Major Beard Exhibition

| 7 months ago

The Florence Nightingale Museum in London is to stage a major new exhibition about beards. THE AGE OF THE BEARD: Putting on a Brave Face in Victorian Britain is the first major exhibition about the history of hirsute Victorian Britain. Highlights will include “Bluebeard” – an adult pantomime, on 13th, 14th and 15th December; from […]

STEAMPUNK MEDIA: GALLERY OF CURIOSITIES BRINGS YOU PODCASTS AND NEW FICTION

| 8 months ago

Good Steampunkers, we love a classic novel. From Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth to HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds, the inspiration drawn for so many things steampunk – from cosplay to video game worlds, from gadget creation to event theming – is indisputable. 

And so, in the late 20th century, authors such as KW Jeter and Tim Powers brought us new, powerful works of fiction. Time travel is still an ever-present theme and with the passage of time, they and others brought us re-imagined historical figures and started immortalising the cross-cultural human milieu and its effect on steampunk sensibilities by finely drawn characterisation.

Yet, the steampunk imagination did not stop there. New voices continue to add their voices and visions – hopeful and macabre. The capacity to locate these new soothsayers is unparalleled through the portals known to us as the interwebs. Through time, space and place, the tenacious thought tentacles of new writers and media makers reach out and take hold of our imaginations as they birth potent alternative realities.

With that in mind, we aim to bring you news on the latest whereabouts of emergent steampunk prophets!

Gallery of Curiosities showcase ‘a fiction podcast of weird, curious and horrible stories’. You can download podcasts to enjoy at your leisure. 

Images that reference the obvious inspiration behind this publisher of new media’s clever name – the Cabinet of Curiosities – immediately spring to mind:

Image Credit: Domenico Remps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Resonances of this peculiarly Victorian practice of collecting and displaying ‘strange’ or ‘exotic’ paraphernalia largely collected by travellers with deep pockets (or those they sponsored for the purposes of scientific exploration) are conjured up as you listen to the podcasts on their site. 
At the Gallery of Curiosities, vestiges and specimens of antiquity are deftly reimagined and powered anew by the breathtaking imaginations of the roster of talent whose works are showcased on the site.

Gallery of Curiosities is generous about posting links to author and peer media pages: a post on the latest podcast – Episode 26 Steam and Hot Air by Zach Bartlett offers links to the story transcript as it appears in Mad Scientist Journal. Erstwhile makers who enjoy cucumber and club sandwiches alike will chuckle about various inventions of Bartlett’s characters such as the Professor’s Reciprocating Steam-Powered Bread Slicer and Sandwich Arranger where a poorly placed exhaust valve leads to soggy lunchtime victuals. Recognising the everyday struggles of makers in their bid to create the extraordinary is just one aspect that makes this piece simultaneously transcendent and relatable.

The marvellous line (we won’t give the fine wording away) which describes the Professor’s announcement of each new invention where each word in the gadget’s is inherently capitalised raised an involuntary chuckle. What a marvellous observation of the popular semantic trend within steampunk maker circles! Why, we here at SteampunkWayOfLife do the very same thing with TheGallantMan’s audio inventions: our naming of Sir Round A Sound which you can commission is a case in point.



Gallery of Curiosities regularly advertises auditions for podcast character voices. Therefore, through this marvellous new media publisher, you may get your start on the airwaves helping bring new stories to life! One of their well-loved narrators, Vic Mullins, possesses a Scottish brogue so lusty that we were fairly brought to our knees, handkerchiefs a-fluttering, when we listened to Episode 22 Last of the Spice Schooners by Philip Brian Hall. Hall’s powers of description and keen sense of socio-historical accuracy are perfectly complemented by Mullins’ textured tones as the story unfolds of a plague ship that enters London Pool 50 years overdue with a crew suffering from…something…It is a sublime nautical tale of horror.

So, good Steampunkers, whether or not you are enjoying tea on a Sunday afternoon or whether you are about to board modern conveyances that spirit you towards the labour-currency exchange deal you have transacted with the modern world in which you find yourself deposited, download a few podcasts from Gallery of Curiosities and time travel in your mind…

Get the Jules Verne Leather Bound Classics from Amazon on your Kindle now!


HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds is a fabulous read in soft or hardcover. Order from Amazon now!

KW Jeter is attributed with coining the phrase ‘steampunk’ in the 1980’s. From his early days of publishing cyberpunk novels, his steampunk novels include the fabulous Morlock Night which you can get from Amazon here.

ABSINTHE SALON: REBELLIOUS SPIRITS, FILTERED BY THE GLASS

| 8 months ago

Absinthe Salon

Good Steampunkers, we proudly bring you our review of a fine establishment in Sydney, Australia:

Absinthe Salon

Located just outside the bustling city centre, in an area which retains its Victorian feel in terms of street architecture, Absinthe Salon is a must visit for steamy residents of the metropolis and travellers alike.

TheGallantMan about to enter Absinthe Salon

Guests of Absinthe Salon enter a themed reception area/anteroom to gain access to an intimate bar room catering for a maximum of 30 seated guests.


THE STEAMY DETAILS:

Open:

4 – 10 pm, Wednesday to Sunday

Location:

87 Albion Street (corner of Bellevue Street)
Surry Hills 2010


Transport:

Bus and train connections are close by

Map:


Reservations:

Email enquiries@absinthesalon.com.au
Telephone 02 9211 6632
Messages left outside opening hours usually returned within 24 hours

Reception:

On arrival, guests press a period buzzer to gain entry at the pleasure of the host.  Our host, Nathaniel, walked the fine line between geniality and period reserve with panache. Civilised greetings and pleasantries are exchanged in a themed anteroom.  Patrons are then escorted to a table set for the enjoyment of a journey to visit with the green fairy.

Superb service from our Absinthe Salon host


Menu:

A laminated, double sided single A4 page menu is provided from which patrons nominate their choices for first, second and subsequent rounds of absinthe. 
The only food on offer is a brie brioche. This offering is sound but is an easily omittable part of the experience. The laminated menu is perhaps the least authentic part of the experience. However, the capacity for wetting (and therefore, damaging) menus is an ever-present danger, an inherent ongoing reality for the establishment. Therefore, this small departure from offering a traditional menu is understandable.

Venue Aura:

Effective mood lighting and a spectacular bar set up delights the eye. A mural depicting the green fairy herself is a feature of one wall. An atmosphere reminiscent of a Parisian salon with frequent steampunkish touches and replete with a salty bohemian crowd prevails. Surrounded by a sound selection of absinthes with the accoutrements necessary for its enjoyment in the traditional manner, guests are seated on black and white wicker chairs at round tables accommodating 4 comfortably. You can get moody at Absinthe Salon!



Sideeye from TheLadyAbitrates at Absinthe Salon
Service:

Efficiency – we were seated promptly; the table was already set for 4 and given that we were a party of 3, the unnecessary place setting removed immediately; the four tap absinthe water fountain at the centre of our table was refreshed with ice water within moments of our being seated; we were presented with menus forthwith with an opening introduction as to how to read the menu.

Timing – adequate time was given us to make our selection; we tended to linger over each glass for 30 – 40 minutes which seemed to present no issue to the host.

Product Knowledge – our host, Nathaniel, was well-informed about the selection of absinthe on the menu; the presentation of the material was entirely in character with the atmosphere one would imagine did prevail in early 20th century Parisian salons.

Personalisation – Nathaniel, our host, was genial, professional and stayed entirely in character; the host sought opinions from each guest as to their tastes and the best matching absinthe or set of absinthes then recommended.

Pace – our host, Nathaniel, set the pace and outlined the 3 drink maximum showing sound Responsible Service of Alcohol practices are in place, without rushing us towards us towards the maximum number of drinks; less potent, lighter absinthes are recommended for consumption first with progression to the more strident, character drinks taking place in the 2nd and 3rd rounds after establishing your tastes.


A water fountain adorns every table at Absinthe Salon, allowing guests to dilute their spirit to taste.

Attentiveness – A chair was pulled out for the nearest lady by the gentleman host Nathaniel; a sharp yet unobtrusive eye was kept on when we may be ready to order a subsequent round of drinks.


Quality:

Absinthe Salon scores very highly on quality. The accoutrements of absinthe consumption – the water fountain, slotted sugar spoons, irregularly shaped sugar cubes, heavy cut glassware which adorned the tables (an eclectic, non-matching selection), the absinthe shot measuring devices attached to bottles which were reminiscent of a scientific laboratory all worked their charms.
A quaint steampunkish touch: a shot pouring device attached to every bottle of absinthe, measured out at table.

Price:

With a minimum price of $17 per absinthe, be prepared. However, the enveloping experience more than compensates.

For more information, we encourage you to visit their website at which you will find information about the establishment and their online store:


A SHORT HISTORY OF ABSINTHE:

Originating in Neuchatel, Switzerland in the late 18th century, absinthe became popular with many writers and artists in late 19th and early 20th century Paris. The spirit was notably opposed by social conservatives and was prohibited in the US and most of Europe. Notions about the psychoactive and hallucinogenic properties of one of its active ingredients, thujone, were exaggerated; nonetheless, this reputation has added to its ongoing allure as has its association with notable figures which include Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley. Lord Byron and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Oscar Wilde in New York in his favourite coat, 1882. Taken by Napoleon Sarony (1821 – 1896).


Absinthe is a distilled, highly alcoholic spirit which is (according to Wikipedia) between 45-70% ABV / 90-148 US proof. It is derived from botanicals which include green anise, sweet fennel and other medicinal herbs. Commonly referred to in historical literature as “la fée verte” (the green fairy), it is commonly diluted with iced water when decanted, just prior to being imbibed by the rakish devotee.


The Absinthe Drinker by Viktor Oliva (1861 – 1928)


There are about 200 brands of absinthe produced around the world in the early 21st century: France, Australia and Czech Republic are amongst the absinthe maker pioneers of this new era.

NOTE: This post originally contained an error in respect of conflating absinthe’s ABV (alcohol by volume) which is expressed as a percentage with the US proof (ethanol content). We graciously acknowledge the kind advice of Colonel Hawthorne whose knowledge of matters libational allowed us to rectify this factual oversight.

What is Steampunk?

| 8 months ago

What is Steampunk?This is our definition of ‘steampunk’: ‘steampunk’ refers to a fusion of steam-era aesthetics and/or principles with futuristic ideas about human existence in the space-time continuum, informed by the possibilities offered by ongoing scientific endeavour when joined to the imagination. Steampunk is brought to life by the power of dreamers with nostalgic notions, […]

STEAMPUNK TRAVEL EXPERIENCES – A CAROUSEL RIDE

| 8 months ago

 Painted Ponies by William Manns

Want a classic coffee table book on carousel horses? We’ve got you covered! ‘Painted Ponies’ is a classic coffee table book published in 1986 featuring the story of antique carousel art. Marvel at the detail of carved carousel horses created by the most renowned carvers. Painted Ponies has over 650 colour photographs and is a window into a bygone world which is, slowly but surely, being revived by restorers and visitors right around the world.

What could be a more Steampunk travel experience than going back in time on a carousel ride? From California to Connecticut, you too can be transported to a gentler, nobler time. Indulge your nostalgia, a sense that time is a circle and ride a horse in slow motion. We’ve got the goods for you, no matter what side of the States you live on! And for all us overseas visitors, we’re going to have to travel to get there!


Children love carousels – often termed merry-go-rounds – even the mass produced dinky ones you see dotting the walkways of malls.

But what of authentic old carousels? Lovingly hand produced by master craftsmen, they continue to swirl…yet just remember… in the early 1900’s when carousel rides were at their zenith, their rotational speed of 15 miles per hour was faster than anything! Hang on!

We recently visited Westfield Topanga just 30 minutes northwest of downtown Los Angeles to attend my favourite twins’ 1st birthday party.  We were pleasantly surprised to find an unusual double decker carousel ride indoors, on the first floor in front of the Target store.

Topanga Westfield is at 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Canoga Park, California.  https://www.westfield.com/topanga

And just because babies are adorable…here are the twins (pic used with kind permission of their mom)!


By the way, the ‘smash cakes’ the girls are just about to plough into are from The French Confection Co. run by Mademoiselle Mallory in Burbank!

Here’s The French Confection Co.’s awesome Instagram feed

And The French Confection Co.’s amazing Facebook page
We love them because not only are their era-inspired cakes works of art, they taste sensational!

But back to carousels…food is distracting! We’ve just discovered the MOST DIVINE carousel related place ever: The New England Carousel Museum! In Bushnell Park stands a 1914 vintage carousel. Made by Stein and Goldstein, the 24 sided pavilion houses 48 hand carved wooden horses and 2 lover’s chariots that rotate around a Wurlitzer organ belting out the tunes in its lovably strident fashion.

This carousel is one of only 3 remaining Stein and Goldstein Carousels left in the world. The flamboyant horses with their flared nostrils, big teeth and wild eyes are decorated in colourful cabbage roses. The restoration work on each piece has been lovingly accomplished with the support of donations.

The museum has great hours for summer – open 10 am – 5 pm, Wednesday to Sunday in July and August. GO, GO, GO!!!


A Little History of the Carousel


The carousel was first invented in France in the early 1600’s and was used to train young men for tournaments. The goal was to snare the brass ring – so THAT’s why there’s a brass ring that a carousel rotates past! The concept evolved and carousels as amusement rides became popular in America between 1880 and 1930. During this time, around 5000 carousels were built. About 130 remain in operation across America. 

Many carpenters, blacksmiths and carvers came from Russia, Germany and other European nations; they moved to America to start a new life and with them brought their traditions of fine craftsmanship. So really, the carousel owes much of its colourful history to these marvellous immigrants whose determined spirits were matched by their imaginations!

Image: By Tony Fischer [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Charles Looff

Charles Looff emigrated from Denmark, became a furniture carver by day and by night, built the very first carousel which was then installed at Coney Island. The fare was 5 cents! Coney Island can also lay claim to being an important marker in Steampunk history: it was the centre of new technological developments including electric lights, roller coasters and baby incubators. It was through the power of steam that carousels became bigger. Charles Looff attached his carousel making workshop to the carousel he built at Coney Island and a new industry was born!

Interestingly, railroads were amongst the first companies in America to purchase carousels for the amusement of customers. What a way to pass the time whilst you waited for your steam train to arrive and whisk you away for a day in the country!

Sonoma Railroad Carousel

Where’s a carousel near me in the good ol’ US of A? Here’s a list to get you started!

Ride the 1880’s Herschell-Spillman Steam Carousel at Santa Monica Pier Carousel in Los Angeles


Go west to Santa Monica! The ramp at Ocean and Colorado is the most direct route by road. Parking is available on the Pier deck.

http://santamonicapier.org/fun/


Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, Los Angeles

Located in Park Centre between the Los Angeles Zoo and the Los Feliz park entrance. http://www.laparks.org/dos/parks/griffithpk/mgr.htm

The Smithsonian Carousel, Washington DC

National Mall, Washington DC.

http://siarchives.si.edu/blog/favorite-smithsonian-carousel

This is a favourite of ours as it played a beautiful role in civil rights history. In 1981, it was moved to the National Mall to replace the older, smaller carousel which had experienced a lot of wear and tear. Once operated in the segregated Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland, it opened to African Americans in August 1963 with an 11-month old girl being the first African American to desegregate the park when she rode the carousel.sade with love by volunteers and based on the vision of Chuck Kaparich, visit their website to discover the rich history and the waves of love that keep the restoration work alive and accessible to more people as time  goes by.

You can read order the fabulous book ‘Round and Round Together: Taking a Merry-Go-Round Ride into the Civil Rights Movement from Amazon here:
Cedar Downs Racing Derby in Sandusky, Ohio


Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky, Ohio. It’s as hour east of Toledo and an hour west of Cleveland.

  https://www.cedarpoint.com/rides/Thrill-Rides/Cedar-Downs-Racing-Derby


It’s a carousel and a race – 1 of only 2 extant racing carousels in the USA which began operating in 1920. You’ll ride in four-across rows and horses trade the lead back and forth as you race for the finish line!  http://www.oakspark.com/rides.html  7805 Southeast Oaks Park Way, Portland

A Carousel for Missoula, Montana

Oaks Amusement Park Carousel















Carousel Drive, Missoula, Montana http://www.carouselformissoula.com/


Made with love by volunteers and based on the vision of Chuck Kaparich, visit their website to discover the rich history and the waves of love that keep the restoration work alive and accessible to more people as time  goes by.

The 1902 Herschell-Spillman Carousel on the Ocean City Boardwalk, Maryland Photo Credit: Rachel Smith Photography

First Street and The Boardwalk, Ocean City, Maryland
http://www.trimpersrides.com/rides.cfm
The San Francisco Carousel at Fisherman’s Wharf

http://www.pier39.com/home/attractions/on-the-pier/san-francisco-carousel/
So many ways to get there! Here’s their directions page:
http://www.pier39.com/home/pier-info/directions-parking/

Calling all steampunk enthusiasts!

| 9 months ago

I have now had this blog running for a number of years and want to open it up to Steampunk Artists who would like to display their wares here.  I will not charge for this and will allow you to be on my front page for 2 days.  You can email me…

Steampunk coffee

| 9 months ago

How many of you love a good coffee?   I know I do!  But where do you go to find it?There is this brilliant, or so I have heard, coffee shop in 36 Buitenkant St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.Now isn’t that a good r…

Captain Nemo’s Masked Ball

| 10 months ago

On Saturday night I attended Captain Nemo’s Masked ball!  I wasn’t able to book in for the ball and meal package so only attended the ball.  Apparently I hadn’t missed anything with the meal provided.On entering the venue, the Headway Hotel i…

The Chap Loves

| 11 months ago

In our regular monthly bulletin on rather splendid items of gentlemanly usage, we shed light on the ancient British institution that is Yard-O-Led, makers of beautiful fountain pens. Should a Chap invest his energies on a Crusade, he should make it one worthy of the name – and it seems to us that retrieving handwriting […]

An Interview With Derek Tatum – The Origins of #Dreadpunk

| 4th November 2015

The Punkettes are thrilled to introduce you to Derek Tatum, the man behind the recently coined term “Dreadpunk”. We reached out to Derek via twitter and he very graciously agreed to an interview. Q1 – Welcome to the blog! We’re so excited to have you here! How does it feel to have coined the term […]