Saturday, June 27, 2009

Steampunk San Francisco History

I have, for a while, been looking for and collecting images of San Francisco before the earthquake in 1906. This is currently my favorite image of San Francisco (in any time period) - a nighttime photo of Chinatown in 1904.
In 1906 an earthquake and the proceeding fire leveled much of San Francisco. Its a bit difficult to find images of the city before that quake but as far as I've found nearly impossible to find images of Chinatown before 1906. The entire old Chinatown was destroyed in the fires that raged after the 1906 quake, and was rebuilt in its current location. Because of city laws meant to dissuade further chinese immigration, Chinatown in 1904 was overcrowded and overbuilt and not really considered post card material.

Another of my favorites, as someone who enjoys maritime imagery and the part that sailing plays in the mythos of exploration and adventure. Look at the plated hull on that thing. If that doesn't make you think steampunk I don't know what to tell you!
And finally, here's the steam train that used to run right through Berkeley, where Shattuck Street is now. Its a good reminder of how important and pervasive the steam train systems once were in the area.

Just a little bit of inspiration for everyone. Its easy to forget sometimes that many places possess a rich visual history of photographs if you can figure out where to look for them. Sometimes a great source of inspiration is what your home town really looked like 100 years ago.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Various and Sundry Bits

I thought I'd toss together a few little things that aren't totally worth a whole blog entry all for their lonesome (or at least not unless I don't have anything else to say and desperately wish to fill space).

First of all I thought the chest from the previous display image deserved some attention, mostly because I put rather more work into it then most display things I've used in the past, and I'm a little proud of it.
Its a wooden chest, covered in metal sheet. After giving it a good washing, I taped over with decal with masking tape to protect it from all the sanding and painting work (after sticking it to my jeans a few times to make it less likely to damage the decal - that's an old 'to cheap to by drafting tape' artist trick).
Two things I wanted to do were to keep the original decal and the dinged up texture of the metal covering and hardware. Luckily the front of the chest had paint that was in better condition then the rest of the piece so it was possible to avoid sanding and painting on the decal. I also managed to find a good paint match with a black semi-gloss rustoleum paint. For the hardware, I tried, skeptically, 'kurd kutter A Must For Rust' spray. Shockingly it actually worked more or less although it took about 3 applications, and works best at a temperature above 80 degrees.
The handle is pretty well falling apart, but I oiled the leather left on there in the hope that it would hold itself together.
I added the chain for the purposes of the display, and I do intend eventually to properly wash the interior (which is raw wood right now) and paper it with some victorian-pattern-looking paper. Probably with a water based glue that should be removed without a horrible hassel if I want to later. All in all, with some velvet covered foam core and a brass chain it made a really great display, and I could pack everything into it to travel back and forth!

And now to round out the post, a few preivews of things to come. I'm testing finishes on the new sculpted pieces now that I have casts of them. I'm not entirely satisfied with the nautilus' shell or the colors in the gear-floral pieces, still some things to play with there. I am entirely in love with the cuttlefish however. Of course, being a two part mold and a full 3d piece (rather then a flat backed relief sculpt like the others) he's the hardest to reproduce...but so worth it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The First Ever "I went to a show" post

This blog has never been graced with me actually writing an "event wrap up" post. Now lets be fair its not a very old blog, but I'm also devoted to trying to keep it interesting to anyone who reads it and mostly I think pure business stuff (especially with no pretty pictures) can be boring.

SO I searched Industrial Fairytale on Flickr and lo and behold, Pip Lagenta had already uploaded a photo of my little jewelry set up. It was even early enough in the weekend that there's still some STUFF on it! Thanks Pip!

Maker Faire was incredibly in all ways, and I really wish I'd had time to leave my table for more then a quick dash across the lawn to the bathrooms because there seemed to be lots of incredible things going on. A few very cool Maker's managed to escape THEIR booths and come see me however, and I'm now very excited to have a catalog of tiny solar panel bits and other very small robot parts (Thanks solarbotics!). The faire was very busy and vending went as well as could be imagined, and it was definitely a very fun place to be.

It was also lovely to finally meet some great artists in person with whom I've been exchanging ideas and collaborating with online. And to see some old friends again.

Now, a few days to recover and then, on we roll!