself still running from the soul sucker even though I no longer work for that corporation.”

I love Michele’s Soul Sucker world and her art, so I put the same question to her, “Why Steampunk?”

Michele said, “When I envisioned the steampunk soul rebellion, I saw them with mechanical parts to them. I’m not sure where that inspiration came from! But I have always loved movies that had that slight Steampunk feel to them.”

You’ve heard form a variety of Steampunk visual artist as to why they went Steampunk, now readers, it’s your turn. Please comment below…Why Steampunk?

Feel free to share why you write or read Steampunk?

~      ~      ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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Kat and Tentacle Kitty

Kat and Tentacle Kitty

“Welcome, to airship Steamed.” I shake the president and creative director of Tentacle Kitty, John Merritt’s hand. “Welcome aboard Airship Steamed.” I reach over to Tentacle Kitty, who he’s holding in the crook of his other arm, and shake one of her pink tentacles. “Watch your step,” I call as I stretch my short legs in a leap across the wide gap between the dock and the airship. John Merritt, with Tentacle Kitty in hand, follows me into the parlor.

I gesture towards the crimson settee, which features curvy lion head legs and claw feet, hoping John’s kitty is not offended that they’re not tentacles instead. He sits on the cushioned seat and places Tentacle Kitty beside him.

“Tentacle Kitty is so cute.” I plop down onto the chenille cushioned armchair across from them.  “I just love her.” I reach forward to pet her fluffy head. “How long did it take you to come up with the design?”

“About an hour. I was in a Sharies, similar to Denny’s, waiting for my wife, then fiancé, to get out of work across the street. I wanted to make her something cute that combined my love of cats, and her love of tentacles: octopus, cuddlefish, HP Lovecraft.” He glances at the blue willow teacups, shaking and rattling on the tea table between us.

“Any piece of art that springs from a love of cats, cuddlefish and HP Lovecraft is alright by me.” I have to raise my voice to speak over the clang and grind of the airship as we take off. “How many prototypes did it take to purrfect Tentacle Kitty?”

“Twelve or thirteen total.” Mr. Merritt grabs the settee with one hand as the airship lifts off. “The whole process took about a year.”

“How did you first get involved in the art and design of stuffed toys?” Since the china cups cease rattling, I pick up the tea pot and pour my guest a cup of Earl Grey.

“Well TK started with the character. After our friends wanted us to post her online, her fans grew and they begged us for plushies. So we obliged.” He picks up the teacup with tendrils of steam rising from it.

I lift the creamer and pour a bit onto a saucer. I place it on the settee beside Tentacle Kitty, in case she wants a drink as well. “Speaking of it starting with the character, how did the character itself begin?”

“She was originally created with Vector Graphics rather than using pen and paper or photoshop.” Picking up a sugar cube, Mr. Merritt plunks it into his tea.

“What about an artist notebook, do you keep one to jot down ideas like Tentacle Kitty that may come to you, day or night?” I lift the teapot and as I fill my own cup, I breathe in the subtle, aromatic scent of the tea.

“Not usually, but when things do come to mind, I have a tablet phone with a drawing pen, I can sketch up my ideas quickly.” John Merrett picks up a polished silver spoon and stirs his tea, creating a tiny maelstrom in the cup.

“What are some of the challenges of creating stuffed toys?” I take a sip of my earl grey.

“Everything. Learning the ins and outs of creating plush toys is very difficult. Everything from the design, finding a manufacturer that is high quality and honest, to learning to ship from overseas and complying with all of the legalities and certificates needed to sell in the US.”

Picking up a slice of lemon, I breathe in the sunny, citrus scent as I squeeze a drop of its juice into my cup. “Does Tentacle Kitty have her own character back-story of the world she lives on?” I slip the yellow slice into the light brown tea. “Does she live in the sea and breathe underwater?”

“She in fact comes from another dimension! She lives in a forested area and doesn’t care for the water much at all. We have a comic coming out soon that will show a lot about her world.”

“That makes a lot more sense, cats don’t like water. The tentacles confused me.” I lift the teacup  to my lips and draw in a long sip. “A Tentacle Kitty Comic sounds wonderful. She’s obviously a very special tentacle feline, does she have any super powers?“

“There are a couple different abilities she has that people do not know about yet, but keep an eye on the comic and you will see!”

“How and why did you settle on the color pink for Tentacle Kitty’s fur?”

“While all other colors are perfectly acceptable, Pink was the least likely to invoke fear and instead promote her cuteness. And it helps, sometimes, to indicate she is in fact a girl.” Mr. Merrett takes a few more sips of steamy tea.

“She is the cutest. If I had to guess I’d day you are a cat lover, is that right? What are the names of your own kitties and cats?”

“I am.” He sets his teacup on its saucer on the table with a soft clink. “Though I have had many cats in the past, I have none at the moment. My last cat’s name was “Tali Vas Banana” After Mass Effect… and Harry Belafonte.”

“What a unique name.” I down the last of my earl grey. “Since this is Steamed, I have to ask, do you like Steampunk literature?” I set my empty china cup on the tea table.

“I love the steampunk culture, and though I have yet to read alot of books related to the subject, one of my favorites, that to my understanding is steampunk-y, is The Time Machine. And naturally Cthulhu mythos.” He places the untouched saucer of cream on the table.

Upon hearing rattling and clinking, I glance at the tea table and see the cups and saucers shaking. I know what that means, the airship is landing. I have time for three quick questions. “What advice would you give to any artists interested in creating their own stuffed toys?”

“Unless you have a fan base, and investors, family and friends if need be, it can be a very dark and costly road.” Mr. Merrett clutches one arm of the settee as the airship clangs and rattles.

“Is there anything you or Tentacle Kitty would like to say to your fans?” I hold on to the armrest of my chair as we dock.

“No matter what people say, keep being you.

and

Never judge a monster by her tentacles.”

“What wonderful advise and so true. You can be warm and fuzzy and still have tentacles, especially if you are from another dimension.” The airship has landed but before I bid John Merrett and Tentecle Kitty farewell, I squeeze in that last question.  “What workshops, convention appearances or shows do you have coming up? What are the dates, places, times, and websites? And for all those wanting to give a Tentacle Kitty a good home, where is she available?”

“There are several conventions that we are planning to go to this next year, but right now none are official. Keep track of us on Facebook for all of our conventions and events.

You can find Tentacle Kitty in many places. The best places to find her is at http://www.tentaclekitty.com/shop/ and Thinkgeek at http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ef4f/

~   ~   ~

Maeve Alpin, who also write as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 18 published romances. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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Welcome to the holidays! Now that we’ve passed Thanksgiving, it’s time to think about decorating for the holidays. So what can you do to add a little steampunk flair to your decorations? More than you think!

A Steampunk Christmas Tree

Christmas trees lend themselves well to steampunk! After all the Victorians loved celebrating Christmas. Try decorating the tree with a mixture of old-fashioned Victorian elements. For example cameos, watch parts, gears, rusted springs, snowflakes made out of bent copper wire, well-dried gingerbread with hard icing details, tassles, scrolls of old sheet music or old keys hung using thin velvet ribbon rather than wire hangers. Consider using ribbon, lace, twine or thin copper colored chain as garland, or even go back to the very basics and make a paper chain or popcorn and cranberries strung on a string! Add color with bits of holly, or scent by tying little bunches of cinnamon bark with ribbon to the tree.

To give a tree a more mad scientist feel, use larger lights or put candles in test tubes and beakers.  It’s easy to decorate a traditional tree with a mixture of old-fashioned Victorian ornaments such as candles and steampunk accessories – bunches of keys, watch parts etc. For a mad scientist look, stick the candles in test tubes and beakers and use clear glass ornaments or even small glass canning jars filled with various objects (silk flowers, artificial insects) for a more “naturalist” appearance as if you are keeping the little things for observation.

If you really want the more industrial steampunk look, go ahead and paint an artificial tree copper or gold, or construct one out of copper piping, using dials and gauges for ornaments and threading wire through the pipes so you can still light it up.

And of course you can always choose steampunk ornaments for additional flair.

Bring out the Victorian Naturalist Christmas Display

It was incredibly common to have displays of items from ones experiments and travels housed beneath domes of glass or inside a glass-in shadowbox. For Christmas, consider making a Victorian Naturalist Display of your own featuring anything from the silly to the sublime. Create a display from things such as holly, bits of fir boughs. An artificial cardinal or other song bird. A string of pearls, a Christmas cookie, or gingerbread man. A lump of coal from Santa for bad little boys, a feather from a Christmas angel, or even a reindeer antler.

Create a Steampunk Advent Calendar

One of the things children love best (and really, aren’t adults just big children at Christmas?) is an Advent Calendar. Create a steampunk version for you and your family. There’s lots of options. Create little felt pouches with a number on each pouch (1 to 24), string them along a bit of twine and tie ribbon or red and white gingham bows in between and, then put a treat in each pouch and string it along a banister, mantle or wall. If you’re looking for a more mad science approach, arrange a series of 24 glass containers (jars, beakers, vials) on a surface such as a mantelpiece, or bookshelf and tuck a treat inside each (such as a small hard candy, peppermint, or individually wrapped chocolate – I personally love the Giradelli chocolates for this.) Use fir boughs, Christmas ornaments, gears, watches, small bird cages, chains, etc. to decorate around the glasses. You can either hang a label on each container with the numbers or get those brass house numbers at a hardware store and prop them up or hand them on the containers.

Steampunk Your Christmas Wreath

Sure you can use your regular green wreath and steampunk it the same way you did your tree, but you can also go bolder. Create a wreath from “gears” by brushing gingerbread cookies with metallic food paint. Wrap it with wire, or put in a few glass bulbs of different types. Use old typewriter keys to spell out “Merry Christmas” or cut out letters from different large fonts and “paste” it together for a more typeset look. For a more naturalist look, consider finding a wreath create from grapevines, or similar twigs. Add holly or berries, or a gingerbread man. Perhaps a small ornamental song bird. Scrolls of Victorian sheet music, and rich velvet ribbon.


Don’t Forget the Stockings!

Victorian’s loved their Christmas stockings! In fact, some times, there were no presents beneath the tree, they all came in the stockings “hung by the chimney with care”.  If you don’t feel like searching out for a stunning Victorian boot stocking of your own, or an elaborately long striped stocking for fun, you can always make one as well. Buttons, lace, gears, keys, tassels. There’s no end to what you can do.

Decorating for a steampunk Christmas is no different than the attention you put into your costume or the artwork you create. Just take what you know, what you love, and add a dollop of imagination.

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Today we welcome the Ladies of Mischief

Textile Arts — A Fascinating Frontier that Weds Form to Function and Design to Desire

By Blue Stocking-Reads For The Ladies of Mischief

From the shimmer of a fine silk to the rough heft of homespun wool to the smallest and laciest of unmentionables, textiles bind our lives together. And not just ours: Human beings have been weaving and stitching, spinning and sewing, for millennia, back to prehistoric days and up to today. The Egyptians had their thin, fine linen shifts, and the Romans their bulky, urine-bleached wool togas (imagine that overwhelming smell on a hot day!) — although they only wore them on special occasions. And the Byzantine and Chinese courts dazzled with all the pageantry that legions of cloth artists could provide. From hundreds of types of tassels at the height of the French court to the intricate lace of Holland, textile arts had already reached an incredibly high level when “just” done by hand. By the time of the French Revolution, industrial-style factories with huge looms already existed to feed the ever-growing needs of the mercantile class. The march of the machine only intensified through the true age of steam and beyond.

But factory-issued doesn’t spell the end of handmade! The ladies of the Victorian era were indefatigable crafters, knitting and crocheting and tatting lace, creating dresses from patterns found in popular magazines like Peterson’s. (Go ahead and look through a recent issue of Cosmo to find a pattern for a handmade morning dress with lace collar. Go ahead. We’ll stay right here and wait for you to get back.)

Imagine reading an instruction for a knitted piece that said, simply: “cast on sufficient stitches for piece, knit in pattern to completion, bind off in pattern.” That’s the rawest pattern you may ever see!

Yet if a lady knew what she was doing — through years of expertise and practice — she could take that minimalist pattern and create something useful and beautiful.

The ladies of Mischief is a collective of knitters, crafters, artists, and steampunk enthusiasts who are creating a book to explore the amalgamation of knitting and steampunk. We are working hard to have this work completed by the spring.

The patterns in our book are more like the most fantastic, intricate creations the Victorians could dream of — complicated and delicate, beautiful and fine. Don’t worry — we will walk you through each step, row by row and line by line.

You won’t need a hand-cranked home sock machine, as some Victorian ladies used (although don’t let us discourage you from getting one… and modifying it to according to own designs, of course!).

All you need are the same forthright spirit of adventure that rises up to meet the call: “I am a puzzle to be solved, a pattern to be plumbed and understood, a challenge to be met!”

Join us in new adventures and let’s make textile history together!

~The Ladies of Mischief

http://theladiesofmischief.wordpress.com/

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