Thursday, August 30, 2007

Steampunkish Design Templates

While I was brainstorming about what to do with my kitchen cabinets, you may have noticed the nice piece of clip art that I'm considering for a stencil. Since I'm not that graphically talented (notice the lovely stock blog template...) I've been looking around for ideas and templates to use for projects.

The best resource I've found, so far, are the Dover Electronic Clip Art CD-ROMs & Books. They come with a coloring book sized book of designs (useful for looking through and dreaming about projects while *not* in front of your computer) and a CD with the designs in 6 different formats (gif, jpg, tif, eps, pct, and bmp). The image quality is high and the designs I was drawn to will be relatively easy to enlarge to the size I need for projects.

I ordered a couple -- one on 293 Art Nouveau Designs and another simply called Old-Fashioned Frames. I considered some of the Victorian ones, but they looked a bit too fussy for DIY projects.

I was disappointed in the Art Nouveau ones -- not they weren't wonderfully Art Nouveau, I'm just not sure I realized quite how *floral* Art Nouveau graphic design was. (The image at the top of this post was one of the better Art Nouveau clips.) Old fashioned frames yielded the best options for the sort of projects I'm thinking about. The nice thing about the old-fashioned frame set in particular was that it has a breadth of types of frames -- Victorian, Art Nouveau, geometric, scrollworks, simple, ornate, etc. Something for everyone and every project that requires framing. I can see some of Mr. von Slatt's Electrolytic Etchings with these designs. Or perhaps you'd use one to incorporate a little bit of steampunk "bling" to your laptop casing.

The images are royalty free, including for web use (up to 10 images per "publication"), so feel to grab the ones I'm using in this post to get you started.

Old-Fashioned Frames CD-ROM and Book (Dover Electronic Clip Art) via Amazon.

Old Charles Street Jail today has a slideshow of Boston's Old Charles Street Jail which has been turned into a hotel. Many of the design elements -- exposed brick, iron bars -- would work well in a steampunk home.

More inspiration posts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ebay scavenging...

Spent some time today poking around Ebay looking for things to use in the house. Thought I'd share these with you -- but there are plenty, plenty more.

Large Shell Casings
I'm not sure what you would do with these, but I thought they were neat. Bud vases, perhaps?

Antique Switch Plate

Just the switch part, without the cover plate, costs $35 new... so far this is a steal. And way cool. I'm going to bid on it for my hallway.

Also worth checking out is this Lightning Rod -- I can't get an image, and I can't tell if it's antique or not from the description, but it does look pretty unique.

The Steampunk Interiors of Tuomas Korpi

I recently ran across a link to Tuomas Korpi's artwork on the Steampunk Forums. I love the broken down magnificence. The light quality is wonderful -- all icy grey or warm sunshine. (Too bad we can't all have vaulted glass domes in our homes...)

Tuomas says I am huge fan of steampunk myself and I certainly consider some of my works as a steampunk - well at least I've tried to capture the atmosphere and style of applying something 18-19th century technology and roman or english and soviet architecture etc. to huge scale of buildings etc.

His interiors come from his imagination, inspired by images he sees online.

He doesn't sell prints, but will sell high resolution images for printing for about $50 each. (Use the contact email on his website to discuss specifics with Tuomas.)

Other steampunk art posts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hundertwasser's Incinerator Works, Vienna

I was struck by the steampunk whimsy of this incinerator works in Vienna, designed by architect and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

Most of his other work isn't very steampunk, but I liked the brass pipe, the swirling mural, and the minaret on top.

(thanks to my sister for pointing out Hundertwasser's work.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Drains of Canada -- steampunk landscapes

Ben pointed me to this fascinating interview of Michael Cook, an urban explorer, on BLGBLOG today. ("Drains of Canada")

It's fascinating. Poke through some of the pictures -- I can't believe the urban drain system is this steampunk. Old brickworks -- rusty hydraulics -- arches -- pinpoints of light in the dark -- dirt and grime -- cogs and gears. Inspiring.

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.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Kitchen Cabinets

While out refrigerator shopping today, the question under discussion was "how do you make it work in our kitchen?"

Now, my house was built in the late 1960s. The solid wood cabinets, brass "bamboo" looking hardware, and white speckled formica are original, although the cabinets were painted white before we bought it. A couple of years ago we had a yellow and white checkerboard linoleum tile floor installed, which I still love. "Not so steampunk", I hear you thinking, and you are right!

So what to do? I've dreamed about steampunk kitchens before -- all marble countertops and custom wood cabinets, sigh. Fundamentally, though, I am too cheap to get custom cabinets made, yet find most of the cabinets on the market today of an inferior quality to the solid wood ones that are currently in the house.

The best option I've come up with is to paint the existing cabinets. We happened to drop by some friends' today, and they were having their kitchen cabinets painted for around $500 (plus materials). This seems quite economical to me, and we wouldn't even have to do it ourselves.

The color I was thinking of was black. I'm a bit color shy, and black is definitely dramatic, so I went looking for some pictures of other's black cabinets to see how it might look. Here's what I found:

Nice, huh? I think the trick to keeping this looking good is the light colored countertops, walls and floor.

Probably more like what my cabinets would look like... not horrible, but not great. I think the key would be to stay away from a high gloss paint. (But maybe not???)

I found the above at a designer's site, and Ben loved it. Instead of going for light colored countertops, the designer opted for black countertops and light colored doors. An interesting idea, for sure.

In addition to just painting the cabinets, I thought that a painted/stenciled "frame" around each door might be nice. (The doors are entirely flat.) One possible design:

If we painted the cabinets black, I think I'd do this is a warm metallic -- aged brass, bronze, gold, copper -- to match the hardware.

To get something like the last kitchen picture above, we could paint the cabinet frames black, and then stencil the doors in brown or black on an antiqued background. (Ralph Lauren Paint has 4 different aging tints; wonder if that would work over our existing white paint?) Black formica or Corian countertops would complete the look, without blowing the budget.

I'd love feedback on this idea -- are black cabinets crazy? What about two tone ones? How hard is stenciling? Aging?

Bonus: This Old House has an article on painting kitchen cabinets.

Steampunk Refigerator, con't.

So I dragged the family to the suburbs today to check out the refrigerator I've been lusting over since the refrigerator post, the Elmira Stove Works Antique fridge:

Turns out it's a GE fridge that Elmira puts a fiberglass face on. (Slightly disappointing.) The price was just under $4000 US, and that was before a $500 charge for the nickel hardware. (There are a couple other models and different hardware types available, so prices vary. The picture above and what we saw are not the same fridge.)

I wrote down the model number and did some research. What we saw was a GE PSS25MGMBB, which is no longer for sale according to GE's website. The 2 alternatives GE suggested to me were both $1800, and a web search found someone who had bought one for $1500. (The web search also turned up some temperature control problems.) Hmmm....

As Ben said, would you mod a fridge for $3000?

So, scratch the Elmira Stove Works plan, and back to the drawing board. My new thought is one of the refrigerators you can install your own panels on:

GE has one for about $2600 (they are only charging about $200 above their basic model for giving you the privilege of putting your own face on). Surely for $1400 I can make, or find someone to make, a cool and interesting cabinet face for it.

Any sugestions on what, exactly I should do? I'm all ears.

Friday, August 24, 2007

more hidden rooms

Just ran across this company, Hidden Passageway, that builds hidden doors and switches, whilst catching up on Brass Goggles Forum. A worthy follow up to my last post, no?

Hidden Rooms

Ben pointed me to a ruminative post on BLDG Blog about the fantasy of hidden rooms. This is an aspect I hadn't thought about, and while I can't think of a hidden room in the recent steampunk readings I've done (I'm sure you could think of some), it did remind me of the secret room Because We Can designed in the 3 Rings offices

So how could you use this idea in your home? I like the "bookshelves hiding a door" idea, like at the 3 Rings offices. We (well, mostly Ben, with some of my help), built shallow bookcases covering one wall of our guestbedroom:

I wonder if we could just extend them somehow to cover the door as well, giving the illusion of a room with no door? (Kind of missing the point, though, doesn't it, to have the hidden door on the *inside* of the room?)

Of course, there's always the hidden door at the back of a wardrobe.

Previous post on the 3 Rings Offices.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Art of Amy Weber

These art cards by Amy Weber are the most colorful steampunk art. Only 2.5" x 3.5", they are cute in so many ways -- I can imagine them decorating a child's room.

My favorite was the elephant:

She has a whole series of Alice in Wonderland characters done in a steampunk style. Many of her other works also combine steampunk and folk art styles.

She has different artwork scattered across Ebay, Etsy, DeviantArt, and CafePress (all linked from her blog), so be sure to poke around -- I'm sure you'll see something you like.

Other art posts at The Steampunk Home.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lethal Chandelier

M, over at Curious Expeditions, recently pointed me to this amazing church chandelier crafted of the detritus of war -- shell casings, swords, and cannon parts.

M asked if it could be considered Steampunk decor? With all the power invested in me simply by editing and writing this blog, I'm going to say "yes". After all, it is a Victorian object (chandelier), made from reused industrial age objects (cannons and shells), with a touch of both the Gothic (not required to be steampunk, but definitely does not hurt) and the post-apocalyptic. Oh, yes -- I forgot to mention it is brass.

The whole idea of "trench art" is fascinating -- jewelry and decorative home goods wrought by soliders in the trenches of WWI (and most every war before then). Two other expamples from the Curious Expedition post:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Child Caves, Gypsy Wagons, Ship Cabins, and more

Heather, over at Cabinet of Wonders, has this long paean to the architectural pattern called the "child caves." She starts with Gypsy Vardos, meanders through childhood literature and her personal childhood fantasies, along the way touches on the modern Tiny House trend and the animal and people calming Squeeze Machine, and ends with a very meta realization that her Cabinet of Wonders is basically this cozy tiny place she's been seeking for -- a place "to store yourself, when you're deactivated".

It's lovely. Go read and enjoy. "Snug as a Bug in a Beautiful Box" at Cabinet of Wonders.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Victorian Baths

Last month, the New York Times had an article titled "Victorian Baths, unrepressed" that, while totally over the top, featured some perfectly dreamy Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco and Art Nouveau bathrooms. Make sure to peruse the slideshow.

Home Under a Hill

Not all steampunk is Victorian.... this house, featured on Apartment Therapy, evokes the more fantastic feeling I mentioned yesterday.

(Yes, it's basicaly a Hobbit Hole, and yes, I know, hobbits aren't steampunk.)

What's to love about it? How the center of the home is a wood stove, the feel that it was built as an escape after civilization collapsed, a home outside of time... All they need is a nice brass lantern hanging over the doorway. :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Magic and Fantasy

On my recent vacation to Turkey, I read Perdido Street Station. Reading it, I realized that one of the things I'm missing is a sense of the fantastic or magical in steampunk. It's there, I know, in books and comics and movies. But how do you make it part of your home?

I think there are two ways to do this.

Looking around me on my trip, I realized that Turkish -- as well Indian and the broader Arabic -- style was "fantastic" to Victorian England. One of the more exotic trips you could take was the Orient Express steam train. Where did it drop you off? In the middle of Istanbul. (In a lovely old train station that is still used today.) These countries were the "other", the exotic. As such, their style represented the unknown and can be used to conjour up a feeling of magic in today's steampunk homes. Here are some examples:
  • Datamancer's Arabic arch bookcase
  • A Turkish lamp, like this one that I purchased in the Grand Bazaar (too bad it was broken in transit...)
  • Armillaries, like this one, have a magical feel to it, likely because they were developed by Muslim astronomers in the 17th century.
  • Wunderly has wonderful stuff from Morocco and Yurdan has many things from Turkey.
A second way to conjour this magical or fantasic feeling in your home is to introduce fantastic objects:

Some would argue that the fantastic would push your home over the edge into cheesy, but I say it's the personal touch -- the something different -- that makes your house your home. Go ahead -- add some swirls, some arabesques, some magic!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bowery Hotel

(from the NY Post's Blog.)

I've run across pictures of New York's Bowery Hotel twice in the last week, and each time, I've peered at them and said "Hmm.... could that be steampunk?" I don't mean steampunk-steampunk, but rather the ambience and style that, with appropriate projects and devices, would fit into our little fantasy of what steampunk is.

I'm still undecided -- the style is described as "Old World" and "Bohemian." I do like the colors and richness of the look -- nothing minimal here!

Since I haven't actually been there, I thought I would present some quotes and pictures from around the aetherweb and let you decide:

Designer Sean MacPherson told the New York Times: The look? "Everything is handpicked, all antiques and old rugs, like our version of the Algonquin."

(via TripAdvisor)

More pull quotes from a recent NY Times article:
Dripping candles and mismatched wooden chairs gave the large space the feel of a Transylvanian inn.

...the Lobby Bar, a music-free space that recalls old New York with dim lamps, wooden ceiling fans and tapestries. A couple snuggled up and sipped Champagne, while larger groups languished on leather couches and velvet benches or in the gated outdoor patio.

“The British colonial-era vibe is such a great change from all the mod, stiff hotel bars that are taking over New York.”

From a different New York Times review:
the hotel evokes the Gilded Age of red waistcoats, hand-set bricks and wood-paneled elevators.

The handsome lobby, a dark and moody space, feels like an Old World drawing room, with faded tapestries, Moroccan tiles and iron lamps.

The room was graceful without being dainty, with d├ęcor that suggested Restoration Hardware with a boho-chic twist: accordion brass lamps, old Oriental rugs, sturdy wood tables and hunter-green velvet chairs. There were some nice custom touches — cast-iron stars on a wall, a recessed headboard

Reminiscent of a prewar bathhouse, with old marble floor slabs, white subway tiles and antique brass fixtures

I'm not so sure about the bedrooms:

But the bathroom is pretty sweet, with lots of brass:

(Last 4 pictures from TripAdvisor.)

(Previous 3 photos from Hotel Chatter.)

Want more? There are more pictures on Danny Seo's blog and some more on flickr.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A peek into Datamancer's workshop

As you know, workshops represent the heart and soul of a steampunk house -- I daresay many of you have workshops with more steampunk style than the rest of your house -- and the Wall Street Journal online has been gracious enough to give us an intimate look at Datamancer's.

The video is about his lovely projects, but let's see what ideas we can get from the glimpses of the workshop it affords:

First, Mr. Datamancer himself with some lab bottles over his shoulder and an intiguing (just what is it?) brass lattice in the background.

Second, a lovely starboard ship lantern casts a red glow over the entire room.

Third, a "parts clock" (it's feet are now part of his steampunk laptop), but it sits on a nice sideboard and has a another ship lantern in the background.

Of course, the most glamorous shots of Mr. Datamancer's shop are on his website, so be sure to check it out.

Update: Datamancer points out that there are some nice shots of the corner of his workshop with the computational engine on his website. I love the arabesque framing around the shelves full of steampunk equipment.


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