Would you wear and use a vintage pocket watch?

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.


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