Monday, May 26, 2008

Defending the Electronic Frontier

I am extremely behind the times on this, but I hope all of my Bay Area readers spent some time at the Steampunk Salon at the Maker Faire earlier this month. One of the things on display there was this painting by artist Suzanne Rachel Forbes.

Suzanne is selling prints of the painting as a fundraiser for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which you do support, don't you?

The painting is full of objects and symbols of the computer era -- an incredible amount of detail and thought:

She is defending early implements of the computer revolution, Jacquard punch cards and IBM cards, a CDV of Ada Byron, and Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2. An apple core represents Turing, eaten up by the intolerance of his era.

Also prominently displayed are some wonderful modern creations- The Steampunk Laptop by Datamancer and the Steampunk Flatpanel and Keyboard by Jake Von Slatt- who were kind enough to allow me use their work in the painting. The packet-sniffing rat under the desk is a nod to the EFF’s most recent victory; the EFF logo appears among the luggage stickers on the trunk.

I'm not quite sure how effective an antique Chinese crossbow is at defense in the virtual world, but I like the style.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Salvo Salvage

Reader Liz recently sent me these great salvage finds from a UK salvage operation called SalvoWEB. Her best find? The interior fittings of a Welsh Victorian Chemist Shop. (It would make a lovely kitchen, if you have a spare £10,000.)

The wall mounted fuel dispenser would make interesting wall art -- I wonder if it could be detoxified enough to safely dispense imbibables?

They have lots of other fine things -- mahogany bars, glass bottle collections -- so take a look around. I also noticed they're hosting a Salvage Fair June 27th at Knebworth, Hertfordshire, which would be worth a trip if you're anywhere in the vicinity. (And grace us with a report, please...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Harmonie intérieure

French company Harmonie intérieure creates vinyl stickers and mounted pictures that are creative and romantic. The Time Passing collection has some that I thought would appeal to steampunks.

For the steampunk engineer, an early suspension bridge:

For the explorer:

This one is reminiscent of Verne's Mysterious Island:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Builder's Studio

Pete is a prolific artisan, with an Etsy shop under the name of Builder's Studio that's chock full of science fiction objects created mostly in wood. There's lots to love -- darling robotic wedding cake toppers, ray guns, full size canes, etc.

My favorites were the orreys

or the small dangles. (I like the idea of using these for the end of a hanging ceiling fan chain or as a lamp finial).
We'll also keep an eye on Pete's shop as the holidays roll around -- he makes Christmas ornaments, too!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bas Relief Clockwork Tile

Photo-Form LLC will take a picture of anything and turn it into a tile. This is one of their examples.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Treasure Trove at RadioGuy

Radio-guy Steve Erenberg is the real thing. Before I even knew what steampunk was, I had stumbled across his website and spent hours pouring over his wild and wonderful collection. Although I mentioned him recently in the post on scissor lamps, I thought he and his collection deserved a post all to themselves.

What does this collection entail? "Oddball and scary scientific stuff, globes, industrial masks and helmets, motors, contraptions, classroom demonstration models, tools, nautical, medical, lighting, early advertising, electrostatic devices, telephones, telegraphs, planeteria, patent and design models, steam engines, microscopes, salesman samples, anatomical, x-ray tubes, artist mannequins, microphones, and early radio equipment." Whew -- a little bit of everything, all of it different and wonderful.

Here's three of my favorites, but you should definitely visit his entire site and waste an enjoyable hour of your day exploring it.

A static electricity generator (could it be from the 1700s, as the filename implies?)
A granite and brass reostat.

And a microscope lamp:

Housewise, most of these are great collections, accessories, etc., if you could find similar things through eBay or antiques dealers. The lighting section, however, is full of great ideas for functional antique industrial lights for your home.

p.s. The masks and mortician models in the museum section are not to be missed if you have a taste for the slightly macabre.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More of the Edison Bar

Coilhouse and LAist both have new photo sets of the Edison bar, and a show called Lucent Dossier. These show a lot more detail than previous shots of the bar.

I wish I could have been there, it looks like a lovely time.

Previous Edison Bar Posts:
Edison Bar Analyzed
Interview with Andrew Meieran of the Edison Bar

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cog Etched Glasses

Craftster recently ran a steampunk swap. Most of the crafts were more costume centric, but I thought these etched glasses might suit your casual dining table.

Created by Craftster user Gnome.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Scissor Arm Lamps

Every since I posted this kitchen picture almost a year ago, I have been yearning for some wall lamps like the ones shown for my bedside table. At the time, I could only find one similar lamp on an antiques website, and they were described as "concertina arm" lamps. Recently, however, I discovered another name for them -- "scissor arm lamps -- and have since been able to find many other versions that I thought I would share with you.

Most of these are dearly held antiques, like this first from Found Objects of Industry:

The best collection is from RadioGuy:

And if the sconce doesn't do it for you, how about a floor lamp?
Or a desk lamp?

I also just spotted this type of lamp used *exactly* the way I want to use it by designers Nickey Kehoe

The good news with these scissor arm lamps is they are making a comeback, so they are available in moderate prices from at least two sources (mark my words -- I'm betting Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware will have these within a year...).

The first is a slightly more modern interpretation:

I don't care for the shade, but it's only $160 at Lamps Plus. (It looks black, but it's actually a leaded bronze finish.)

The other is from previously mentioned hometown favorites Architects and Heroes. There's no price listed, but I would guess less than $300 based on the prices of their other sconces.

Aren't they fun? And practical? Just imagine how much more space you'll have for books (or a Nixie Tube Clock) on your bedside table when you mount one of these above it. I know I am!

Friday, May 9, 2008

On "The lost NY Times Steampunk Feature"

So many months ago, I was interviewed for a New York Times article on Steampunk in domestic life. After the interview, I never heard another word, and assumed the article was killed. (Crushing my "best Christmas letter update ever" dreams, oh well.)

The reporter, however, thought that the article deserved more attention, so he's put it online (and sent Boing Boing a link, if not me). Boing Boing's pull quotes on it are all about me (a bit disconcerting, since the article mentions a number of other people).

I'll let you read the entire article yourself, but here's the bit about me:

Sara Brumfield, a software designer in Austin, Tex., agrees. “The Victorian home was a haven away from all the industrial changes. So machines would be invited into your home instead of just invading your home,” she explains, before admitting, “Look, I work with software all day. So much of the technology we have is not perfect at all; it’s just good enough to work. So we should stop worshipping it.”

She keeps her home steampunk and heavy on antique styling. Her website, The Steampunk Home, recently gushed over the analog dials on Kenmore’s new PRO Series refrigerators.

Her living room features a chemical flask as a vase, a brass steamship clock (a wedding gift), a three-foot-tall 1930s-era radio she found at a garage sale, an ornate brass lamp with red glass she bought at a bazaar in Istanbul, thick red velvet curtains, dark wood flooring, a dulcimer handmade by her husband’s grandfather and distressed Victorian floorlamps with frosted bowls. For a few dollars a pound, she scrounged a salvage yard for a sack of gears that she is using to replace the knobs on her bedside tables. Her bed itself is lit with a brass swing-arm lamp she bought at a thrift store for $10. Her pride and joy is a self-made sun jar in her kitchen, a shredded $6 solar light she put in a frosted hermetic jar to use as a nightlight (it charges during the day and glows at night).

And there’s a more important reason Ms. Brumfield, 32, is a steampunk fan: her 2-year-old daughter, Josie. “I’m a geek. I’m a mechanic’s daughter,” says the mother. “But, if I want to raise a young engineer, how is she going to learn how things work if they’re all wrapped up in plastic casing?”

The article is pretty spot on, but lest you think I'm a bit too into the idea of steampunk as a subculture -- and as the regular readers of this blog know -- I'm just someone who really likes the Steampunk aesthetic and enjoys finding and sharing projects and ideas with others who do as well.

Crazy (Steampunk?) Birdhouses

Another Roger Wood favorite are these "Fowl Dwellings" by artist H. Lynn Peer:

The artist will integrate personal objects, and she will take input into "just how you want it to be." Starting around $300, I think they are a pretty great piece of art for the oft neglected steampunk backyard.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Burlapping your Flat Screen in the NYT

The New York Times has an article about steampunk today.

The best idea I saw in it was a flat screen TV with the ugly plastic hidden by burlap. Simple, elegant, a hack of the best kind. The creator, shown, is Giovanni James, a musician and magician in New York.

Photo by Robert Wright for The New York Times

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Zeppelin House?

Ok, so the designers think it's more like a canoe, but Ecogeek likens it to living in a zeppelin, and I'd have to agree.

All those ribs! Curving surfaces! Not quite your everyday steampunk home, now is it? (If only it came in a darker wood....)

More on the CanuHome.

Thanks to Cristi for pointing this out to me.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Nixie Tube Clocks

West Dave is a maker of Nixie Tube Clocks. What's a Nixie Tube, you might ask?

Wikipedia, as always, gives up their secrets: Introduced by Burroughs in 1954, Nixies were used as numeric displays in early digital voltmeters, multimeters, frequency counters and many other types of technical equipment. They also appeared in costly digital time displays used in research and military establishments, and in many early electronic desktop calculators. Nixie was derived by Burroughs from "NIX I", an abbreviation of "Numeric Indicator eXperimental No. 1".

Above: LEDs indicate the hour around the perimeter of the clock, with Nixie tubes indicating the minute and second. Below: An Art Deco clock case refitted with Nixie tube numbers.

The clocks shown here are all by West Dave, but you can easily find Nixie Tube Clock kits online and on eBay to make your own.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Carriage Lantern

Art Donovan is at it again.

I get the impression Art indulges his love of steampunk after he finishes his more mainstream work he says of this one: "I did it one night last month right after the "Pod"" This one has a colonial feel to it -- I'm thinking Salem witch trials or The Legend of Sleep Hollow -- does that make it too early to be a steampunk proper piece?

Thursday, May 1, 2008


In my house, there has been discussion -- quickly squashed by the linguistically inclined -- as to the plural of the word octopus. Although other pluralizations are common, we think "octopodes" is a pretty great word.

How, you may ask, do octopodes related to steampunk? I can think of two steampunk references to octopodes. The first, Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the second the Air Kracken -- monsters of the sky, celebrated on March 17th. I'm sure you could come up with more, right?

Reader Caitlyn recently sent me a link to this lovely octopus lamp, and since I missed Air Kracken day a couple months back, I took that as enough excuse for this post.

Here's the trick with octopodes in the home: there's lots of them out there, but very few have that steampunk flair. You may be able to get away with some of the brighter colors in a bathroom or a kid's room, but I'm not sure I'd put a bright purple or orange octopus in my public rooms. (Unless you really, really, liked it.) Nothing too cute, and the scarier the better.

Or perhaps just a foot and a half long giant squid or a 7 inch octopus?


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