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Steampunk Collage: Graphic Novel, Pottery, Photography

Awhile back I wrote a post on steampunk and the 1987 television program, Beauty and the Beast, which carried many of the steampunk themes. The costumes, setting and the intersection of fantasy with reality connected the program to the steampunk genre, combining science fiction and fantasy, with overlaying elements of the Victorian era and industrialization, especially the influence of steam power.

In this post I add a bit more to the discussion on steampunk with reflections on a graphic novel, pottery and photography.

Steampunk Graphic Novel: Battle of Blood and Ink

Jared Axelrod and Steve Walker have written and illustrated a cleaver graphic novel with a steampunk setting: The Battle of Blood and Ink.  An entire city flies through the sky, which is not an unusual scenario in steampunk literature, where often castles travel through the universe. Ashe, the courageous heroine, sets out on an adventure to discover the secret of how their government officials capture the energy to fly the city. Ashe publishes a newspaper, The Lurcker’s Guide to Amperstam, proving that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Ashe wears an outfit that includes steampunk fashion elements: a corset, bustle and amulet. Steampunk breaks from the Victorian aesthetic allowing creative takeoffs to flourish. Her skirt is short for Victorian standards, and the boots are substantial, appropriate for a high-flying crusading reporter. Ashe is a woman who embarks on a journey into a world unlike anything we’ve ever seen and is dressed for the part.

This photograph recreates Ashe’s steampunk dress and backdrop with a remarkable likeness to the graphics in the book.

Photo Credit: J. R. Blackwell

Ashe and her pilot, speed through the clouds on an airship that models steampunk apparatus, replete with propellers and mechanical engine. Steampunk’s approach to technology combines futurist possibilities with 19th century machines. Flying contraptions have a long history in the pre- and post-Victorian era, representing the possibilities of new adventures through technological innovations, and in this case, with Victorian flourishes etched on the sides.

Steampunk Pottery

Today artists capture the visual aspects of steampunk ideas in pottery and sculpture. These industrial-inspired ceramics can be adorned with gears, keys, chains, pipes, clocks and a variety of industrial antique components. In most of these pieces I used metallic black glaze, which leaves a golden metallic sheen. By adding the elements of steampunk, the pieces become lively and interactive. Displayed on Victorian needlework, the industrial pottery juxtaposes the softness of delicate fabric.

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Steampunk Images

Steampunk images are easy to find, but capturing them in an artistic view proves to be more challenging. Here are several photographs that capture some aspect of steampunk, whether it is the nuts and bolts on the Eiffel Tower or a battered industrial machine left in the ruins of an old mill.

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Have you been inspired in some way by the steampunk themes?

Creating a Faerie Garden (Part 2)

Inspiration from the Isle of Skye

In the previous post, I described the Faerie Glen and Faerie Bridge on the Island of Skye, Scotland, the inspiration for creating my own magical garden. In pottery courses at the Community Arts Center I learned some basic techniques in hand building, carving and throwing on the wheel. My instructor, Bob Deane, had a special interest in making houses, castles and dragons, and guided our classes in the various techniques in constructing these pieces.

Bob created a ceramic house for Tyler Arboretum tree house display.

Making little houses completes the first requirement for a faerie garden. I made the first group of houses using white clay processed through an extruder tube. This device quickly produces a perfect cylinder from a clump of clay. I then cut these tubes to various lengths. For some of the roofs I worked with a piece of the cylinder, cut it in half and turned it inside out for a sloping concave shape. I carved different exteriors, such as stone, stucco or wood into the clay using simple tools. Different glazes created the variations in textures and colors.

The extruder tool proved its usefulness again for crafting large cylinders to make a castle. I used carving tools to cut the details for the shingled roof and stone façade. I added a clear glaze on the roof and doors after painting them blue.

A combination of paint and glazes decorated the bridge. A troll, waits patiently next to the creek.

I used a low-fire clay that would take majolica, a glaze which is left to dry on the clay and then painted with special pigments in a water-color technique.

I arranged the houses in the garden with a meandering stone path connecting the pieces together and added a few accessories: wishing well, fountain, bench, just to name a few.

The mysterious and magical Isle of Skye casts a spell and guides the recreation of a whimsical and winsome garden on a distant shore.

The fairies are dancing — how nimbly they bound!
They flit o’er the grass tops, they touch not the ground;
Their kirtles of green are with diamonds bedight,
All glittering and sparkling beneath the moonlight

                                Carolina Eliza Scott ~ The Fairy Dance

Good luck with your gardens! Send me your link if you have created such a place.

Links:

Anne Valley, Walk through the Fairy Door

A Guide to Finding Fairies: 15 Magical Places in Ireland

Does Scotland Really have Fairies?

Scottish Highland Fairies

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