Steampunk inspiration and resources

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For Whom the Gear Turns is Closing, but I’ve got a GIFT for you to say THANKS!

Hello fans and followers!

In case you aren’t aware, I moved full time over to SteampunkJournal.org in 2016. Many of the articles and reviews on this site have been updated and reposted to that website already. Plus, I’ve added tons more content both there and on my author website. In an effort to keep from “competing with myself,” I will soon begin the process of removing the material from this site and permanently closing it down.

I am also going to launch a monthly newsletter through my author website starting in November. Subscribers will receive a FREE e-copy of my 150-page reference collection, The Steampunk Handbook. This is the very best of my articles from both For Whom the Gear Turns, the Journal, and guest posts, all in one convenient place. Plus, about 1/3 of it is all new material that has never been posted online. The book includes the history of Steampunk as a genre, tips and tropes for “punking your steam,” and descriptions of various books, movies, and other media in the Steampunk genre to help you find even more to love!

Why give it away for free, you ask? First of all, I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped and supported me over the past 5 years as a Steampunk blogger and author. So, this is the best way I could think of to say THANK YOU. So come on over to Phoebedarqueling.com and put your email address into the bar at the bottom. When the book is finished, I will send you your FREE COPY in both epub and mobi formats!

I am still in the process of doing the final revisions, but check out this awesome cover made for me by P.R. Chase. You’re the first ones to see it 🙂 The goal is to have The Steampunk Handbook ready to send before my appearance at TeslaCon Nov 15-18. Later, it will also be available to purchase, but I’m starting out offering it exclusively as a free gift to my awesome fans. 

Steampunk Handbook Cover

My second reason for giving away this book is that I’m celebrating! Both of my novels were recently picked up by publishers and I am over the moon about it. I’ve already revealed the cover of Riftmaker, my YA portal fantasy adventure coming out Feb 14, 2019.

My official announcement for the second novel is coming up soon, but I’m keeping the details under my hat for the moment so Riftmaker gets a chance to shine for a little while before sharing the spotlight with No Rest for the Wicked, an adult paranormal thriller. People who subscribe to my newsletter are going to get all the details first, so head on over to my author site and put your email address in the bar at the bottom to sign up!

So THANK YOU once again for being fantastic followers, commenters, and sharers over the past 5 years. I look forward to hanging out with over at the Journal, through my author site, or on my Facebook group, United we Steampunk Divided we Fall.

 


Glub glub in a Steampunk Sub

I have started work on the sequel to Riftmaker, and I am planning to include a super cool Steampunk submarine. I have been collecting images for inspiration so I thought I’d share the fruits of my labors with you. When possible, I have credited the artist but most of these images came via Pinterest so if you see something miss-credited or you know who was the brains behind a certain sub please let me know.

 


Featured Artist: Remedios Varo

There is some debate about whether or not something can truly be called “Steampunk” if it was created before the term was coined in 1987. Personally, I like to include all kinds of things under that umbrella if they feature motifs and styles that would appeal to Steampunk fans no matter when they were made. Remedios Varo was a Spanish artist who lived from 1908-1963, and her beautiful artwork could certainly fit into the Steampunk canon even though it predates the movement by decades. She is clearly influenced by Gothic and Surrealistic styles, as well as by the works of other Spanish artists such as Pablo Picasso and one of my personal favorites, “El Greco” who was active during the late 1500s and early 1600s. Here is a sampling of her artwork to inspire your own creations.


Mechanical Menagerie: The Creepers and Crawlers

There are lots of artists doing interesting and often Steampunkish things with insectoid forms, or even the insects themselves. Check out my gallery of just a smattering of these amazing works of art.

Like what you see? Check out some of my other “Mechanical Menagerie” posts about undersea creatures, birds and our four-legged friends.


My Entries into the Indiana and Kentucky Steampunk Societies’ Pin Contest

 

Indiana Steampunk Society design

indiana-state-flag-button-7998698I found out from following the Pandora Society that both the Indiana and Kentucky Steampunk Societies are having a competition this month. Both states are looking for new designs for pins based on each one’s state seal. I am pretty clumsy in the Adobe design suite, but overall I am quite pleased with what I could do.

Above is my submission for Indiana, which substitutes a teacup-wielding robot arm for a torch and gears for stars (source material at left). The Kentucky design is below, and I decided to focus on the motto, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” rather than the picture on the seal. I was hoping to capture a “Writers and Makers Unite!” sort of vibe. What do you think?

The prize is free admission to either the 2015 or 2016 International Steampunk Symposium, which is held in Cincinnati annually. I am already planning my visit in 2016, and getting to contribute to the Midwest Steampunk efforts would be icing on the cake.

In order to enter I have to post my design on my own site, but voting doesn’t start until Feb. 17 so I’ll let you know how to cast your ballot for my designs once voting commences. Want to try yourself? Here are the details.

 

Kentucky Pin Better lettering

Wish me luck!

 

 


Happy Thanksgiving!

From steampunkempire.com

From steampunkempire.com


Mechanical Menagerie: Dragons

Ever since watching the campy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes I have been thinking about mechanical dragons. I have been sitting on a photo of the new mechanized Malificent-as-a-dragon from Disney’s parade for months, so I went out and scoured the interwebs for some more scaly Steampunk friends to join her. I hope you enjoy the gallery!


Hay’s Gallery and “The Navigators”

IMG_1734The Tower Bridge is worth visiting all on its own, but when I spent a day exploring the area I also found some other great things to tickle your Steampunk fancy. I could see on the map that St. Katherine’s Marina was nearby, and on my way I found a hidden treasure tucked away inside a Hay’s Gallery. In it’s heyday in the 19th century, the then-named Hay’s Wharf received 80% of the tea shipments bound for the Pool of London. Today the amazing glass ceiling provides shelter to restaurants, homes and shops in Victorian-era buildings, as well as an amazing sculpture called “The Navigators.”

The combination fountain and sculpture by David Kemp was installed in 1987 and has a decidedly Steampunk feel. The 60-foot homage to the shipping history of the area is made of bronze which has been pleasantly oxidizing. Some parts of the piece have been selectively polished, and the pool has been painted blue which detracts somewhat from the artist’s original intention to combine “Gothic fantasy, sea monsters, man & machine in this Kinetic Sculpture”, but it is still a lovely piece installed in a historic setting that reflects the Steampunk aesthetic from around the time the term was coined. (http://www.davidkemp.uk.com/the-navigatorslondon-bridge/)


Spotlight on Traders: Island of Dr. Geof

The HindenBOOB by Dr. GeoffWhile I was in Lincoln for Weekend at the Asylum in September I got a chance to meet several of the Steampunk world’s writers and traders. During the run of Longitude Punk’d at the Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark was also featuring a tea-riffic exhibit of Dr. Geoff’s printwork. And then at the markets for Asylum, I got a chance to meet that man himself selling his wares. We traded stickers and had a nice little chat, and I got to see more of his whimsical work. Most of his work has a military bent, while other pieces dabble in the risque, but for me that is the fun!

The good Doctor also offers a variety of Steampunk-inspired pins and patches to compliment his work on paper, and you can see what he has to offer on his website.


Tips for Makers: Taming Metal Part 3, “Torch and Scorch”

Even though it is strongly associated with the Industrial Revolution and the World Wars, welding has been around for thousands of years in one form or another. The Bronze Age (in Europe 3200-600 BCE) and the Iron Age (in Europe 800-51 BCE) were both eras shaped by the pounding, heating and joining of metals. But what happened in the Steam era were new techniques with fancy new power sources.

Stick weldingFor a long time, application of fire or hot coals was the only way to get metal to reach a high heat, and together with pressure (ie, hitting it with a hammer) with time and patience you could create weapons and other items that were made of metal fused together (this is called forge welding). But, at the beginning of the 19th century, the electric arc was discovered almost simultaneously in two different countries and shielded metal arc welding and its versatile tool the stick welder were born a short time later. An electric arc, in the simplest terms, is the shape that an electric current takes  as it “jumps” from one point to another and ignites the gasses between those two points. This burning gas is hot enough to be considered plasma, which means that it burns extremely brightly, can throw off intense UV radiation, can create noxious fumes that you don’t want to inhale and is extremely likely to make your nice unmarred flesh resemble a roast suckling pig if it makes contact so BE CAREFUL.

During the Taming Metal session at Weekend at the Asylum the panelists didn’t get to spend too much time on any one method, but this was definitely Trevor Frank’s favorite. Stick welders are especially easy to use nowadays because of advancements that keep unwanted gasses from the air out, thus creating a more stable and predictable arc. You definitely must use a mask that covers the full face to protect your skin, eyes and lungs. Frank and others mentioned developing something they called “the welder’s nod” because of deploying their mask with a nod of the head. Plasma burns so bright that the eye part of a welding mask has to be so dark you cannot see what you are about to weld when you have your mask on. So the artist can lift their mask, get their pieces into position and right before they ignite the plasma they give a sharp nod of the head to bring the shield down. But masks have also been coming a long way, and there is now a type that darkens to eye shield the moment the arc is struck, thus saving your neck from all that nodding. There are many different kinds of welding, but for the non-professional, stick welding is a great method that their portability and relative ease of use.

There are some welding methods that use open (and extremely hot) flames in the form of torches. Personally, I have used a cutting torch to do some freehand sheet metal art, but I have never actually done welding myself. So in lieu of giving you bad information, I wanted to provide some links to resources instead.

Instructables- Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding tutorial

Welding Tips and Tricks website


Tips for Makers: Taming Metal Part 2, “Treat and Heat”

One of my very first sun-catchers.

My favorite of the sun-catchers that I have made

Last time I covered some of the kinder, gentler ways to work with metal. In this post, I want to tell you about soldering. This is the metallurgical technique with which I have the most personal experience. I have used it to create silver jewelry and to attach transistors to electrical components like circuit boards, as well as making stained glass sun-catchers and sculptures.

Soldering

    • Solder, a metal alloy used to join other metals together, comes in different varieties that have different melting temperatures, and your solder must always have a melting temperature lower than that of what you are joining.
      • There is soft solder (melting between 190 to 840 °F) and hard solder (840 °F and above), which is sometimes called ‘silver solder‘. When working with high-temperature solder it is often referred to as ‘brazing.’ When a joint is particularly delicate (ie, joining two very small things or a small thing to a large thing) or the finished item is going to see a lot of wear and tear, it is better to use a harder solder and more acidic flux.
    • In some cases, once your solder hardens it may actually be stronger than the materials you are joining. (This is also true of wood glue, by the way. It is usually easier to break the wood that you join than the place where it is joined.)
    • Solder is often in the form of wire on a spool that is unwound and cut to the size needed for a particular joint. I have also used soldering solutions where tiny bits of solder are suspending in a liquid (see ‘flux’ below).
    • There are two different kinds of tools you can use to melt your solder. A soldering iron is more or less shaped like a fat pen and is held as if you are writing. Be careful with this kind because once gets hot it stays hot as long as it is on. A soldering gun is shaped like a pistol and has a trigger that the artist presses to heat the tip each time. In both of these cases, the tip of the tool comes in direct contact with the solder and melts it so it can flow into the crack between whatever is being joined. When I making circuit boards, I used a hot air soldering iron that was held like a soldering iron but it had an open tip where air was heated and forced through, so the tip never came in contact with the solder itself. This was used with a very low temperature tin solder that has a high rate of conductivity which made it is ideal for electronics. Some hard solders may require a torch instead of an iron or gun.
    • Before you can solder, you have to treat the joint with flux. This is a slightly acidic solution that takes away residue left from handling with bare hands, and it facilitates the solder’s flow into the joint. It is only mildly acidic, but if it gets into your eyes it can cause discomfort (trust me, I know from firsthand experience.)
  • Safety: It is a good idea to wear gloves when soldering, especially if you are using a soldering iron which stays hot between joints. Stained glass soldering works at a low enough temperature that I have never gotten a blister from contact with the iron, but I have gotten sore, red fingers that last for a couple days. Keep in mind that the longer you have to apply the heat to the solder, the more the surrounding metal will also heat, so you can get burned if you are holding the materials you are joining with bare hands. Also, when flux heats it can sometimes spit like bacon grease in a frying pan, so if you may also want to wear goggles to keep the hot liquid from getting into your eyes.

Get Ready to Celebrate Halloween all Month Long with ForWhomTheGearTurns!

model: Candace Miller Photographer: Richard Fournier

model: Candace Miller Photographer: Richard Fournier

That’s right folks, it’s time for a monster mash. One popular way to “punk your steam” is to add elements of the supernatural to the tales from history, offering explanations that incorporate ghouls such as vampires and werewolves rather than what the history books say, as well creating brand new narratives where monsters play a role. Also, the Victorian era saw the birth of Spiritualism, the belief that spirits of the dead could and often did communicate with the living. All Hallows Eve, which has now been shortened to Halloween, celebrates the creepy and costume, and Steampunk seamstresses and seamsters, make-up artists and makers the world over use it as a chance to showcase their talents and share their knowledge.

1872

1872

 

Halloween has always held a special place in my heart, and in fact I launched this blog on October 31, 2013, so October is also my countdown the my first blogging birthday. Join me all month long for reviews of Steampunk movies and books that feature monsters and witches, costume construction tips from the sessions I attended at Weekend at the Asylum, LARP-ing games to give you an excuse to dust off your costume early, and other spooky fun surrounding the history of ghost stories and the practices of Spiritualism.

Do you have a scary or supernatural Steampunk story or photos of your Halloween creations that you would like to see appear on this blog? Send them my way at ForWhomTheGearTurns@Gmail.com. I can’t guarantee that I will post everything I receive, but I would love to get some submissions from readers. Make sure that you include the name you would like your creation attributed to as part of your email.

 

 


The Victoria and Albert Museum Part 3: International Exhibitions

The site of the Victoria and Albert Museum was purchased largely through the proceeds from the Great Exhibition of 1851, which was the first international exhibition of its time, though not the last. Many of the wonderful items showcased at these types exhibitions that were held all over Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries eventually found a home at the museum and are still on display today. When walking through the exhibit halls I felt like I was on a scavenger hunt looking for these pieces of history which were seen by millions of people during the course of exhibition and are still breathtakingly beautiful to behold over 160 years later. One of the appeals for me about Steampunk and the era that gave rise to the aesthetic is the emphasis on craftsmanship, and there is no shortage of that at the V&A. Here are two pieces of the most impressive pieces that I encountered during my visit.

This “cathedral in wood” was a gift from the Austrian Emperor, Franz Ferdinand, to Queen Victoria. According to the museum label, it’s decoration reflected the debate about the unification of all German-speaking peoples under one rule. The bookcase had to be at least 20 feet tall, which means it just might hold the entire literary collection of one Steampunk fan 🙂 In the center there is a Belgian altarpiece on display that looked like it had been carved out of the most delicious dark chocolate, but it was also made of wood. These two pieces were not originally shown together, but they both made cameos at the Great Exhibition. The altarpiece reflects the revival of the Gothic style that is often seen in Steampunk works, and makes it a lovely addition to the imposing bookcase.

This symphony in metal is called the Hereford screen, and was on display at the International Exhibition of 1862. Like the altarpiece above, this was a way of harkening back to the Gothic era when churches employed magnificent screens like this one. The choir would stand behind large and ornately carved wooden screens, but this one was intended to showcase new advances in metal-working techniques as much as celebrate the Gothic style. There are several figures on the screen, which is over 10 meters high. The figures could very well have been cast in bronze, but instead were created by using newly-discovered electroplating technology that employed plaster molds and electricity to bend copper to the artist’s will. This is truly an example of old-meets-new in the Victorian era, so it definitely piqued my Steampunk interest.

Have you spotted any pieces of the Great Exhibition or the International Exhibition in London? Please share!

 


Weekend at the Asylum: The Great Exhibition

Besides the amazing outfits and incredible sessions, there was also an exhibition of Steampunk arts and crafts during the convention. There were some fun gadgets, punked paintings and imaginative accessories on display all weekend in the Tennyson Suite of the Bailgate Assembly Rooms. Check out the gallery below, and if you want to know about any particular work or artist, feel free to leave me a comment. I took pictures of almost all of the labels for the gizmos and I can pass them on if you want more info.


Victoria and Albert Museum Part 1: Incredible Iron

Some people might think the V&A is not up their alley if they hear the focus is on ‘decorative arts,’ but believe me when I tell you this is not a place where you are going to be inundated with doilies and end tables. Personally, I love the decorative arts because these are the objects that people really did touch, see and experience in their everyday lives, including architectural features. In addition to the fabulous clothing and sumptuous household goods, there is an amazing gallery of just samples of ironwork.

There are still lots of examples of wrought and cast all over London (which will get their own post soon), but these items have often been painted and repainted so many times that the delicacy and detail that can be achieved when working in metal has been totally obliterated. This is not so at the museum, where everything from window grates to railings to candlesticks have been preserved for posterity. If you are a fan of metal, you should definitely make sure you stop by the Victoria and Albert Museum if you are visiting or living in London.

Here is sampling of what I saw when I visited.


The Concept Art for Adventures of Victoria Clarke Will Definitely Get Your Gears Going

My blogger buddy Bia Helvetti just pointed out this amazing movie-in-the-making and I couldn’t wait to share. According to the website for Adventures of Victoria Clarke:

“Stylistically, “Victoria Clarke” borrows heavily from the world of Steampunk, and its sub-culture sometimes referred to as Dieselpunk. Unlike traditional steampunk, which is Victorian-based, we are rooted in the pre-WWII world of Hollywood, and so borrow technology from World War I and Art Deco design influences. However, because Victoria’s family is solidly rooted in Victorian London, fanciful technologies, the designs of Edison and Tesla, and the writings of HG Wells and Jules Verne heavily influence both the design aesthetic and story elements.

The story is based in history, yet features fantastical machines, characters and events that only exist in the alternative reality of our created world. The tone is fun, retro and sexy, and punctuated with periods of intense comic book style action.”

The film was partially funded through a crowdsource website called Indiegogo, but they were short of their goal so proceeding has been slow. The website was last updated in June though and reports progress on the screenplay as well as the amazing images above. The plan is to make not only the movie, but a graphic novel series as well. I really hope to see more progress on this enterprise, it looks amazing and the character of Victoria sounds really interesting. Here is another blurb from the site about how she is more than just a pretty face:

Victoria Elizabeth Clarke was born to British industrialists Byron & Meredith Clarke, in London England, on June 26, 1897. As a young woman she was sharp-minded and strong-willed, preferring her father’s factory floor over the private tutors and boarding schools of London society.Despite her proclivity to skipping classes, she grew up with a fine formal education, learned to play piano, cello, and to speak several foreign languages fluently. She also discovered that she had a talent for learning the inner workings of complex machinery, and loved to spend late evenings in her father’s workshops creating mechanical toys from the various spare parts she found.The Great War was a formative and prosperous time for the Clarke family. With war comes opportunity, and the family’s privileged status protected them from the dangers and hardships of life as their industrial empire moved into the design and manufacturing of highly secret and experimental weapons technologies for the British government. At the end of hostilities, Clarke’s Amalgamated Industries had been so instrumental in the war effort that King George V awarded Byron a knighthood.
Picture

Only months later, Clarke would become embroiled in an incident that would rock British society and destroy the family’s empire. In August of 1919, after World War I comes to a close, Byron Clarke announced that he would turn his company’s focus away from weapons development and towards technologies that would revolutionize the Western world. His decision was not popular with the British government, some in parliament calling him a traitor and suggested seizing his company’s assets, which contained technologies coveted by the military.
Picture

But Clarke pressed forward, and at a special event to demonstrate a device capable of transferring power wirelessly across vast distances, the device malfunctioned, resulting in the tragic death of Sir Byron and his wife, and inflicting a near-fatal injury to his daughter Victoria. Evidence suggested in-fact, that a saboteur had caused the disaster. It appeared that Clarke had made powerful enemies, perhaps even within the British government itself.Devastated and heartbroken, the injured Victoria retreated from British society, liquidated her family’s entire assets, and closed Clarke Industries. It is said that she ordered the destruction of all military related patents and vowed to never again use technology to develop weapons of death. Victoria would recover at the family estate in Switzerland with the aid of longtime family friend and the company’s chief engineer, Aldo Erstfelda.By the winter of 1919, the recovering Victoria disappeared from England society entirely; many believe having remained at their private estate in Switzerland to live out her life in peace and anonymity.The truth of the matter is quite different.”

Gearing up for Steam Tour: My Steampunk Edinburgh Fringe Fest Itinerary!

Profile pics 056-001I admit it, I am actually wiggling in anticipation of how awesome Steam Tour is going to be. I booked all my shows for Ed Fringe, ordered my Britrail pass and I am dreaming of all the delicious pub grub in my future.

So here’s the plan for week 1:

 

 

 

_2014JEKYLLH_T7_thumb۞ Jekyll and Hyde
Main Theatre @ Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall
Headlock Theatre

  • Sat 9 August, 21:30

And after the performance, let’s meet up for a cocktail at the Jekyll and Hyde Pub nearby! I’ll wear my goggles so you can find me, and I’ll bring some “My Other Beep Beep is a Whoosh” airship stickers along for purchase, just one pound per awesome bumper sticker to show off your steamy side 🙂

Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls۞ Victorian Vices – Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls
Niddry – theSpace Above @ theSpace on Niddry St
Another Soup

  • Mon 11 August, 18:00

_2014VICTORK_AJX۞ Victorian Vices – The Picture of Dorian Gray
Niddry – theSpace Above @ theSpace on Niddry St
Another Soup

  • Mon 11 August, 20:00

 

۞ Whisky Tasting
Bennet’s Bar @ Bennets Bar
Bennets Bar

  • Tue 12 August, 14:00

Dolls of New Albion۞ Dolls of New Albion: A Steampunk Opera
Venue 45 @ theSpace @ Venue45
Clockwork Hart Productions

  • Tue 12 August, 22:45

 

 

 

_201421STCEN_P3۞ 21st Century Poe: Moyamensing
The Vault @ Paradise in The Vault
Marty Ross

  • Wed 13 August, 17:50

۞ City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour
Outside St. Giles Cathedral @ Black City of the Dead Signs
Black Hart Entertainment

  • Wed 13 August, 21:00

NPG Ax27656,Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle,by; published by Herbert Rose Barraud; Eglington & Co.۞ Arthur Conan Doyle Experience
The Sanctuary @ Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
Arthur Conan Doyle Centre

  • Thu 14 August, 14:00 (x2)

 

 

 

 

_2014MORGANW_PV۞ Morgan & West: Parlour Tricks
KingDome @ Pleasance Dome
Corrie McGuire for Objective Talent U

  • Thu 14 August, 19:00

 

۞ Dorian
Upstairs @ Greenside @ Nicolson Square
The Egg Theatre Company

  • Fri 15 August, 10:20

_2014DRACULB_PN۞ Dracula
Pleasance Beyond @ Pleasance Courtyard
Action To The Word

  • Fri 15 August, 21:20

And in addition to the various performances and lectures, there are also several art shows that I can’t wait to check out including Urban Twist: Papercut Artwork and Craft Scotland Summer Show.

 


Steampunk Book Review: War of the Worlds

To help me get ready for the H.G. Wells Sourcebook I am going to write for Steam Tour: An American Steampunk in London, I decided to read several of his scientific romances. I read the Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau several months ago, but it is always interesting to read an author’s whole canon in quick succession. My goal is to read War of the Worlds, First Men in the Moon, Tales of Space and Time and The Door in the Wall at minimum before the ezine comes out, but if you think I am missing something even better than what is on that list let me know!

My experience with War of the Worlds was a bit backwards, because I read League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2, and the events of that book are closely related to Wells classic tale, and very faithfully adapted it turns out.

Like many of Wells books, this story started as a serial in magazines rather than as a novel from the beginning. The serial ran during 1897 and it was later compiled into a book in 1898. It is divided into two parts, The Coming of the Martians and Earth Under the Martians. The name of the Surrey-based narrator is never revealed, and he tells the harrowing adventure through his eyes as well as through his brother’s account of what happens to London itself when Martians descend and start an invasion.

Public domain WoftheWOne thing that I love about Wells stories is how much of the scientific knowledge of the times he includes in his tales. For instance, the arrival of the Martians is preceded by strange explosions visible on the surface of the red planet, and it takes the Martian pods several weeks to arrive to the outskirts of London. It then takes over a day for the metal to cool down enough for the pods to open. In the meantime, people have started to gather and even sell refreshments around the first pit where they crash-landed. I love that detail, and I absolutely believe it would happen that way. Soon, the festival atmosphere turns to terror when the Martians assemble their deadly heat ray, our narrator only escaping because he had been sent on an errand and was not in the pit with the scientists who first try to make contact. Through a series of near-misses and some quick thinking, the narrator survives the first wave of attacks by the be-tentacled Martians and their huge fighting machines, and tells the story of (in his view) the apex of society falling to pieces in the face of a cold and calculating enemy. He is surprisingly pragmatic about the whole affair, often likening the human race to insects or rodents who are disturbed by the machinations of people. This is not true of most of the people he meets on his way though, and there are several different kinds of madness worked into the narrative.

This is a tale of invasion, but also of devotion between a husband and wife, which took me by surprise. I have only just started to look at Wells personal life, but he carried on a number of affairs during his second marriage after divorcing his first wife, so the commitment shown by the narrator seems inconsistent with what I know of the author.

Woking homage by War of DreamsThe first time I ever heard of War of the Worlds it was the story of its broadcast on Halloween 1938. The accounts vary, but in the days following several newspapers reported a wave of fearful folks who believed a real invasion was taking place. They opted to present 40 minutes of the hour-long tale as a series of simulated news bulletins, and this coupled with a lack of commercial breaks added to the realism. There was a disclaimer at the beginning of the show, but anyone who tuned in late could have gotten the impression that they were hearing something that was going on in real time. Most likely, the newspaper accounts of a panicked populace were blown out of proportion because of the competition between traditional print media and the new radio technology. (What?! The news was sensationalized? Never!)

I can definitely see why this book has been adapted and re-adapted several times and in different media. The aliens and their technology remains alien and stands the test of time better than say, First Men in the Moon. It is definitely worth a read, not just because it is a classic but because it is a genuinely interesting social commentary that transcends the time in which it was written.

Have you read it or seen a movie version? What did you think?


Steampunk Sourcebook: The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, or Liberty Enlightening the World as it is really titled, is among the most iconic landmarks our little blue and green sphere has to offer. My favorite day of my NYC vacation was the one we spent on boats going around the bay and to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. I thought I knew the whole story of this copper colossus, but I learned some great stuff during my visit.

So where did that big green lady come from?

It all started in France. Ostensibly, the statue was a way to mark the friendship between the US and France, and to acknowledge the love of liberty they shared. In reality, it was a resounding raspberry directed at the leadership in France, Napolean the Third. Nap III, as I like to call him, was actually elected to the presidency through a popular vote, but when he was told he could not run for a second term he led a coup and got himself kingafied like his dear old uncle before him. So this huge investment in time and resources was a metaphorical middle finger to Nap III and his total bulldozing of liberty as much or more than a nice gesture to the US. She is facing France directly, her unwavering gaze falling on the very people who, in the eyes of the project directors, were violating liberty the most.

The projected completion date was 1876 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American independence, but it hit a few hiccups along the way and it was not actually erected until 10 years after the original goal date. As you can imagine, creating a statue that not only measures over 300 feet tall take a lot of engineering imagination, but this statue also had to be able to travel across the ocean and be reassembled on the other side. As an added challenge, the US was in charge of making the pedestal, so the French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi couldn’t know exactly what to expect when he reached Liberty Island. The torch-bearing forearm of Lady Liberty made an appearance at the 1876 in Philadelpia, and was then displayed in Madison Square Garden until 1882, and the head was a part of the Paris World’s fair in 1878.

bartholdi fountainIn addition to Bartholdi, whose Bartholdi Fountain can still be seen in the US Botanical Garden, such notables as Joseph Pulitzer and Gustave Eiffel also were involved in the construction. Pulitzer was integral to the fundraising effort to complete the base and got the funds by advertising the chance to get your name in the newspaper for any size contribution to the cause. At that time, newspapers were a fairly new commodity, and hundreds of thousands of people sent in their pennies to see their names in print. Eiffel was brought in to assist Bartholdi with the huge feet of engineering the skeleton for the statue, and he created a structure that not only could support the weight of the copper sheets that made up her skin, but would also allow it to expand and contract with the change in seasonal temperatures as well as sway slightly in the high winds of New York’s harbor.

There are many more statues on Liberty Island than just the lady herself. Phillip Ratner created a series of Rodin-like bronzes commemorating those men and women who contributed the most to the completion of the monument.

When the statue was finally ready for its inauguration only men were allowed to attend the ceremony. Angry ladies commissioned boats and led a protest at sea during the event. This is especially ironic given that the famous poem, The New Colossus, was written by a female poet, Emma Lazarus. It was written and donated as part of the fundraising campaign for the pedestal, and now graces the pedestal itself. But Emma herself was barred from attending.

Here is the poem:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I have run across one reference in Steampunk literature so far to the statue of liberty as seen by dirigible in The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles 2). Have you run across any in your Steampunk wanderings? Let me know so I can add them to this post.

Enjoy this gallery of the statue as it was being built, as it appears today and with some fun variations by different artists. If I am missing a credit and you know who did a particular piece, please let me know!

 

 

 


Mechanical Menagerie: Four-legged Friends

Want to see more “mechanimals?” You can check out my galleries of Steampunkish fish, felines, birds and cephalopods, too!


Gallery

Mechanical Menagerie: Look at the Birdie!


These Break-Dancing Steampunk Acrobats put the “Tumble” in Tumbledown

Check out more more Circulus videos at their youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/CirculusTV


Tangled Web Shadowbox

I am really happy with my newest experiment! What do you think?

"Tangled Web" Shadowbox

“Tangled Web” Shadowbox


“Curiosities” 3D Paper Airship Shadowbox

Once I figured out out how to do a hot air balloon I knew I couldn’t stop there! Here is my first (though definitely not my last) attempt at a 3D dirigible/airship. This shadowbox measures 12” x 12” and the back is finished so it can hang on the wall or stand alone on a shelf. I used a combination of glossy and matte papers, but the shiny parts aren’t nearly as shiny in person as they look on the photos. I have a light source directly above my photo area that can give a false impression with its glare.

Each 12 x 12 shadow box takes approximately 10 hours to complete. They start their lives as canvases and are covered by cardstock and paper, then embellished with mixed media accoutrements. I made the dirigible and the boat using a similar method to my Christmas ornaments. Check out the tutorial here. 

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