February 11, 2008

Steam Week: the gears are turning...

Greetings, welcome to Steam Week! This is my week of intensive study about Steampunk, which I will share with you as I learn. So the basics...what is steampunk? I am learning that it is a LOT of things, so I will leave the boring dictionary stuff to Wikipedia, and I will instead show you what I think it is, and what it means to me, as the week goes on.
From the Wikipedia about Steampunk: Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction which came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality. Wiki's list of Steampunk works
Ok, so as you can see above, I am starting with a simple gear component. I am going for an industrial revolution, dirty, brassy, rusty, steam factory sort of look. But first I need to start with the white porcelain. I carved this last night, it is dry porcelain. You will see it progress in real time over the week into its finished product. Right now it is a little over an inch in size (edit: it is actually a bit under, 24mm to be exact, for my own records here...). It will be shrinking. Also, I altered one of my faces into a square, which I finished and thought, duh, why didn't I do a square sooner?
ooh, fresh from the kiln! Some metallic tests. I tested what I had stored in the basement. I have new ones on the way to try too. The problem is that these are low fire glazes, so they may look great and metallic at that low temperature, but I do high fire, baby! I was pleased to see that the dark gunmetal and the bronzy one still had some metallic qualitites. I will test further! The other problem is that these two are very thick surfaces, see how they obscure all the details? So I will have to use them in an innovative way, or as an accent.

So when I think of Steam and science fiction I think of "Metropolis", the original movie from the late 1920s from Fritz Lang. I can't believe how ahead of its time this film was, it is frightening even today. The video today is 3 scenes from Metropolis, set to Shostakovich Symphony No.11. Notice all the elements that are forming my inspiration: the steam, gears, rivets, glass tubes, coils, bolts, and metallic surfaces. This looks on the futuristic/industrial/Sci-Fi end of Steampunk to me.

Link to video on You Tube

Wiki about Metropolis


  1. Yippy! The gear bead is going to be so cool, and I'm excited about those metallic glazes.

  2. Ohhh! The square face is ROCKIN'! I could see it as a charm! esp. in those metalic glazes! Sort of happy face metropolis!

  3. AJ,
    Thanks I am excited about this as a whole, both as a bead maker and as a designer. I am usually focussed on one or the other, but right now its both!

    Thanks! I think I can even make it as a bead, maybe, but a charm yes and definately a cab. I love it, a happy metropolis robot!

  4. Wow, looks like I am on the same research path you were on a YEAR ago. I do both beadwork and PMC and have begun to play with some Steampunk pieces too.
    My first pieces can be found at www.ladendesigns.com
    Looking forward to buying your beads! Great work!