Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Steam: Macy's Awesome Steampunk Holiday Windows

I've had several people mention Macy's steampunk-themed holiday displays in New York this week, and WOW, are they worth a look:

(Sent in by Jennifer D., photo by the AP)

(Photo by my friends Chris & Laura R.)

via cocodot

Hey Mishka has some fabulous close-up shots like this:

...which is no easy feat, since everything in these windows is in constant motion!

In fact, the pictures can't do any of this justice, so here's a video:

(When I first saw this, I was all "what? Ten whole minutes?!" And then the next thing I knew, the video was over. There's just so much to see!)

There's also a slick edited version by Hey Mishka here, but it's mostly close-ups and made me kind of dizzy to watch. Still, it will give you all the major highlights if you only have a few minutes to spare.

As you can see, the theme is kind of a rocket ship/fairy/steampunk mashup, which will probably anger the purists but is a perfect example of why I think rule-breaking is awesome. It's art - how can you have rules on art?

Oh, and I spent forever tracking down those limited edition ornaments mentioned on the Make-A-Wish windows (Macy's website is really not cooperative here), and was bitterly disappointment to find they're not themed to match the windows. Boo! Still you can take a look at them all here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Midweek Roundup

Some stuff that happened this week when I wasn't blogging:

- I did my best to help the whole Paypal-screwing-over-Regretsy debacle go viral on Twitter - which it did - and I'm happy to report that hell STILL hath no fury like the wrath of the Internet unleashed en masse on corporate bozos. Really, it's a feel-good story all round. (Well, unless you're Paypal. Ha!) You can find all the details over on Regretsy, if you missed the drama.

- Yesterday The Bloggess said she loved me. And my life was made complete.

- The past two nights John and I have been taking advantage of the only reason to live in Orlando: Disney World. Tuesday night we went to the Christmas party at Magic Kingdom, where we drank hot chocolate and cursed the fact that it was 78 frickin' degrees outside. Seriously. How am I supposed to get in the Christmas spirit wearing a t-shirt and flip-flops? I WANT TO WEAR MY SILLY WINTER HATS, DANG IT. Harrumph.

[insert everyone else on the planet yelling at me that it's negative three thousand degrees where they are right now]

Anyway, the good news is I took over 700 pictures of all the holiday goodness, cried over the Toy Soldiers in the parade (I dunno why - they just make me all nostalgic and misty-eyed), squealed like a little kid over the miniature white ponies pulling Cinderella's carriage, and generally skipped about like a 6-year-old all night.


Well, of the parade, that is. Not me skipping like a 6-year old. (I'll leave that to your oh-so-fertile imaginations.)



And out of 100 blurry photos, I somehow managed to snag this one clear shot of Cindy & the prince through the carriage window:

[through gritted teeth] "The hand stays on YOUR side, buster."

- In "work" related news, since I'm still - STILL - trying to catch up on posts and e-mails and all the media obligations that go along with a book launch, I've finally realized that something has to go, and that something has to be e-mail. I just spend way too much time on it, and always to the detriment of both blogs and life in general.

So, from now on, please understand if your e-mails to me go unanswered. That doesn't mean stop sending them, of course - my gosh, I love reading your e-mails - it just means I'll have a HUGE burden lifted if I know you guys aren't expecting a reply. (And I'll have more time for actual blogging.) Is that cool? Yes? Please?

- Oh, and I finally updated the Epbot FAQ page about why I never post pictures of myself online. You know, since now I *have* posted pictures of myself online.

- And finally, no one has to get me anything for the holidays, because tonight at Epcot I traded with a cast member for THE BEST PIN IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD.

It looks like this:


I'm not much of a pin trader - more of a dabbler, really - but there's no way I can resist this new "Nerds" set. Check it out:

(Actually, half these guys are looking more hipster than nerd, don't you think?)

Anyway, so, obviously, Donald is the best. But I'll be looking for Mickey and Minnie and Goofy, too. (The whole set is a whopping $30 at the parks, which is why I like to trade older pins for them: cheaper *and* more fun.)

Oh, and just in case you haven't had enough Disney yet, I uploaded some pretty castle photos like this over on Flickr:


Best. Christmas lights. EVER.

Plus my favorite shots of the fireworks:


And the special holiday edition of the new castle projection show, which is ahhhh-mazing.


John even scored a little video of the Christmas part of the show, so I'll try to upload that soon.

In the meantime, you can see the rest of my photos here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Video Is Related

I just had two links posted one right after the other on the Epbot Facebook page, and the resulting combination was too funny not to share.

First, my new favorite song, found by Kristy J.:

(Love this SO HARD.)

And second, this article from Elisabeth N.: Justin Bieber Ruins Entire Nerd Subculture With New Christmas Video.

As the article states, the video in question is "inexplicably steampunk-themed." (Well, except for all the break dancing.) If you're curious and have the mute button handy, you can check it out below.

I'll just echo Elisabeth here by saying I am so, so sorry.


Kidding aside, I should tell you I'm not really a steampunk purist, so I don't mind bending the "rules" and personalizing the genre to fit your sense of style. (I actually love an occasional ray gun or nixie tube with my gears and goggles.) So I would never lecture anyone on what they can and can't use; if it looks cool and has some heart in it, I'll probably love it.

I, er, still don't love the Bieber video, though.

(Why does he get the sweet arm gauntlet? WHY?!?)

[Update: John just demanded to know what's wrong with the Bieber video, because it's "fun." Proving once again that I married the most positive man on earth. And that I may have to watch our iTunes purchases in the future. 0.o]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Inspiration File: Steampunk Christmas Ornaments!

To wile away my craft-deficient hours on the book tour, I spent a lot of time researching and brainstorming all the ways one might steampunk out some holiday ornaments. There's not a whole lot out there by way of inspiration, but I've put together the best of what I did find.

First, a nice touch of gears and brass on a traditional ornament:

$19.95 from Lala Dangerous

Next, a filigree wrapped vacuum tube!

$15 from Mad Scientists Designs

These are the ones I was most sorely tempted to buy:

$21 for all 3 by Designs by Friston

I think I actually swooned over that orange hot air balloon. DO WANT.

This set of gear ornaments by Dreamful Designs has since sold out, but it remains the only set of gear ornaments I've been able to find online:

They're also made of leather, which means they have a good side and rougher, "bad" side.

Frankly, I'm amazed no one out there is manufacturing large brass gear ornaments! I thought steampunk had gone mainstream enough to warrant it, but sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe next year?

Of course, since we're not willing to wait, John and I are in the process of making our own gear ornaments. More on that in my next ornament post, though.

Moving on, I managed to find these beauties by way of Hawksmoor's Bazaar, which has a lovely post on all kinds of holiday steampunkery.

Those snowflakes are each made with clock hands. Aren't they gorgeous? They're available in white, brass, and black, and - the best part - are only $5 each over at Antickquities. I love how it's an oh-so-subtle steampunk touch - and also how each design is different!

I happened to mention on the Epbot Facebook page my quest for steamy ornaments, and the next thing I knew, I had some of you lovely readers bringing me handmade beauties like this:

This is a clear craft ornament filled with a clock spring, gems, a tiny locket, gears, beads, and even a smashed penny or two. The tiny silver beads clinging to the "glass" (it's actually plastic) roll around like a snowglobe, revealing all the treasures inside as you turn it.

Here's another angle:

This is the handiwork of readers Heather & Elizabeth. Thanks again, ladies!

Oh, and the ornament isn't a traditional ball; it's flattened and relatively thin, as you can kind of see from the second photo. I'd love to find some myself for craft-ventures, but so far, no dice. Anyone know where I can buy them?

[Edit: looks like these are available at Michaels and maybe Hobby Lobby. Thanks, everyone!]

Reader J. G. went so far as to mail me a few Victorian- style ornaments, so I had them waiting for me when I got home. Here's my favorite:

Hit the pic to see the big version; the texture and detail is stunning.

And finally, hold on to your top hats, because Sharyn made me the Ultimate Steampunk Pine Cone of Craftiness:

Every bit of it is hand made and designed.

Just look at this detail:

The top hanger has a wire sphere with a gem inside:

And one more beauty shot, since you can tell I was having too much fun with my photo cube:


I have more ornaments to share with you, so stay tuned for all the bits and pieces John and I are modifying and making.

'Til then, though, here are a few lists I came up with on the tour to help me shop and search and craft to get my steampunk tree theme off the ground. I ended up using elements from all of the lists, but you can be as specialized as you like.

Mad Scientist Steampunk:

Glass test tubes (fill with wire, colored water/oil, glitter, etc.)
Copper wiring/tubes, twisted into simple shapes
Metallic/copper Cyberlox for garland
Small clear glass bottles, mirrors, monocles, lenses
Vintage bubble lights
Tree topper options: Plasma ball, goggles, more copper wire, antique brass microscope

Aviator Steampunk

Rope knot ornaments (research sailor's knots)
Hot air balloons & dirigibles
Birds: hawks & owls
Mini brass telescopes (available as a necklace on Ebay)
Thick cotton rope garland
Globes, maps, & atlases
Other brass nautical equipment
Topper ideas: globe, astrolabe, model dirigible

Deep Sea Diver / 20,000 Leagues/ BioShock

Miniature divers helmets (available as a necklace on Ebay & Etsy)
Any and all nautical items mentioned above
Bosuns whistle
Octopodes! :D
Tentacles, seahorses, exotic fish
Lots of clear/iridescent glass ornaments (to look like bubbles)
Topper ideas: Diver's helmet (lit from inside?)

Stylized Steampunk (Generic - useful in all genres)

Pocket watches
Clock parts, hands, gears
Antique keys
Brass wings
Typewriter keys

Victorian influence - mix with any/all steampunk genres

Velvets, satins, furs, & corset lacing
Lace, netting
Rich colors (purples, burgundies, bottle greens, and other jewel tones)
Top hats & fascinators
Crystals and other sparkly gems
Topper idea: Top hat with feathers/googles

The most important thing to remember when decorating with a steampunk theme? It doesn't have to be all brown. Don't be afraid to use lots of rich color - the Victorians weren't! Besides, who wants a drab Christmas tree? Pour on brilliant jewel tones, and your home will be that much warmer for it - and I guarantee it will look just as steamy.

I'll leave you with these vintage hot air balloon ornaments I tried (and failed) to buy on Ebay:

Can you can see these fitting in with a steampunk tree?

Ok, I know it's a stretch, but I was totally willing to try. They're just so stinkin' cheerful, you know?

So tell me, guys, what did I miss on my inspiration lists? Let me know in the comments!