Would you wear and use a vintage pocket watch?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year! Preview of DreamSteam's Jewelry 2012

Greetings, everyone!

I just want to wish you all a Happy New Year (starting tomorrow, of course), and to mention what I have planned for jewelry in 2012.

I have in my possession a plethora of Victorianesque printed paper, which will be incorporated into both copper and silver-tone rings, then coated with resin to make a clear dome.  I made two papier-mache ornaments for other people using some of the paper in small quantities; the details of the patterns do not come through as much on these because I added a layer of white glitter to the surface. Here is a photo of one ornament:

 I also plan on making more pocket watch pendants/necklaces.  They may have a wild west theme, like the one I mentioned in my last post, or involve other steampunkish ideas that came to me along the way.

One of the most exciting projects for me in 2012 will be creating with copper precious metal clay.  I have to decide what to make, then I have to get the firing process right, so any of those items may be a while in production! (I may even post photos of my failed attempts, depending on how spectacular they are.)  I have worked with silver PMC before, but the cost of silver right now makes that an expensive endeavor. The copper version is much less expensive, and perhaps more suited to steampunk themes.

Anyway.  This year has been very difficult for me, for many reasons (as it has for many people), and I hope to be able to buck up and produce more jewelry in the coming year. Thank you all for reading my blog, buying my jewelry, and leaving kind comments here. May you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2012.

~ DreamSteam

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Bullet Sits Atop It - Copper Watch Face and Bullets Pocket Watch Pendant by DreamSteam

Bullet Pocketwatch Pendant by DreamSteam

Greetings, everyone!

This is the newest piece I have made; it is the first in a series of Wild West steampunk influenced pocket watch pendants that I hope to continue making as long as my supply of pocket watch cases and bullets holds out (I know, I can get more of either).

A vintage pocket watch case forms the base for the piece.  The stamped copper watch face forms the background for some interesting found items, two of which I found at the shooting ranges I frequent: an exquisitely rusted gear, a feathered brass fired bullet casing, and a fired bullet which bounced off of a steel target.  Crystal-clear resin encases all of these items, forming a smooth dome on the front.

As for the photo, I am not finished attempting to photograph this piece (translation: I want a better picture!) and I may or may not sell it with the brass chain seen here, since I want to sell it with something better.  My many ideas for a fancy necklace to enhance the pendant have been eliminated one by one as I have tried them and either they did not work as I had planned, or I just did not like them as well as I thought I would.  The creative process can be a harsh one!

This pendant/necklace will be for sale in my ArtFire studio very soon (hopefully this week), so keep an eye out for it there. (Edit: Done! I have posted this piece for sale, with the brass chain pictured, and posted a better photo of it.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Steampunk (and other) Things I Saw in San Francisco in 2011

Greetings, everyone!  This post is link-rich and a little edgy.

As you may know from my Winchester Mystery House post, I finally made the voyage to the Bay area  in September, and had a laundry list of steampunk-related things I could still go see (most  sp events occurred earlier in the year, drat). Though it was but a wish list, some became memories for me as I was guided to some amazing local establishments (The Chieftain and Roux, both were amazing!) and some traditional touristy places by my resident guide, even after I had lost my wallet on the second evening I was there.(It was found and returned the day before I was to depart, so I tried to enjoy myself even though I sweated bullets the whole time about having no identification and no money.)

Reminiscent of days of yore is the Hubba Hubba Revue at the DNA Lounge. Some reviewers claim it is the most presitgious variety/burlesque show in the country, and it was on my agenda, jet lag allowing (I had find some coffee to keep me going long enough to see Lee Presson, yet I still did not make it long enough; the "standing room only" venue madie it tough on my weary... well ... everything. One a.m. SF time was 4 a.m. to me, and I had to fold shortly thereafter.  Lee apparently emceed the last set of the night.).  Oh well, maybe next time I'll plan a little better and not try to stay up all night after a 20 hour day of travel.  The show was fascinating, nonetheless! The costumes alone were worth the price of admission (corsets and ruffles, anyone?). Here is a link to the video they showed on stage as a tribute to the 5 year history of the Revue. (Probably NSFW, depending on where you work.  Just saying.)

I also rode the cable car (quite an adventure, that!) down to Pier 39 and passed the Musee Mechanique, which contains a vast collection of vintage carnival machines.  (I had planned on going in, but it was getting late, and I wanted to go take a photo of Alcatraz and the SF Bay Bridge before it got too dark); then on the walk back past the Musee, I was famished and decided to go eat instead. But you can investigate their site; they have better pictures than I could have gotten with my phone!

Here are photos I took from the pier.

Alcatraz, seen through the rigging of the sub USS Pampanito

The Golden Gate Bridge, seen behind the 1800's ship Blaclutha

A very large and inquisitive gull, who found a good seat for the gorgeous sunset

I have other photos from around the area, but these are the only vaguely steampunkish subjects (except the seagull, of course, he was just too cute).  It was a memorable trip; I hope to go back someday when actual steampunk faires and such are going on, which usually happen in the spring/summer. I tip my hat to all who use public transit as their main method of travel around there; your patience astounds me!  (My journey to the pier went something like this: walk, wait for and then ride the bus, walk, light rail, train, walk, find and wait on the bus, walk, wait for the streetcar, then walk even more. The up side is that I lost four pounds in five days from the walking, lol.) A memorable experience all around, indeed.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Games, Airships and Laudanum! Steampunk Meets "The Guild" at Megagame-o-ramacon

The Guild -- Clara tries to fit in with steampunks at Megagame-o-ramacon.

     This year, the worlds of online gaming and steampunk fandom collide in Felicia Day's webseries, "The Guild". Rumors have it that this is the final season for this delightfully candid series about the trials and tribulations (mostly trials!) of an odd and disparate group of MMORPG players who all play "The Game" MMORPG together while trying to deal with their circumstances and with each other in real life.

     In Season 5, Episode 4 of "The Guild", one of the main characters, Clara, a game-obsessed mom, first discovers steampunk when she sees a booth at the gaming convention that the guildies have attended: "Megagame-o-ramacon". As she puts it: "It's my new favorite thing!" because of the "clock pieces, and corsets, top hats and brown and shiny bits."  We like those, too.

     The steampunk characters in The Guild seem to be stereotypes of steampunk fans exaggerated for effect (and perhaps to make a point), but the scenery for the steampunk booth at the con and the costuming for the characters shows the care that the creators took to recreate the genre. 

     I do not intend to start a spoiler post about the show, so if you are interested in watching "The Guild" and their take on steampunk (it does start out a bit less than complimentary, I will warn you, but the steampunks are good sports in the end), then watch Season 5.  (There is a semi-flying homemade airship.  That's all I'm saying!) Or if you have the time and the inclination to get to know the characters, watch the whole series from the beginning.

     From Wikipedia: episodes are available "on Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace, Zune Marketplace, and MSN Video. The webisodes were later made available on the official Guild website, YouTube, and iTunes. The webisodes are also available via DVD and on Netflix and Hulu.  Bing seems to have the best availability of episodes.

     I have watched the entire series since 2007 because it truly amuses me. Having been in their ... not shoes... their computer chairs... over the years having extensively (perhaps obsessively) played different MMORPG's, the scenarios and humor bring me lots of laughter, even if it is mostly laughter at recognizing myself in the quirky characters and some of the things that happen to them happened to me.  If "the Guild" is truly over, many people will be very disappointed, but it went out with a bang or steampunk flair.  Literally!

If you would like to purchase some of the clothes from the episode, Clockwork Couture has replicas of the fashions for sale because they designed Clara's outfit!  From their web site: "Clara's character wears our 2 Piece Victorian Traveling Ensemble, Star Floating Corset and Show Stopper Topper."

      I hope you enjoy the series.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The House That Fear Built: The Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House, San Jose California 2011
     Many of you may be familiar with the story of the vast and bewildering Victorian style Winchester Mystery House, a mansion once inhabited by Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Winchester, inventor of the Winchester repeating rifle, but if not, I would like to introduce you! (Readers, mansion. Mansion, readers.)

     In September 2011, I had the chance to spend some time in the lovely Bay Area of California, and the one of  first things I did was visit this house in San Jose. They call it a "house," but as the main building has over 160 remaining rooms (500 to 600 were built over the years and later remodeled), "house" is an understatement. Photography is not allowed/highly discouraged anywhere inside the building itself, so please click on the links I have provided to go to the official site for pictures and more background.

     The story behind the family, the house, and the spirits that many say still inhabit the Winchester Mystery House could fill a novel-sized volume, but here is a summary:

     Mrs. Sarah Winchester lived with her daughter and husband in New England during the mid-1800's. They held a distinguished position in high society there due to the immense profits (totaling $20,000,000) which Mr. Winchester had gained in part from the manufacture of his reliable and very useful technology, the 1873 Winchester repeating lever action rifle. (Repeating means that the rifle held multiple rounds of ammunition, and the lever action cocking mechanism made for fast shooting without the need to load a round every time one wanted to shoot).
     Tragedy struck the family when both the daughter and then the husband died fifteen years later of tuberculosis.  Distraught, Sarah consulted a spiritualist in Boston  who advised her to move out west and begin building a home there to appease the spirits of those killed by the Winchester repeating rifle.  Mrs. Winchester believed that the spirits of the American Indians, Civil War soldiers, and others killed by the Winchester rifle were responsible for the deaths in her family. The catch to dealing with the spirits was that she must keep the workers constructing or otherwise changing the mansion twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to keep the spirits from killing her, as well. This she did, starting in 1884, designing the everything herself; for over 38 years she also held nightly seances to enlist the aid of friendly spirits for guidance in the building plans and for protection.

From the Winchester Mystery House gift shop.
     The house is amazingly opulent and very well-constructed.  I bravely faced room after room of ornate brass accoutrements, gold paint, rich red textured fabric wallpaper, and exotic wood paneling (not to mention the glorious Victorian furnishings that were not original to the house but made me drool anyway) and managed to resist the urge to photograph any of it. *sigh*  There are currently 160 rooms, a fraction of which are open to the public today (some were damaged in the 1906 earthquake); 500 to 600 rooms were built over the years but were often dismantled, built around, or sealed up, which helps account for the bizarre layout of the building, some of which was intentional, to confuse the bad spirits.
     Examples of Sarah's obsession with the number thirteen and spiderwebs appear throughout the house in the design of the windows, the number of bathrooms, and even the number of stairs.  Mrs. Winchester believed that incorporating the number thirteen throughout the mansion would help ward off the tortured souls that might do her harm. Just a few more examples of this include that there are thirteen wall hooks in the seance room, thirteen holes in the sink drain covers, and thirteen windows in the thirteenth bathroom.
      One of my favorite parts of the tour was the room that displays the unused windows and doors that Mrs. Winchester ordered made in Austria and imported by Tiffany's of New York; pictures do not do these creations justice.  The crystal bevels and glass in these pieces shimmer with the colors and intensity of diamonds! As a stained glass artist, I could tell that the construction of these pieces was exquisite and probably well worth what Mrs. Winchester paid for them.

      Unfortunately, these now priceless doors and widows do not appear in the official photo gallery of the mansion, but it is well worth it to take a look at the photos of the other windows, the stairway to nowhere, the bell tower, the furniture, and many of the other curious features of the house.  The site even has a section with first-hand accounts and a graph of the numerous ghost sightings which have occurred in the most psychically active rooms and continue up until very recently.  Here is a short History Channel video of the house, which does include footage of the windows and so much more:

These videos explain the history of this place more thoroughly, and are each about 9 minutes in length:

     If you would like to be kept abreast of :
  • All the latest Winchester Mystery House™ news, as well as streaming video clips and photo galleries.
  • Weekly polls, fun facts, contests and historical milestones.
  • Insider-only discounts on special events, and helpful hints on travel and entertainment.
  • Behind-the-scenes sneak peaks about the upcoming feature film and more.

then you may wish to subscribe to the Winchester Mystery House Newsletter, "The 13th Hour".

     I hope the story behind this wonderful structure and its' unusual inhabitants will entertain and chill you as much as it did me.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Identify the Antique Medical Devices!

I found these interesting and seemingly antiquish brass devices on a very high shelf at a local store (a pharmacy, actually), and asked if I could take a photo of them.  To her credit, the employee did not appear to think I was a crazy person (for long) and even stepped aside for me to snap the shot. 

The employees that I asked did not know what they were, as the items were "just for decoration."  I would think that the instrument on the far right is a microscope, but the purpose of the other two eludes me. I would like to know what you think (or know) these medical curiosities/devices are.  If they are simply some excellent examples of steampunk quackery, please let me know that as well! (To mention, the sprigs stemming from the center item are sparkly gold reeds, and are not a part of the device. I know, I was disappointed, too.)

Please leave your helpful comments here.  Thank you, and enjoy the mystery!  =)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Collection by DreamSteam - 10% Off Everything in the Shop

As the season for lighthearted mischief and/or possible reflection on our own mortality approaches, I have assembled a collection of a few pieces of my own which I think would make wonderful additions to a steampunk or noir ensemble.  Do click on the links in the captions to view the specifics of each item in my ArtFire shop.

Oh, and everything in my shop is now 10% off, for a limited time.  Squee!

But I digress. On to the jewelry!

"The Duchess" Noir Necklace

The first item is the dark filigree necklace which I neamed "The Duchess".  The design uses the understated elegance of seven lustrous pearls to make an unmistakeable impression. It also has its' very own blog post.

Antiqued Brass Scroll Stamping Earrings
 While not a match to the Duchess necklace, these brass earrings still have a regal aura about them.The hematite faceted beads sparkle above the pure brass Victorian-esque stampings and gears.

Brass Bourbon Decanter Tag Necklace

This cheeky adornment uses a brass bourbon decanter tag as the centerpiece, the pure brass chain accented by glass crackle beads to give it sparkle like the street lamps of New Orleans! How many people have you seen wearing a decanter tag as jewery? Exacty.  It is very unique, and would look fabulous on one bold enough to wear it.

Steampunk Sherriff - Brass Brooch

Going western? I have just the thing for you. The steampunk Sherriff's star!
     "This unique handmade brooch has the appearance of long-standing rugged authority; the quality components including a copper filigree star and brass pocket watch gear, have been aged to a multi-color finish as well as a distinctive verdigris (green) hue.
     The star itself measures just over 1 3/4 inches from tip to tip.
     The pin back and the gear cabochon are securely wired onto the star with pure copper wire to ensure durability on those long trail rides."  Saddle up, pardner!

So there are a few ideas for bold jewelry for your holiday season.  Of course, there are many more subtle pieces in my ArtFire shop, if you would like to peruse them.  If you have read this far, thank you for reading my self-promoting post. and I hope these pieces find a home (besides mine) soon!  =)


Monday, October 3, 2011

(Some) Jewelry by DreamSteam Returning to Etsy

I have re-opened my Etsy store: all of my items will also be for sale on ArtFire, but for those of you who prefer to make purchases on Etsy, now you can buy some of them there.  Both venues have been good to me, but I believe I had more sales on Etsy per month than I have on ArtFire and also wish to remain a part of their community.

The fact that I have not made much jewelry this year (and have also limited my advertising with Project Wonderful) has slowed sales, certainly.  I will not post photos of the items I am relisting on Etsy, since I have already posted them here and on ArtFire as well.  I will post photos of new items as they are completed, though.  =)

I thank my readers for sticking with me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Steampunk Couture

Steampunk Couture - Lady Grey Dress for sale on Etsy

As the fall season approaches and makes wearing corsets and luxurious draping fabrics more attractive, it feels like the time to speak once more of steampunk fashion!

Maker Steampunk Couture published a beautiful video of a spring collection, but have more recent items for sale in this Etsy store; jewelry, dresses, vintage-looking bottles, pritned images, and more. (I have not personally dealt with Steampunk Couture, but almost 1200 positive feedbacks means they are probably a safe place to buy some choice steampunk goods.) The video may inspire some ideas for the handy do-it-youselfer, as well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Puzzle Me This: Free Steampunk Computer Puzzle Game

While searching for new and unusual things this week, I discovered a maddening computer game, and just had to share!

Armor Games has created a steampunk-themed puzzle game, and offers it free to play here.  The beginning levels seem too easy, but they are supposed to show one how to achieve the goals: set the hero upright and level on the ground, and jettison the villain off of the scene.

If you enjoy endeavors that challenge your mind bit, then this might be something to try for a minute or thirty.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Offerings from The Team of Steam - recent items from the Etsy Steam Team

I like to promote items and makers besides myself, as there are so many amazingly creative steampunk artists out there, and many are on the Etsy Steam Team (and so am I!). The Etsy Steam Team is a coalition of very talented artists who make unique steampunk items of all sorts; without further ado, here are a few selections created by EST members.

Copper Bald Eagle Necklace, OsteoOsophy

 In this shop, you will find animal skull pendants/necklaces cut from recycled copper printing plates by White Raven Arts.

Mechanica Folium Aranea - CatherinetteRings
Daniel Proulx a.k.a.CatherinetteRings has posted an addition to his collection of steampunk-inspired spiders for sale on Etsy.  This splendid arachnid will set you back $1500, should you choose to purchase it.

Miniature handmade journal - DeathMau studios
DeathMau has a splendid shop filled with many handmade journals. Prices seem to range quite reasonably from $15-50 for pendant journals to full-sized versions in which to pen your secrets.

I hope you have enjoyed these selections, and will investigate the shops of these EST members at your leisure. Cheers!


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