February 14, 2008

Steam Week: awakening

Welcome to day four of Steam Week. I did the carving above last night, I was pretty tired and it is still slightly rough. It is a keyhole, I think a rather masculine one. While I half slept I decided I wanted two keyholes, a feminine and a masculine, and then a carving of a key that combines elements of both. Below, some rough sketches I did of the new designs. I altered them on Photoshop for no real reason, I guess it's weird for me to show such early sketches. These are just rough ideas, and I don't detail the drawings like a draftman, as I like to see how the clay responds, so these are just basic layouts.
Today I am taking another semi- tangent, to what I see as a source of inspiration for Steampunk. And with it being Valentine's Day today, it seems appropriate. I am speaking of the Victorian era, and the popularity of Gothic Romantic fiction of the time, specifically today I am talking about Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein, Modern Prometheus. For the second time during Steam Week, we see the Mad Scientist character....the first was the scientist of Metropolis. This seems like a theme in steampunk: the rouge inventor, the mad scientist, the alchemist.

Ok, to bring in the romance element I am really talking about the film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein which was apparently somewhat true to the novel, to a point, except for the vital scenes where the film Frankenstein brings his deceased wife back to life as a second monster, so he is not alone. The original male monster thinks the doctor made the bride for him, as he had asked, and this is where everything goes to hell. This is not in the book, but makes for a great film. A very, very twisted love story. So the film is full of Victorian clothing and finery, as well as peasant and city folk clothing, and also all the science fiction monster making machinery and equipment. Lots of inspiration here.

So why the key and keyhole? Honestly I really wanted to do them before linking them to this film and story, but thinking about it, the symbols relate to this and the Gothic/Victorian genre to me. They are very erotic symbols, with a male and female part, so they are very romantic and sexual, in a Freudian sort of way. They also make me think of Chastity belts, which is a really vivid and fascinating image. I also think the key and lock relate to the Frankenstein story, in that unlocking the technology of making a man in such a Godlike way is a Pandora's box of sorts. I think that Dr. Frankenstein discovers the horrors he unleashes with this action, and the theme of locking his creation and his research up in secret are present throughout the story.

Today, I have two songs, both fan videos set to scenes from "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein". The first is "Gravity of Love" by Enigma, with love scenes of Victor and Elizabeth (Kenneth Branaugh and Helena Bonham Carter...how can you bet better than that?)

Link to video on You Tube

The second song is "Bring me to Life" by Evanescence. This video is more of the making of the monster (played by Deniro!) So you can see all the cool equipment and stuff. I love the use of elecric eels for electricity, I wonder if that's in the novel. From what I read, the novel is pretty vague about the actual making of the monster. I don't know much about Evanescence, but I can tell that Amy Lee can really belt it out, vocal wise, and I love her fashion style.

Link to video on You Tube


  1. The keyhole is my favorite one so far! I can't wait to see the lady-like one and the key, too!

    Amy Lee has an amazing voice, and yes, a great sense of style! I tend to think of Evanescence as kind of a mainstream Goth band.

  2. AJ, thanks! I am planning for the female one to have some thorny vines, and abstraceted hearts, and a keyhole cover maybe. I am excited too!

    Yes, I have heard them on the radio and have seen their videos, so they seemed pretty mainstream. Is that held against them in the goth world, you think? Are they like Goth Lite?

  3. the lock is such a potent symbol - this is a great series you have started. happy valentine's day.

  4. It is indeed! Thank you for coming over and looking, and commenting. Happy Valentine's day to you too! off to find that heart shaped chocolate now...

  5. Ok, I had posted a long, intelligent response here earlier this week, but Blogger ate it, so let's try again...

    Although I've been known to identify as Goth, due to loving Gothic fashion, jewelry, music, movies and books, I don't actually participate in any Goth communities, so I can only make generalizations here...

    However, from what I've read and heard, like many subcultures, Goths can be prone to snobbishness and cliquishness, which will often cause them to turn up their noses at anything mainstream or overly commercialized.

    Although Amy Lee has a Goth aesthetic and a voice that would be at home in a Goth band (a lot of female vocalists in the genre have amazingly rich, deep voices), and although Evanescence has a lot of melancholy lyrics, they may best be categorized as "Music that average people think is Goth, but probably isn't." Kind of like Marilyn Manson, who also has a Goth aesthetic, but is snubbed by most Goths.

    That said, one could also make the argument that because the "Goth" community has so many subcultures and off-shoots and loners, anything that a Goth calls Goth is Goth. Chris and I used to listen to the Gothic radio stations on Spinner and AOL radio and you'd hear everything from Collide to the German and French versions of the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack to Johnny Cash covering Nick Cave and NIN.

  6. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I am an outsider, peeking in a little.

    I feel like this a little too in the Steampunk world, peeking in. There seems to be some snoibbery that I have witnessed so I am trying to tread carefully.

    I do now have enough style to be a part of any community/lifestyle! Unless flannel pajamas and messy clay hands has its own community.

    I do fear a little bit being called a "poser", lol! That's throwback from my high school "new wave" days. Do they still say that when something is wannabe or mainstream?

    I think if I was in HS or college now, I would dress steampunk, or would be really into Harajuku style.

  7. When Chris's friend was posting his items on Brass Goggles, he did get one or two really nitpicky, snobby people, but everyone else was very supportive, encouraging, and cool.

    I also worry about being called a "poser" (although I don't know if anyone still says that... LOL), which is one reason why I'm not involved in any Goth groups. I don't think I'm hardcore enough ;)

    My problem is that I don't settle on one style... Some days I'm Goth, or a hippie, or I'm wearing dance clothes, or faerie clothes, or some days (today!) I'm just wearing pants, a top, and a ponytail ;)