Monday, August 27, 2007

Robert Houston's Colonial Steampunk

I received an email from a gentleman by the name of Robert Houston last night:

A very good friend of mine just sent me a link to your blog a week or so ago, this after I mentioned to him that my living room (I'm slowly but steadily remodeling my entire house) was shaping up in the mode of an English gentleman's club.
I must admit that I have never heard of steampunk before, a deficit in my knowledge of contemporary culture. I was quite taken with what I read on your blog and did some subsequent exploring. I myself am an artist (sculptor and painter) and a punk rocker from the 80's.

I was amused by Robert's realization that his living room might be steampunk, because I've had the same conversation many times, most recently with the Edison Bar's Andrew Meieran
. (It's this experience of knowing what you want your house to look and feel like, having someone introduce you to steampunk, and saying "so that's what you call it!"

Robert sent along some pictures of his living room, which I've dubbed "Colonial Steampunk":

After all, not many gentleman's club's of the 1890s would have yellow bookcases and saltillo tiles -- unless you happened to be in Mexico. I like how it integrates the colors and materials of the new world with the furniture and styles of the old world.

It's still a work in progress -- he's finishing all the saltillo tiles by hand -- but I think it will be lovely when it is done. Do click on the above picture for a larger version, and zoom around the room for more details.

Robert also built his wife a fountain that is nicely colonial steampunk:

Its wood cast concrete and copper. Water drips from inside the roof down the wires holding the copper candle holders and over them. This is a steampunk object all the way even though I didn't know it....

Most of Robert's artwork is in more of a folk art tradition, but this unfolding hexagon box reminds me of something a Victorian magician would use:

He also has an intuitive grasp of the punk in steampunk:

I think that the real problem today is that mass production, plastic and the bottom line have not only homogenized our culture but have completely separated us from craft. Skilled labor barely exists now as manufacturing gets outsourced to the 3rd world... When I was looking at the steampunk sites I felt that what people are looking for here is a return to quality, a return to a way of living where 'how' your living is important. The punk attitude of rejecting convention and I do as I please is a perfect fit as modern culture continues its race to the bottom for everyone who is not a multi multi millionaire.

Welcome to steampunk, Robert!

Remember -- I'd love to see and share pictures of your homes, workshops, and home projects. You can always contact me as saracarl -at- gmail dot com.

1 comment:

Tinkergirl said...

I love the unfolding box - it's got something quite reminicient of music-boxes and other hidden wonders. Very clever indeed.


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