February 22, 2008

Steam Week: Colors of a Steampunk World

Above, some test tiles of the first gear carving. I am happy with all of these. The top three are brand new glazes, which is exciting! The middle three are currently in my glaze line-up, and the bottom three were glazes I had on hand and was familiar with but do not use regularly. I want to use some new glazes for the Steam Stones line (that's the name...what do you think?) and I have a very vivid picture of how I want the pieces to look. But what is in my mind is often hard to achieve, when struggling with the technology of the glazes at hand. The color palate for this line is inspired by Steampunk too, particularly, this film below.
I feel like I am missing a large slice of the Steampunk genre if I don't mention The City of Lost Children. This is possibly my favorite example of steampunk, although it is strange because it does not really contain the plethora of flying machines that are usually present in steampunk films. It is very terrestial, and of the water, and while there is crazy machinery and gadgets all around, it is really more about the people and their minds. Honestly, this is one hella bizarre movie, I have seen it twice now and really don't get it, but it is incredible to just watch, and become part of the strange scenery of it all.So I feel that the glazes above are a great starting point for my inspiration. There are rich rusts, grungy dry earth tones, rich leathery textures, an oil slick black, an old bottle green. These are the colors I have seen in almost all of the films that have inspired me. City of Lost Children has all of these, plus a very noticeable contrast to these colors too: neon oranges and acid greens...like the green shown above in the brain in liquid. I love how it glows and it is contrasted by the deep brown wood and brass.
I am searching for ways to insert the colors above into the palate...the orange, red, and green. They are so bright, they might need to be tiny accents to the deeper, richer colors. And after testing at least 8 new glazes in search of a very deep blood maroon red, I am disappointed to say that I have not succeeded (yet) I suppose the shiny rust in the center of the top picture is pretty good, I just wanted something more ? I don't know. Matte blood red I guess. But I guess it does look like this a bit, which is also what I was going for:And another disappointment is the metallics, which I am struggling with. Here are the most successful of the tests below, boring glaze nerd detailed notes to follow:
Top row, Bronze. all three on top are the same glaze. Very disappointing, even though the color is nice and it is metallic. It is so think, it even runs (see center tile?) And the circle looks great but had bubbles after the first so it needed a second firing. Bummer, that is just not consistent enough. Second row: matte pewter. I love this color and texture, but it totally obscures all the details. It's just way too thick. double bummer. I may be able to use it on some very basic accent beads and things with no detail, just for the great metallic sheen. Third row, a more shiny pewter. Still thick and obscuring detail, so it will probably not work on its own. But the round test to the right shows promise...it is the glaze painted on and wiped off the high points and then fired. So that is bare porcelain showing. You get the detail and a little bit of metallic, so that has potential. More tests needed, and also testing with changing the color underneath, to a black or dark brown, or maybe rust, with underglaze, so that the color used will be exposed when the glaze is wiped away. Last row, on the left, an iron underglaze that has great potential, it is not metallic as such, but has a iron like sheen. The center tile is black gloss wiped away, very classic and graphic. And on the right, an oil slicky transparent black that works pretty well.

See for yourself the color inspiration in today's video, clips from City of Lost Children, set to "Vicarious" by Tool.

Link to video on You Tube


  1. Just when I was about to come back and comment on your previous post, I see a new post!

    I LOVE the compass line you're working on. And then to see all these colors?!!? I think you need a new ornament title: bead whore. Cuz if you keep it up with all this cool new stuff, soon that's what I'm going to be. :)

  2. Becca,
    hahaha! Bead whore, that's funny!

    Thank you for stopping by and reading, I appreciate it.

    I am very excited by the new colors, thanks!

  3. Ohh! I LOVE these! I am crying for your metallic glazes! I think the one your wiped off is perfect! You get the metal look and the clay. Tre Jolie!

  4. Yeah, the metallics are just not working for me! I have hope, and will keep trying though...

  5. The colored gears at the top look AWESOME! So many great glazes! I'm really excited about these.

    It's a bummer that the metallics aren't working, but the iron color along the bottom is really cool.

    Anyway, I think you did a great job of picking colors that evoke the steam punk feel, especially the grimy, grungy colors of City of Lost Children.

  6. AJ, Thanks! I am happy so far and still testing...I will come up with a whole set that I love...

  7. I can't wait for them to be available, because I need a steam punk piece for a specific project, and well, I want a bunch just because :D

  8. I love all of these. I understand your reservations concerning the lower sets, but I LOVE them. I know they will be perfect when you are ready! how exciting!

  9. Oooooh! Looking good. The top tiles are all lovely (not sure the black fits with the rest of the colour pallette, but it's stunning in it's own right) and I LOVE the last ones on rows 3 and 4 in your metallic tests.

    Children of Men felt pretty steampunky as well. Maybe I jusy confuse steampunk with dystopian. Either way it's a great movie.

    I mean to reply to your reply earlier this week but its been an absolute b*tch of a week workwise. I haven't played Magic in years but used to LOVE the artwork when I did (fantasy art is another of my many weaknesses!). And in the same general area, are you are your partner familiar with Etherscope RPG - it's pretty much the definition of steampunk in book form. (I don't actually roleplay and never have - but my husband is a major gamer geek :o)

  10. AJ, YAY thanks! I hope they will be liked...

    Thanks, I like some parts of them. But my glazes need to be as consistent as possible to make my customers happy, and these are full or surprises! I will get it figured out!!!

    Thanks, that black makes more sense with the metallics, I showed it at the bottom row too.

    I have not heard of that movie. Yes, i think I had a hard time distinguishing the genre in films, and now it's easier since I did all this research.

    I will tell Chuck about Etherscope. I do not game at all unfortunately, I just know a little about what is going on from what Chuck and our illustrator friends are working on. We do this big show in the summer, Gen Con, that is all gaming.

    Are you in the States? I have a feeling for some reason you are in the UK...?

  11. :::LOVE::: the compass and the gears...this is awesome inspiration!

  12. Ooh, I love the colors. I like the top left one in the first photo of test tiles.

    Too bad about the metallics obscuring the detail in the beads - the colors are beautiful!

    Hope you are feeling better.

  13. katarinasmama,
    Thanks so much! I think the simplicity of the first single gear carving is probably my favorite

    Thanks, yeah thats new and the tests are probing to be very interesting and exciting. Grr, the metallics! I will figure it out...more testing...