Friday, December 31, 2010

Rare White Christmas in S.C.

A fun Christmas with my family made more so by the snow, which was the first time for both my daughter and granddaughter to experience a white Christmas.  They found much delight in this, their best Christmas present as they celebrated by making a Santa Snowman complete with greenery scarf.  My son and I were old fuddy duddies and stayed indoors during the snow, having experienced white Christmas with snow measured in feet not inches before we moved from New England to South Carolina, but we watched with indulgence and recalled pleasures as Beth and Kendall maxed out on winter bliss.  My son celebrated in his way by skateboarding on Christmas day in a secret location not far from here (you tube video here for all old school skateboarders) and I indulged myself in the plethora of books I rec'd including. Wicked Plants,  a book of poisonous plants and The Disappearing Spoon (A view of life and the world thru the Periodic Table of Elements) Both are witty, hilarious and factual showing how oddly interconnected and affected we are by some of of oddest aspects of our planet. Both of these books are research for the three novels I have in progress.
This year was a mix of old and new traditions, lots of the foods our family always makes (and devours), and some interesting learning experiences.
One new tradition may have to be a trip to Nation's Bakery, one of the most awesome locally owned bakeries I've ever been to. My friend John took me there and it reminds me of bakeries you could only find in big cities. The Nation's in the title is just what it says. The owners hail from, NYC and make pastries from all over the world. Their creations are magnificent.  It reminds me of bakeries from the Italian neighborhoods in Boston or a little one Frank, Danny and I found in Atlanta.  The coffee and espresso are wonderful, the atmosphere is old olde world, not new trendy new old world and among the hundress of items they create, they make cream puff swans, a selection of cheesecakes (including a chocolate cheesecake with a pig on top) and lemon meringue pies where the meringue is at least a foot tall.
We ate until we were silly, roast beast on Christmas, and then indulged in books and movies. A perfect holiday!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Steampunk Fissure at Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza

As Shadow Archer Press made its first foray into the world of  con's (and my first time ever attending one)  I'm  so thrilled with the results and the response to Steampunk Fissure magazine. The first run of Steampunk Fissure sold out shortly after noon on Saturday. We're printing another run now.  Steampunk Fissure boasted six authors scattered across four writer's panels: Gypsey Teague (The Victoria X) and Matt Delman (Determining The Roots of Steampunk) were both featured in their own panels on Steampunk, K.G. McAbee co-chaired a panel with her writing partner, Cynthia D. Witherspoon (Airships, Submersibles, Difference Engines and Steam Men: Reading, Researching and Writing Steampunk.)  
In addition, Brian K. Ladd, Matt Delman, Shane McElveen and Maxwell Cyn, who all traveled at least two hours to appear: (Matthew from Boston, Mass., Brian from Durham, NC, Maxwell from Matthews, NC and Shane form Florence, SC) presented on the Authors and Publishers panel. What a feat for an indie magazine.  And I am so grateful they all agreed to participate.
We had a decent turnout at the Authors and Publishers panel and feedback has been coming in from the attendees.
Curtis Hart of Florence, SC said of authors panel, "It was the best writers' panel I've ever been to, and that includes those at Dragon Con."  
My dream for this panel was to offer writers a glimpse into how to write and how to get their steampunk works published.  I've been to writers' panels before and so often the authors on the panels only advertise their books.  While, it would have been more fair to our writers on the Authors and Publishers panel,to allow them to talk only about their works, my focus was to be provide information to writers so they could be proactive, leave the con and feel inspired to write and submit their works. This will not only offer individual writers the opportunity to share their steampunk concepts but also to support and grow steampunk literature as its own genre, one thing Gypsey has worked tirelessly within the library system to facilitate. 
My vision was answered from these panelists in ways I could not imagine.  They all had such different experiences, such wide ranging interests in both the literary world and steampunk in particular, different approaches to their writing styles, critique groups, submission approaches, working with editors and the world of publishing.
I could not have been more thrilled, except that we needed a lot more time (at least 90 minutes) to cover such far-reaching territory, but also I wish I'd thought of trying to get an indie film maker to video tape it and photograph it.  I don't think there are any photos of the panelists all together.  What a shame.
I was also able to meet Jim Cross, who did our amazing cover and some interior art and Brandon Cassidy who did the back page art and some of the interior art.
Matthew Delman was wise enough to pick up a indie film maker to videotape his "Determining Roots of Steampunk Panel" and they are now posted on You Tube. I recommend you read his blog and check out the videos.  They over a wealth of info on steampunk and the literary genre.  Author and panelist, Maxwell Cyn and attendee and screenwriter, Curtis Hart also wrote about the Authors and Publishers panel on their blogs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza Part 2

So much more to say.  So many highlights come back to me over and over as I reflect back on the Upstate Steampunk Con. First of all, Gypsey and Marla did an amazing job organizing this stunning event and thanks to their many behind the scene helpers as well, Brandon and Jennifer, who ran the gaming, Lennis and Howard, Elizabeth and people I don't know.  A lot of folks from the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) came out and knew each other. They contributed, by presenting panels, vending, and of course, creating amazing costumes.  Attendees came from all over the country and were not disappointed. 
Here are some of my favorite moments in no particular order: Seeing the vending room come alive and packed to the walls, watching Valentine Wolfe perform, buying goodies from Phinneas' table of tinker bits and seeing him with explosion dust on his face around where his goggles had been.  Watching Tofu extend the wings Mr. Steampunk, Josh Smith made, watching in amazement as Elizabeth did her glowstick dance in her marvelous costume, (she says its better than getting singed by fire). It was straight out of a dream. Then seeing IFB perform his song about the Thames, "Grey Romance,"and being scared by Frank the rabbit from Donnie Darko when he put on his rabbit mask, watching Izabella Cullen (Lindy), a first timer at a con, doing middle eastern dancing and watching Captain Maelstorme Smythe (Shane) drum for the first time in a drum circle, both of them wearing expressions of sheer enjoyment.  Then there was hanging out with Cindy, talking writing with Brian K. Ladd, seeing Megan (who was an awesome help in watching and packing up my vendor table) exchanging ideas for next year's con with Dr. Dayafter (Curtis), Missy, Jimmy, Josh, Matt, Max,  and so many more cool people.
Just plain people watching.
  If I had time and room for more hobbies, I would love to be a tinker.  I'm so attracted to all the little odd bits and pieces that make machines.  Wow !So many amazing inventions: the Time Machine, Gypsey's copper walking sticks, Organic Armories wonders.
There were a number of local authors selling their books, local musicians selling their CD's, art, a lot of craftsmanship, dueling, tea, coffee, conversations, panels, so much to offer.  This is just the beginning.  I had never been to any kind of con other than literary conventions so this was an eye-opener.  I learned a lot, suffered sensory overload, wore out my feet, didn't get to talk to everyone I wanted to, got to know really cool people better, laughed, cringed, danced, participated in two panels, talked about writing, talked about art, collapsed with a brain stuffed full of information and I only scratched a tiny bit of the surface.  Next year I want to attend more panels, stay up longer, talk to more people, sit in the wine room, dance more and  relax into this stimulating alternative world.
So now, I'm off the listen to IFB and Valentine Wolfe and plot for next year's con.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza brief recap

This may be a long blog, or a serialized blog due to all of the amazing experiences at the Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza.

For a short overview, I can only describe it as an elegant event – finally a con which blends the academic and the fan approach, from literature to history, technology to costume, music to the maker’s DYI ingenuity. Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza was a whirlwind journey through the alternate worlds. Set in an aesthetically stunning location, every attendee offered their own version of steampunk in every aspect.  I was constantly inspired, in awe, and caught up in this complex genre.  And the entire weekend, meticulously planned with a full range of vendors, panels and fun, was punctuated by those caught up in the energy, who spontaneously erupted into performances, duels, dancing and song.  Thanks to everyone involved for an unforgettable, enlightening journey! 
A longer account with photos and highlights coming - I'm still processing it all. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thomas Riley by Nick Valentino - a wild ride

When I first met Nick Valentino at the SC Literary Convention, I knew just a little about steampunk. I recognized his connection with the genre by his goggles and became enthralled by the genre after our conversation. I've never read a YA novel and was surprised at how involved Thomas Riley was in plot and steampunk technology. The novel is a fast paced wild ride through varied landscapes and near scrapes for Thomas and Cynthia, who are a likeable pair, with their odd little quirks and dedication to their mission. I was constantly surprised by the cool weaponry and alchemy touches, all the little details that make a story rich and memorable. The interplay between the two characters is fun and lively and adding the third imprisoned character of the princess (I won't say how and ruin the plot) makes for a complexity which challenges the hero and heroine both from within and without. Quite an interesting twist in the steampunk genre. Nick and his story inspired me so much that I've since become very involved in the steampunk community, started my own steampunk novel, and attend regular steampunk meetings and cons. Nick makes a rather confusing and off beat world fun and creative and I learned a lot about the odd technical aspects of steampunk weapons, visual devices, and airships from Thomas Riley.

Steampunk Fissure preview

Take a step into this mechanical , sometimes diabolical world, fraught with clockwork tensions and alchemical experiments.  Whether you fly on airships or board steam trains, you’ll be drawn into mysteries, high adventures, back alley intrigues and fragile loves. Prepare to encounter a host of characters, both strange and bizarre, who will tease, amaze, and inspire as they lure you into these altered worlds of the once was and could have been.  Mad scientists and airship captains, baleful ladies, Egyptologists and their finds, tinkerers, spies, mechanical beings, and lost souls.
Steampunk Fissure carries of a broad section of this exciting genre, nodding from time to time to steampunk influences and branching out in odd new directions.   

Monday, November 15, 2010

on Transparency & Ripping the Veil

While on one hand I am entering a period which requires me to be social, on the other, the subconscious calls again.  I will have to maintain balance.  I agree with John Fowles observation that "Time is not a road, it is a room," and as my time fills up with social activities, I am pulled away from the visions, concepts, poems, writing which is bubbling up form the subconscious. Some of it valuable information, it may have taken years to process. some of it which needs to be thought out, recorded in poems, the novels, art. I'm tempted to shut myself away again, become hermit like and create, but it's also a time of reaching out and sharing, meeting and learning from others. What will happen when these new influences converge with the steam of observations, with those little awareness moments?  Will I rebuild, transform, rebirth? As I read the journals of Anais Nin, go back to Fowles and The Magus, and feel pulled to rewatch movies like "Stay" and "The Libertine" (movies where the plot involves an individual who must live outside society, both in their personal extremes. And as society and some of its systems summon, I feel pulled to do just the opposite, retreat into the worlds I know, the second reality, the world behind the world, which so many other authors, poets and artists have seen, Salman Rushdie, Carl Jung, Thomas Moore,  Fowles, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Keith Flynn, Anais Nin, Neil Gaiman, Umberto Eco, Brian K.Ladd.  More and more I see the mentions, the hints, the nods, in films, in contemporary novels.  I am just now noticing or are they trying to tell us something beneath the story lines and song lyrics?   
As I embark on my lunar moth series in the novel, poetry and art (the lunar moth as a sign of the veil's transparency,) I go deeper and deeper and like Jung discover even more layers, even after I thought I had gone as far as I could.

Lunar Moth Lessons

In emergence
from hermitage,
I hide behind costumes, hats,
names - run away to
sideways cultures
only to learn
I’ve taken that first
hard-to-reverse step. Summoned
by yet another system.

I seek the awake moments, 
(as fragile as mist on an Atlantic breeze,
as it dissolves when I look away),
to reteach
me to avoid
such betrayal -
stay handbound
with the subconscious.
Remain aware
by looking in:
deeper than ether.

side step reality’s hypnosis,
loss of self.

Become transparent
more illusive
than a lunar moth on a cloudy day.
Only then can one walk through
the glass doors of reality,
                       find the numinous self -
                                                    take wing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November - on the road

Glorious November days - surreal, the air so clear you can see into other dimensions, the shifting shadows as I drive under red flamed trees, angled wind slashing away the slow pull. I spend many hours on the road these days with my job, and although viewed through a windshield, I feel back in touch with the natural order of things as the sky shifts and changes and the seasons evolve one into another. The cloudy days are reminiscent of home and it was great fun today as I joined friends and coworkers for lunch at Saffrons where we were pampered in the most elegant, unobtrusive way as we dined on a delicious variety of multi-spiced Indian dishes. The rose flavored rice pudding perfectly topped it off.  The afternoon was a treat, accompanying a friend to an art gallery and then, bringing back fond memories, helping him find just the right satchel at the army navy store.
Funny how things hit you sometimes.  And how often, it's the quieter, low key, subtle moments that resonate, the little synchronicities,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dances with the subconscious

While more copies of Steampunk Fissure magazine are printing, I'm creating new mixed media collages using beeswax en caustic to replace those I sold at the art show and on Etsy.  This appears to be evolving into two series. The first is  something akin to the seven deadly sins, but not quite.  So far the titles have included "Secret," "Temptation," "Twist of Heart and Soul," "Seek", "Seduction," "Mystery", "The Crow," "The Passion to Exist".
The Steampunk series so far includes "Steampunk: Into the Aether" and "Alchemy."
They are dances with the subconscious.  While there are various steps in my process, very few are planned.  I start out with a panel of art or mat board and then choose a vintage photograph.  The photograph elicits emotions which cause the free association of other images, some relate to botany, to nature, others to writing or love.  It's usually only half way through a piece that I notice a them.  By the time I reach thee stage of adding the 3-D ephemera, I have a direction, a guide, but still no set rules.  It's only after I've completed every step except for the title, quotes and gold leaf that I really know where I was going.  It's a gamer, perhaps a dangerous one because it leads to exposure of the hidden, vulnerability in what I share, but the process is so powerful, I can't stop making them.  I could edit myself, do the more socially acceptable styles of art, but that would water down the experience - and the experience is what I'm after, the art which results is gravy.  
These are the various steps. I often stop mid point, work on other pieces, go to bed in that halfway place additional concepts pop into my head, mini aha experiences and I jump up to search for items in my stash.
I start with laying down the vintage photographs on colored art board or mat board, adding vintage ephemera and postage stamps in addition to contemporary Graphic 45 papers, making the embossed papers using Tim Holtz embossing folders and a Cuttlebug, lathering on the beeswax, adding the metal and paper embellishments (Tim Holtz, K & Co., 7 Gypsies)  and found objects, (many I find in gutters as I walk or in the parking lot at work), researching and hunting down the quotes to go along with the main word or title, painting on the pigments, brushing on the Perfect Pearls, complimenting the piece with paper flowers adding the gold leaf (the most tricky process) and adding the frame of ribbon for hanging.  I really like the ribbons hanging the best since it harkens back to the Victorian method of hanging art.

Milagro Art Show

I went to hang my art for this show at Milagro Studios with much trepidation.  When I committed to being in the show many months ago, I was in the mindset of the Day of the Dead, and I did not work except on Shadow Archer Press.  So when the time crept up on me and I had only produced two new Day of the Dead style pieces in beeswax encaustic collage, I felt guilty and inadequate.  I had three oil paintings which I thought suited the theme, and those two pieces - not enough to fill the wall.  But Bethany talked me up and Kay was wonderful when I hung my work which is made out of bits and pieces mostly and while very personal, is low brow art, not fine art.  I talked to Kay about my Victorian/Stemapunk series and she said to bring it and hang it too. So I did.  These too are encaustics but are form my series of perhaps, some would say, controversial, themes.  They were not ready to hang so I worked like crazy, like a madwoman trying to finish them up and figure out a way to present them.
As often happens when I'm desperate I got creative and found the perfect way to hang them which also fed into my Victorian aesthetic. So at the last minute, I was adding gold leaf, gluing on metal findings and working up to the wire.  I was so ill-prepared in every other way it was embarrassing.  I forgot my business cards, could not find the bags and tissue paper I used for Black Swan Thieves Market, did not prepare at all for an art show with all the little details like I did when I lived in my art studio.
But the show went amazingly well, people actually liked the work.  I thought they'd ridicule it, yet I sold one of my favorite pieces. Wonderful people came out to support me including Mark and Mike - who arrived on his Harley right outside the door - how exciting.  And Vicki came form work with Julia, who took lovely photos.
There were a lot of new people including lots of young folks, thank goodness with their open minds and fresh approaches. The wall also looked a lot better than I'd imagined and offered a small body of work, not a thrown together jumble as I'd feared.
Saturday during Open Studios I talked to Paul Flint only to learn he had been in the same last minute craziness, no time to put title cards up near his massive pieces, forgetting he had to fill the back wall of the Art Bomb. It made me feel better that professional artists like Paul worked down to the wire as well. 
Although now comes the usual round of emotions.  A little depression until I start the new projects, the frenzy of creation, the ecstasy when a project works and then the doubts, the insecurities, the feelings of being inadequate and out of step, always out of step.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Panic time

And of course, since I'm heading into one of my busiest times at work, working on two certifications, almost a full client load, (most of those hours on the road), I'm also running into a crazy hectic creative season.  One art show this Friday night.  It's a Day of the Dead show at Millagro Studios, and will feature some of my new encaustic beeswax collages. I'll take the show down the same night but hope to visit a number of Open Studios this weekend,  And then there's finishing Steampunk Fissure, finishing handmade books, costumes, more steampunk encaustic collages and still trying to write more on one of the three novels in progress. I need to start submitting more work now that I'm inspired by selling The Foxglove Broadsides to Clockwork Chaos for professional level payment (just found this out). 
Whew - no time to breathe, let alone take a break.  And the holidays will swoop down like a hungry hawk and I am so far behind in all things.
And did I mention packing?  Yes, there will be much in the way of packing.  Arrrggghhh! Why are the days so short?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Upstate Steampunk October meeting

Busy weekend - started it off with an Upstate Steampunk meetup in the posh wine room at the Pelham Rd. Marriott where we'll be holding the con.  The conversations were stimulating and plans were finalized and I had the chance to meet new folks and also was thrilled to see friends I haven't seen in a while. It was great to meet Lennis and her husband,  Howard, (who is from Liverpool) and discuss Morris dancing, Sherlock Holmes and the tradition of first world war First World War soldiers who sent home unusual scrapbooking creations they made with photos (thanks to all the revolutions since the invention of the camera obscura)  and  paper emperema from where they were stationed. The conversation started when I showed Howard and Lennis the mini album I made for Valentine Wolfe.  He has a examples his ancestors made and he said the book I made reminded me of the same way of putting things together. When photographs were able to be reproduced cheaply, scrapbooking using family photos became a passion.  I have seen some period examples some women have created but never knew the soldiers did things along these lines. Howard explained that in lapses in between battles, the young men would make them and ship them home. 
 The wine room, accented with a fireplace and comfortable upholstered furniture was perfect for mingling so I moved about the room to take part in lots of discussions: technology with Penelope, the Egyptologist, trains and clockwork with Professor Thaddeus, see Josh again after more than a year, listen in amazement to the news of  the latest inventions to emerge from his engineering workshop and hear from Gypsey,  Pilot of the Second Thought, about her plans to build and fly her amphibious dirigible over Lake Hartwell.
  But the rest of the weekend is to be spent finishing up on the Fissure Steampunk issue and doing art.  On Saturday, amidst fires in the fireplace, pomegranates and the crisp fall weather (finally arrived here in the south) I worked on more beeswax encaustic mixed media pieces, this time though they are for the Upstate Steampunk show since Gypsey announced there will be an art room.  I finished two I'd started months and years ago, one steampunk and one alchemy and  then completed three more using lots of paper epherema including vintage photographs, lots of the metal findings I've picked up at the sides of the roads for years, gold leaf, pigment inks and of course, the most fun of all...beeswax.  There are Tim Holtz, 7 Gypsies and Graphic 45 paper,  elements, clockwork parts, antique keys, international vintage stamps, flowers and more of the

Friday, October 29, 2010

Immersion - a Halloween poem


To make sense -
 meet purpose with desire,
the crafting… or
forgiving of everwhere,
the mastering/inclusion of could have beens,
as plentiful as pomegranate seeds
the what ifs and never seens,
                              not to be shared.

Energy: elastic in circulatory dance.

Woodsmoke and  waterside breath
mists shoulders,
as subtle as a crow’s gaze,
head tilted in Socratic inquiry.
Meet on crossroads, the earthen path strewn.
Composting leaves of memory -
the baseline to our centers, transformed
beneath the pungent decay, the autumn aroma of meaning
Swipe the veils of gauzy hope away,  
 trembling hands;
ever aware.
Silk drags the debris
                     of before;
footsteps past,
still present in a cyclical universe.  
colliding collage,
sliding symbols like an adept. A duo
of thumb pads, shift -
click the puzzle tiles,
a backseat game,
             trees and shore flashing by.
            Creative flux,
   annihilates the abstract            
                                     one tile
                                        strikes home. 

                                                                       - G.G.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Steampunk Fissure magazine

We're coming down to the wire and completing the final edits and layouts on Fissure #8, the special Steampunk Fissure issue. This issue will be released at the Upstate Steampunk Con on November 19th and 20th to be held at the Pelham Rd. Marriott in Greenville,SC.
I'm also trying to keep up with the Shadow Archer Press website and emails but it's a complex process, especially now that I work a full time job as a Rehab Support Specialist for a head injury and spinal cord program and take care of my granddaughter on the weeknights and every other weekend - so please bear with me.  I have very limited free time and lots going on.
Jim Cross of Anderson, SC did the artwork for the gorgeous cover and we're thrilled to have him onboard.
I'm excited to announce the contributors chosen so far. This is a working list of contributors to this issue subject to change as we complete the final edits and layout.

Short stories by Tom Brennan, Kimberley Collier, Maxwell Cyn, Matthew Delman, Gillian Daniels,  K.G. McAbee,  Shane McElveen,  Brian K. Ladd, Gypsey Teague, William Wood
 Poetry by George Anderson, Jack Frey, Paul Handley, Kim Keith David S. Pointer,  Charles F. Thielman
 Nonfiction by Gypsey Teague
Art by Brandon Cassidy, Jim Cross, and Shane McElveen.  Some of you who have submitted may have not received emails yet.  Those will go out in a few days.   
Poetry by George Anderson, Jack Frey, Paul Handley, Kim Keith David S. Pointer,  Charles F. Thielman
Nonfiction by Gypsey Teague
Art by Brandon Cassidy, Jim Cross, Shane McElveen

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dias de la Muertos Beeswax Encaustic

I've finally had a bit of free time to do art. While, Kendall and Savannah spent  yesterday outside doing their arts and crafts on this perfect fall day, I took this opportunity to play for the first time with mixed media beeswax encaustic collage.  I ended up starting five and finishing four for the Dias de la Muertos show I'm participating in at Milagro Studios during the First Friday gallery crawl November 5th.  There may be three older oil paintings and perhaps my mixed media 3-D assemblages (still debating since they're rather fragile)  and I plan to do at least one shadow box for the show.  I love working with beeswax.  I've been hunting for this effect for years - that old Victorian look with it's dark Poe-like effects and the aged yellow appearance the beeswax provides.
Since Nick Bantock's, Griffin and Sabine books, I've been fascinated with mixed media and collage. In my early days of painting I produced a number of of collages.  But then stepped away from it except in my art journals to work with oil paints in the standard manner.
I didn't know how to get this effect until I saw videos by Jack and Cat Curios and Suze Weinberg. Now,  I've discovered this is my medium.
I wanted to work with a couple of nontraditional Day of the Dead themes: the first delves into my philosophy about delirium vivens - the passion to exist, a concept (in addition to many others) introduced by the character Conchis at his villa, Bourani (Greek for skull ) in the novel, The Magus, by John Fowles.
I chose a Burne Jones man clad in stylized black leather armor running through the ocean (emotion). The Ouija board represents the subconscious here while the crow, skulls and skeleton are quite obvious in their symbolism. 
The second harkens back to the second Crow movie, which featured a moody Day of the Dead festival

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Absinthe Mini Album

When it came time to make a present for my friend Bethany for her birthday it wasn't hard to come up with ideas.  She will play an Abbey Sinthe, an Absinthe Distiller at the Upstate Steampunk Con where she and her partner, Rhonda, will be vendors with their stunning fused recycled glass jewelry and feathered hair adornments from Ow Wow! Glass Creations.
Bethany loves butterflies and has taken gorgeous photos of the creatures, I tried to included lots of butterflies, as well as the lots of absinthe memorabilia (including instructions on creating the louche). I had a great time making this album, working on it in the middle of the night sometimes when I got an idea.  It was so much fun.  I used a lot of Graphic 45 papers, vintage photos and absinthe posters, 7 Gypsies, Prima flowers, Tim Holtz, K and Co., bling and charms, as well as things from my stash of 20 years of altered books, art journals and scrapbooking.  
I also included some prints of my own drawings of nudes, as well as the envelopes, pockets, tags and fold out portfolios I have learned from you tube mini book tutorials.  
This is my third mini album and my second one for friends in the Upstate Steampunk group here in Greenville, SC who are all getting ready for the Upstate Steampunk Con in November.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Lure of the Sea, sea glass, mystery and magic

Even as I work on art mini books and albums, thanks to Cindy coming by this weekend bringing me a ton of vintage metal items, lace, flowers and paper ephemera, I've also been writing.  Thanks to the encouragement of Brian K. Ladd and Chris, I'm now up to close to 23,000 words on Foxglove Broadsides, which has taken an oddly macabreand disturbing turn which seems to have ramped up the story.  At first I had planned it to be a pure adventure story. but it is now devolving into something a good bit darker.  I think it's due to all the research I'm doing for other projects such as Fireworks.
 I'm also, oddly enough, writing poetry again.  I've been reading a lot of Anne Shrive novels and although her style is not poetic, she writes a lot about the Isle of Shoals and the 1/4 stretch of coastline where I lived off the coast of New Hampshire.  The Weight of Water and Sea Glass are two of her books located there and in Portsmouth, NH.  The Weight of Water has a different take on the Smuttynose murders which occurred on one of the Isles of Shoals in the late 1800's.
While I lived there in my mother's 1940's cottage (little changed even in 2006) about a two minute walk from the rocky cove she loved near Boar's Head, I painted, wrote a lot of poetry as well as wrote a large chunk of Shaman in Exile. My memories of my time there are bittersweet and sometimes I fear I'll never see it again.
So, as is my way, to keep it alive, there shall be a sea glass/Isle of Shoals and Portsmouth minibook in my future.  Not your usual pretty little vacation book, but a more mysterious looking work, as the area is saturated with ghost and murder stories, shipwrecks and even pirates. I've also been immensely inspired by the artwork of Jack and Cat Curio and intend to learn some of their techniques in my larger collage pieces.
Mysterious, haunting, wildly imaginative. Perhaps I'll include bits of the new poetry in some of the new books. Who knows. This is the time of year for the macabre! I can't wait for it to get cool enough again to wear black.
Here's a great shadowbox by Jack and Cat Curio.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Riding the Orient Express

I have been working on this mini steampunk album for my friend Cindy, whose character in our Upstate Steampunk group is a spy who travels on the Orient Express.  This is only my second mini album and I had fun.  (warning photo intensive blog entry!) I made the cover from chipboard backings of paperpaks and the inside pages of cereal and brownie boxes.  I now recycle all of of my food boxes.  None go in the landfill.  The small ones I use for tags, the larger for pages.
I watched a lot of tutorials on you tube and looked at a ton of photos of works on the Graphic 45 ring for inspiration and techniques.  This time, I tried a lot of fold out folios, in addition to the tag making and original page layouts.  I may still add more embellishments as time goes on, like I did with my first Steampunk mini book.
On the cover I used a cut out of a photo shoot I did of Cindy in her Victorian piano dress and superimposed it over a vintage Orient Express train engine.  Then added K and Co. borders, metal embellishments, Prima flower, hand made title and letters.
I made a World Traveler photo page, accented with feather and Prima flowers,  with a pull out tag using a Graphic 45 Steampunk Debutante lady on one side and a copper metallic paper photo mat on the reverse.
On another page I made a pull out portfolio using Graphic 45 papers on the page and folio cover  and then adding photo mats and journaling pages inside.
I distressed a lot of the page edges using pigment inks to give the album a vintage sort of grungy, well-traveled journal. 
This is an envelope style folio I made which opens up too and has small photo pages. Bits and pieces of Orient Express ephemera and Graphic 45 papers from the Botanicabella and Renaissance Faire paper collections.
On the left, you can see the copper photomat tag tucked in on the previous page on the left. 
I tied it off using a vintage style thread label topper to hold the twine closure. 
Background papers are form a K and Co. paperpak.
I did a two page spread in black because that seems to be a good color for a spy plus I had some gorgeous vintage style papers I wanted to flaunt!  I added some photo and journaling tags and left a large photomat on the page so Cindy can add photos after our big 2-day Upstate Steampunk Con to be held in November.  I'm sure we'll take lots of photos at the hotel which is very posh and Victorian. I made the London stamp using a wooden stamp made by  Hero Arts embossed with blue ink crystals and added ColorBox pigment inks to age it.
Here are the tags I made for photos and journal writing.  I just cut cereal box cardboard in various shapes and added the papers, used a grommet setter so I could add yarn and ribbon pulls.
The opposite sides are photo mats and also have sayings on them. 
I did a third portfolio using on the coin page.  This one is a library pocket portfolio and holds the vintage train itinerary listing all the stations where The Orient Express makes its stops from London to the Egypt. This page also features ephemera from the Orient Express.  The resin coin is positioned on a gold circle which came from the top of my instant Maxwell House coffee jar!  It came off perfect and was too pretty to throw away. This green striped portfolio opens up to hold four photos.
It's held closed with a ribbon accented with a Graphic 45 tag, looped around a Making Memories paper button and tied through a grommet hole at the bottom of the page.And the last page holds a handmade book to look either like a passport or like a journal the Orient Express would give to it's VIP travelers.  The book as well as a ticket are tucked into a pocket embellished with a raven (one of Cindy's symbols) and a quote.  On the cover of this little blue book  is the logo of the Vienna Orient Express from the turn of the century and inside on the cream colored linen pages are various posters from the Orient Express and pages to journal.  I used about three pages of linen stationary to make the insert.  I folded the cover and inner pages with my bone folder so the book would fit better, then used my grommet setter to punch the holds on the center fold and tied the book together with ribbon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Indie Craft Parade and steampunk!

A totally creative weekend and it's nto over yet.  Mark and I attended the Indie Craft Parade (Greenville, SC) and boy was it wild!  Lines out the door, down the steps out the big mill door, down the street!  It was wall to wall crafts and shoulder to shoulder crowds.  All the people made it difficult to see everything (we had to look over heads) and we had to move when the line moved, because we couldn't hold it up to browse.  But I have to say the quality level of the artisan's work was out the roof of the Hugenot Mill and I came away inspired.  Must make flowers and more or my own papers! We left that craziness and went to The Artistry Gallery for a photography show of France scheduled to appear in National Geographic.  Just peeked into Ryan Calloway's blacksmith shop, had a quality visit with Janina Ellis, one of our friends and favorite artists (both Mark listed and I own some of her work) and then listened to artist, Hamed Mahmoodi with his marvelous and exotic storytelling as the sun set and the fall breeze blew the clouds around.  A lovely start to the weekend. 
  So this weekend, inspired, I made my first steampunk mini book, using Graphic 45, 7 Gypsies, Industrial Chic and Tim Holtz papers and embellishments and am thrilled with the results.  Got in the zone on this one and went to town, listening to Valentine Wolfe and Din of Thieves. 
My major inspiration came from Steffogal (with a Grin)  and her Steampunk Debutante Mini Album, Manoli Navarro's, Simply Irresistible card, both of whom are on the Graphic 45 Ring and Zettie Bettie's Vintage Grunge Mini Album video on you tube.
I made all my own pages from chipboard backs of paperpacks and cereal boxes.  I also made all my own tags except for the Dream Journal tag. I did use library card holders, vintage photographs, lace and stamps, my handspun, hand dyed yarns, my own drawings, and ribbons. More photos are up on my Graphic 45 page.
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