Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Intersection of Science and Romance

"Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual craftpersons into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical 'steampunk' style..." -Wikipedia

While skimming Google Reader feeds, I often stumble across interesting oddities that fall outside my normal range of interest. Boing Boing's occasional posts on Steampunk would fit into this category. Crafted of copper, brass, and polished wood, the fantastic pseud0-Victorian mechanisms featured there are intriguing works of art.

My husband is an artist with a scientific mind. He decided to use his model steam engine as the basis of a steampunk-esque vignette. To see his notes and explanation of "The (patented) T. Cordell Model 'A' Steam-driven Amplitude Modulated Transistor Radio" visit his photo in my Flickr photostream.

Today is an especially appropriate one for discussing inventions, since it is the birth date of Leonardo da Vinci. Though da Vinci pre-dated the Victorian era by 400 years or so, his lively mind and nimble fingers could easily have created steampunk masterpieces.

In a school setting, a steampunk unit might incorporate elements of technology, science, social studies (Victorian society), and literature (Jules Verne, H.G. Wells as well as modern genre authors).

The Steampunk Workshop describes steampunk as "Goth, Punk, Geek, and Maker Culture whipped into a delicious melange with a healthy seasoning of political and environmental activism. It's the intersection of science and romance, it's sustainable rebellion."

To learn more:
  • view a critically-acclaimed video
  • read an article about the aesthetic of the craft
  • browse SteamPunk Magazine
  • take a look at examples of this marvelous art form (scroll down to enjoy a hilarious Steampunk Star Trek photo set)


A Keeper's Jackpot said...

I see a lot of steampunk jewelry on Etsy too!

diane said...

Want some old watches to take apart?

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Diane

Steampunk has an unwarranted nostalgia for me. Unwarranted because I hate kitch - and steampunik is kitch nevertheless - and nostalgia because it touches a memory of a time that I grew out of.

I remember when I was about to go to university in Edinburgh. I lived in Dunfermline which is 20 miles north west of Edinburgh across the Forth River.

I was to be travelling by train there and back daily. In 1964 steam trains were the order of the day and I was besotted with the magnificence of the steam locomotives that hauled their carriages - shades of The Hogwart's Special from Harry Potter.

Unfortunately the steam passenger trains were all taken off the lines that year and I never had the opportunity of travelling to and from university on a real steam train from 1965 onward.

It is a memorable time that will fade into the story books and live on the screen in Harry Potter movies and the like.

Catchya later
from Middle-earth

diane said...


In 1968, I did get to ride on a steam train and have a vague memory of cinders blowing in on me from an open window. As American students on a European adventure, my companions and I were more interested in the Beaujolais we had just purchased than in the romance of the rails. Wish I had paid more attention to the train!

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Diane!

Ah! Le Beaujolais! C'est bon!

I must have been eclectic in my taste, though I never sipped Beaujolais will travelling :-)

I preferred the warm atmosphere of a mid-20th century bar with open fire and brass fender. Nice with a plate of oven baked or saut├ęd wedges with mayonnaise. Bring on le Beaujolais!

Catchya later

diane said...


Your bar sounds like the perfect gathering spot for steampunk time travelers!