Monday, July 27, 2009

Steampunk and Back to the Sixties

Paths Divergent Mixed Media Assemblage
( Collage paper, vintage paper, reproductions from French fashion newspaper of the 1870's, vintage watch parts, vintage illustration, vintage photograph reproductions, vintage bottle, found plant, acrylic paint, acrylic medium, found metal coil, shredded paper, and wooden cigar box.)

My craze for the moment is Steampunk! (See above assemblage.) Okay, I know it's mostly a young people's movement, but why should they have all the fun? I've been intrigued by the steampunk vision since I read The Difference Engine by William Gibson in the early 90's. (I just didn't know that was what it's called.) I've just finished a new novel in the steampunk genre: The Affinity Bridge by George Mann. (See link at left of blog.)

Mann's intrepid heroine, Veronica. inspired my second steampunk assemblage shown later in this post. If you aren't sure what steampunk refers to, rest assured it is complicated. Here's what I've written about my own brand of the genre:

Imagine you’re living in a parallel universe where the styles and sciences of Victorian England combine with advanced technology and other-worldly creatures. A world where steam power reigns supreme and all automated devices are made with elegance and individuality. People travel in dirigibles (called airships) and steam-powered buggies, while Victorian manners still prevail. Imagine yourself wearing a bustle under your miniskirt, reading H.G. Wells’ science fiction and being served Earl Grey tea in a china cup by your automaton butler.

Steampunk is many things to many people, but always includes a love of Victorian clothing with modern touches and machines where you can see the gadgetry at work. Steampunk says “yes” to technology, but insists that beauty and artistry not be left behind.

Steampunk themes you'll often see:

old watch parts
Victorian fashion modernized
steam driven machines
natural history and science engravings

Paths Divergent (left side)

(The face I used for this bride is actually that of Queen Alexandra of England, wife of the King who gave his name to the Edwardian age.)

Paths Divergent (right side)

(This bold young woman wears the face of my great-great-great aunt.)

Veronica's Next Adventure Mixed Media Assemblage

(Vintage photograph reproductions, found vintage pressed flowers, rose petals, vintage paper, vintage pen nibs, vintage watch parts, reproductions of vintage illustrations, reproduction of French fashion illustration of the 1870's, founs jewelry box, found vintage necklace and chain, reproduction of vintage ticket, diamond glaze, acrylic paint, vintage key, acrylic medium, vintage dress patterns and wooden cigar box.)

Veronica's Next Adventure (right side)

Veronica's Next Adventure (left side)


The rather frightening photo below is one of me at my dear friend Ellen's 60th birthday party in Seattle this past weekend. The theme was to dress as you did in the 1960's, or as you wished you had. I came pretty close. Take off forty pounds, forty years, and some wrinkles, and you have me when Ellen and I hung around during our college years.


Ellen's life and mine have often paralleled. We married (and later divorced) men from the same small Oregon town, who grew up together. We had daughters one year apart. Ellen did not produce a son to match mine, however. We have both been in relationships for many years now with our life partners. We both went into counseling/social work. Now Ellen is in management with a big health clinic, while I'm doing it myself with about four aspects to my business. I am so grateful to have someone to remember and laugh with and to share the big and small events with. Someone who knew me when...

I loved this outfit glimpsed at the party. So 1964.

Ellen and her 91 year old father, Ed. Ellen and I have been friends since late junior high, so I've known them both forever. Here Ellen appears in early 60's garb, complete with uncomfortable high boots.

Ellen's lovely daughter, Laura

Ellen in late 60's costume

Ellen and her partner, Chris, have an incredible back garden that is an official wildlife habitat. Chris is the most talented gardener I've ever known and a keen birder.

A glimpse of Chris' shop and verdant foliage (no other term for it.)

Ellen and Chris hung the gazebo with Indian Madras print for the occasion. This print was everywhere in the 60's. You hung it over your bed, used it as a bedspread, used it for picnic blankets, shawls, doorways, and once I even made a dress out of it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Too busy to blog?! No, I can't let it happen...

A previous block party gets underway

I have been remiss in blogging...not a good thing! Just a quick post for now:

Tomorrow is the splendiferous semi-annual

Taylor Court Block Party
1135 SE 80th Ave and environs
Saturday, July 18, 2009


Live music, kid's games and activities, a dunk tank (located in my driveway), display tables, food, parade, and more!

I'll have a Make-Your Own-Collage table and some small works to sell. Even if you're not a Montavilla resident, feel free to come on by and experience this old-fashioned celebration. Errol and Mel of Taylor Court Grocery (our neighbors) mastermind and manage this event with help from neighborhood volunteers.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Celebrating the 4th with a bang and miscellaneous cool stuff

Peter, Dex, and Nate clowning

As usual, my very extended family trooped out to the woods for our annual 4th of July picnic. We go out to a large wood lot owned by my stepfather Rob, he of the recent 80th birthday and kayaking fame. Above are my grandson (middle) and two step cousins once removed. I tried making a family tree for those attending who were confused about who was who, but I'm not sure it helped. Anyway, we always have a great time. The men and boys (sorry to be sexist, but it's true) always enjoy most the firing of the cannon. Rob has a miniature cannon that used to be on a steamboat on the Ohio river, and would signal when the boat was rounding a bend.

The famous cannon

Dexter and Rob as Dex ponders the offer to light the fuse. (He did light it, brave boy.)

I just sent off my article to Cloth, Paper, Scissors! This is my first art/craft magazine article, so I'm pretty excited. I don't know yet when it will appear, but of course I'll let you know! Below are a couple of new pieces I'll send them as well as several others.

Going Up and Not Falling
Mixed Media 7" x 5"

Regenerate Mixed Media 7" x 5"

Bridget and her husband, Eric, at her garage sale

I went hunting and gathering last Friday, and ended up at a cool yard sale. I was surprised and delighted to see the sale was given by my friend Bridget Hart-Schumock, artist, crafter and collector. She was de-stashing some of her wonderful items. I got a pink tutu that I know one of my young clients will love to wear, a Golden Book of the Shy Little Kitten (one of my early favorites), two small brass candelabra, an old recipe book with built in envelopes full of someone's beloved recipes, and an extremely wonderful purse.

Is this cute, or what?

OK, folks, it's time to get inspired and artsy. I'm again offering one of my most popular classes, "Altered Alchemy." If you've taken this before, feel free to join me again--especially if your altered book has been languishing in a neglected state due to the pressures of daily life. If you haven't taken this workshop before, you are in for a treat!

A bunch of altered books from a past class

Altered Alchemy: Creating Your Altered Book

July 11, 2009 12-4:30
The Art of Your Life Studio

Bring an old book to alter. All other supplies provided.
Transform an old boring book in to your own fascinating work of art! Come join us for this mind and book-altering workshop. No previous experience necessary--just a desire to experiment and have fun creating!

To register, go to my website or email me through the site.
Or comment to ask questions!

Friday, July 3, 2009

GASP Project: Pictures Worth 1000 Words...

The backyard: New tool house to the left,
trench for new lines, center
(The stone monument thingy came
with the house.)

The bathroom to be

View of part of studio- to-be (with colorful ladders)

Our Sanford and Son style back porch with items waiting
to enter the studio or tool house.

It's comin' along!