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?
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