Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vintage/Victorian mini album

 I'm still completing the finishing touches on the Vintage/Victorian mini album I'm making.  It will be one of the items I donate to the Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza.
I used a good many random pieces including handmade mulberry papers, Graphic 45, Tim Holtz, Bo Bunny and 7 Gypsies items, some of my own art and hand dyed handspun yarns, a photograph of my collection of alchemy type bottles, metal findings, envelopes, vintage stamps.  The first page includes a photo accordion foldout and there are a few photomats and journaling tags throughout.  Not as many as I should have included, perhaps.  I included a page made from papers embossed by Tim Holtz embossing folders on my Sizzix Big Kick and then accented with Distress Inks and Perfect Pearls. 
This book took me two days of constant work to do the bulk of the book and accents, but I'm still adding metal tokens, vintage stamps, ribbons and charms. 
The theme is "Secrets" and the album has to do with secrets, mystery, alchemy, longing, absinthe and temptation.
I've included four little reproductions of my own art, the drawings" "The Potter" and Nude form the Back" as well as the painting,m "Francois Burgogne" and a pull out ATC of the collage "Temptation."
I accented the cover with Tim Holtz grunge board elements - the placard holder and the scroll, as well as with a handmade flower made with Tim Holtz tattered flower die cut and then accented with distress ink and Stickles. Most of the papers I found at Big Lots and can't recall the maker although they always come in packs of six coordinated one sided papers and are always pretty.  Sometimes I find these packets at the dollar store. 
I made a few of the tag and ma making more, simply because I love to include lots of opportunities for journaling and I have so many vintage style rubber stamps I enjoy using on these shabby chic, grunge style albums.

The White Light of August

The white light of August showed up last week.  It's funny how I'm trained to notice it after coming to know the poem, August Light, (from the Arrowhead Scholar) written by SC poet laureate, Bennie Lee Sinclair, who was one of my writing teachers at Furman University.  She was an intelligent and kind teacher and I learned much from her by osmosis as opposed to a strongly opinion-oriented approach to teaching poetry.  I now view the August white light as a shift, bittersweet that carefree summer will end, and an indication of the transition from outer play to the deeper more internal days which lay ahead.
As an introvert, I welcome these days - the hermit times.  I prefer them to the light and airy (and this year's hot) days of summer, perhaps because I'm from the north and am more used to cloudy, rainy days and cool breezes. So it was with great relief when I happened to be doing some early morning garden maintenance that I looked down, and there it was, the golden summer light changed to white.  This shift totally changes everything in my garden, making it feel cooler. It look more mysterious for some reason.  At this time, my garden is a throng of powerful green growth, the trees and shrubs heavily laden with leaves, overhanging the entire perimeter, most of the statuary and garden beds buried in hidden bowers and secretive shadows.  The air is a bit crisper in the mornings when I wake up before dawn and I can take a deep breath and not feel s if I'm being smothered by a sweat soaked glove.
I took more hermit time as well as a break from the novel to start making some of the items that will be available at the silent auction at the Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza the end of next month. I started a Victorian/Art Noveau themed handmade book using 6 Gypsies, Tim Holtz, Graphic 45 and lots of odd bits and pieces.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Preparing for Upstate Steampunk Exravaganza

This year's preparations for the Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza are not so frantic as last year's when I was making costumes, procuring hats and accessories, producing art, altered art books and journals, etc to sell. I also had a lot to learn about steampunk. Now, I'm a good bit more knowledgeable (it helps to immerse oneself) and have an oversupply of garments and hats even though I hope to procure a few hand-crafted accessories by some of the amazing vendors who will be at the con this year.
So I had time to play around with beeswax encaustic while sick and mostly housebound this weekend.  I'm throwing around the idea of producing an ashcan size graphic novel type of advert for Orchiderlium. I was inspired by the graphic novel, The Black Ibis, Book 1, The Secret London by Bethalynne BeBajema, one of the crew of the stunning magazine Insects & Angels, and the Black Ibis Tarot. (I'll write a review of the 1st installment of their graphic novel as soon as I finish it. I'm reading it in small snippets in order to make it last, like with a box of chocolates.

The Orchidelrium chapbook size ashcan might do well as a teaser handout at the Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza the last weekend in September during my stint at the author's table. It will include a little art, graphite sketches of the characters and a brief sneak preview of the storyline. 
Since I'm not vending this year, and am only offering one presentation, The Psychology of Steampunk, I'll have a lot more time to play and socialize with old and new friends and folks I've met on facebook but not in person. I'm really looking forward to the amazing array of panels, the new movies being unveiled and of course, the ball.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Saved by Torchwood and Insane Botanists

While the 10-weeks of running and oppressive heat continue here in South Carolina, I write away on Orchiderlirum, despite a recurring double ear infection and a broken air conditioner.  The novel is at such a point that when I sit down to it, I'm so totally immersed in the world, drawn rapidly through scene after scene by the characters, that I forget all the abysmal aspects of everyday life here in the south.  I long for the breezes and beaches of the New Hampshire Atlantic but try to put such thoughts out of my mind and am surprised at how much I can write under such conditions. Over 6,000 words the weekend before last, although the heat has taken its toll and I had to finally give in to a trip to the doctor. 
In between the writing and sitting in the dark house where the air is so dry the roof of my mouth is peeling, I watch Torchwood, Dr. Who and Being Human,(which happily will now have a 4th series) all found at different county libraries. Since we can now borrow up to 10 DVD's at a time, I gather up a series and watch all the episodes in one week in between four to five hour writing sessions on the weekends.  It's just too hot to write after work, but on the weekends its a go and I'm now at over 71,000 words and believe I will finish the first draft by the end of this year, hopefully sooner and can jump right into editing. Just as with my other novels, the characters are now in total control.
While I watch the series I do art or make pages for the handmade botanical and steampunk books. Now I'm even digging out 20 year old photos from way back when the idea of being am amateur botanist first entered my head.
I'm also returning to my love for odd , beyond eccentric and quirky botanists and naturalists found in British novels by A.S. Byatt, Iris Murdock and John Fowles. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Adventures Above The Aether

Although Winfield Strock III and I both attended a gathering  with the Upstate Steampunk folks at the Velo Fellow, we didn't get the time to speak. Since then I have learned a bit about Winfield and what amazes me on one front is the fact is is the survivor of a brain tumor. Since I work in rehab with adults who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, I know how rare his accomplishment is.
I'm excited to showcase his forthcoming novel and will be even more excited to meet with him in person when he and his wife attend the Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza just as the same time as the release of his steampunk novel.
What secrets justify hiding from history mankind’s first foray into space?  In 1881, in an age of steel steam and innovation, an eclectic collection of adventurers gather.  As resources pour in and hints at breakthrough technologies leak out, one man is sent to investigate.
Follow Solomon ‘Hap’ Hanson, Civil War veteran and Pittsburgh reporter as he uncovers a maze of mysteries.  Deeper and darker events become.  As his story unfolds more dangerous the perils become, more rewarding the venture grows.
An enigmatic message along the way keeps Hap focused on his task:  “Save this adventure from itself.”  Who will be this voyage’s downfall?  Will it be the swarthy terse soldier, Claude?  Surely the sallow British doctor, Henry Wells, and his beautiful, brave, resourceful wife pose no threat to the voyage’s success.  The most obvious danger lies in the expedition’s most brilliant member.  Nicolai’s nihilistic views come to the fore as tensions rise and crises converge.  But as Hap joins the chaotic crew he wonders, will he see the crew and voyage to its doom?
      Worlds beyond our own, Earth’s nearest celestial neighbors, beckon to be explored.  Join in the voyage textbooks cannot know happened.  Learn why such an epic event goes unwritten until the dangers of our past no longer threaten to destroy the future.  Discover the lessons learned on distant worlds a century ago which serve as harbingers of horrors hanging above our hectic globe. 

Winfield Strock III is a brain tumor survivor and submarine sailor who wrote Adventures Above the Aether following brain surgery, a coma and a change in spirit. He realized the importance of making the most whatever life offers. "Now I hungrily pursue my passion to tell a tale perchance to sing in the hearts of others as it did mine" Winfield states. "The rudder of my heart makes tighter turns, leaving a larger wake.  The biggest, the best alteration in my life’s perception came with a deepened desire to pursue my passions.  My love for my wife ran deeper and my drive to write burned brighter."

Adventures Above The Aether will be available September 1, 2011 in both print and e-format from Rebel Ink Press.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Nickel Children released on DVD

I've been waiting for this one for a long time.  The Weird Wild West indie steampunk film, Nickel Children, seen at cons and indie film  screenings everywhere is finally available in limited edition copies on DVD!  I've only seen the previews since this little write up is not a proper review, but gleaned from the previews and press reviews.  Full review to come after I receive my copy!
Synopsis from the film company: "In an alternate 19th Century, dust bowl Kansas, a young boy witnesses his parent’s murder, and is forced to survive in an underground child fighting ring. Only the wealthiest are invited to attend these secret communities to bet on the children for their own amusement. However, one among them, is determined to find her abducted son ... whatever the cost. Nickel Children is an award winning international sci-fi steampunk adventure! Scary, innovative, with great costumes and strong female lead."
The previews are amazing - great costumes, set design, location shooting and direction by Kevin Eslinger.  But what really gets you are the performances both of the adults and children.  
Amanda Bailey who plays Anastasia, airship captain and mom turned vigilante is brilliant, While Jules Charlemagne plays the ringleader for the underground child slavery ring, is an incredibly visual and visceral character, in a Rob Zombie style and he really creeped me out, especially when interjecting a sort of Amanda F. Palmer style with of his the young girls victims. And to top it all off, Easton Lee McCuiston puts in a strong yet touching performance of the young boy, Jack.
 So far, Nickel Children doesn't look like a low budget indie film, thanks to the fact Eslinger surrounds himself with talented and passionate crew and cast, inlcuding his brother, Justin who handles the Visual FX.  Kevin used a number of companies from the Maker community to create the feel - including: gear and props by Justin Stanley (Red Fork Empire) and Hans Meier (PH Factor), amazing state of the art costumes and accessories in wild west, steampunk, and saloon girl burlesque styles by Kaitlyn McClain (KMK Designs), including her Etsy page  as  by Jill Osborn, and Christian Matzke at Silver Leaf Costumes not to mention Aria Durso, for  production design, with Keith Stacey and Ian Quinn handling stunt coordination (which had to be tough). .
  Be warned - even from the previews, I can see it's a strong film with a message about the sex slavery of children.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rusdie, Ramachandran, Synesthesia

I made an interesting synchronistic discovery as I've been reading, Salman Rusdie's novel about the invasion and takeover of Kashmir, "Shalimar the Clown," and realized that Rushdie must read or watch neuroscientist, V.S. Ramchandran.  In the novel, one of the antagonists has synesthesia, an oddity in the brain such where one smells colors, sees numbers as both color and number or tastes emotions when eating certain foods. What some would call a brain dysfunction is often found in artists, poets and writers and was first explained by Francis Gaulton, a cousin of Charles Darwin back in the 1800's. Gaulton , a polymath, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, mproto-geneticist and  psychometrician developed a number of statistical methods to discover inherited psychological traits and one he came upon was synesthesia.

It's not unlikely that Rushdie and Ramachandran may have met of even know each other, given that they are both of Indian descent, but I found it odd or perhaps its Rusdhie's sense of black humor, that the character who displays synesthesia is crippled by it and in no way is an artist, poet or writer, but instead a warrior.
As far as synesthesia goes, I've talked to some fellow artists, actually quite a number of them and a good many exhibit some of the characteristics and are grateful for them, while a few do feel the genetic trait as a curse.
As Ramachandran explains, the brain in the fetus is a mass of connected cells. As it grows the embryo eliminates portions of the brain, cells structures, as it carves out our personality, qualities, limits and awareness.  In some people the organism forgets to disconnect various senses from each other leading to an automatic way of perceiving reality which is combined in the individual.  Some people with such a c9onnection don't even realize other people don';t have it, others feel different and outcast, yet even others capitalize on it in their creative work through perception, metaphor, expression that is unique and often found strange or intoxicating and intriguing.
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