Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Would you put a Difference Engine in your Living Room?

By now I'm sure you've all seen the articles on the arrival of the Difference Engine at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. What caught my eye, however, was this one bit:

The engine, built over a 3½-year period by engineers at London's Science Museum, will open May 10, and stay in the museum in Mountain View for one year -- after which it will take up residence in Myhrvold's living room.

Really? In his living room? I know Microsoft multimillionaires probably have very large living rooms, but I'm wondering exactly how you go about integrating a large, fragile computing machine into one. Make it a focal point instead of the fireplace? Use it as a room divider? Put cushions around it and make it a very large bench? I'm just a bit stymied. Perhaps when it moves to it's permanent home we'll be graced with a picture of it there as well.

However, if you'd like a bit of difference engine for your home, I recommend searching the Science and Society Picture Library for "Babbage" and they'd be happy to ship you a print or canvas of historical or modern aspects of Babbage's engine.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Metro Stop or Submarine?

Brass Goggles recently featured this picture by anesterik of the Paris Metro stop nearest the Musée des Arts + Metiers. According to Philomena, the recently redesigned stop was made with the fullest intention to look like the interior of a Verne-esque submersible.

I have no idea how it is done, but I think the riveted brass walls would be a warm and interesting interior treatment for a dramatic room -- perhaps a dining room, or on a smaller scale in a powder room.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Found Objects of Industry

An incredible resource for steampunk style, Found Objects of Industry is a small online antiques dealer specializing in industrial antiques. They have quite a few antique architect desks, as well as many more esoteric items. Here's just a sampling:

A multi-beam surgical lamp (it's pretty crazy looking -- if you got it set up just right it would make a good reading lamp -- as long as you were comfortable being "under the spotlight" in a slightly macabre way!)

A gilded, folding Victorian bed. I can't say I've ever seen anything quite like this before.

A folding revival bench from the 1800s. Because seating that is also a gadget is hard to come by....

And finally a Victorian dental tray -- on an articulating arm.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Michael McHale Chandeliers

My sister pointed out these Michael McHale designs on Design*Sponge.

I love the way they combine the rough recycled piping with the fragility of mingled crystals and lightbulb glass -- very much a steampunk combination of the proper Victorian and the anarchist, combined to make a delightful lighting fixture for your dining room or above your billiards table.

Friday, June 13, 2008

J. Morgan Puett's "Mildred's Lane" Home (NYT Article)

While I was on vacation (sorry for the dearth of posts), the New York Times published this article on "Mildred's Lane", the home of artist J. Morgan Puett in Pennsylvania, which both Mr. Von Slatt and Daniel were so kind to send to me.

A collaborative, handmade home on 96 acres, she considers her home a work of art:

"It's not about nostalgia or re-enacting," she said. "I believe that all of these time periods and histories are pressing in on us at once," contributing to the complexity of our present and future experience. "What I'm really interested in is the future and what it looks like," she said, and "in inventing a future through history and material culture and art."

[I]nterior walls and ceilings are made from blue steel treated with a darkening chemical — “like the kind used in antiquing jewelry,” Ms. Puett said — applied in a drippy, hand-washed style and then sealed with linseed oil. “I’ve always been in love with industrial metal,” she said.

Toward the back, in the kitchen and dining area, there are hand-hammered metal tables and chairs covered with old flour sacks. Cowhides have been stitched together as floor coverings. Stacks of antique white china fill the metal shelves and the floors are made from smoothly polished concrete. High narrow windows on either side of this space make it feel like an old church.

Ms. Puett’s vision reaches even into the refrigerator, which she has transformed into a strange, constantly shifting vignette of fresh food, old textiles and unusual scientific vials. “I buy beautiful and grotesque foods and try to put them in a new context,” she said. A broccoli floret sits on an antique candlestick, a pomegranate and brown eggs in a glass vase, carrots in ceramic pots. All liquids are decanted into glass measuring vessels.

Incredible, isn't it? If you like Puett's aesthetic, you can view more of her work at the Alexander Gray Associates Gallery website. You should also read the article and view the slideshow for many more details.

credit: Photos by Phil Mansfield Photography.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Automatic Temperature Controlling Aparatus" also known as Tyree's End Table

Tyree Callahan found, cleaned up, and repurposed this "Automatic Temperature Controlling Aparatus" by "The Power Regulator Company" into an end table for his living room.


The best piece, though, is the plaque on the side:

More pictures of the work to get it cleaned up on his blog.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Super Traditional, yet still Steampunk

This is from House Beautiful, September 2007. It was one of the most traditional rooms I've ever seen -- check out the molding and wingback chair, not to mention the painting and prints -- but see how it's also steampunk? First, the always perfect checkboard floor -- this time done in a rug. Second, the English architect desk (adjustable, with a glass top). And, of course, the adjustable brass "implement" sitting atop it -- a clock on the right, a thermometer in the middle, and I'm guessing a barometer on the left.

Like the look? There are a number of architect desks available online. You'll have to hunt down the appropriate weather station, and probably age a black and white checkerboard rug, but I don't think any of it would be that difficult.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The White Duke from Donovan Designs

Should I just rename this blog the Art Donovan fan blog? I just love Art's work, and he's a regular reader and commenter, so let's just call it a mutual admiration society and be done with it.

Art's newest piece is called the White Duke, and he shared with us his concept sketches, which he says no one usually sees. (I think steampunks are as much interested in the process of concept and fabrication as in the final results.)

I think this lamp needs a raygun, myself. All the better to protect itself while exploring the nether reaches of the Red Planet or somesuch.

Friday, June 6, 2008

LMH's Steampunk Nook

A nook is a good place to start with your steampunk decor, as LMH demonstrates.

The nook demonstrates a number of the "tenents" of steampunk decor (I didn't know we had tenets, did you?) The "used future" -- or perhaps in the case, the used past -- in an antique typewriter (found at a garage sale, natch) and antique vanity (from her parent's garage, even better!); the DIY value in refinishing said vanity and the print out of the Victorian era world map stuck in the frame. (This one came from the David Rumsey map collection.)

The magnifying glass "helping hand" is magnifying a pocket watch. You can find a similar device here. The working brass telescope was a Walmart find!

I like how this collection tells a story -- you can picture an explorer -- perhaps a wandering naturalist -- plotting his or her next adventure at this desk, consulting books, examine "treasures" collected on a previous journey, and typing up their memoirs.

More detailed pictures in LMH's photo set.
Another nook idea.
More reader's homes.


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