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Hello!

I am talking to you… through the internet!

I forgot to mention the rewards such as limited etchings on brass, paintings, and the like – but, if you’d like to know more, we’ve got a writeup about the project here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/infernaldevice/the-infernal-device-an-enormous-mechanical-and-pai

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Rescue Sale

Long story short: The Rescue 11×14 Metallic prints are on sale for only $24 through Mid-December [here]

The Rescue (featuring Abney Park's HMS Ophelia) can be found in my store (click the Store link at the top of any page)

I am at month 7 of trying to get an issue resolved with the printing company who used to be my favorite. 7 months of getting no response back here or there, or a simple “cut and paste” via phone or email.

Their customer service has recently upgraded to an email here or there, and actually trying to sort the problem out, but mostly a lot of “I’ll be in touch tomorrow”, followed by a 2 day wait and me trying again.

Fortunately, I found another company to order through… though this did not help me much for SteamconII, the World Steam Expo, or the 7 months of added expense/time ordering elsewhere, printing locally, and/or looking for other elsewheres to order from…. the prints are every bit as beautiful as the sort of quality I once expected from my former printing company (though they cost me about double if I don’t order in bulk).

Of course all this chaos had to be happening during Holiday rush, and I neglected to put up any sales…

I am at the point where, in a few days (December 15th), it will be too late to order from me and expect your gift orders to arrive in time for gift-wrapping and giving.

… Except…

I plan to order a huge re-stock on 11×14 Metallics of “The Rescue”… that pesky best-seller I wasn’t able to send to Steamcon this year.

So, if you already have this print but would like to give one to someone else, or if you haven’t yet gotten one for yourself, I am selling these for only $24 through December 16th, maybe till December 20th if supplies on-hand hold out.

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The Art of Cirque A Circa

Cirque A Circa (A Circus Out of Time) is coming up fast, and with it our 121st Annual RetroNauticon – which is much like a convention, but without registration fees and admission fees.

In a work of art nearly the size of two football fields, we will have many performers throughout the ArtPrize competition. Performers include airial, fire-spinning, fire-eating, and other sideshow performances by Cassie Truskowski, Author Bethany Grenier, Local Artist Ted Jauw, and many others – as well as fashion shows, and of course music: Such as acts by Zoe Boekbinder of Vermillion Lies, and also by The Gypsy Nomads – a great band last seen (by us) at the World Steam Expo.

You may, or may not be able to make it – but this promotional art featuring the Art of Bethalynne Bajema, and Ted Jauw’s Cirque A Circa logo and the Love ambigram is well worth-grabbing while it is still available. Not only do you have the chance to snag some wonderful and rare art for a low price, but you get to take a part of this event by supporting the artists behind it… thereby supporting the event (not having to find and earn money to eat on allows us more time to put towards this monumental effort).

Special Prints for Cirque A Circa by Bethalynne Bajema
Special Prints for Cirque A Circa by Bethalynne Bajema

Not only is Bethalynne offering these limited edition images for a very low price on the CirqueACirca page (direct link to the shop), but she has a beautiful limited edition (limited to only 21 prints) 8×10 metallic from this series available on her site, here ($2o): http://bethalynnebajema.com/scriptorium/?page_id=42&category=9

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It Looks Pretty, But Can it Kill?

Foreword:

Every once in a while, an artist is asked about their works, and often times, especially when dealing with a sci-fi genre, practicality and physics both come into question.

It is often worst for sci-fi and comic book authors and artists, wherein they defend paradoxes, quantum physics abnormalities, and continuity errors to “that guy”… you know, the guy with the pony tail, pizza stains on his intended-to-be-ironic Captain Planet underoos shirt, stretched to the very boundaries of physics itself… distracting in its apparent potential to succumb to the forces within… That guy keeps me from buying comics in an actual comic book store.

With the steampunk crowd however, one always has time at these events to consider that the person in question… though some may take fantastical art perhaps a bit too seriously, may be in a related profession – and quite likely, knows *something* and maybe even a lot, about what they are talking about.

I tend to say very little when out and about, because I feel I am at peak social adeptness, when I simply listen and nod. In public, I cannot hit *UNDO! UNDO!*, though the phrase often repeats in my mind… and therefore I often think I must disappoint people who meet me, people who probably expect me to be much more outspoken than I am.

It isn’t that I have nothing to say, actually quite the opposite: My opinions and thoughts on any issue are from so many possible angles and dependent on so many possible variables, that were I to chime in with my thoughts on most anything I would need to monopolize the questioners time for hours, perhaps even days – and there would still be a myriad of aspects I never managed to touch upon. My world is not black and white, but eleventy-billion shades of a million hues and and all the greys between.

And, I actually cannot wind down after any meeting with humans, until I have played back every last conversation I took part in word for word in my head a few times over, paranoid that I might have accidentally offended someone, snubbed someone, or just gave some plain out stupid answer instead of what I knew, because the info was buried below 1000 feet of social phobia or because I was cut off before I had a chance to fully expand upon what I was saying… So, in this I have learned to 1) Stick to the basics: “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “What knife?”  2) Don’t assert any degree of expertise at anything if you can help it… especially at conventions. This may be one of many reasons I avoid panels like the plague. So, consider this to be the closest I may ever get to actually holding a panel on anything.

Let me just say that I do every project, any project with a great amount of consideration for the function of my designs; I tend to lend some great deal of time to mapping out construction methods foremost… where beams will intercept with beams, where crankshafts will need to go, weight placement of boilers and other heavy objects, the perceived strength of sails and of lines, how one would get from point a to point b (and other ergonomic factors), and of course how everything is put together. With creatures I build muscle and flesh onto skeletons, and cross-reference lighting in models I create in 3-d on my lab computer. With buildings and contraptions, I merely break out the drafting skills, building solid structures onto a maze of thinly-lined beams and mechanical parts which will never even be seen.

I also take into great consideration things like “Will it work well?” or at least “Is it even possible?”. I am actually, often, quite neurotic about these sorts of things.

On the Practicality of Scale Models and Scale Comparisons:

In the case of airships and physics, I first took to looking at larger objects, such as the Hindenburg for example, it amazed me just *how little* space within that big balloon up top was actually used for lighter-than-air gas, and *how much* was used for passageways, maintenance space, equipment, and metal support structure.

By these things alone, looking at the designs I was making, with no metal supports or storage space within their bags, and tiny boiler/engine size offset by sails to aid in propulsion and steering, I figured I was doing pretty good… very good.

Looking at the scale of a large thing, vs. the scale of a smaller thing was something I was however somewhat unsure of. It seemed to me that scale models would be unreliable; Much like gravity not being scalable: it would also be difficult to scale atmospheric pressure, and especially hard to scale the density of the molecules within the pocket of gas or density of the materials themselves… though much about buoyancy seems to be simply a matter of comparison to the internal and external density.

All of this made me think “I’d better look for some numbers and waste an insane amount of time on things people won’t really care about”.

So, I went a step (or a hundred) further… I did a lot of numbers crunching, hoping to be somewhere in the safe zone for my preferred designs, and hoping that my perception  and memory of what was done in history was not mostly colored by images from “Baron Munchausen” and other fantastical works which could possibly have mixed with historical footage in my mind.

I am not going to pretend for a moment that I am infallible, or that I have taken every factor into consideration. Actually I know I haven’t – minor things such as the weight of ballast… which is pretty darned important if you need to dodge an oncoming building or mountaintop.

I have however found that in my results, there was plenty of room for ballast and the weight of the bag (another thing I left out), with even more wiggle room possible if steps were taken to lighten the gondola in construction, in men, or in equipment.

I am not a scientist – I am an engineer, a tinkerer: Much like I routinely do with computer and internet languages and software — I tend unlearn and re-learn quickly as needed for any project; Though I am great at figuring out what I’ll need to know, researching it, and using the new and temporary knowledge to achieve an outcome – there is always the possibility that I have missed some crucial condition along the way. Typically though, I figure my through things by real-world experience, rethinking and re-researching should something blow up (or fail to blow up). Without a MythBusters-sized budget, everything for me on this subject is going to have to come down to calculations which may look better on paper than in actual wood and fabric.

So…Can it Fly?

My chosen gas: Though Hydrogen of course is the lighter of the two reasonable possibilities, I decided to go with Helium at about 9.8 Newtons of lift: the force to lift 1 kg per cubic meter of gas at room temperature and sea level pressure. Helium because, I really do not want to bother with the debate over the safety of Hydrogen when it comes to a hypothetical model. Really, it is a bit ridiculous that I go this far at all – being a painter of fantasy and all.

So, starting at sea level atmospheric pressure, at room temperature, 1kg per cubic meter is my ratio. It really should be nearly 1.1 – but since this is about possibilities, I decided to give myself numerical disadvantages wherever I needed to round a number.

Given that the gondolas I use are about the shape and build of a viking long-ship, let’s go overboard and use the heavy 70-man Viking Gokstad… a huge 76′ 5″ x 17′ ship (23×5 meters)

The Airship Bag, comparing ship to bag in my preferred look, would be an Ellipsoid: 36 meters by 20 meters by 20 meters, or 4/3 * pi * 14400, or 60,319 cubic meters. [edit – HUGELY Important edit paragraph below image]

This would go for most of my paintings anyway; In my painting of “The Rescue” (below), the ship part is a bit larger compared to the bag. This was not a lack of foresight on Abney Park’s part – I actually made the gondola a bit bigger than their design in my painting… a case of aesthetics trumping physics for the sake of fantasy.

The Rescue (featuring Abney Park's HMS Ophelia) can be found in my store (click the Store link at the top of any page)

But given my standard proportions,  a 36x20x20 bag would be enough bag, or more importantly enough gas to lift 60,319 kg , or 132,981 pounds (over 65 tons) at an air pressure of 29.9 Hg. [see below]

[HUGELY Important edit:] I was thinking today that with all the other numbers being right, the one number bugging me was the volume… and for very good reason: I accidentally used diameter instead of radius. 7520 would be the actual volume of the bag a far cry from 60,319 … which shoots the following pages of content and calculations down completely. The bag should be at least thrice as long as the boat, and almost twice as wide as the boat is long. My mistake does however give me a good proportion for future builds. I.E., even giving the actual 1.1kg instead of the easy 1kg lift per cu meter, I would still need a 73x38x38 meter bag to lift the 23×5 meter boat. Something I will have to keep in mind for future designs – lighter gondola builds, smaller gondolas, bigger bags… Anyway… Read the below as if the bag were this new size of 73x38x38.]

So… Could it carry something the approximate size and weight of a viking longship?

Ship Weight:

The huge and heavy Gokstad ship was made of 6150 kg of oak, 880 kg of spruce and 225 kg of pine.
The ships planks were fastened with 150 kg of iron rivets, the anchor weighed 100 kg and the sail and rigging weighed 1000 kg.

So, the weight of the Gokstad is about 8505 kg total weight, without equipment, men, and rations. Looking good so far.

Crew and Equipment:

Now, let’s outfit it like a viking ship… because sky vikings are scary and awesome. Add 70 men at about 80 kg each (5600kg). Let’s give them 400 kg of equipment and melee weapons, 1000 kg of food, 1500 kg of water and 1000kg of miscellaneous cargo (3900kg total) … just in case they go 2 weeks without spotting land. We could cary a lot less than this if we touch down to hunt, gather, melt show, or drink from streams.

18005 kg. ship, men, and cargo… already, if we eventually want cannons on this thing, I am going to have to trim down the number of men, and lower the equipment rations. I can also trim down weight by using lighter wood, less of it, and using wood doweling in place of iron spikes… but for now, and because I don’t really have figures on lighter woods or lighter construction, let’s go with the tough route and keep this number.

Propulsion, Steering,  and Rigging:

I’ll make 3 times the amount of sails and rigging needed for rigging an ocean-bound ship, since I seem to like sails, and there is a big bag in the way of the wind, and we need steerable sails on all sides for control. (add 2000 kg)

Boiler/Engine: about 825kg for a small boiler with enough energy for the engine with enough energy for the props, going at a small ships steam engine capable of producing 125 horsepower. Not a primitive and heavy design like the Side Lever, but not advanced and light like the Direct Action… Not as tall and awkward as the Walking Beam, or even the Steeple, still towards the more primitive end, like a Siamese.

Differentials/shaft/exchange machinery + Props: about 354 kg.

Fuel: For a 2 week trip (336 hours), averaging 75 horsepower, at 2.5 pounds of coal per horsepower per hour, about 63,000 pounds (28576kg)…it is looking like fuel is going to be the big killer for any long trips, no matter the size or the cargo, or horsepower. Really, I think I went a little overkill on the horsepower, so it’ll likely be both.

24784 total weight + 28576 fuel

53,360 total weight to a 60,319 kg lift factor… Wonderful!

… or… wait…

… we are only at sea level so far…

I guess we are fine if we want to just skim the surface of the water at low tide for 2 weeks in a nice temperate zone.

Above Sea Level:

“Gross lift DECREASES as pressure decreases but it INCREASES as temperature decreases. Thus, as a gas balloon rises in the atmosphere, the decreasing pressure and temperature oppose each other. The decreasing temperature increases lift while the decreasing pressure decreases lift. Atmospheric pressure changes are more significant than temperature changes. Overall, lift decreases as altitude increases.” (http://www.gasballooning.net/Physics%20of%20Lifting%20Gases.htm)

I suppose with my love for cold mountain ranges and antarctic climates in paintings, I am actually better off with the cold environment, doubly so if the temperature within the bag is regulated. Therefore, I am not going to worry too much about temperature, and my primary concern is altitude:

To make things harder, let’s go about 5,000 feet above sea level… which is a pretty good amount if we are traveling between coastal towns, to and from islands, across the ocean, etc… actually, it could get us around anyplace East of the Dakotas as long as we stay away from the Appalachian Mountains or somehow chart between the higher points (I haven’t tried mapping this out, there may not be any passage lower than 5,000 feet through the eastern range for all i know… but I am pretty sure there should be).

72ºF+459 brings our temperature to the Rankine temperature of 531 degrees… this is really a bit pointless to do, because I am going to use a constant and equal temperature. This takes away the advantage of a lowering temperature, or traveling into a lower temperature, and leaves it as a constant (531/531=1), wherein the temperature within the bag is the same as that outside of the bag, and the 531/531 (1) is left there as a bookmark.

So, for 5,000 feet above sea level, the pressure is now 25Hg. This comes out to: 60319*1*(531/531)*(25.00/29.92) = 60319*0.83556149732620320855614973262032 kg = 50400.234 kg

50400.234 kg… less lift than we need, but only by about 3,000 kg. So, we reduce the crew and rations by half. Done; And with 1800 kg left over… we have plenty to spare.

But What if I Don’t Want to Hang Around the Midwest?

A good point. Really, who would? Most of the big Steampunk happenings are on the West or East coast. It would be a shame if we couldn’t get there.

So, if we wanted to get over the tip of the Rockies, we need to calculate for 15,000 feet above sea level (pressure of 17Hg): 60319*1*(531/531)*(17.00/29.92) = 60319*0.568181 kg = 34,272.1591 kg

53,360 kg, but only 34,272.1591 of lift.. not so good. This again is for the full crew of 70 vikings though.

Almost a 20,000 kg difference – one would need to drop half the fuel, and again drop half the crew… 70 men are however only needed if they are sky-vikings, but for explorers… it probably ony takes 5 men to run this sort of ship – and 15 is actually pretty good if you want workers, soldiers, cooks, or passengers in there. As long as it takes less than a week to get across the Rockies – you’re doing okay. And, since a lot of that range is actually 7,000 feet in the foothills to 11,000 through the mountains – you could probably get by on 2/3rds fuel – giving you about 10 days to make it to Californy-i-a.

Conclusion: Sorry sky-vikings, you have to stick to the coast or the Midwest if you want to use your airship. Everyone else is good to go though.

Cannons? Combat? Weapons?:

Oh! I almost forgot:

I know I have painted cannons into mine. I like them. They go boom. We like the ships what go boom… but it isn’t entirely practical.

If you want cannons, well, I’d recommend cannons that are not going to rip your ship apart with the force of their firing.

16 lb cannons would weigh over 1000kg each with a small amount of ammunition, but more importantly, I wouldn’t want to fire one from a suspended ship anymore than I would want to sit on a rope swing firing a bazooka. Okay.. actually that sounds like a fun experiment… but I am not normal.

Also to be considered: You need 2 men (or more) per cannon… fuses, gunpowder, cannonballs, cleaning and re-positioning… it is intensive work, especially on a swaying ship. More men, more weight.

More importantly, what would you be firing at? If anything is below you, gravity already gives you a great advantage, the same goes for explosives. You could just drop bricks, or cows, or savage chickens if you are feeling really mean; It makes more sense though to just drop bombs – more damage, less weight in the hold. Oh.. and stay out of range of their guns. Use a telescope/periscope to see what you are aiming for, because unless your target is very big – if you can see it, you are already too close.

If you are wanting to defend yourself against things that fly, well, I’d recommend something with a great amount of range, and a rapid fire rate. 50mm is about as big as I would bother going with cannons, which makes them “guns”, or if you are smart – go with a rifled barrel instead.

For the most part, I would not want to get into a scuff with anything that had a chance of hitting me, and would not recommend fighting with anything from an Airship if your weapons aren’t better range weapons than theirs. The most important thing about Airship combat: Don’t do it if it can be avoided. When that fails, airship to airship combat is a job for rockets, sharpshooters, and otherwise: an unholy rain of bullets. I think Cherie priest had it right with the use of Gatling guns… highly advantageous, especially if you are not sure who is the better shot (or who has the better luck).

The likelihood of “them” sending an airship at you, without having some great advantage: slim to none. Expect to defend yourself against faster, better armored, more maneuverable craft – perhaps metal-shelled vacuum airships (highly unlikely), or even steam-powered planes (also unlikely)… but what of lighter-than-air mines? rockets? perhaps even rocket-lifted gliders? I just thought these things up, and chances are that “they” are thinking even harder… so keep that Gatling gun handy… and steer clear of “them” whenever possible. If you can, leave the fighting to the steam tanks, gun trains, ground forces.

A Visual Comparison:

The Gadreel from "Behold The Machine": Way too much wood, especially that which is running up the bow. Fantasy worlds, fantasy surroundings. I suppose a colder climate could help by a lot, but consider this to be a denser atmosphere, a plasma balloon (dangerous) or quite simply: a work of fantastical art made to look pretty and inspire wonder.
Sabicu
The Sabicu - Much better as far as buoyancy is concerned. With cold climate, lighter woods, less equipment, possibly even feasible. I would however probably drop the huge main-sail in front, and make a smaller one off the bow of the gondola - but this piece was heavily influenced by aesthetics, less by practicality.
Antarctic Experiment
The Belphegor from the "Antarctic Experiment" - much better still in the proportions of the gondola to the ship. A very fantastical design though as the rest goes... very overly ornate, perhaps to a detriment: that engine and propeller are very heavy looking.
Desert Shadows
the Abaddon from "Desert Shadows" - much, much more like the scale we need. Perhaps more modern and dieselpunk as a result.

Conclusion:

It seems, in this case, steampunk aesthetics can often rely on a heavily fantasy-driven model. The more realistic I go in design, the less fantastical they are, and the closer to actual existing constructs the look will become – on into dieselpunk, and on further into actual historical or modern-day models.

A lot of times in art, aesthetics take precedence over function. When it all comes down, it is the look of the piece that draws the viewer in, and how good it will look on a wall is what matters to most art buyers – it is the difference between being a concept artist or an architect, and an actual fine artist.

I hope you enjoyed the rundown and the walk-through, and thank you for reading.

Please take the time to look through my store or my gallery if any of these images interested you (or if they didn’t… I have a lot more than just airships in my collection, and a lot more airships than just these shown)

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How to Make an Airship Model

This construct is mostly wood, with papier-mâché for the balloon and the base shell of the gondola, and mesh sandpaper for the deck floor (to mimic the cross-hatched wooden cargo doors on an old deck). It took a couple of nights to make, but  a lot of that was walking from basement to top floor scouring the house for possible materials, and waiting for glue to dry…

materials
materials

I did not really start off with any materials in mind. I had bought some of these supplies for something similar a while back, but a lot of these I found around the house as I went – so, just because I used them, doesn’t mean you can’t find something better. I am a starving artist, and also having to use what is handy because I am working after midnight, after most stores have closed. Feel free to substitute – but I have found up-sides to most every improvised material and I will try to elaborate as I go. Materials: 1) Two pre-made papier mache eggs – one large, one small. If you cannot find them pre-made at your local craft store, you can make them by simply layering papier mache around a party balloon. I used the large egg for the balloon, and cut the small egg in half to make the gondola. 2) One large wooden dowel (1 inch diameter), Eight small dowels (1/4 inch diameter or 3/16ths) 3) A spool of wire. I used framer’s hanging wire because I had some handy. 4) Drywall screen. It is a type of mesh used for sanding drywall – a fabric screen coated with abrasive crystals. 5) Some thin wood panels. Modeling stores have them, crafting stores have them. They are typically used for everything from model ships to doll houses. I cut the propellers out of these. 6) A packet of small hardwood spools 7) a packet of hardwood “pickle barrels”, 8 ) a packet of wood beads. 9) Glue – the stronger and harder the bond, the better: Gorilla glue, Tacky glue, Elmer’s glue all… 10) Paint – you’ll probably want to paint yours. I recommend some cheapy apple barrel or comparable acrylic craft paint. For the demo, I am painting everything black, but I will eventually go in with browns and brass colors to finish the job. Tools: 1) Two pen knives / craft knives. I use them for moving small parts, holding other pieces in place, and of course cutting things. 2) A drill, or a drill bit will come in handy. If you have a power drill it does come in handy – but you can make due with a drill bit stuck in the end of a wood dowel. Match the drill bit to the size of your smaller dowels. 3) A pair of shears or tin snips or some really good (or really disposable) scissors. 4) a coping saw or other fine-bladed crafting saw. To Begin: There are a few steps I do not have pictures for (but will correct this when I start the next one. I didn’t at first plan to make a tutorial of this (sorry). 1) The first thing I did was to cut a hole in the top the big papier mache egg. I made the hole just a little bit smaller than the large dowel. I then cut a hole through the other side of the egg, and pushed the dowel through. This is the mast and (possibly) smoke stack… if you want it to be a smoke stack… I won’t stop you. Either way, it is a big pole going through the balloon top to bottom. Make the big mast long enough to protrude from the top, and from the bottom about 3 inches. This mast will also be the main thing holding the gondola onto the balloon. 2) I did the same thing with the small dowels – making holes with my pen knife and poking the dowels in – one long one in the front (foremast), two in the back (for the tail – one straight out the back, one higher up), two on each side (to hold the sails) You can look at the second image down to get the general feel for where I put mine. I made them go deep into the Egg for more strength.

Bead
Balancing the bead on the tip of the knife is easy, especially if the bead has holes in it. The spots of glue you press the beads into will pull the bead off the tip of the knife pretty easily.

3) To strengthen your masts’ joints with the body, pour glue around where a dowel meets the balloon. Then, with the pen knife, add beads around the mast. This mass of beads and glue will make a nice collar to keep the mast from sliding back and forth, and it will also reinforce the balloon where they meet (see image below).

Airship Model - early stages
Airship Model - early stages

4) For the gondola (above) I cut the smaller egg in half. I also cut a round hole through the bottom where the large mast will just barely pass through (enough to give it a strong bond). 5) I cut a little semi-round divot out of the back and glued a barrel into it (the main boiler). I then glued a barrel in the front to balance it (it also makes a nice wheelhouse). From there, I covered the top with my drywall screen, which a cut with a pair of tin snips. 6) Engine assembly: two short bits of the small dowels on the sides, one as a cross-pipe, and two pickle barrels make the main engine assembly. I drilled holes into the sides of the pickle barrels so the crossbar could be glued in securely.I also drilled holes in the back-ends of the barrels so that I can put my propeller shafts into them. 7) For a touch of added decoration. I also added some wood beads to the top of the assembly. 8 ) The rest is just decor – wood beads cover where the mesh meets the egg, little wood pins add a touch more decor to the deck, a thin shim of wood and some more beads makes a solid walkway to the wheel.

propellers
propellers

9) For the propellers, I cut two of the small spools in half with a coping saw. I drilled my hole through first – and then I fond that I could just leave the spool to spin on the drill bit while I pressed the blade of the coping saw against it. It worked like a mini-lathe. Follow my example there at your own risk – it may be dangerous. 10) I then carved 4 thin propeller blades from the thin wood slats (using the utility knife) and I glued them to the top of one of the spool halves. Then I glued another spool half on top of the propeller blades, sandwiching them in between. 11) Repeat the above step for a second propeller.

end cap
end cap

12) I cut the ends off of another spool, and used them as end-caps on a 3-inch piece of a small dowel. Again, I drilled holes in the spool first, so the end caps will go around the shaft. These end caps will allow your propellers to spin freely, without the worry of them falling off.

painting the ship
painting the ship

13) Lots of black acrylic paint. When adding a patina to anything, it is often easier to go black to light, especially when it comes to acrylics. Slather the stuff on – not only will it add strength to your construct, but it will smooth out the surface of the balloon.

Unwound Wire
Unwound Wire

14)  I cut the sails from the drywall screen (abrasive sheets). I pretty much just held them up to the masts I had made, and cut n small steps until they were just how I wanted them. Then, when the sails were the right size and shape, I tied them to the masts with thin wire. I did not have any thin wire handy, so I unraveled the framer’s hanging wire. I tied in about 4 spots per mast. If it is hard to tie, you can twist the wire instead… that may even be better. 15) For the jib sail, I had to secure some of the thicker wire between the top mast and the foremast, so i could have something to tie the sail onto. You could probably use a really thin dowel for this and have a *much* easier time.

Wire and Mesh
Wire and Mesh

15) With the sails tied on, I poured glue through the sails where they met the masts and cables. The nice thing about having used the mesh – the glue passes right through the holes.

gondola
gondola

16) I put the propellers onto the shafts I had previously end-capped – make sure the holes through the propeller are big enough to allow for spinning (they should be if your drill bit is the same size as the small dowels). If not, give them another pass with the drill… some glue might have gotten in there, or the pieces might have shifted before drying. 17)  If they spin, or if you don’t care if they spin, you can now glue the shafts into the holes at the back of the engine assembly.

Complete for now
Complete for now

18) Done… or for the most part. I have ideas on what color I am going to paint mine – but you know the principle: put paint on a brush, brush paint where you want it – use smaller brushes for details,  bigger brushed for bigger areas – ‘not too much more I can tell you there.

Complete - alternate view
Complete - alternate view

I’ll post pictures of mine when I am done. For tonight, I have to let everything finish drying…. then off to the World Steam Expo on Wednesday night/Thursday Morning.

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The Cog is Dead

I lost track of this band for a few months. My first sighting of them piqued my interest, due to some decent page design, good photography, and a promising band description – which was pretty much all I had to go on at the time outside of a (then) dormant twitter account, and a (then) soon to be updated myspace page (does anyone remember myspace?).

Admittedly, when it comes to such promotions, I bookmark these things and add profiles – but often times the chance to promote is lost on me when solicited by a “great stuff soon to be here” profile. It isn’t that I don’t believe there will be, but whether or not I check back is another matter entirely… save for Facebook where I see pretty much everything from everyone I add, and have a second chance “news feed” by which to see anything I may have missed, as long as it is generating a good amount of responses.

This is one of those cases where the promise was certainly delivered, and in good amounts.

In the time I didn’t check back to see whether new music was posted, their online profiles took leaps and bounds, and a web site came to be, a very stunning and brilliantly designed piece of internet real estate, designed by “Spring Shoe Productions” who I *wish* I could find more about.

But more than great design and “updateyness” in general, I find music to be a very important thing when it comes to bands, especially that part where I either like it or I don’t.

Today, I ran across this video on their steampunk.ning page today, and impressed as I am with this track in particular, I just *had* to post it here. I hope you enjoy it as well:

“The Death of the Cog” by The Cog is Dead :

The Cog is Dead
The Cog is Dead
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Mankind Has No Time (Desktop Wallpaper)

Mankind Has No Time 1280x960 Desktop Wallpaper
Mankind Has No Time 1280x960 Desktop Wallpaper

This image was the cover for the upcoming September/October issue of Gatehouse Gazette, an excellent dieselpunk, pulp, horror, sci fi, steampunk mag if you aren’t already reading it. It was originally done for the magazine in pen and ink, as per their black and white specifications, but I decided to complete the piece with color after the publication date.

This is the finished result… very vintage pulp in its look and feel.

What I was going for was a very retro sort of Neon Genesis Evangelion sort of concept…of course what it translated to, especially with the 1940’s technology looks very “War of the Worlds”, both of which made it an enjoyable and fun piece to do.

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Clockwork Cheshire Cat and Mechanical Moon Men

I haven’t been updating much, you may have noticed – Web and print ad work for clients, as well as the last of the commissioned paintings have kept me busy.

The painting I am working on is a  large one; and since I work in the same amount of detail whether working small or large, it is still going to be a while before I get that one finished.

Most of my client work is for a studio that works with Disney, hosting art events for Disney artists, and selling special edition Disney merchandise; I have a large portfolio of fliers, print ads, and web work relating to these things – and perhaps this is beginning to sink a bit into what I do in my free time – as I just had to do my own version of the Cheshire Cat to round out this last series of engravings (below top).

This recent series began with my needing to get the cover art for the Halloween issue of Gatehouse Gazette (below bottom), and since I buy these things in threes, and cannot resist a fresh plate to engrave on, I ended up using more time that I had scrawling out designs in tiny detail – and I’ll tell ya – my hands and eyes are hating me for it right now.

Well, at least I managed another black and white for my “Airships and Tentacles” series – a series I realized this week I have yet to get around to posting an actual premise for. Innsmouth Free Press will be getting that info first, as I have an upcoming interview with them, and they asked the question.

Speaking of interviews, if you have the time, take a look at my recent one with Dark Roasted Blend (which was also picked up by IO9)

Also, I am pleased to announce, that my painting “Sabicu” will be the cover image for the upcoming installment of the amazing fantasy magazine: Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Anyway… the art… below… BTW metallic prints and giclees of these are available in the Store

Cheshire Cat
Cheshire Cat


Attack from Planet Moon

Attack from Planet Moon (yes, it is a silly title for a silly picture)

I have a Special Plan for this World
I Have Special Plans for this World (Cover for Gatehouse Gazette October)

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Depression Punk Pondered

“There is in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.”

-Washington Irving

Conversations between Bethalynne and I, regarding “Depression Punk” began about a year and a half ago – though until recently, I never really managed to consider these concept so seriously. Such conversations were typically a source of amusement, just silly banter and rampant conceptualizing – most often fueled by late nights and spoiled grain.

Of course when these discussions began, we had our sites set on the finer things in life: The extravagance of steam culture had us bright eyed dreaming of all the wondrous things we could make to wear, decorate with, perhaps even display and sell. We drempt aloud of wondrous things made of fine woven fabrics, intricate machines and devices made of brass gears and parts encased in fine ornate hardwood shells, castings in silver and on brass, and huge monumental artworks so complex and weird that they might be new wonders of the world. The things we would make, the things we would do, and the places we would go dressed to the nines in ornate brass, tweed, and brown leather; Whole worlds of arts and craftsmanship were opening up to us – our only limits being time and focus.

… Though I could hardly focus on anything at the time, barely getting any rest between stuffing prints into boxes and tubes; I was overwhelmed, stressed, and enthused by the sudden and unexpected popularity of my site and my works. We were still poor as we had began, and had a way to go before building a solid footing with our then fortunate circumstances. We found ourselves so incredibly in demand that I had an impossible time choosing from the avenues that were open before us.

One weekend night, we found that the television was becoming all-too heavily dominated by stressed stock brokers and stock owners, failing corporations and other other such things not concerning struggling near-homeless artist renters — In this – we non-stock-owners/non-homeowners had to flip around for a while to find anything remotely interesting to relax to… anything that did not have to do with AIG or that credit stuff we with no credit had little worry over.

For some god-awful reason we found ourselves up late at night staring wide-eyed and zombified at the 80’s Robin Williams train wreck that was called “Popeye”, a deliciously terrible and ill-advised film based upon the adventures of the spinach-munching pipe smoking depression-era pugilistic hero of… of… well, someone had to have watched these cartoons… perhaps even on purpose.

Somehow, after an hour or so of watching, we found that we were still able to form words, and combine them into sentences; Discussion ensued, and that led us to indirectly this depression punk topic via our starting topic… “Hill Punk”

Hill Punk, we decided, would be a subculture where bands played on clay jugs, rubber bands and washboards, wherein the most fashionable would be those wearing the most ragged and worn wooden barrels, those with the most interesting objects tangled within their soup-crusted beards, and the finest art consisted of the most  hideously perfect rusty pipes and cloth tape, held together by twine and thrice-darned stockings. Women would don hair nets over tightly-pulled bob-tailed she-mullets, kids would wear burlap sacks patched with cigar ribbons, accented by sling-shots and chewing tobacco tins.

Figuring that this might possibly conceived as politically incorrect and insensitive by many a fine and upstanding person with Appalachian roots, we thought that this should concept should cover more regions than just the one, and should stem also into the cities and burbs.

This caused up to branch into a more Oliver Twist aspect of steam culture: One encouraging the wearing of rag-tag garments bound by hastily-stitched patchwork, torn gloves and battered hats powdered and blemished by coal and by soot – decorated with pins and necklaces of broken finery and salvaged machines – deviating from the lavishly steampunk culture to a culture of salvaged things and frugal sensibilities.

Gone are the days of stripping the finest wood from the most beautiful forests, and gone are the days of fine ivory canes, expensive perfumes made from plentiful sea mammals. No longer is it in good taste to rest one’s argyle-socked feet upon an intricate, rare, and expensive conversation piece from the depths of deepest and darkest Borneo. No longer is it safe or tasteful to boastfully cover oneself in brilliant jewels and precious metal at gatherings or when in the public eye. Expeditions to far away lands for science and discovery are near-impossible to finance. Among the wealthy, conversations surrounding the proper storage of kitchen grease, preservation of furniture, and the hand-washing of doilies have come to be the most fashionable topics of conversation, hosted in a small cluster of open rooms – the rest of these mansions sealed off for preservation of firewood and limited household staff.

Children in over-sized hand-me downs play games with toys made of salvaged and irreparable devices, things found in junk yards and gutters. They make jewelry from anything salvaged and shiny. For added flair, they wear pocket watches which neither work, nor retain any valuable parts. They make toys and pieces of art from things once functional, interesting and inspiring in appearance only – imagination fueling purpose and function.

Boxes fashioned of glued gears, nails, tin cans and and soldered spoons open gateways to the lush and plentiful lands of Africa; Necklaces made of broken piggy banks and found brass are merely disguises for secreted magickal jewels, or perhaps serve as a key to an ancient and faraway treasure trove – the keyhole cleverly disguised as a crack in a crumbling wall somewhere within a crumbling and abandoned estate.

Meet “Depression Punk”, the somewhat less-fortunate sibling to the steampunk, dieselpunk, clockpunk movements, a symbol for our times – powered by innovative re-purposing, the crafting of interesting and intriguing things from things passed over, wherein form and function collide with outcomes decided by practicality and frugality – imagination stepping in wherever function is not essential.

It only recently occurred to me, that these things are around in mass, and every bit as wonderful as the purely steampunk things I love but cannot buy or afford to make. Where one might see a failed steampunk or clockpunk piece, I have begun to see a very successful and brilliant depression punk piece in its stead… and it is odd that this in only just now rubbing off on me… that I am finally seeing the trees through the forest.

One of my Bethalynne’s greatest traits, is the pure power of her imagination, the way she crafts and dreams child-like eyes, building intricate stories and expansive lore around everything she doodles or glues together.

And while I poo-poo ideas of mine because I haven’t the money for the perfectly-grained piece of cherry carved from the rarest knotted old-growth stump, or haven’t the resources to make electrodes spark from telescoping arms of brass and silver – she crafts beautiful and intriguing gateways to incredible and outlandish strange worlds from scrap jewelry and salvaged paper products…

It seems I could take a lesson from her in hese regards, and from those I admittedly once scoffed at – get with the times and shed the bonds of my extravagant ambitions by showing a bit of fiscal responsibility and empathy, exercising that resourcefulness and practicality forgotten by many of us during these previous years…

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.

~Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires

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Coming to this Space

I’ve used a lot of my time this weekend link building: one of many necessary evils which come with being an artist on the web these days.

I’ll be working through the day at adding original works and mini prints, and then from there, I am going to be finishing out commissions while brainstorming on ways to make some very unique completely hand-pulled reproductions of some of my works.

Since Giclees are so incredibly accurate, so vivid in color, so perfect in contrast – it is really hard to make hand-pulled prints and make them better than the less expensive giclees – and I really do like to make giclees available to the people who frequent this site.

So, the task at hand is to come up with something that can be done by hand, and yet is more awesome than an actual-sized limited edition 200-years archival reproduction on canvas.

I think I have something in mind, some research and trial runs will tell if my idea is feasible, but I do hope to be announcing something extra special within this week.

Until then, wish me luck on finishing up these projects, and please don’t take it to heart if for some reason I do not get back to you as quickly as normal. I will be back soon.

Also, I wanted to add that I am trying to offer free advertising to fellow steampunks. These buttons top the links page, and float right below the headline article on the main page, really good placement. The button size is 117×60 pixels. You can contact me through my contact page if you are interested, I am giving first consideration to people who are willing to give return links, and of course people I am friends with on the various social networking sites and steampunk boards.