Steampunk Hands Around the World 2016

steampunk_hands_ Araceli_Rodríguez

 

artwork by Araceli Rodriguez

 

A Few of my Favourite Things

by Sally-Ann Livingston ~ aka The Navigatrix

Whenever anyone asks me to pick favourites – be it films, books, music etc., I always struggle to line up my likes in linear fashion and see who ends up at the front. With me, it’s more of Sphere of Wonder containing circles made up of concentric lines and divided blurrily into categories. So when the Ambassador once more invited me to be a part of this wonderful celebratory event and unveiled the theme, so many things rushed forth for my attention that it has taken me months to think about what to include.

Steampunk can be a family activity.

One person sprang to mind immediately however – my brother Matt. I wouldn’t be writing this without him, nor would I have explored the Steampunk realm so thoroughly. He and I set up Etsy shops at almost the same time. We’ve always been the kind of siblings who are best friends. We live near each other and often bounce ideas off each other. He’ll find me bits from the charity shop to upcycle and I’ll give him jewellery findings or sewing tips. We often share a stall at Steampunk events and have a great laugh together.

SiblingSteampunks

At ‘Steampunk Stamford on a Train’, Nene Valley Railway

Matt isn’t the only family involved, however. My husband and our daughter have been swept up in the steam, creating their own characters who are unrelated to mine yet part of the same crew – the crew of the Gargantuan Class Airship “The Unpronounceable”.

Steampunk encourages storytelling

‘The Scamp’, now 7, is creating a rich story around her character which includes brass dragons, magical coconut milk (allowing her to simply assume the form of what seems to be a young girl), being a tinkerer and ship mechanic, stealing fudge and concocting plans over a Steampunk luncheon, with Dr. Cornelius Porridge, for powering airships with unusual fuels. Mr. M(echanically) C(ivilised) Norbert, dwarf pygmy gorilla (and we like to think, Geoffery’s distant cousin) won the competition for best Steampunk pet. Though as he was mind-linked to Professor Noodles at the time, I rather think it was our dear prof who may have been the pet…

Stories are a large part of my products too. Each piece of jewellery and every accessory conjures ideas and images as I make them. One line of tribal steampunk products got rather over-excited and an entire fictitious culture was created, giving rise to The Aether Nomads Project.

 

Sal1 wmYcopy

photos courtesy of Alternate History Photography

This collection of images is a highlight for me. Holding props created by ArcaneArmoury (yes, Matt’s shop), a costume based on my design and created by Wiserabbit (TheWiseRabbit on Etsy, headscarf and necklaces by myself, make-up and photography by Alternate History Photography

Sal3wmYB

I do hope that tattybustles catch on!

Abi of Wiserabbit is a wonderfully talented lady whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for years, having met at LRP, and count among my most treasured friends. How wonderful that through twenty years of Live Roleplaying to have met such wonderful people, a few of whom also dally in the delight of Victorian inspired science fiction fantasies.

Sal2wmY

Images taken at Asylum 2015, in the grounds of Lincoln Cathedral

Matt and I were fortunate to enjoy the company of the lovely Genevieve last year at Asylum. I marvel at the last few years and – permit me a little name dropping -am so proud of these images, with costume and props by people who have costumed and ..er..propped(?) Professor Elemental and taken by the photographer who is one of the Steamgirls. I’m a little starstruck.

Mainly though, I am honoured to work collaboratively with such talented and really lovely people.

Steampunk is all about creativity and  cooperation

20160203_151658

This is why we love crowdfunding

Steampunk music

Here are a few examples, the three albums that I’ve thrown a few pennies at (as have hundreds of others) in order to help these wonderful artists manifest their dreams right into our eager, waiting ear’oles. 😉 Somehow or other, I have a tangible connection with all three which is so very meaningful to me. Not wishing to come across as egotistical but don’t we all love it when our lives directly influence something that gives us pleasure and a sense of achievement?

With Steampunk, it is all very up close and personal in the nicest possible way.

I need to list a few favourites in brief and in no particular order before I find myself writing a book rather than a blog post (that Sphere of Wonder grows each day!)

The costuming – goggling at other folks amazing attire!

The contraptions – especially those made with imagination and ingenuity, of whatever skill level.

The community – I love feeling that I’m a welcome part of something that celebrates diversity. *Shout out to Lincoln Steampunk Society!*

lk4tWlXDk5CanUF4XPSr7lpUJuUC8lcxH7IP36okS4o

Necklace by TheNavigatrix with etched elements by ArcaneArmoury (plus added Spoons!

Speaking of diversity, Steampunk offers a warm welcome to those of all nationalities, ages and abilities and is a wonderfully accessible hobby/lifestyle.

It is this broad scope which have allowed me to offer two opportunities for ‘creative socialising’ :

The Aether Nomads Project – a free global community art project based on the concept of a nomadic Steampunk Tribe. Here’s our Facebook Page and our Blog

This is one of my favourite things because of the wonderful people involved who have taken my little idea and run with it! I love sharing ideas 🙂 *Waves a glove to fellow Nomads*

Steampunkable – this is really quite new. Inspired by the clever modifications to wheelchairs, mobility scooters, braces and other aids that I’ve seen both at events and online, I decided to start a group for those of us dealing with disabilities and/or chronic illness and doing it Splendidly! If you’d like to join the group, put your request in here.

I myself have wonky collagen (aka Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic disorder) among a few other labels. This is why you’ll see my work appear in bursts and then hear nothing for a while. Steampunk and online shopping platforms allow me to craft a life for myself that is sympathetic to my physical needs and fun for all the family. I can work from home, yet Skype and message friends across the globe. I can work within my abilities and pace myself (which I’m rather good at, unless I get carried away writing long blog articles…oops.)

If you pushed me to answer what is my Favourite thing about Steampunk, it would have to be…

cogwheels-284526

image courtesy of Pixabay

YOU!

It is the people who are drawn to this creative playground, this cognitive casserole, this celebration of Splendidness who make it what it is. Yes, we’re all human and sometimes we don’t play together as nicely as we could but the value we put on community and good manners means that we keep this engine oiled and running smoothly most of the time.

It is simply a pleasure to be in your good company.

Wishing you a happy Steampunk Hands Around the World month,

Sally-Ann ~aka The Navigatrix

To see what else is happening for Steampunk Hands this month, visit The Official Link List

 

 

 

 

Interview with Joshua Kinsey of J.W. Kinsey’s Artifice

Josh Kinsey

Josh Kinsey

How did your shop get its name and what was the main inspiration behind opening your shop?
The word Artifice has connotations of astuteness, artfulness, wiliness and craftiness; all good descriptors of my work as well as my personality. I am also an Artificer, a skilled craftsman and inventor. I opened an Etsy shop as a way to sell my work online, as well as the advertising and promotion that results from being part of a large shopping network.
One of the first pieces that The Navigatrix saw and admired!

One of the first pieces that The Navigatrix saw and admired! Handmade Steampunk Newtonian Reflecting Telescope in stained cherry.

Another of my favourites. This puts me in mind of an orrery and watching The Dark Crystal!

Another of my favourites., ‘The Perihelion Spindle’ (sculpture). This puts me in mind of an orrery and watching The Dark Crystal!

What do you create and do you have a signature product? If so how did it come to be?
I create unique, hand-crafted lighting fixtures, flat artwork, telescopes, Cryptex combination lockboxes and movie props, as well as large custom installations. As far as I am aware, I do not have a single signature product. I do however, have a signature style: all my work is entirely handmade with no repurposed parts- I don’t make Assemblage artwork.
raw-9
The Cryptex Triple

The Cryptex Triple

Where do you find your inspiration and what makes you different from the other people that make what you make?
My inspiration comes from within, it is a constant companion. I am constantly designing personal projects: I have sketchbooks slowly filling with a lifetime of work. 
 
My work is unique within the Steampunk community as no one makes anything remotely similar to the objects that I design and fabricate. My pieces are incredibly complex (the Mystarium table lamp has some 370 parts, most of which are shop made) made with heirloom quality materials and surface finishes. Most everything is attached mechanically: my pieces can be entirely disassembled with a basic wrench set and a screwdriver. Also of note, everything within a piece functions and has purpose: my rotary knobs and gauges all work. My telescopes are fully functional, and are made of various metals and solid cherry wood. My Cryptex is a fully articulating secret lockbox machined out of black walnut burl wood, billet brass, and alternative ivory: it’s parts hold tolerances of +/- 0.003″. The combination rings require some 40 machining steps to fabricate apiece, and if I make a mistake on any one step, the part is scrapped. My drawings typically take upwards of 50 hours to render: the techniques I utilize are extremely laborious and unforgiving.
 
I don’t know of anyone creating within the Steampunk community that works to these standards or to my personal design aesthetic. I believe that these are a few factors that set my work apart.
raw-5

The Sullen Automaton

The Sullen Automaton

What do you enjoy most about your craft?

I enjoy the challenge of striving for personal improvement, the learning and mastery of new skill sets. I enjoy the excitement and creative fervor of working with clients that are open to pushing past their own personal perceptions- the chance to truly create something never seen before. I cherish the satisfaction of knowing that this newly crafted object of wonder will outlast my lifetime.
raw-4raw-3raw-11
Where can you be found online?
The Braxtonian Lantern

The Braxtonian Lantern

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 11.49.23raw-12What is it about Steampunk that you love and how did you become involved in it?

I enjoy the fashion sense and the attempt at a more refined social etiquette. I love the color palette, as well as the Victorian Industrial Age design motifs. I have been working within what I call a Vintage Industrial design aesthetic for the last twenty years. I was pulled into the Steampunk movement before I even knew what it was: an associate looked at a personal project I was working on and declared it was “Steampunk!” I had to google it to find out what he meant. Steampunk as a movement is not something I am actively involved with.
Cylindrium Table Lamp

Cylindrium Table Lamp

The Colchester Table Lamp: a handcrafted Dieselpunk accent light in Black and Nickel with Isinglass illumination

The Colchester Table Lamp: a handcrafted Dieselpunk accent light in Black and Nickel with Isinglass illumination

Background panels.

Background panels.

Thankyou kindly for sharing your thoughts and work with us, Mr. Kinsey!  Beautiful, admirable ‘works of the heart’, one might say!

Some of the images contain links back to the Etsy listings where some of the featured items are available for purchase. Alternately, J.W. Kinseys Artifice accepts custom orders. Do pop by and say hello!

~The Navigatrix

Celebrations, Building Steam and Joining Hands across the World

image by Araceli Rodriguez

This February sees the first month long, active celebration of Steampunk community across the globe. The 14th also happens to be The Navigatrix’s 2nd anniversary! 


I must admit, writing this blog entry is a bit like trying to use a chocolate teapot…you see, Steampunk Hands is really not about selling things at all. It is about celebrating community, so my focus isn’t really about inviting you to consider buying anything. However, the whole reason I got involved in Steampunk was because of a practical need to increase my income. This is one mother who got inventive! I amalgamated my skills as a professional modelmaker with my hobby of Live Roleplaying and created an Etsy shop. You can read all about how The Navigatrix began, on Etsy.

My learning curve in the first year was near vertical. I’d never actively created a network for business before, but I soon found it fun as it wasn’t unlike meeting people at a LRP.  You come across their characters in play and before you know it, you’re sitting round the campfire at 3am getting to know the person behind the persona. This is how I have met, both virtually and face to face, many wonderful people who are on a similar wavelength. Through the common love of dressing up and pretending (an admirable trait in grown-ups) we can get to know ourselves and each other much better. Isn’t it nourishing to be understood?

I was contacted by my friend Suna Dasi of Steampunk India (a Facebook friend) in January and invited to join in with Steampunk Hands. This was just the boost I needed to take off in a new direction and so I dived right in, enthusiastically!

 Kevin Steil, also known as the Airship Ambassador, is the bright spark whose idea has grown so rapidly that some are already calling it ‘International Steampunk Month’. The Universe often conspires towards us, I feel…

 Kevin states: 

  “Our community is an energetic force of creativity, education, and aspiration, which deserves to be expressed, shared, and valued by each and every one of us, every day.
Our friends and compatriots, known and not-yet-met, create the stories we read, make the fashions and accessories we wear, perform the music we hear, and construct the art we see….This grand collaboration makes our steam-nation possible, not just to exist but to thrive. Steampunk and our community is our playground. It is our classroom. It is our workshop.”

To find out the range of people’s efforts in celebration of our shared love of the genre, visit:
The Navigatrix has been spending time among the Aether Nomads

Serendipity is a fine thing. It just so happens that I had already planned to make something of my Aether Nomad idea, to have The Navigatrix spend time among a different culture, learning from them and emulating their style. OOC (that’s Out of Character for non-LRPers) my intention was to pursue a more tribal style in my Steampunk jewellery, allowing me more freedom for creativity and to perhaps find a unique little niche. 


The little snippets of story that often pop into my head whilst making things had begun to grow into the idea of a fantastic, fictional culture. That was informed by my most recent Live Roleplay character (the orange tagelmust is actually part of my LRP costume too). So finding out about Steampunk Hands fit right in and has allowed me to get to know this sub-culture better. I’ve even tried dredging up the French I learned at school to at least have a token go at speaking to Heyk Al Khemeti, with whom I’m co-writing some of the ‘Tales of the Navigatrix’. It is very rusty. A-levels were a long time ago (well, I will be turning 40 this year!).


I had been researching images for the character, using Pinterest, and had fallen in love with Moroccan design. Occasionally I’ll find elements from other cultures too – it is so fascinating to learn about the world through a visual design journey.

Georgina modelling the Vintage Lace Heart Choker from my Steampunk Catwalk collection

When I first joined Etsy, I discovered that you could be part of a team in order to get motivated, learn new skills and meet likeminded makers. I loved the idea of being part of such a community, so that even though I work for myself, I wasn’t by myself. The first team I joined was then run by Georgina, a highly creative woman who, at the time, had two shops. She now runs Atomic Girl, Curious Doors and Nevermore Art Dolls By sheer coincidence she lived close enough for us to meet up once in a while.  

Steampunk Fairy made for Sarah Trickler Photography by Nevermore Art Dolls

So Georgina inspired me, guided me and has become the main model for my shop. She has since retired as Team Captain and that position has been filled by our lovely pyrographer friend in the U.S. Emily Joy of EmiNation Artistry .

Together with my brother Matt of ArcaneArmoury and a few other friends, we are the Crew of ‘The Unpronounceable’. Georgina is The Captain, Emily Joy is Nova Pyrelis the Combustion overseer and Matt is Weldon Rivett esq., our Mechaneer. These characters came about through Georgina’s initiative of starting the Steampunk Share Page and I shall be exploring them a little as I write more story entries.

By EmiNation Artistry

When likeminded people connect, no matter the distance, a process of co-creation begins. You inspire one-another and gain courage to try a different route, to explore new ideas and broaden your horizons.

Matt and Abigail of The Wiserabbit (aka Weldon Rivett esq and Steamcaptain America) dropping character for a moment at Weekend at the Asylum 2013
Matt and I are very happy that a few good larper friends have also joined us in our creative, tea-powered quest! Abigail of The Wiserabbit is one such dear friend, met in a tent in a field somewhere in England, years ago. I’ll be interviewing this fine seamstress soon!

What a fine adventure!

I would like to express my gratitude to the many splendid folk that have contributed in some way to my journey. I’ve come such a long way in two years and it has been purely because of the positive and encouraging support from friends in the Etsy and Steampunk communities; many of those folk can be found in both places!


Here’s a list of Steampunk Etsy Teams for those interested in finding friendship, inspiration and support from various creative types across the world:

In Here Life Is Beautiful – Steampunk, Goth, Rockabilly, Bellydance, Cyberpunk, Burlesque…a spicy alternative mix!
Steam Trunk – a fairly new team seeking die-hard Steampunkers
Home for Displaced Victorians – for those who feel themselves somewhat anachronistic
SteamTeam – a large team full of enthusiasts

There are plenty more out there and you can join without having to have a shop. It’s another great place to meet likeminded people.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks to El Investigador magazine and Beyond Victoriana for the  features! 
  

So..anyone for chocolate tea? In all seriousness though, I am grateful to be part of a community who appreciate the value of handmade items, usually because they’ve had a go at doing it themselves and know the time and effort it takes. They also know the glow of showing off their latest thingumajig, complete with brass gubbins, to a global audience that they can engage with either online or through travelling to conventions.

‘The Navigatrix’ looks forward to making many more wonderful acquaintances. Teach me a bit about your language! I’ll have a go. My French may be rusty and my Japanese coming along ‘totemo yukkuri’ but I would like to at least make the effort. If you’ve read this and English is not your first language, thankyou! If you’ve used an online translation service, I hope it managed my rather verbose, enthusiastic celebration of Steampunk Hands around the World.

Happy Birthday, Navigatrix 🙂