For this month we explore landscapes created with junk food, insane Steampunk calculators, and a vampire hunting kit.
Blue Dye #1 Precipice from the series Processed Views 2014
Junk Food Landscapes
Always on the look out for the latest and most surreal items this world has to offer, I was stunned by how artists Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman used junk food to recreate classic photographs by Carleton Watkins. Look at how the food artists recreated a 1869 photograph of the Farallon Islands photographs.
And now the Ciurej/Lochman version, titled Cola Sea (from the series Processed Views2013).
The artists use processed food to point out just how far our food has diverged from nature. They state: “As we move further away from the sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”
Most of use think of calculators are objects from the computer age. Who can blame us when adding apps are available on smartphones or even Google.
Check out these truly gorgeous beauties from an age where objects were crafted by hand. The calculator, built by Johann Helfrich Müller in 1784, evokes stempunk passion with it’s brass knobs and dials. Check out this close up the workings:
To view more of these marvelous mechanical wonders, visit this site.
A Love Story Through Coffee
Although this short film features a food product, and thus might fall under the category of propaganda, it’s so charming that it captures my heart. The characters, a boy and a girl, are dusted onto the tops of 1000 cups of cappuccino. The story shows their courtship, love, and family. The commercial is for Ajinomoto General Foods’ Maxim Stick drink flavoring. Watch and enjoy.
When Kassandra Troy discovers an ancient tarot deck, her life takes a thrilling and frightening turn. She triggers The Magician card, and releases the mysterious and captivating Luke Rykell. He lifts Kassandra out of despair, dispelling the devastation she feels after her father’s death. But Luke has a dark secret. He wants the magical deck for himself. The only way Kassandra can save herself is to journey into the Tarot cards. But once inside, can she ever escape?
Irresistibly compelling and heart-wrenching, Tarot: The Magician is a superb fantasy tale that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.
I worked for over two months drawing and coloring the panels you see in this trailer. I wanted it to be as special as the book. However, I was daunted by the music. I’m no musician. However, if it were silent, or had canned music, that would undermine all the hard work I put into the animation. Bradley Coy came to my rescue. For the full story on how the theme for the book trailer was created, read A Theme Song for an ebook.
Don’t trust me. Here are readers who have read and commented on the book.
“I especially enjoyed Kassandra’s journey through the cards as she tries to solve the problems she’s faced with and find her way out. And the ending gives me hope for a sequel (or a series?)” by Tara at Dividing by Zero
By helping me promote Tarot: The Magician, you some gifts. This time around, I’m giving away the Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore and Aly Fell. It looks wickedly cool. I’m quite temped to order a second for myself.
You’ll also get some cash to spend. I’ll email you an Amazon gift card so you can buy your own swag.
Click this LINK or anywhere on the image below to take you to enter the giveaway. You can also enter via Facebook. Hurry, this event ends Friday, June 20th!
I am truly a sucker for Steampunk as an aesthetic. Just a glance around my office reveals multiple gear or steam-related items.
I’ve also had a yen for gear driven watches. Multiple pocket watches have come and gone (not really gone, more gathering dust on the shelf). Most never quite live up to the functionality promised by Victorian mechanization. Probably because they were made by modern hands instead of crafted by artisans. Regrettably, I end up with battery driven wrist watches that don’t look as sleek, but function none the less.
Still, my heart belongs to gears.
That’s why when I discovered All Natural Arts by Susan Beatrice, I was hooked. One look at the amazing work she’s done and you’ll slaver yourself into a Steampunk coma.
Here are some of my favorites:
This is called The Beast of the Machine. The front view is extraordinary, but then take a look at it from an angle. You’ll see how Beatrice has built this image up, so it’s more sculpture than simply a flat illustration.
This Steampunk Bunny has been crafted out of clock parts. Of course. What else would you use to fashion such an exquisite animal. I particularly like the curved pieces that makeup the ears.
At first glance this appears to be a simple, albeit amazing, dragon sculpture placed inside a pocket watch case. But when you open it up…
The dragon rotates and now you can see the flames shooting out. Astounding. I particularly like the chain that keeps the dragon tethered to the watch case as if it might fly away at any moment.
Beatrice has many more Steampunk creations, along with illustrations and fairies. Go ahead and check out All Natural Arts for yourself. All of her art is for sale.
If the ancient world has taught me anything it’s this: Everything was invented thousands of years ago. Only we’ve forgotten nearly all of it.
One such uber-inventer was Hero of Alexandria (also called Heron). He lived and studied in the city of Alexandria in Egypt (between 60 and 70 AD). This city had become a center for learning, drawing scholars from all over the ancient world to exchange ideas and, in Hero’s case, build some pretty cool machines.
Hero was responsible for the first steam engine, wind-powered machines, robots, and the railroad. After that, he built some more crazy contraptions. Enough to make Wile E Coyote look like a layabout.
Hero had the disadvantage of being born two centuries before the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. Thus, most of his inventions were millennia before their time. Even his own life is a mystery. He most likely taught at the Musaeum at Alexandria, the gathering place for scholars. It was there that he thought up his Iron Man inventions.
The Steam Engine
Okay, so this wasn’t the type of steam engine that could power a locomotive across the Wild West. But it could have, if Hero had spent more time on perfecting it. Basically he used steam to cause a ball to spin around, thus converting heat into mechanical energy. Hero called this an aeolipile.
Hero’s Aeolipile was a fascinating curio and nothing more because although it could create mechanical energy, there were no gears or cars or other machines that could use that energy. This was the ancient world after all. However, there is no other mention of such a device until we get to the Ottoman inventor Taqi al-Din in 1577, who was hailed as the greatest scientist on Earth. If he was the greatest for copying Hero’s steam engine, what does that make Hero?
Instead of iron tracks, the ancient world’s version of a rail road consisted of grooved paths pulled by people or horses. The most famous was the Diolkos, cutting across the narrow isthmus of Corinth. It allowed ships to be hauled overland (sort of like a land version of the Panama Canal).
Hero didn’t invent the railroad. It dated back to 600 BCE. However, if Hero had combined it with his steam engine, we’d have the industrial revolution back in ancient Greece. Imagine steampunks in togas.
Although he might not have created the railroad, Hero was very much into automating tasks. He created all sorts of devices that were “programmed” to do certain functions and the left alone (with no human input) to complete those functions.
He constructed an automaton called “”Hercules and the Dragon”, powered by water. As water pours into the container Hercules hits the dragon’s head. This causes the dragon to shoot water into Hercules’ face.
He used wind to power a pipe organ (making him the first to use wind to power a machine). As the arm turned from the wind, it transferred the motion to an air compressor. Then the organ was activated, the air was released to create a flute sound.
He even created a vending machine that served up holy water.
Drop a coin into the slot and a balance beam moves, drawing out a plug from a jar of holy water. As the balance beam reverts to equilibrium, the jug of holy water is sealed and your purchase ends. If only Hero had invented the candy bar.
And yes, he also made the very first robot. Sources suggest that Heron created a cart programmed to move along different directions. Around 60 CE, he built a cart with a rope wrapped around two independent axles. A falling weight provided the power. Pegs projected from the axle (sort of like cogs) and Heron used these to change how the rope was wound around the axel. This let the cart change direction and move the way Hero wanted to.
The cart was controlled with knots tied to ropes. When Hero pulled a rope, the knot moved a lever which caused certain actions to happen. He used the same process to create a mechanical play almost 10 minutes long, including dropping metal balls onto a sheet of metal to resemble thunder.
Genius at Math
If you any doubts that Hero was a genius way before his time, take a look at his mathematical accomplishments. He came up with the basics for Fermat’s principle. Hero stated that a light ray would always take the shortest route between two points. This is the basis for optics and fiber optics.
In his spare time, he discovered a quick way to find the square root of a number. He also created a formula (called Hero’s formula) to calculate the area of any triangle using only the lengths of its sides. Finally he discovered imaginary numbers. No, they’re not made up. When you square a number, say 4, the result is 16. When you square a negative number, like -4, the result it also 16. (The negatives cancel out). But, what happens when you take the square root of a negative number, like -16. The answer isn’t 4 or -4. It’s imaginary 4 (can you tell I was a math geek in school?).
Enough. Let it be known that Hero of Alexandria was the most amazing inventor of the ancient world, and perhaps all time.
I’m always on the lookout for gorgeous Object D’Art (fancy term for artsy things) to make your abode more in line with H. P. Lovecraft’s brain. Well, here we go…
Octopus printed with 3D printer
We all know that octopuses are tre Cthulhu. Sean Charlesworth created this model with a 3D printer. Amazing. The printer was able to fabricate different parts out of different materials. It also opens up so we can see the inside.
Inside the octopus.
Yes, the octopus is actually a vehicle (albeit miniature).
Next up, how about some wallpaper to drive you insane?
This wallpaper was designed by Megan Rosalarian Gedris. And by wallpaper, I mean the stuff you actually put up on your walls (not for computer screens). Here’s another.
Dark queen wallpaper
Now tell me you wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night screaming when you saw these?
Now for the truly grand: a stained glass octopus chandelier.
The body and head can light up separately.
The cost? How about $18,000. Your choice is a car or this wonderful lighting choice. Yes I know, who needs a car?
Each chandelier is handmade.
These lighting fixtures are all created by Mason Parker. Each tentacle would be 30 inches long, if stretched out. As is, the chandelier is 4-feet across.
If you know of any other cool creations, just put them in the comments below.