Would you wear and use a vintage pocket watch?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Steam-Powered Wedding -- Results of the Etsy Steam Team's Steampunk Wedding Contest!

The results from the Etsy Steam Team's wedding contest for their many talented and industrious steampunk makers have been released! (As it turns out, the winning entries were the ones I picked as my favorites waaaay back then. Squee!)

1st - Steampunk Wedding Ring by SteamSmithWorks

2nd - Brass Clockwork Key Bridal Necklace by Silver Owl Creations

3rd - Ladies Bridal Leather Top Hat by TomBanwell

Congrats to the winners, and a hearty huzzah and thank you to all who submitted their wonderful works of art.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Good Things Come in Tin! Sources for Victorian Holiday Music

Things that come in tins: cookies, mints, and ... music?  Yes!  "Tinny" can be wonderful.

      Tired of the usual holiday music being blared over and over and over by local radio stations everywhere?   Is the dozenth variation of Jingle Bells you have heard recently bouncing on your last merry nerve?  Perhaps you simply fancy some Victorian tunes.  In any case, I found a few collections of said music that would sound lovely in your parlor.

     If you prefer the traditional holiday songs, but want a different, more authentic sound, here you will find for sale several "Early 1900's Victorian Christmas Music Recordings" including many favorites of the period.

     For more secular sounds, Mr. Colin Johnson has created/sequenced and shared dozens of non-copyrighted works including the music from 235 Victorian and Edwardian operas in MIDI form.  (It seems that one may keep copies of the files using QuickTime Pro or similar programs.)  The Public Domain Music site contains hundreds more vintage songs in MIDI format with their lyrics.
      Want Victorian songs for your iPod? You may purchase an entire album or singles of sing-along (the old term for karaoke!) Victorian musical numbers such as, "I'm Henery the Eighth I Am," "Daisy Bell," and "After the Ball" here on iTunes.
      The site Tinfoil.com has an archive of complete, two-minute wax cylinder recordings of many more popular songs of the era.

 For those who would like a little more background information about the music of the Victorian era:

     This article on The Victorian Web gives a heady discourse on the music in the era of Queen Victoria; topics include composers, definitions of some newly-evolved musical terms, and how music affected society and vice-versa.
     I mentioned a bit about the music of Victorian times in my post about Victorian music and the earliest gramophone machines themselves, which used wax cylinders to store imprints that the machines translated into sound. (There, you will also find links to songs from the original gramophones, as well.)

     Though not nearly a complete dossier on Victorian music, I hope that this post leads you to something that you will enjoy.  If you have a favorite source for Victorian music and would like to share it, please post a comment.  A safe and happy holiday to you all!

~ DreamSteam

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Dreadful Courtship" - The Steampunk Lady Gaga

Just for a tiny break from the holiday rush and stress...

     [info]fera_festiva of LiveJournal brings us...  The 'Steampunk Lady Gaga'.  But take care to pronounce her name properly!  "The emphasis is on the second syllable - Lady guh-GAH. Get it right or she will be most displeased."

     Do view the page at the provided link to read the lyrics of "her most famous [song], the operatic work 'Letter' ... [It] is a ballad, telling the tale of a young lady whose suitor, hopelessly in love, writes her a series of missives while she takes tea at her club." You will also find a descriptive pseudo-biographical description of the star.
     The exchange of more Victorian words for actual lyrics shows the cleverness of the author.  While it will certainly be more amusing to those thoroughly familiar with the actual person and her music, this lighthearted parody is a fun read just to experience the use of language. (No, not that kind of language!)  Ta ta!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Trains, Time, and Terror: 3 New Steampunk Books I Would Like to Read

     Have you worn out your copy of Steampunk, or read the works of Jules Verne so many times that you see the Nautilus in your sleep? Then it is time to investigate some more steampunk literary offerings! Here are three books that sounded interesting and received good reviews.  I shall list the titles, authors, and brief comments, as you may click on the links to find full synopses.

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest, the author of the renowned novel Boneshaker, arrived on the scene in September 2010.  A dirigible carrying a nurse journeying to see her dying father is shot down during an alternate-reality Civil War. She boards a train to complete her journey, not knowing that Rebels have another plan for the train... and for her.  Available for Kindle on Amazon.com (but not for Nook).

The Return of the Dapper Men, by Janet Lee has been called a fairy tale and a graphic novel for adults; I think it sounds fun.   A reviewer for Banes & Noble summarizes it neatly, "Enter a world in between time, where children have played so long it's almost become work, machines have worked so long they have begun to play, and all the clocks have stopped at the same time. This is how this land has remained, until 314 dapper-looking gentlemen rain down from the sky and set off in different directions to start the world anew."  Who says adults cannot enjoy a good lighthearted yarn? (Not yet on Kindle or Nook.)

     On the flip side, Mark Hodder weaves a tale of darkness and fear in an alternate London in The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.  Werewolves and a ghostly version of Jack the Ripper terrorize the city; a poet follower of DeSade and a swordsman investigate these oddities while working under repressive laws designed to curb the "magic, drugs, and anarchy" and questionable ethics sweeping through their society. Published in September 2010, available for Kindle.

If you have read one or more of these books and would like to leave a comment on them, please do.  Happy reading!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

FREE SHIPPING on All Items in My Steampunk Jewelry Shop

     As a celebration of the holidays, I have made it so that from today until 12/20/10, you will get free shipping (to the US and Canada) on all items purchased from my steampunk jewelry studio.  We all know every penny counts these days.  Pay no shipping or handling on some truly wonderful gifts for those hard-to-buy-for people! (Not that steampunks are picky, mind you, just discerning. *grin*)

     Many of the items in my shop cost less than $20, and most are under $40.  They would make great stocking stuffers! Please pass it on.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why Do Steampunks Wear Goggles?

      Why do steampunks wear goggles?  A most excellent question!  I came across a fascinating discussion of the issue, and would like to share a few of the best answers and of course ask for your ideas on the matter.  Though there could exist as many answers as there are  individuals who love steampunk, essentially the central reasons seem to boil down to two - protection and identification.  The first is why people do/did wear goggles out of practicality, and the second is why steampunks wear goggles today, though some people have cited examples of when their 'costume' goggles came in quite handy.  Here are some of the reasons given to answer the question, "Why do steampunks wear goggles?" broken down into practical considerations and less practical but more imaginative ones.  (I wanted a more descriptive word than 'fantasy'.)

Practical reasons:
-Goggles are a trademark/icon/symbol of the Victorian age, even if workers in industry did not often have or wear much protective gear, it screams industry.  Aviators and drivers often did wear goggles.   When worn, they keep dirt, oil, sparks, wind and steam out of one's eyes.  Other activities in which goggles are useful are welding and woodworking, etc.
-An example of this: those who used their era's vast array of new mechanical inventions needed to protect their eyes from objects and substances, such as those who worked on rotary engines (end of Victorian period), who would wear them for protection from castor oil spray.  Steam from steam engines/machines could also cause serious eye (and other) injury.
-They can enhance vision (prescription goggles, perhaps?)

Imaginative reasons:
-Because steampunk has roots in literature and images of makers of things who could use the eye protection
-They are an affordable accessory (sometimes!)
-Goggles are a part of the steampunk "uniform". (They are also have roots as a fashion statement in cyberpunk, manga, anime settings.)
-One of my favorite lists: "Spitting cobras, metal shavings, ray guns, changewinds during time travel, actinic glare from metalworking, ectoplasmic observations, sandstorms on Mars.  Seriously, where are goggles NOT useful?" - Dr. Fidelius
-Just because they have a distinguished air about them (they 'look cool'!) 

To find your own answer, imagine that someone you know has confronted you with that very same question, and you have to formulate a reply.  Whatever the reason, the flair goggles bring to an outfit is reason enough to wear them, isn't it?

Why do you think steampunks wear goggles? 
If you wear goggles as a steampunk accessory, why do you wear them? 
Please leave a comment to let us know!

~ DreamSteam

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Behold the Mystery Box! A Sure Cure for Melancholy and Lugubriousness


     From the mind and hands of Clayton Boyer comes another wondrous piece of woodworking.  What mysteries lie inside the smooth sheened black wood, and behind the steampunk-inspired plaque announcing, "Dr. Boyer's Mystery Box - A Sure Cure for Melancholy and Lugubriousness"?  'Tis a mystery, of course, until you move the lever ... then it is even more so!
     Though some who viewed my earlier post regarding his wooden clocks may have discovered it on his web site, I simply had to feature it in a separate post because I must admit that this contraption made me giggle.  That does not happen very often, so I was doubly in awe of the power of the Mystery Box.
     The video below shows a thorough and elegant display of the mechanism in action from both sides in the style of a magician performing a complex trick; cheerful music reminiscent of a carnival side show completes the effect.  It might even make you smile.

     While perhaps not as utilitarian as his other pieces, Dr. Boyer's Mystery Box is certainly clever and fun as the maker obviously intended, and that is useful enough for me!  Besides, anyone who incorporates words such as 'lugubriousness' into their artwork wins my heart any day. 

~ DreamSteam

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

To See The Universe in a Tree - The Celestial Wooden Calendar and Orrery

Clayton Boyer's Celestial Mechanical Orrery
     Hobbyist woodworker Clayton Boyer from Kuaii, Hawaii, spends his free time creating wooden mechanical devices of all sorts; this one keeps track of the universe!
     When the lever is activated each day by hand, the 14 gears spring into action to update the month, day of the week, date, the solstice or equinox indicator, the zodiac sign of the sun, synodic rotations of and when Mercury Venus and Mars are in retrograde, and a "moon face ball" for the moon phase.  It can even account for months which do not have 31 days using a dedicated cam. 

Here is a video of the calendar in action:

     Amazingly, he says the device took just a couple of weeks to build, but the plans took four months.  How does one go about assembling something so magnificent?  Boyer says that "it's just step by step."  Isn't everything, though?

His clocks and other creations are just as beautiful.  The amazingly beautiful  "Torsion Tree Clock" was actually carved from part of a still-rooted tree.  The timer below is one of my favorites.

     Plans and instructions for almost all of his machines are available on his web site, and you will find many more videos of his creations on YouTube under the user name quilty1987.  If you would like to see how he makes the individual wooden gears that comprise his mechanisms, watch the video, "These Gears Really Work?" which shows many oddly shaped gears meshing and this video shows how to make them.  Enjoy keeping time with trees!


Have you created your own wooden clock or steampunk mechanism, and want to share? 
Post a comment and link on this blog!


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