An update on my adventures!

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It has been a while, sorry about that. I’ve been busy with looking after my health: getting physio, ankle braces, going to support groups, getting yet another diagnosis – PoTS – and a second lot of medication.

Steampunk and creativity had to take a back seat for a while but then, true to my Aspie style, I’ve spent three days throwing pacing to the wind and decoupaging to my heart’s content. The picture above is my own jewellery box and I’ve made more in various styles.

I’ve set up a second online shop (www.ConsciousCrafties.com/Crafties/Zebras-Bazaar) and am about to rent shelf space in a local craft shop too!

With so much going on, and a rained-out village fayre yesterday that took my last decent-sized Spoons, I’ve been in retreat today, recovering. I must make resting a priority next week.

The Facebook group I set up for Steampunks with chronic illness/disability, ‘Steampunkable’, has been attracting more members. It is great to share a common interest with those who also live with challenges.

I’m keen to get my Autism assessment date but first have to go for an echo cardiogram and dental surgery (for unwisely positioned wisdom teeth).

So, I thought about apologising for my irregular posting but you know what? This is how my life is. It ebbs and flows, so I shall allow my creativity to surface when it is good and ready and only ask for your patience and acknowledgement, dear reader.

If any of what I write about strikes a chord or inspires a question, please do comment. Wishing you wonderful journeys and the best you can wish for yourself,

~The Navigatrix

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.

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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

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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!*

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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…

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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

 

 

 

 

Steampunk Spoonies ~ Interviews, Part 1

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

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

Ironically, it has taken me longer than I’d hoped to get this written up, due to a lack of Spoons.

If you follow my blog, you probably know what a Steampunk is. What you may not be aware of, however, is what on earth a Spoonie is. The concept was created by Christine Miserandino and you can read about The Spoon Theory here. In brief, it is an analogy to help averagely energetic folk understand what it is like to live with the fatigue that comes with some chronic illnesses and disabilities.

I’m a SteamSpoonie myself, having been diagnosed with FND in 2013. I’m still on the diagnostic journey at the moment which is why my shop and blog aren’t as regularly updated as I’d like.

I feel that it is important to raise awareness to a certain degree. It nurtures compassion and understanding. It is also important to ‘always look on the bright side of life’, which is where we have a wonderful advantage being Steampunks! I sent out a call for interviewees and several brave folk answered, so I have decided to run the Steampunk Spoonies interviews in several parts.

Pour some tea (I’d do it for you but for the physical separation in time and space…) and allow me to introduce you to our first three guests, Charli, Chiisai and Kermit:

1. Introductions first! Could you tell us a little about yourself and whereabouts in the world you are from?
Charli – I was born in Middlesex but now live in Lincoln after going to university here.  I work in the gas and electric utilities sector as a technician, and also as a self-employed photographer, artist and crafter.

Chiisai – I am a 21 year old, 4’7”, wheelchair using steampunk enthusiast and cosplayer. I’m from Cambridge, UK, though currently am based in Ipswich.

Kermit – I was born in Myrtle Beach, SC on September 2nd, 1983. With both parents having grown up on tobacco farms, I was given your typical country upbringing in a beach town. Somehow I escaped without an accent, though. In September of 2013 I moved to the San Francisco Bay area, and live there currently. I am ridiculously introverted, and filled with child-like wonderment. I have a passion for most arts and sciences, valuing them both equally. Animals and their rights are incredibly important to me, but currently cannot afford a pet of my own. In addition to jewelry, I occasionally make wall hangings and refurbish furniture in creative ways.

2.Why do you identify as a Spoonie?
Charli – In 2013 I was diagnosed with severe Clinical Depression, having struggled with it alone for the previous four years.  At the time, people were fearing not just for my mental health, but my physical health too.  The depression at that point was really quite bad, I would stay in bed most of the day because I didn’t have the energy or will to get up, and I contemplated suicide frequently.  I didn’t want to eat, my sleep pattern was really messed up, and I couldn’t go out, because I was too scared of the outside world.  There was always a kind of shadow hanging over me, the so called “Black Dog”, and it would always bring me down, even when things were going well.  My sense of self-worth was pretty much non-existent and I hated everything about myself.  Depression is a lonely thing, even when you have people around you, and I still struggle with feelings of loneliness.  Even now, when I have it mostly under control, I have to be very careful.  If I feel as though my emotions are becoming too low, I’m getting even the littlest bit stressed or I’m getting too tired to control my thoughts, I have to take myself out of the situation and find someone to talk through it all with me, just to keep me from cracking again.

Chiisai – I identify as a Spoonie as I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Functional Neurological Disorder, Asperger’s, associated mental health issues, and hearing loss.

Kermit – I was diagnosed with PTSD about ten years ago. With PTSD, you can have better and worse days, but it’s not something that ever goes away. My spoons are planned and taken in a similar fashion, but for different reasons.

3. How did you get into Steampunk?
Charli – I was invited by someone I considered as one of my few friends, but I repeatedly turned her down.  My depression makes me really bad at meeting new people, even now, and I didn’t want the trouble of making a complete fool out of myself.  Eventually though, I found myself wandering around the area that the local Steampunk Society meet.  It was a “Steampunk night”, and I was alone in the cold.  I figured I would go into the pub and find my friend, as I needed to talk with her about a photography project anyway.  I sat alone at a table, watching the Steampunks for a while, but my friend didn’t show up until much much later, and I was introduced then.  About a month later I went back, because I felt a connection to the aesthetic more than anything, and I’ve been a Steampunk ever since!

Chiisai – I have always been interested in fixing/modifying mechanical and optical devices, but it’s only been in the past 3 years that I’ve become involved in the social aspect.

Kermit – I’ve always enjoyed the various aspects of Steampunk, but didn’t realize I could call it that until I had an idea for clock hand necklaces. When I looked them up to buy, I noticed they were associated with what I only knew as people in top hats and goggles. Come to find out, all my previously preferred aesthetics, eras, and genres take place within this newly found genre. I haven’t put it down since.

4. What limitations does your chronic illness/disability have on your every day life? How does it affect your involvement with Steampunk?
Charli – Depression makes me really bad at meeting new people, and I often find that I wish myself blending into the background.  I feel anxious in crowds and often find myself feeling that I will never compare to the people around me.  Sometimes I wake up, and I’m sad for no reason, and it doesn’t go away for weeks, sometimes months.  I lose my appetite and I don’t want to face people.  I also judge myself as a Steampunk incredibly harshly, and if I feel I have “let the movement down” in any way I can become withdrawn.  That means that I will avoid certain events or places, and if people I know aren’t going, I won’t even think about heading that way.

Chiisai – The combination of EDS and FND mean that I use a wheelchair outside my house, while the Asperger’s and hearing loss affect my communication skills. These mean it’s harder for me to travel independently to get to events, which are often far away, and also to interact with people once there.EDS affects my hands a lot, so it takes much longer to make things, though this means I have a greater sense of achievement when a project is finally complete.

Kermit – With me, it’s hard to convince myself to use spoons for what needs to be done, because my spoons can easily be taken all at once. Any trigger causing a flashback, embarrassing social interaction, or simply things not going as planned can take more than one or all of my spoons. My reserve spoon hopefully gets me to a safe place before I blackout, or enter a dissociative state. Because of my shortcomings, I have not been able to participate as much in the Steampunk world as I’d like. I can’t be around people for long periods, so events are out of the question. I can’t seem to earn enough money for them or a costume anyway, as the only jobs I know how to do require too much social interaction. Making my jewelry helps calm my mind, but I can rarley afford supplies. Even when I have something made, I can easily convince myself it’s not good enough to be shared with the community.

5. How does Steampunk enrich your life?
Charli – Steampunk gives me a creative outlet and has allowed me to meet people who are like myself behind the depression.  It has given me a sense of belonging; a place where I feel as though I can really be myself.  Now that I know there are others out there who share some of my oddities, I don’t feel so isolated, and I have made a number of new friends.  I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.

Charli, "...from last year's Fashion Gala at the Asylum.  I find that being on the stage helps me with the depression, as it makes me feel valued!"

Charli, “…from last year’s Fashion Gala at the Asylum. I find that being on the stage helps me with the depression, as it makes me feel valued!”

Chiisai – Steampunk gives me something positive to focus on when I feel depressed, and has expanded my social circle a lot.

Kermit – I think my mental illness lends a different take on the spoon analogy. I can actually gain a spoon sometimes. Occasionally a positive occurrence can have enough impact to add a spoon. I was always the science and math kid, and never thought I had any real artistic talent before I started making Steampunk jewelry. Making art I’m proud of can add a spoon. Getting enough likes and positive comments on a post about that piece can add another. I’ve mostly experienced kind and supportive Steampunks who make me feel good about what I do. These people also share lovely things with me, and true inspiration can also add a spoon.

6. Does being involved in Steampunk have a positive effect on your sense of self?
Charli – I understand more about myself now that my lifestyle has a name!  And I don’t feel as though I have to make excuses for being who I am anymore.  I simply say, “I’m Charli, I’m a Steampunk”.  And if people don’t like it, I’m happier about telling them where to go!  I am definitely more comfortable with who I am.

Chiisai – Definitely. When at meetups I feel able to be completely myself, and not so constrained by trying to be ‘normal’, which leads to increased self-esteem and confidence.

Kermit – Most certainly. It’s really the only place where I am rarely disappointed with myself or others, which makes me feel appreciated and inspired. It also makes me feel like less of a nerd for always wanting to be proper and polite. It gives me a chance to express a side of myself that I’m confident in, but others don’t always understand or take the right way. Doing so reinforces my confidence in general.

7. Do you have any current projects or plans that you’d like to share with us?
Charli – I’m working on a fairytale-Steampunk-fantasy photography project at the moment, called “Shades”.  It’s part fashion, part history, part Steampunk and part mythology, so it has fingers in many pies!  I’m getting a lot of support from my friends at the moment, and while it’s still in the early months, I’m really pleased with how it’s going.  You can see the website for it here: http://charli313.wix.com/shadesproject

Chiisai – I’m currently modifying a pair of Nerf revolvers [these are great fun], designing corsets, and my boyfriend is making me a pair of folding wings – if only these let me fly!

Kermit – Haha. I’m just trying to feed myself, currently. I’ve recently started chemically oxidizing metals to produce patinas in my jewelry, but quickly used up the little supplies I could afford. I also want to get into electroplating, soldering, and possibly welding.
You can find my projects here:

Etsy.com/shop/craftedcurios


Facebook.com/craftedcurios


Instagram.com/craftedcurios


Twitter.com/craftedcurios

8. Silver linings – what is the best thing about being a Steampunk Spoonie?
Charli – I am loathe to say that there are any silver linings to depression, unless you count the fact that it can be controlled and diminished, but being a Steampunk gives you a wonderful support network.  There are people within Steampunk who have already been there and suffered, so they’re always there to lend a hand.  The whole community is so vibrant, dynamic and diverse, that there’s always someone there to support you, even when you feel at your lowest.  And I met my fiance, who has also suffered with depression, through Steampunk, so perhaps that’s my silver lining!

Chiisai – (…)

Kermit – It makes me odd. I find oddities fascinating.

9. Are there any charities or support groups you’d like to mention to help raise awareness?
Charlihttp://www.actionforhappiness.org/
http://www.depressionalliance.org/

ChiisaiFND Hope is a wonderful charity, and much needs to be done to raise the profile of this often misunderstood and actually very common condition. EDS UK are a very good source of information and support and their information helped me finally get my diagnosis after 21 years of being a medical mystery.

Kermit – Have a Gay Day
 https://haveagayday.org/
Facebook.com/mygayday
Equality House
 http://www.plantingpeace.org/

Kermit (the Steampunk ;)

Kermit (the Steampunk 😉

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by Crafted Curios

IMG_20150111_164305 IMG_20150425_162514 IMG_20150109_144901Thankyou all for responding and sharing quite personal perspectives. Part 2 will follow…at some point.

~~~ Since starting the process of this post, I’ve been going through some rather interesting times myself and just this week received a new diagnosis – the master cog in the machine, really – of Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, which is seen by many medical professionals as being the same as EDS, hypermobility type (right there with you, Chiisai!). So, dear readers and customers, do please be patient as this is rather a large piece of news for me to digest, for many reasons and there will follow quite a few appointments to work out the details. The shop remains open and all orders will be dealt with in timely fashion, however, blog posts and newsletters will be delayed. Thankyou kindly for your understanding. Sally-Ann ~~~

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.
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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.
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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.
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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

Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 – Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop – Part 3

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”  – Leo Tolstoy

In this final part of the blog trilogy for #SteampunkHands, I’d like to introduce you to a few of the members who have been inspired to create! So, for your enjoyment and in no particular order, meet the Tribe:

~ Louisa Doak, Illustrator ~

Mother of Rhuk by Louisa Doak

Mother of Rhuk by Louisa Doak

“I came across the Aether Nomads through the fascinating Navigatrix about a year ago, and have enjoyed playing there since. As an illustrator, I always love the challenge of a complex character, and what appeals to me about working with the Aether Nomads tribe is the chance to work with living characters, not confined to a static existence on the page. It makes the illustrative process very collaborative, I can tease out details with a quick email to develop into features of the illustration.”

The Navigatrix among the Aether Nomads by Louisa Doak

The Navigatrix among the Aether Nomads by Louisa Doak

 ~~~~~

~ Empire Edibles ~  created a spicy, mocha hot chocolate blend, available as a solid stir into hot milk version, or a tinned powder. It was delicious and I’m sad to say that food laws prevented it being sold outside the UK…

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Empire Edibles

~~~~~

~ Amanda Gray of Lady Gray’s Emporium ~

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“The Nomads travel through time and cultures, so it seemed natural to land myself in Morocco when it came to my contribution to the project. When one thinks of the art of tea, Britain is often conjured, perhaps even Japan. But the Maghreb region of North Africa is positively RICH in tea ceremony. To me, Steampunk is largely about immersing oneself in history, fantasy and daydreams all at once and this philosophy is one I tried to capture in my Moroccan Mint tea. Upon tasting, I wanted to take my guest on a journey through the aether and into the bustling streets of Marrakesh and Moroccan tea houses. This spirit of exploration is at the heart of the Aether Nomad project.”

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downloadLady Grays Emporium

~~~~~

~ Josué Ramos, author ~

“My name is Josué Ramos and I am a writer, editor and steampunk from Spain.
After the first Steampunk Hands I learned a lot about multicultural Steampunk and how we writers can develop Steampunk in my culture and my country; but I also learned about Steampunk in other countries and cultures.

Since this last year, I am very interested in pushing the boundaries of Steampunk (Steampunk outside England or the Old West. In exotic places. Even in a lost colony at the other side of the universe). I think we should escape from clichés; so, I started to do it in my writings; and one of the best ideas came from the Aether Nomads Project.

I found a lot of inspiration thanks to The Navigatrix and the other members of the group, who post photos, drawings, pieces of text…I work with the group translating the most important announcements and documents to Spanish. But my first contribution was a novella: “Illusions”. It tells the story of Lidia, a Spanish girl from 1880 who lost her only child. After that, she found a young lost boy from the Aether Nomads tribe. A good friend of mine is working on translating it to English. In the meantime, I will try to publish it here in Spain. Wish me luck.”

(Good luck, Josué!)

~~~~~

~ Maharaj Neel Bhaga Singha aka Blue Millenium, Artist ~

Maour Devi by the artist BlueMillenium

Maour Devi by the artist BlueMillenium

‘Maour Devi, the Goddess of Victory, appears only to those who are seeking for Truth, showing the path towards new quests to our Aether Nomad adventurers.’

“Soaking in the Steampunk universe even before it bore this name, I am an illustrator specialising in ‘coffink’ and ‘teank’, the only inks capable of bearing the journey between the dimensions and my transformation into Tiger form (but that’s a story for another day).

Maharaj Neel Bhagha Singha

Maharaj Neel Bhagha Singha, image courtesy of Tenhaku Photographie

I put forward Indianity and Oriental Vaporism generally and participate in the development and the understanding of the movement through Chitra Event.”

Blue Millenium :

https://www.facebook.com/BlueMillenium

Chitra Event:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chitra-Event/319891168204549?fref=ts

~~~~~

~ Sarah Chernik, cosplayer and writer

Sarah Chernik as Farukka

Sarah Chernik as Farukka

Sarah Chernik of Canada has been featured in the latest issue of Ladies of Steampunk magazine. She is a cosplayer, tribal bellydancer and writer. Her short story, ‘The Imuhagh Necklace”, is now available to read on the official Aether Nomads blog:

https://aethernomads.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/the-imuhagh-necklace-an-aether-nomad-tale-by-s-l-chernik/

~~~~~From My Personal Tribe ~~~

Rhuk Gliders

Rhuk Gliders

~ My husband surprised me with this drawing of the Rhuk Gliders, an aspect of the Aether Nomads’ identity, which was his original idea. This concept, that beyond the various airships of the Cloud Caravan were a protective flock of giant birds, with tribe members slung beneath in Faraday cage harnesses. There is more to this developing idea and you are most welcome to join the tribe and help to further the story!

~~~~~

~ Matt Inkel of ArcaneArmoury

Aether Nomad inspired crossbow design by ArcaneArmoury

Aether Nomad inspired crossbow design by ArcaneArmoury

I was delighted to receive this wonderful little crossbow as a gift, made by my brother Matt. (My inner child was delighted to discover that it also fires Nerf™ darts!) The arms spring out from a folded position upon pressing the catch. I must admit that I’d been badgering him to make an Aether Nomad item for a while but he has been rather busy. There is an #ANProject idea in the pipeline, but in the meantime, he will happily take commissions.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/ArcaneArmoury

Finally, I just have to introduce you to ~ The Scamp.

The Scamp

The Scamp

Yes, this is our dear little Cogling! She has created her own character, who comes from a dimension called OddLand, is ‘half girl, half robot and half rat’, has a mechanical dragon and gets her powers from coconut juice. She was, apparently, discovered by the Aether Nomads and delivered to the care of the crew of ‘The Unpronounceable’ (of which my character is the navigatrix). I’m so happy to have my family be a part of this adventure, too!

Toward the future

We are looking to establish Aether Nomad tribes (groups) in various countries, led by active, enthusiastic and reasonably organised group members who would have the title of  AN Ambassador. Before this can really take off though, the admin are working towards a more comprehensive Foundation document, explaining the key concepts and making sure that the Aether Nomads stay firmly in the realm of Steampunk.

Perhaps one day we will have small groups of Nomads attending conventions and setting up tea tents; graphic novels featuring appearances or perhaps solely focussed on their adventures; tribal bellydance troupes performing using this as a theme; all kinds of handmade costume and accessories available; short stories; music. Oh yes, please, let there be music.

We would love to hear from you – your feedback, your ideas, your questions.

May your travels reveal the treasures within….

Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 – Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop – Part 2

“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us.”
~George Eliot

The story of the Aether Nomads grew until I realised that it was similar to a Character Type in a role-play game! Having noticed a few Neo-Bedouins and other arabesque looking characters on the Steampunk scene, I decided to offer the idea of a coherent fictitious tribe which, through their propensity to travel through dimensions and even time, would fit subtly or blatantly into any setting, whether leaning more to the historical or wildly fantastical extremes of Steampunk.

The crux of the concept of the Aether Nomad is the blending of art and science and the opportunity to share a visually and, dare I say it, spiritually interesting experience. The intention to share this idea to ignite inspiration and co-creation became The Aether Nomads Project and it was born out of the first Steampunk Hands event.

This idea attracted two wonderful people who have become administrators of the Aether Nomads Project. They also happen to be Steampunk and cosplay models. Introducing Al Kymaris and Catherine Moon:

Model: Kymaris
Model: Kymaris

Al Kymaris (of France) plays the Aether Nomad Alchemist ‘Al Khemeti’ (a character who existed before being brought into the project) who is featured in the first ‘Tales of The Navigatrix’.

“Catherine approached me on Skype and talked to me, she was speaking about the Steampunk Hands Around the World Project. She asked me to write a little paper about my Aether Nomads experience, and I was just like, I have to write only one page, because I will speak a lot about it but at the same time I was like traveling through time and the space and I came back to the day when Sally contacted me.

She was talking about tagelmust, LARP (Live-Action Role Playing games), and I was just left with a strange feeling, as if I’d dreamt all this before. At this time I was working on my French project of an oriental LARP tribe traveling through space and time (Asteria Karavan). And couldn’t beleive it! I had been thinking about the same thing for a while in France and Sally (in England) had come up with a similar idea.

It was like a powerful feeling of joy to realise that an idea can be shared miles away and also to be invited to a great inspiring idea of sharing it all over the world. I immediately said “YES!”. I knew that Sally was defending something very strong and something that I have been fighting for my whole life.

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I’m born from eastern tribes, my mother was one of those Amazigh, people living between the Nile Valley to the Mauritany desert. Since my childhood when I was playing video games, I tried to make some Arabian merchant characters, even in table top RPG I was always exploring multiculturalism for interaction. In the end, when I came to Steampunk, I did a Neo-Bedouin Egyptian inspired outfit.

I was defending an oriental fantasy, because one I was bored of elves and dwarfs and I was having more fun with djinns and sand mirages but also because it was part of me. And that was my interest in the group. Promoting this culture, my culture, through the veil of fantasy (magic, steampunk).

First we wrote a part of The Navigatrix’s Journey, therefore I became the first Aether Nomad and in the story the oldest one. Since Sally-Ann founded the project, I joined her as an administrator and take it seriously. I want to make proper things for this project, so I’ve tried to work a lot recruiting new Nomads in France and to merge my own project of Karavan with the Aether Nomads Project.

I’m enjoying both of them and I have come to build up stories for my character, for the group but also for my work as a Photo model.

Finally, I was inspired by myself for go on a lonely path of oriental fantasy, at last I’ve found friends who shared the same passion for this side of Steampunk and I give my energy for making us at least known for our story. That’s how legends become true, no ?”

~~~~~~~~~

Catherine Moon (The Netherlands)

The Mother of Rhuk played by Catherine Moon, photo courtesy of Slivercreations

The Mother of Rhuk played by Catherine Moon, photo courtesy of Slivercreations

“I’ve been rolling around the fantasy scene since 2006 and I never really realized how much fun it would be to make your costumes from scratch. Normally I’d wander around shops until I found a piece that was fitting with the idea in my head, add some accessories and voila! Costume done.

When I met Suna Dasi from Steampunk India at Castlefest in 2013, (thanks for introducing us Cpt. Bashford!) we immediately hit it off. We got talking and I was so inspired by her use of the Indian culture mixed with Steampunk. She introduced me to The Navigatrix (Sally-Ann) and it felt like it was meant to be.

There already was this multicultural Steampunk idea in my head for years but I started with playing it safe by making my Western-Native American inspired character. It was so much fun to do, that I dared take on the next challenge that Sally-Ann was offering me; join The Aether Nomads Project. Now I am a wandering spirit, as I have been all my life, so to call something home was a big thing for me personally. 

We talked more and more, and she also introduced me to Naós Al Kymaris. Unknowingly I already had one of his beginning Bedouin characters stored in a picture map with inspirational pictures. I was over the moon. Discussions of character designs, The Compessence, Vocations and the whereabouts of our tribe began. Because of our creative minds it really felt like a huge playground where we would show each other little bits of ideas that would spark somebody else’s mind into a full blown character, a new story or painting by one of our members. We even have some edibles nowadays! How amazing is that.



What I’ve learned so far is that there is no limit to one’s imagination, and by helping each other you are all growing together, as one big family tribe. I feel at home like I never have before. Learning about the Arabic culture has been fantastic, and the stories from Naós are amazing to hear. He helps us pronounce words and the names we use, which is of great help to us foreigners.

The character I came up with is the Mother of Rhuk. She makes the spiritual connection between the Rhuk (mythical gigantic birds, well known in Arabic culture) and the Gliders. When they are born, she connects the egg with the human and sees to it that they grow fit and strong. Once they are of age, they will help protect the Cloud Caravan. The only side note is that once Glider or Bird dies, the other dies as well. Thus making sure that the connection is never ending and always comes full circle.

The Mother of Rhuk meditates... Photo courtesy of Photorific.net

The Mother of Rhuk meditates… Photo courtesy of Photorific.net

My workshop is mostly in my head and I love finding people who can help me out with creating my ideas. I cannot wait to learn more and more, so I can make most of the things myself!
(Honestly, I’m having so much fun with it, I can’t really call it work) What I do for the AN is live entertainment by going to festivals or other events, I do photo-shoots and am the secretary of the group. Most of my ‘work’ consists of background stuff that is not visible for the public. I thoroughly enjoy it though!”

~~~

Thankyou, both.

If you might be interested in joining The Aether Nomads Project, you can email us at aether.nomads@gmail.com or leave a comment here!

In Part 3, we’ll introduce you to some of our most enthusiastic group members and showcase some of the wonderful creations that have materialized in this, the Project’s first year.

Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 – Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop – Part 1

“One can never be quite sure where, exactly, one might find oneself…”

This year, I’m excited to be able to introduce to you a global Steampunk art project that every member of this splendid genre, whether they consider themselves ‘artistic’ or not, is invited to join. We are all creative in how we express ourselves, through the words we choose, the way we move, the things we wear and use. The genre of Steampunk gives us an expansive playground in which to explore and have adventures!

I’ve quite a lot to share, so I’ve written this post in three parts. Allow me to begin with a little background…

The Navigatrix didn’t really exist this time three years ago. She was merely a collection of costume ideas, a character without even the familiar game rulebook to guide her emergence through imagination to reality. I was just following an inner pull, the mesmerising lure of creation.

My experience in storytelling grew through books and television, through films and tabletop roleplaying games, expanding out into the field (literally) of Live Roleplay. Here I found that I could immerse myself in a character and explore aspects of my own personality. Art therapy for a curious soul.

Then I discovered Steampunk (really not all that long ago). It was somehow familiar and yet strange at the same time. The rulebooks had gone out the window, I had no idea what to do with the character that was fast collecting a wardrobe but still that powerful intuition drew me towards creating for the love of it. I found a new outlet for my art, that had been quietened by years of teaching and the blessing of new motherhood.

I made a feathery clock-hand hairclip for my costume and the thought stuck me that I could make and sell these. My brother Matt guided me to Etsy and suddenly, my shop had a name and my character had a purpose! TheNavigatrix opened on 14th February 2012. A story began to form (and is still being written); my shop began to fill up as inspiration flowed. One day, I created some items that deviated from my usual English Neo-Victorian and Steamgoth styles. I was inspired by tribal fashions and suddenly began to see a very few examples of multicultural Steampunk costumes.

As I create, I often simultaneously make up snippets of story about the characters who might use the items that I make. These invariably make their way into the item descriptions in my shop. These tribal Steampunk pieces inspired a whole race! The Aether Nomad range grew…and then it grew some more.

A serendipitous meeting with the couple behind Prior Attire led to some of my work being featured in their ‘Steampunk Amazones’ shoot, as the Neo-Bedouin costume coincided beautifully with the Aether Nomad concept.

Last year, I decided to share this idea to inspire others, so when Suna Dasi of Steampunk India asked me if I would like to join in a new event called Steampunk Hands Around the World, I said yes! I was soon after contacted by two wonderful people and The Aether Nomads Project was born….

tumblr_nie4mwKhqt1s0ch6bo1_500This year sees a new theme for this event. How appropriate to describe the international, co-creative art project that it helped give rise to! This project has become much larger than simply an extension of my work, in fact, in order to let it grow I have had to push aside ego and let go the idea that a main reason it exists is to help my own sales…we all encourage members to create for the sake of it, for photography, for display, for performance. Of course members can create items for purchase, but that is not the main drive behind the project. So, from a personal perspective first, let’s look at this year’s theme:             

§§§ My Playground §§§ 

This is my chosen work but I laugh to call it a job! Steampunk is just so much fun! I’ve found some likeminded folk to play with and I couldn’t be happier. What is ‘play’ in the context of Steampunk? To me, it means giving myself permission to explore ideas, be inspired by history, the art and design of other cultures and the current explosion of Steampunk culture…then to put that through the filter of my own creativity. It is all about exploring who you are and finding people who understand where you’re coming from is one of the greatest gifts of this genre. 

AetherNomadPortfolio1§§§ My Classroom §§§

Don’t quiz me on history. It isn’t my forté. My memory is quite glitchy too. However, through meeting new people and reading blog articles, I’ve come to understand certain aspects of our human story a little better. Steampunk has introduced me to information I would never have found out otherwise. My work is firmly based in the realms of fiction but I find inspiration from the teachings of others. I’ve been introduced to such things as the legend of Tin Hinan, the art of Tribal Bellydance (no, I haven’t joined a class, just used some tips at a LRP event once!) and learned how to tie a tagelmust (the headscarf).

Aside from historical facts, this genre is a conduit for bringing many kinds of learning. I lean toward a spiritual and holistic way of perceiving life and in this area too, I have gained from my growing circle of dear Steampunk friends. At the core of this concept is a basic idea, explored already for years in the realms of science-fiction and fantasy, that of a Multiverse.

How interesting, then, that today’s science is beginning to explore such concepts as being potential realities. The film “What the Bleep Do We Know?!” first made me aware of this shift in awareness.

Cygnus Review on Ervin Laslo’s book ‘Quantum Shift in the Global Brain’, 2008, states:
“Science’s cutting edge now views reality as broader, as multiple universes arising in a possibly infinite meta-universe, as well as deeper, extending into dimensions at the subatomic level. Laszlo shows that aspects of human experience previously consigned to intuition and speculation are now being explored with scientific rigour and urgency. There has been a shift in the materialistic scientific view of reality toward the multidimensional worldview of multiple interconnected realities long known by the world’s great spiritual traditions.”

Steampunk and by extension, The Aether Nomads Project, explores our inner realities in a way that we can express through imaginitive interpretation, which crosses language barriers and becomes, in and of itself, a form of communication.

§§§ My Workshop §§§

Like many small businesses, mine has begun on the dining room table.

Mr M.C. Norbert, dwarf-pygmy gorilla, keeps an eye on my work. (M.C. stands for Mechanically Civilised)

 WS3

 My home isn’t very Steampunk. It is calming to step away from it from time to time, which gives me all the more momentum when I do dive back in. Yes, there are little touches here and there, like the modified toy gorilla, a joint family effort. The Scamp was delighted when Mr. Norbert won First Prize in the Steampunk Pet Competition at Steampunk Stamford on a Train (aka STOAT).

Then there’s the artwork on top of my little unit. It is an Aether Nomads Project piece called ‘Rust Flower’ and was painted by a friend, the artist John Void (find him on Etsy) and sent as a surprise package!

WS4 WS6So now you’ve had a little tour around my playground, classroom and workshop, it is time to move on to Part 2 where I will introduce you to my international co-creators.

Do take a moment to ask questions or leave comments, thankyou. Discussion opens doors…

~ Sally-Ann