February 23, 2008

Steam Week: buzz buzz buzz

Above, a very rough new one inch carving, a triple gear, made partially with a mold made from the very first gear carving. We have come full circle.

I am wrapping up my thoughts on Steam Week today. Thank you all for joining me on this journey of discovery and research. I have learned so much, have seen so many great things, and have really enjoyed sharing my process with you. It has been a bit raw at times, the sharing, and I have felt somewhat exposed, but in the end I am glad I put forth the effort to describe my process in such detail and lay out my thoughts in this manner. Thank you for indulging me.

Of course, this is just the beginning of this series...this process showed just the first spark of the ideas, and the first parts. I have more carvings that I want to do, and have to finish the molds and glaze tests of the ones I already made. But I have the first few to start with and now it is time to bring them to life and go into production. Sometimes I wish I had a crazy cloning machine, so I could make things quicker, and in bigger quantities. Or make another Melanie, so she could do my grunt work. hahaha! Alas, that is not completely true, I love to handcraft everything, but maybe a clone or a worker bee to help with some of the dirty work wouldn't be all that bad...

The images above are from the film The Prestige. I think it has a steampunk feel, in that it is dealing with yet unrealized technology and altered history. It stars David Bowie as the real scientist Nikola Tesla, but in the film he has discovered and created things that he did not in reality. Or did he? His inventions were super classified and he often made wild claims and had outrageous ideas and experiments and there is much controversy and conspiracy theory surrounding him. But I will assume he did not actually figure out how to clone humans.

Above, a picture of the real Nikola Tesla

I have mentioned that I am pretty right brained, and I just don't have the attention span to understand the science and inventions that Tesla is famous for. My eyes sort of glazed over at the Wikipedia entry. I skimmed through and only became very interested when learning about him as a person...right brain taking over. A seemingly fascinating personality. I see him as a character in much steampunk fiction, not only in actuality, like in the Prestige, but also as an archetype: the mad scientist/inventor/thinker.

From Wikipedia: "Nikola Tesla Tesla may have suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and had many unusual quirks and phobias. He did things in threes, and was adamant about staying in a hotel room with a number divisible by three. Tesla was also noted to be physically revolted by jewelry, notably pearl earrings " He also had some interesting views on feminism, referring to women as Queen Bees. I don't know if that's good or bad, but I am curious and bookmarking this because am interested in reading more of it later.

I don't know how Tesla will inspire my series, maybe more in spirit. I am very tempted to figure out a way to integrate electricity into a piece of jewelry, more specifically power like a solar panel, maybe with a tiny lightbulb. But I think this may be beyond my current (pun!) capabilities. Perhaps a collaboration with someone more knowledgeable in this stuff. I think a really elaborate necklace with clay and tiny lightbulbs would be incredible. And I love the idea espcially from the quote above, that Tesla feared or hated jewelry and pearls. It makes me want to really play with that idea, maybe the concept of pearl jewelry that created electricity! hahaha

Ok, ending on a funny note, with a video of film clips from The Prestige, set to a song parody by Weird Al of "I think we're alone now" Funny stuff, gotta love Weird Al!

Link to Video on You Tube


  1. Thanks for all the info - it has been incredibly interesting. Here is a link to some earrings posted and made by Darlatronics out of small vacuum tubes: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deviceone/2212441301

    I can just picture something like this combined with your gears - even Tesla would be intrigued.

    Thanks again,

  2. I've seen necklaces on Etsy made with vacuum tubes, too.

    The Prestige was an awesome movie, and the book is even better, with some downright creepy elements to it. I'm glad that I saw the movie first, because it might have been disappointing after reading the book.

  3. It is so amazing to have a glimpse into your art process. Thanks for opening up your brain for us to have a peek and sharing your knowledge! I can't wait to see more!

  4. Melanie, thank you so much for sharing your creative process with us. I have found it fascintating and have looked forward to each new post. You have a great ability to describe the moment. You might consider turning this into a book so others could enjoy it too.

  5. Elaine,
    Thanks, great link...

    Oh, how interesting, the book is different? I remember the film being full of twists and not knowing how it would end!

    Thank you for reading!

    Thanks so much! I love blogging even better than print sometimes, because you can have the whole multi media effect with music and video! Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  6. Melanie,
    You know how it is... A book tells a longer story than a movie can, so they often condense the story to transition it to film.

    The book gives a much more detailed and involved account of how the two magicians came to be rivals, and it's completely different than the movie, and makes it less black and white. Also, the conflict between them ends up turning into something of a family feud, so that the book actually deals with two descendants of theirs, in our time, digging into the past to learn what happened, while also dealing with some things that happened in their lifetime.

    It ends up at once being the same story, and completely different. I loved it, and lent it to most of my friends, who also loved it. Despite some weird writing techniques, it is an amazing book.

    Now I want to read it again... LOL.

  7. Wow. You have to go back and read that bookmarked interview with Tesla. The man was a visionary and revolutionary thinker with quite extraordinary accuracy, given the time of the interview. Shame we haven't realised his visions of wireless power... but damn, the man was right about a lot of things.

    /nerdy excitement :p

  8. oh good, I just skimmed it but I am glad someone enjoyed it! Chuck has admired his work for a long time but I know very little...