Sunday, December 30, 2007

Rogue Taxidermist Sarina Brewer

We've talked about steampunk science before, but I don't think anything quite compares to the site that reader Jeanie sent of "rogue taxidermist" Sarina Brewer, which is fascinating, if a bit disconcerting for the weak of stomach.

Just one of her many creations. (Look closely!)

A flying squirrel

I'll leave exploring her more disturbing creations to those of you with a taste for the macabre.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Metatemporal Detective

I'm reading one of my Christmas presents, Michael Moorcock's The Metatemporal Detective, which is a lovely mishmash of victorian crime, westerns, the supernatural, sherlockian ambiance, and steampunk. I haven't run across any full fledged interior descriptions (although he does a great job of dropping hints so as to let your imagination fill in the rest), but I thought I would share this particularly steampunk tidbit:

As they climbed the steps of the heavy war-tram and took their places on the mahogany bench seats, the young buckaroo put a manly arm about his wife's shoulders. Soon the vehicle was in motion, racing back across the plains as a second machine collected track behind it, a demonstration of the skill and ingenuity of "Thunderclap" Meadley's famous "Flying Tracklayers," who had done so much for Texas' military reputation.

Yes, it's a bit pulp, and you know my biases towards Texas, but I think you'd find it fun nonetheless.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mad Scientist Light

So I ran across this post about a "Mad Scientist Light" by the (mysterious) "Big E" the other day, because he had linked to The Steampunk Home.

E handily provided the link to the Instructable for the light, and I have to say, I'm inspired. (E's pep talk at the end of his post didn't hurt: "People need to realize that there is no substitute for squaring the shoulders and boldly deciding to do something. And it works for more things than just a cool light fixture.") I hit a thrift shop last night and picked up a couple of wooden jewelry style boxes and today I visited our local Light Bulb Shop (really!) and found some nice 25W bulbs. Only a dimmer switch and socket left to find, and then a little bit of power tool time.

There are tons of great variations on this in the Instructable comments.

Hopefully I'll have one done by the end of this weekend!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

World's Smallest Steam Engine

Looks easy to build, for hours of fun!

Building The Amazing Steam Candle

Discovered by someone on the steamfashion community, and pointed out by Kaja Foglio (of Girl Genius).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Steampunk Sink Alcove

Gary sent me a note pointing out his new steampunk bathroom vanity.

I love the mix -- industrial concrete sink (posts from Gary on how he built it) and faucet handles, metallic copper piping, traditional wood vanity and mirror, and the handmade Victorian-electric style sconces with Edison bulbs that really make the look.

Gary says: "Those coiled wires at the top add to the effect but they double up as a grounding wire which runs inside the pipe to the plug outlet so that the copper pipe doesn't become "live". I finally found a use for all that cloth covered copper wire (from the antiquated alarm system that was installed in the 1890s) that I pulled out of the floors when I sanded them . Candlabra sockets insert nicely into 3/4 inch pipe but to use Edison bulbs I had to use an adaptor which looks aged because I painted the cardboard insulator sleeve with shellac."

I think this is the best use of edison bulbs I've seen -- they are right at eye level, so will get plenty of admiring as people wash their hands.

I know I'm jealous. Great work, Gary!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Steampunk Cold Drip Coffee Maker

Stumbled across this review of the Coffee Snob cold drop coffee maker on the steamfashion LJ community.

I don't think I could say it better than Lori:
"And, besides, look at it. No, really, look at it. This coffee maker is gorgeous. It's an homage to the Victorian era - can't you just see Jules Verne with one of these aboard the Nautilus? The glass pieces are beautifully shaped, the metal bits add detail and sparkle, and the wood framework is as warm and rich as the cup of coffee you're anticipating... which will be in about 6-10 hours, depending on how fast the ice melts. With cold drip coffee, patience is indeed a virtue."

Victorian styling, chemistry set appeal, and it produces a cup of coffee! What else could you ask for?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Steampunk Ceiling Fan

Although you can find plenty of Victorian inspired ceiling fans in your favorite mass market home improvement store for very reasonable prices, it's hard to beat this one that rohmi over on the steamfashion LJ group found:

It's the Brisa 2000 by the Matthews Fan Company. I'd love to see a video of it rotating.... it reminds me of a model of a galaxy, where the individual planets rotate and then also rotate around the sun.

*Only* $1250 at Bellacor.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Metal Elements, done well

This home, from House and Garden, isn't steampunk, but their use of metal was impressive -- I like how they mix natural elements like stone and cotton with metal furniture and accessories from a number of different eras.

The armillary sphere chandelier may be a bit before the steampunk time -- but I think it's great. This one is made by Solaria. I found a couple of similar chandeliers as well:

clockwise, from top left: a large and small armillary sphere chandelier by David Canepa lighting; a black one from Bellacor, and one by Neirmann Weeks

In the lower left hand photo is a zinc garden table -- I've read this style is originally french and for outdoor use, using it indoors works surprisingly well. Note the absinthe poster on the wall. (There are innumberable absinthe posters available online.) Wisteria has a similar table.

These beds were by the designer of the room, Mary Clark. I like how they have a very formal top shape, combined with almost a cot like base and raw metal finish.

Using metal in places where you'd expect to find wood is an interesting way to "toughen up" an interior. This home manages to juxtapose traditional shapes with metal materials in a way that's unique and I think quite pleasant.

Stephane Halleux Sculpture

Sculptor Stephane Halleux creates the fantastic with a dark spin.

His "chaises" will fuel your dentist nightmares for years.

The back story to his robots starts out "From an old spin-dryer and an old German typewriter (cleanliness, discipline) I created this robot...This new companion quickly showed himself extremely gifted." You'll have to read the rest yourself to learn of his unfortunate end.

His work has been mentioned in many other steampunk and art blogs, but I stumbled across it again somewhere (no credit in my notes, apologies) and thought you would enjoy them as well.

Steampunk Gift Guide at MAKE: Blog

In case you missed it, Jake von Slatt of the Steampunk Workshop put together a Steampunk Gift Guide over at MAKE: Blog.

The Gertner Journeyman Toolchest would do very nicely in my garage -- or kitchen!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Shopping Opportunities

I try to focus more on inspiration than shilling products here at The Steampunk Home, but I thought you might like to know the following.

First, Bombay is in the midst of bankruptcy, which means that their stores are liquidating and everything (last Thursday, at least) is 40% off. I saw clocks with exposed gears, large wall clocks, chairs upholstered with red "silk", etc. I've always thought Bombay had some nice steampunk options, so if there is one in your town, you may want to drop by. (And if you see any dark red velvet duvet covers, let me know!)

Second, Design Toscano is offering 10% off through December 20th. Perhaps you remember that Toscano is a favorite of SPH readers like Dr. Fabre? Simply enter the code "HOLIDAY10" when you check out. (Affiliate link.)

Stuck for Christmas gift ideas? You may want to check out my Steampunk Home Kaboodle list, where I stick everything I stumble across that suits the steampunk home.

Kohler's Steampunk Sink Ad

My sister points out this ad for Kohler sinks. The sink isn't particularly steampunk, but it's in the belly of a submarine, on top of an breathtaking table.

The photo is by Sacha Waldman.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Britannia Manor Tour from 1UP

As promised, I've found some more Britannia Manor for you.

One of the best is a tour of Britannia Manor by Emily Balistrieri on the 1UP blog.

Gadgets and science and automata, oh my! Also included: an authentic antique Vampire hunting kit to make AlexCF weep.

Go see the whole tour.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lord British's Steampunk Home -- Britannia Manor

Lord British, aka Richard Garriot, is one of my hometown's techno-celeb, and game producer extraordinaire. His home, Britannia Manor, is a place of legend (and the location of famous Halloween parties). What a surprise it was, then, when reading through November's Fast Company, to discover an article about Garriot which included pictures of his home.

In front of Garriot is a brass model of the galaxy. The left hand side objects are not very clear -- upon consultation with various family members who know old electronics we think there's a test kit on the bottom shelf and perhaps an old Bang * Olfsen equipment on the middle shelf. On the upper right there's an hourglass and a metronome, on the lower right shelf is a anniversary clock (also known as a 400 day clock) and a collection of old cameras. I can't quite tell what's on the middle right shelf -- perhaps a stereoscopic viewer? A slide carousel? A balance scale?

Glass eyes, and something neat that even my power engineering father-in-law couldn't identify -- it has alligator clips, one of those little rotating turbine type things (you've probably seen glass globes that you set in the sunlight that have the same sort of thing inside).

Ok, so the shrunken head is a bit grotesque for my taste, but the cylinder on the right is a Curta mechanical calculator and the camera on the left is probably a technical field camera. Random chemistry equipment on the upper right, and the glass eyes again in the lower right.

There's some more material on the house online, so I'll try to do another post soon with the best of it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Old Scientific Americans

Ben has turned me on to old Scientific Americans -- as he says:

I've fallen in love with the Project Gutenberg editions of Scientific American Supplement. Festooned with illustrations of lovely contraptions, it records daft ideas alongside real advances. Perhaps the best part, however, is the prose.

From "The Pitcher Plant" (September 26, 1885):

It is of no use to liberate any of the smaller insects; every fly, removed from the leaf upon which it had been feeding, returned immediately it was at liberty to do so, and walked down the fatal cup as though drawn to it by a species of irresistible fascination.

It is not alone that flies and other small insects are overpowered by the fluid which exudes from the cord in question. Even large insects succumb to it, although of course not so quickly. Mrs. Treat says: "A large cockroach was feeding on the secretion of a fresh leaf, which had caught but little or no prey. After feeding a short time the insect went down the tube so tight that I could not dislodge it, even when turning the leaf upside down and knocking it quite hard. It was late in the evening when I observed it enter; the next morning I cut the tube open; the cockroach was still alive, but it was covered with a secretion produced from the inner surface of the tube, and its legs fell off as I extricated it. From all appearance the terrible Sarracenia was eating its victim alive. And yet, perhaps, I should not say 'terrible,' for the plant seems to supply its victims with a Lethe-like draught before devouring them."

That Mrs. Treat -- she has a fascination with this carnivorous plant that borders on the obscene. Definitely not a strait laced Victorian.

What I'm browsing the SciAms for is diagrams and images to repurpose into all sorts of home things -- posters, decoupage plates, to iron onto table linens, etc.

This, for instance, is a "Plan for a New Style of Submarine Telegraph".

The Project Gutenberg site is a bit complicated to use, but if you search for "Scientific American" you should get everything they have. For a shorter list, try "Scientific American Supplement" Don't follow the "read online" link (this forces you to page through each page, it's harder to use). Instead scroll down to the "formats available for download" section and see if there is an uncompressed HTML version (some have one, some don't). This will let you navigate either by scrolling or by using the table of contents within one large file. (It's also relatively easy to URL hack to get just a directory of images to look through. Of course, you'd miss the scientific romanticism that way...)

Finding some electrical diagrams, similar to the one shown on the Brown (a shop) post, was amazingly easy:

Remember, almost everything on Project Gutenberg is out of copyright or free, which means you can use anything you find for your personal or commercial projects.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brown (a shop)

So I read about this shop called Brown in Domino magazine, and I thought "Hmm, it sounds like it could be steampunk." Since I was in Houston recently, I stopped by (twice, actually, since they didn't have hours on their website).

Their website describes their stock as lighting, furniture, industrial, didactic, and curiosities. There was a lot of lighting. It was very nice and very expensive, and not "raw" enough for me. There was not much industrial and the "didactic" (vintage teaching posters, mostly) leaned strong towards the biological.

That being said, there was one very steampunk find:

A French teaching poster with a voltage graph. I'd guess from around the 1930s?

Ben pointed out that for it's price of more than a thousand dollars, you could print many large format posters from images in old Scientific Americans. (More about that shortly.)

So -- if you happen to be in Houston Brown might be a good shop to stop by, but expect a store that has a little bit of steampunk tucked away in the corners instead of anything more substantial.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Adjustable Height Mechanical Table

OK, so I've been spending way to much time on eBay lately. Sigh.

Ran across this table base that I thought you all would enjoy. It's described as "Industrial chrome and iron mechanical table with central wheel controlling height of top circa 1930. "

That big wheel in the center? Turn it and the table height goes up and down. Start with a sideboard. Turn -- and you've got a tall desk. Turn again -- dinner for two. Turn again -- side table.

Unfortunately, it's part of a "live auction" that is eBay enhanced. That means you can place an absentee bid via eBay. (I'm unclear on whether you can bid via eBay during the actual auction or not). If you were to win it, you'd have to arrange shipping as well. Seems a bit complicated to me, but I just liked the picture. Then again, you might just live in Philadelphia and can go to the actual auction.

More pictures at the eBay listing.

The Klockwerks Newsletter

We've talked about Klockwerks before, but you may not realize that Roger Wood, the artist behind Klockwerks, sends out a newsletter via email a couple times a week. Sometimes it's clocks he's built, sometimes it's finds from a fleamarket, sometimes it's something random. My favorite is when you see one week's "finds" in the next week's creations.

Today's newsletter was a coffee cupboard:

Isn't it charming?

All of Roger's clocks are fun. If you need a daily dose of steampunk whimsy in your mailbox, you should sign up for his newsletter (subscription form at the bottom of his webpage).

You may find yourself yearning after one of the clocks you see in the newsletter -- I know I have -- and yet never see it on his website. When I asked Roger about this, he said:

You're not the only one to mention that issue. Sometimes they are a commission, an order or just made on spec. Sometimes they actually do make it to the web site and other times they get snapped up quickly - yesterday's clock-on-wheels was snapped up by a gallery in Maine as soon as they saw the newsletter.
If you see something that you like, let me know and if it is taken, I'll let you know if I can make one similar. My orders are almost all filled now so there should be some fun stuff happening this fall.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More Foundry Pieces on Ebay

King Cotton has posted more of their antique industrial pieces from the 1895 foundry in Georgia on Ebay.

I don't think these are quite a neat as the first set, but still worth a browse.

Glover Machine Works Listings on Ebay.
The original post.

Dr. Fabre's Steampunk Analytical Engine Room

After moving into his new home, Dr. Rafael Fabre (who writes Voyages of a Steampunk Physician -- I particularly enjoy his Victorian Notables feature) has decided to turn his study into a "Steampunk Analytical Engine Room." Since Dr. Fabre is a dignitary in the Second Life Steampunk community, you can imagine that he will spend considerable time in this room. A good reason, I think, to invest some time and money into making it a place of comfort and charm.

Although it is still a work in progress, Dr. Fabre has agreed to share his approach with us. First (in a series) is a review of his favorite source. Since I personally am a better dreamer than executioner ;), I'm very much looking forward to see how the good doctor acts on all these ideas.

Finding items and accouterments that fit a Steampunk aesthetic is always a challenge, especially if one is trying to work on a budget. However, a few special pieces are always a nice touch if one is trying to recreate this genre.

On this note, one of my long time favorite shopping locales is the store named Design Toscano". This store specializes in “classic” designs of a variety of genres (Medieval, Roman, Gothic), mostly replica pieces. That being said, they are quite nice and unique, albeit a bit pricey for the average budget.

Steampunk-wise, there are a number of pieces that stand out in their current catalogue – any of which would be a fantastic addition to such a design plan…

Eiffel Tower Phone
There are a number of phones available, but I had to admire the detail on this working piece, including the hand crank and ornamentation. It runs $100 USD, but is a beautiful piece.

A replica Deep Sea Diver’s helmet
For those who wish to follow what I’ve termed the “Steampunk Transportation” theme, specifically one with a nautical flavor, a Deep Sea Diver’s helmet is a must! Although I’ve found a couple on Ebay, (one full size one with brass for about $220 USD, and a half sized one for $50 USD), this might be middle ground (no brass, but full sized).

A bulldog (of any sort)!

Nothing says “Victorian / Steampunk” for a gentleman, like a bulldog – especially one that is wearing a bowler and smoking a cigar! The other aspect of my “Steampunk makeover” will include cigar items -- cigar label art, a humidor, and other items -- easily available from my local metropolis. I am fortunate to already have this little fellow (a Christmas gift), but the price is minuscule as compared to the rough-hewn look of the foundry metal from which it is made.

Also, gentlemen, keep in mind, the “Dogs Playing Poker” is VERY Victorian (actually more Edwardian, as Mr. Cassius Coolidge started painting the “dogs” in the 1870’s, but in 1903 received his big break with an advertising contract) – so having a framed “A friend in need” or “His station and four aces” would be completely appropriate in my humble opinion. Toscano sells “A friend” framed for about $245 USD, but a poster version, with a nice frame works just as well (and is an excuse to get two or even three)!

The Templeton Regulator Wall Clock

Although described as being from the late 16th century, I did admire the exposed gear and cog work, along with the fact it is made of brass – making it a perfect piece for a Steampunk room. A seven-day movement will require a reminder to keep accurate, but I would argue there is nothing better than an actual working piece of equipment with exposed elements, especially if it serves a purpose. At $99 USD, it is again a bit more than the average clock, but the brass work and functionality of this piece is worth the price.

I promised Miss Sara that I would keep her informed of my “work in progress”, and once I begin the actual renovations of the “Steampunk room”, I shall keep her attuned of the changes (with pictures), along with any “discoveries” I encounter along the way.

Please do, Dr. Fabre.... I'm looking forward to seeing your creation.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Steampumpkin

So it's a bit late, but I wanted to show off our steampunk pumpkin from Halloween:

Although he bears an unfortunate resemblance to the Planter's Peanut Man, he is charming in his bowler (there's a pair of goggles that you can't really see perched on the bowler), mustache and monocle.

He's even more charming in the dark:

I can't take too much credit for him though -- the idea was mine, but the execution was all Ben.

Lab Glassware, realized

I'm very pleased with how the CB2 borosilicate vases turned out (although they managed to mess up my order, sending me only 2 of the 3 long necked vases, they have since rectified the situation to my satisfaction).

A nice, scientific touch to my library/dining room.

The beaker pitcher and the hourglasses were also ordered (and the small hourglass already broken by the steampunklet, sigh), but I'm still working on where to put them, so no pictures yet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Steampunk Keyboards for sale on eBay

Datamancer has two of his wonderful Steampunk Keyboards up for sale on eBay.

First, the warm copper "Baron of Cyprus". Truly lovely, a work of art.

Second, it's dangerous (I know, it's a keyboard, but this one looks like it would grab your fingers and leave them mangled if it found you trashing science fiction with it), it's made of engine parts (hex nuts for keys!), it's The Industrial.

Lots more pictures of both over at the eBay posts.

We also have a peek into Datamancer's workshop.


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