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Friday, August 31, 2012

Steampunk Thinking

 Steampunk...what a glorious name ...but what does it mean? Are these components steampunk? This is a topic worth exploring. I saw recently a piece of plastic printed with a clock face called "soft steampunk" by the seller. I also saw a fantastic set of animals and birds made of watch parts. Is that another form or genre of steampunk? The classic definition is Jules Verne style Victorian science fiction mixed with fantasy elements of a future past.....neither of those items clock face or animal were really steampunk..and yet they could be used to create something else that is...The fantastic animals are really found art sculpture. Worthy of a title all on their own. The clock face is just a plastic cabochon. This next picture has what is often found in many steampunk creations and that is gears.

Parts like all of the above are possible Steampunk, because its the Making not the object that is transformative.If I see a clock gear on a chain by itself to me it just says industrial. If you add the gear to other elements and create something that looks like a machine...well thats steampunk, if the gears actually turn and things move thats magic.
More possible steampunk parts...that is the real essence of steampunk...you have to make something with something else. The making is the important part. Lately I have read alot about different artists and looked at the things they create in the steampunk genre. Often it is like a machine or tool or weapon involving a mix of Victorian style and mechanical innovation with time travel or transportation from both the future and the past mixed. Sort of like getting on a steam powered dirigible for a trip to Mars. Its really imagination come to life.

What follows is a small selection of steampunk pieces I have created over the last 3 years. The first is a mix of Egyptian Revival and 1930s clock or watch parts.

This is an original Graf Zeppelin uniform pin attached to a filigree from B'sue Boutiques and one of their silly propellers.

This is a mix of radio tubes from the 20's and watch parts that want you to believe they can transport you in time...

This is steampunk cheap...stick a watch movement somewhere it doesn't belong add an eye ..it relates to the "glue a gear on it and call it steampunk" movement. A little more sophisticated but still very minimal..and one of the Victorian Style essentials is complexity.

This is More complex and carries more of the Steampunk and Victorian style.

This is back to the assemblage of watch and key with a base, in this case a snake. Is it really Steampunk or just an odd grouping that happens to have elements common to found art and steampunk?

This last piece has transitioned to the very edge of Steampunk with hand formed metal and stone setting with found object materials. The real answer to the questions is possibly its all steampunk if you say it is.  But if you just hang a faux gear on an earring call it industrial...not steampunk...the same with the fake watch faces...If you take it beyond the most basic and transform the material..be it fake, reproduction, faux or real then you are a Maker and it is Steampunk.


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