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.


Dayna Collins said...

Great post, Serena! I love steampunk (a friend introduced me to it only a few months back) and I love the assemblage piece you have created with the steampunk theme. And then, a glimpse into your lovely weekend in Seattle. Very nice.

ann at greenoak said...

i love veronicas next adventure!!! sheils so cool.....enjoyed your blog...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. You are so correct that it means different things to each person- there is the beauty of it. I have been a Steampunker for a while now- it's such a fun style.
Glad I discovered your blog!