Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Arrangement in Steampunk #3: Gladstone in Love?

Who said William Gladstone couldn't be romantic?  In time for my daily steampunk moment, he makes an appearance today's table arrangement... a mix of natural elements, machine parts, and an eminent Victorian or two.

A wooden specimen case has been outfitted with brass gears, glowing blue lightbulbs, copper tubing, and lots of green patina.  I won't reveal what the large bulb has been fashioned from... kudos to you if you guess right.


Monday, 27 February 2012

What Do Cats Dream About?

As a change of pace, I think I'll re-start my Still Life with Cat series... just for fun.  As long as the Cat cooperates, that is.  Here he is dreaming or Disney birds.

Arrangement in Steampunk #2

Remember those wooden jewelry boxes lined in velveteen with a little drawer for bracelets and slots for your rings?  I found one the other day and transformed it into another steampunk-inspired mixed media piece, complete with test tube lighting, gears, and copper coils.

Blue-tinted test tube light illuminates the compartment.

The cover, pre-patina
With fixtures from the plumbing aisles, a test tube, moss, refrigeration tubing, and patina solution, it's a centerpiece and a lighting fixture at the same time.   A far cry from it's original state:

Arrangement in Steampunk #1

Assembly has finally begun on the steampunk centerpieces... hoorah!  This first arrangement is just dipping a toe into the whole steampunk aesthetic, in keeping with the clients' love of books, sci-fi, oddities, and gadgetry.  The remaining arrangements will go deeper, I promise.

A tiny carved cork pavilion atop a bed of moss and anchored by crepe myrtle branches sits esconced in its copper and rivet dome.  Tattered volumes sit on a tray made from the back panel of a London County Council clock, embellished with some gears and trimmed with the clock's chain.

An alligator claw atop a copper plumbing fixture adds a touch of the unexpected.  For height, pthalo blue-painted pear branches adorned with paper leaves (cut from pages of the Disraeli biography) is anchored to the tray with copper pipe fittings.

Detail of pear branches with paper leaves

Top view

Friday, 24 February 2012

Before and After: Disraeli in Love

In the bottom of the book bin at the cavernous St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in downtown, I uncovered a wonderful selection of overlooked works of literature --- the libretto of The Pirates of Penzance, a biography on Benjamin Disraeli, and a history of the Harvey Girls.  Sadly, the covers were falling off, and the spines were broken, but I rescued them anyway, destined to be altered into artpieces which will serve as a centerpiece for a wedding.

From the forgotten book bin.
Expanding on the theme of love (it's for a wedding after all), I slipped a fresh blade into my Olfa knife and started hacking away at the pages, carving away layer after layer.  A few smudges of charcoal and some additional finessing with scissors, and...

"Disraeli in Love," paper and charcoal, Lea Antonio, 2012.

A quiet forest,
A starless night perfect for
lovers' midnight tryst.

Before and After: Vintage Copper

In order to artfully display a few small scale carved pieces for the upcoming Steampunk Wedding, I thought glass bell jars or cloches would be the perfect solution.  They are pretty easy to find at thrift stores and, if worse comes to worse, you can always turn a glass bowl upside-down.  Here are a few of the glass objects I scored for a few dollars at St. Vincent de Paul in downtown LA.

A wooden cheese plate with glass cover, upturned bowl of floor-standing candle holder, and an old liqueur bottle (there was even a little bit of liqueur left in the bottle!).
After applying some weld lines and rivets to the wooden cheese plate, I painted on some iron paint and applied a rusting solution.  While I waited for the rust to develop, I applied a copper band to the rim and the handle of the glass cover, and dripped on some patina solution.  After a few hours of (very impatient) waiting time, this is what I ended up with!

Rust plated covered dish.

Next up, the glass bowl which originally sat in an iron stand, now discarded.  I upturned the bowl and turned it into a dome.  Using puffy paint (yes, the kind that comes in squeeze bottles) I dotted the lip of the dome with large dots (faux rivets) and applied copper to the whole lip.  A little patina solution and I have a display dome suitable for Capt. Nemo's parlor.

Steampunk Bits and Bobs

To be perfectly honest, up until a few months ago, steampunk as an aesthetic was completely off my radar.  But in recent months, with an important project in the works, I've immersed myself in a world filled with the perfection of gears and cogs, the smell of old books, the patina of aged copper, the buzz of Edison bulbs, and the exuberance of outlandish gadgetry.

I'm lucky to have been chosen to create a series of portable art-pieces to adorn tables at an upcoming steampunky sci-fi wedding.  To call them centerpieces would be inaccurate... rather they are mini homages to the happy couple's love of books, science fiction, and technology, with a Jules Verne twist.

First things first, you have to collect the materials, which is no easy task when miniature copper steam engines and Victorian objet d'artes are on the list.  Instead, I've collected bits and bobs, odds and ends, and as many old things that Aidan (my son) and I can take apart.

Here are a few of the things I've got in my growing stash parts, ready to be altered, painted, riveted, and transformed into steampunk heaven.  And, yes, those are preserved alligator claws.

An old specimen caddy.

Some kinda clip-on magnifier... clip on to what?

Alligator claws.
Glass elements.

Pre-tarnished candelabra.

An ancient and futuristic iron.

From the plumbing department.

Looks rather robotic to me.

Some kinda clamp.

I call them alien seed pods.

Brass clock gears.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Saliko's Soiree

After a lot of spraying, sketching, shading and erasing, we ended up with a lot of black-and-white fabulousness, with little punches of red just to mix it up a little.