Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Maggi Massimo is Magnifico!

Maggi Massimo is an Italian maker of kitchen cabinets and other furniture...

A "hold everything" with brass bin pulls.
Love the round port hole style vents in this cabinet.

Wooden louvered doors in the upper right and left cabinets add character.
A safe! In the middle of your cabinet! I think it's just waiting for the bank robbers to show up.

Found via kbculture.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On Twitter

If you prefer to get your dosage of steampunk home design via twitter, I've set up an automatic push of my posts to the @steampunkhome user on twitter. You may get an extra goodie or two if you follow me there...

(If anyone wants to provide me with a nice logo and/or background image to spiff the page up, let me know -- modern blue clouds are not quite my style.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Well Travelled Kitchen

I have to admit, we have a burgeoning globe collection. (We're at 3 or 4 -- Christmas introduced a tiny new vintage tin globe from 1926.) I have to admit, though, I never considered using them as kitchen decor.

Obviously I'm not creative enough, because they look incredible in this kitchen tour from AT's The Kitchn. (More pictures, including more globes, here.)

And more vintage style geekery -- the backsplash is made of yardsticks. (Doesn't it work well with the butcher block cabinets?) Here's the how-to.

The kitchen (& great ideas) belong to Ashley Ann. And if you're not envious enough, she did the whole kitchen facelift for $500.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Monique Keegan is Incredible...

Remember this house? (How could you forget? I'm using it as inspiration for half my renovation!) The owner and designer behind it was Monique Keegan. She's awesome. And she blogs. And has a retail store and design business in Granville, Ohio. And here's just a bit more of her work.

Psychological abstract card catalog, in black? With a naturalist collection on top? I'll take one, please!

Nice mix of vintage and modern here... The mirror is a lovely piece.

Antique oil cans on display...

The Cranial Nerves... something about using "nerves" at a vacation home seems appropriate to me.

Thanks, Brian!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Goods from One Kings Lane

One Kings Lane is a site with "invitation only" 3 day long home decor sales. I subscribed, not expecting much that would be appropriate for The Steampunk Home. Surprisingly, right now -- through the 28th -- they are running two sales I think would appeal to Steampunk Home readers.

First, quotes by Natural Curiosities, $69 each:

Each letter was manually created on a 1924 vintage Underwood typewriter, silkscreened on delicate Bhutanese paper by Fernando Bohr, Natural Curiosities' resident silkscreen artist, then beautifully framed in walnut.

Second, Timeworks Vintage style clocks, $49-$129:
Timeworks clocks are made individually, by hand, most of them at the company's factory in Berkeley, California. All are made of the finest components available - solid, hand-antiqued brass for cases and pendulums, die-cut steel hands with time-worn patinas, beautifully finished frames and high-quality quartz clock movements.

You'll have to sign up to browse the wares, but you may find it worthwhile.

Microscopes, Aged and Brass

Allen Wissner has been collecting antique brass microscopes for three decades.

His site -- where he shares his extensive collection with the hope that readers will discover him and support his habit by selling him more -- is filled with many different models and uses.

There are articles about antique index by country of origin...he even branches out in microspectroscopes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The Wierd

Bria sent me this eye candy -- trailers for relatively obscure Asian films -- which I thought would be appropriately fun for the holiday week

I have to say, though, that diving helmets and aviator googles are so out of place in the Wild West that I laughed out loud!

Watch at least until you see the flying machine!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rick's First Steampunk Lamp

Here's a nice lamp from a newcomer to the steampunk scene. Rick says: Coming from an electrical engineering background, I decided to add a flickering light to the "gas to electric converter" to suggest a chemical process was happening inside. He's also a woodworker, which accounts for the lovely cherry box surround.

He also has extensive notes on his design and manufacture at his website.

I think this is a very impressive first attempt, and I can't wait to see what he does next!

Winner: London Particulars Giveaway

And the winner is:


(as chosen by

Thanks, everyone, for playing. Ambivalent, if you'd like to email me your mailing information, we'll get your goodies on their way to you.

I'm open to more of these giveaways if you're a maker who'd like to share with the Steampunk Home readership.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Magic, Moving Pictures and Freakshows – Visiting London’s Egyptian Hall

One of the things I try very hard to do here to do is keep the "home" in The Steampunk Home -- no steampunk fashion posts (as much as I love it!), very little music, etcetera. When Lavie Tidhar contacted me about her new steampunk novel, The Bookman, I gave her the same deal I give everyone else -- "give me an excerpt from your book that describes the interiors." Lavie came through with flying colors:

One of the great joys of writing my steampunk novel, The Bookman, was that I got to do it while living in London – where many of the historical buildings still exist, many still in their original function.

Everyone has their own secret London. Mine includes Davenports’, the magic shop in the bowels of Charing Cross Station; Simpson’s on the Strand, the restaurant Sherlock Holmes used to dine in; the Red Lion Pub in Soho, where Karl Marx used to drink and above which he worked on Das Kapital; the ancient, hidden Nell Gwynne pub behind the Adelphi Theatre, and others. The Egyptian Hall, sadly, is no longer there. Built in 1812, it was a mock-Egyptian structure in Piccadilly that, over the Victorian era, played host to any number of strange exhibitions – including automatons, freak-shows and magic. The Mechanical Turk, that legendary chess-playing machine, exhibited at the Egyptian Hall. Some of the first moving pictures were shown there. And the British family of magicians, the Maskelynes, have taken it over, when it was known as England’s Home of Mystery.

What better place, then, to feature in my very own steampunk story? Indeed, how could I possibly resist?

The Mechanical Turk, and the magician John Nevil Maskelyne – as well as Isabella Beeton, authoress of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, Karl Marx and other historical characters all appear throughout the pages of The Bookman. And it is to the Egyptian Hall that young poet Orphan, reluctant hero of this tale, comes in search of advice.

The following extract sees Orphan arriving at the Egyptian Hall. The façade is pretty much as it was, and as for the gallery of freaks, as they were known, inside – well, they are, most of them, real to life, too. There really was a Skeleton Dude. And JoJo, the Dog-Faced Boy – who acts as Orphan’s guide in that maze of magic and machines – was real too. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction...

Extract from The Bookman, by Lavie Tidhar

From Chapter 13: A Night on the Town

And then, almost without noticing, Orphan was there.

He stood outside the imposing façade of the Egyptian Hall.

What did it look like?

Imagine a grand and ancient temple built for the long-vanished kings of a desert country, wide and rich beyond imaginings. To either side of it stood ordinary, red-and-grey bricked apartment buildings, as ordinary and staid as two elderly gentlemen who had stayed out too late. The Hall, though... Wide columns rose on either side of the entrance, each twice the height of a man and above them, in lonely splendour, stood the goddess Isis and her husband, the god Osiris, magnificent and tall, while above and all around them the rest of this mock-temple sprawled, covered in unknowable hieroglyphs, a sturdy and faithful imitation of the temple in Tentyra.

Above them all stood, in giant letters, the single word: MUSEUM.

Carriages and baruch-landaus alike carried people to and from the busy entrance, and a steady trickle of visitors, both wealthy and less well-to-do, came and went through the large front doors of this temple of learning. Even Lizards, Orphan saw – a party of five, all dressed in full regalia and attended by a host of human servants – came to this place of wonder, and paid the admission price.

He could still taste the mustard in his mouth from the sausage he had earlier devoured; it was not a bad taste, exactly, but it lingered unpleasantly. Like the Egyptian Hall, he thought. It looked, for all its mock-antiquated brashness, like a doll dressed up in once-fine rags.

At the door he showed the usher his letter from Maskelyne and was admitted in without questions.

The inside of the Egyptian Hall was a wide cavernous space. It was an amalgamation of junk and of rarities, of curiosities and oddities: a mixture of the deeply strange and the every-day.

In the centre of the room stood a rounded enclosure and, inside it, all manner of animals were on display, identified with large signs that were hung around the enclosure: there was a giraffe from Zululand and an elephant from Jaunpur; a dancing bear from the forests of Transylvania and a zebra from the Swahili kingdoms; a peacock from Abyssinia and, in a cage all to itself, a sleepy tiger from Bengal. The animals looked lethargic to Orphan, almost as if they were drugged. The tiger opened one eye when Orphan passed him, looked at him for a short moment and then, as if that exercise was too much for it, closed it again. The bear declined to dance, and crouched on the ground like an elderly fisherman, while the peacock seemed reluctant to spread its plumage to the onlookers, who tried to encourage it by cheering at it and waving their hands in the air, to no avail.

Dotted around the room were the human curiosities. Here, in an alcove with a gas lamp burning on its wall, sat the human whale, a giant male dressed only in loincloth, whose naked flesh rolled and rolled, like waves in a pool, each time he stirred. He had his own crowd of admirers, who came up to him by turns and poked him with their fingers, in order to better see the fat roll from the point of contact and spread outwards across the giant frame.

Here, sitting on long raised chairs like the legs of flamingos (there was one of those birds, too, in the animals' enclosure), were the Scarletti Twins, one smaller than a child and as fat as she was tall, the other towering over six feet up and as thin as a rope. 'They look like a small fat mushroom under a tall and gangly tree, the poor dears!' Orphan heard an excited customer say to her husband, who nodded with obvious satisfaction at his wife's wit.

Here was the Skeleton Dude, a thin, ill-looking man in a tuxedo (hence the name, dude being a Vespuccian slang-term for urbanite), and beside him was the Translucent Man, whose pale skin allowed the observers to examine the circulation of his blood through his arteries and veins. Here, too, was the Fungus Man, whose body sprouted numerous additional appendages, spots and boils (which you could pop at your leisure for a modest sum).

Orphan walked in a daze through this gallery of unfortunates. Everywhere he looked in that wide open space some man or woman stood or sat or – in one instance – floated (the Mermaid, a woman floating inside a large water-tank, whose lower body was made to look like the tail of a fish), some unfortunate soul was displaying an affliction for the amusement and elucidation of the paying public. On and on it went: in a side room he saw a man with no legs and a man with no arms ride a bicycle together; in another, a bearded lady shared a rolled-up cigarette and a cup of tea (apparently on her break) with a woman who had three breasts (and drew an unwanted crowd of male admirers even as she sat there).

Where was Maskelyne?

As he passed a man with bricks on his head – the bricks were being pounded into rubble by a second man with the use of a great sledgehammer – a small figure bounded up to him and grabbed him by the arm.

'Are you Orphan?' this startling person asked.

Recovering from his momentary surprised, Orphan nodded, then said, 'You must be Theo.'

The man who had stopped him was short of stature, and dressed in short, loose-fitting trousers and an open vest that exposed his hairy chest. His arms were equally hairy, as were his legs. His face was dark and deeply grooved, covered in a straggly beard all over that looked like wild-growing weeds. Deep, sorrowful eyes looked up at Orphan from that extraordinary face.

'You can call me Jo Jo,' he said.


The Bookman was released in the UK this fall and will be released in the US in January. Here's more about it from Angry Robot Books (the publisher). Buy it at
The Bookman

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yuletide Giveaway from London Particulars

Earlier this year we featured Artwork from London Particulars and since this time, Professor Thistlequick’s pursuit of his cat, Happiness has progressed over the Neo-Victorian London skies.

Now, London Particulars are offering you the chance to win a set of seven 5x7, signed prints as a Christmas Present from an alternative London past...

To win -- leave a comment with the Professor's first name (yes, this will require some research) and next Monday we'll pick a winner from the correct answers.

Good luck in your pursuit of happiness along with the Professor.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ideas from the Ace

Here's some inspiration from the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, via the LA Times.

I love the canvas covered walls here -- a definite safari vibe. They also use them for draping the modern sliding glass doors onto private patios.

The greatest towel hooks ever. I may do this in my new upstairs bath.

I'm predicting the foundry cart coffee table will become the first cliche of all this industrial nostalgic design -- is it just me or would it really hurt to knock your shin on one of these?

All the Ace Hotels are wonderful -- I'm surprised I haven't featured any of them yet. I will rectify that in the future, however.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Eating on Atoms

It turns out scientific themed housewares is not a new idea. I found these based on X-ray cccrystallography from the 1950s on An Aesthete's Lament. Clockwise from top left they are Peter Wall's Beryl 8.9 plates for Wedgwood, Hazel Thrumpston and Peter Cave's Aluminum Hydroxide plate for E Brain and Co, and Thrumpston's Festival plate for RH and SL Plant.

In 2008 the Wellcome Collection featured an exhibit called From Atoms to Patterns, and included the following history in it's press release:

The 1951 Festival of Britain provided an extraordinary platform for British ingenuity and creativity in science and the arts. One of the boldest initiatives within the Festival was the Festival Pattern Group, which brought together adventurous manufacturers and forward-looking crystallographers (scientists who analyse atomic structures by taking X-ray photographs of crystalline materials) to create a collection of quirky and influential furnishing designs.

Inspired by the intricate patterns of crystal structures, leading Cambridge crystallographer Dr Helen Megaw came up with the novel idea of using them for textiles. As scientific consultant to the Festival Pattern Group, she collated crystal structure diagrams from eminent colleagues and ensured that they were interpreted in an accurate and authentic way. Spearheaded by the Council of Industrial Design, the Festival Pattern Group enlisted the manufacturers, vetted the designs and organised special displays at the Festival of Britain - notably in the Regatta Restaurant on the South Bank, which was decorated with crystal structure-patterned furnishings, and the Exhibition of Science at South Kensington.

The 2008 exhibit of these works included:

- Rayon dress fabrics and nitrocellulose-coated ‘leathercloth’ printed with the molecular structure of haemoglobin

- Tie silks woven with ball-and-spoke atomic structures of chalk and china clay

- Plastic laminates and wallpapers adorned with intricate insulin motifs

- Lace embroidered with the crystal structures of beryl (emerald) and aluminium hydroxide (hydrargillite)

- Carpets emblazoned with patterns derived from the chemical compound resorcinol

- Relief-patterned window glass evoking the atomic structure of the mineral apophyllite

- Fluid abstract-patterned curtains based on diagrams of afwillite, a hydrated calcium silicate formed during the setting of cement

Two good reviews (with more pictures) of the exhibit are at frieze and the Nature Network. The book about the exhibit is out of print, but you may be able to find a copy if you search around: From Atoms to Patterns: Crystal Structure Designs from the 1951 Festival of Britain


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