1

Steampunk and Surrealism.. just go together

If you’re not on my list of friends, or followers on any of my feeds. then chances are you are coming in for Artprize related things, have seen us on […]

If you’re not on my list of friends, or followers on any of my feeds. then chances are you are coming in for Artprize related things, have seen us on the news, or just stumbled upon this page – and you may not quite know what “steampunk” is.

In a nutshell, Steampunk is a return to the days when people were familiar with the technology they used, nearly intimate… but not in any sort of naughty or profane way… I am sure there is another name for that…

… but what I am talking about: Those times when something broke, the owner knew how to fix it. If the part was broken, they knew who to go to to have the part made, if they didn’t make it themselves. Everything was quality: quality materials, quality craftsmanship; The things you owned, if they broke (which was far less likely), you fixed them, because they were just that awesome… nice wood, bits of brass or steel… every part, every gear, every cog, crafted with pride and often decorative for no good reason other than to say “I made this, and I did a fantastic job of it”.

On the flip side of using old technologies, familiarizing ourselves with them, revisiting old inventions and designs that were unsuccessful perhaps due to a lack of the proper materials or support technologies – is familiarizing ourselves with the technologies of today, on the same level that people were once familiar with the technologies of their day.

We splice, we cut, we reprogram e-proms, we wire in computers or computer parts for controls… maybe powered by a sterling engine, or an 1800’s-style solar energy, or a gasinator, or whatever the heck we can make out of a bucket of discarded scrap and some broken antiques… we use, and re-use *everything*. Ours is a culture of reliability, sustainability, eco-conscious, and an opposite to the modern day way of throwing away what is broken or discarding anything that is more than three weeks old for the next new thing… another piece of plastic, old the day it is unboxed.

But again, it is about quality, pride, and ingenuity…

Which is much like any good painting or other artwork…

Art should focus is on quality and craftsmanship… like the paintings of our  beloved eras, where people actually cared about what they were doing: from the canvas chose, the gesso layered, into the pigments picked and mixed by hand – with great attention to detail and every detail about the details.

… That sort of realism and attention to detail one would expect of John Singer Sargent – and other proud artisans- from those days before everyone grew up expecting to be a celebrity or famous… without any required effort or skill… the age of entitlement, and this “the Emperor Has No Clothes” mode of assessing and promoting art in order to satisfy the sort of fast-food way that has filtered into every aspect of life and business.

No paint dumps here, no splotchy works painted with various unspeakable body parts, no sob story, or heartwarming tale, or intriguing title to make up for lack of work or imagination… skill, and attention to quality are  essential.

In this, there is something incredible quite about seeing a real-world object recreated perfectly with pen or pencil or in paint – yet… quite incredible considering that such images used to be done entirely from eye or from memory… but we live in the age of cameras and scans and enlargements – which not only renders realism tedious and completely unnecessary, but somewhat lackluster and less than special these days. These days, there isn’t much point in having a perfect pencil drawing of en existing object, when it could be photographed, and likely was photographed before the drawing.

Surrealism, is applying the actual skills of old, while going above and beyond to create images of things that do not, did not, might not ever exist, and pushing one step further towards “cannot” for those who apply themselves. In effort, and application, it excels to be something beyond mere abstract and beyond realism.

There is that exciting spirit of inventiveness and imagination, combined with the traditional dedication to hard work that was once the mark of artisans, artists, and craftsmen – seeking to make the unreal real, or at least seemingly likely if only in its own self-contained and self-made world. For this reason alone I feel it fits remarkably well with the genre, which based in speculative fiction, both requires and inspires these sorts of works.

Steampunk, craftsmanship and pride in work aside, is about imagining and re-imagining – looking at the future through the eyes of the past, and vise-versa – to create something bold and new, plausible, perhaps even possible – mixed with a wonderful touch of impossibility and improbability – the subculture in itself is a sort of surrealism – more than merely fantasy, bound to science, history, practical knowledge, self-reliability, and sustainability- it ties the real to the unreal, tangible and intangible – and inspires us to dream the impossible, while exploring the very fringe of possibility.

Our project, is in the spirit of steampunk and in the spirit of surrealism. Fantastical in nature, and tedious in its crafting. Bordering on impossible and improbable from the very beginning stages… yet certain to happen. do or die. Everything from the painting itself, to the structure it is painted on, to the structure surrounding it, and the engines powering it, embodies this spirit… the best woods, the best primers, the best paints, and painstaking effort in every detail from the planning up…

I am very proud to be a part of this project, and do hope you come out to see it between the 21st and the 28th. I also ask you to take the time to register to vote (at a number of official Artprize hubs throughout downtown), and vote for our project. Voting is highly important to this contest – and the beauty of this contest is that it allows the people to decide what is art, what isn’t what is good, and what they would like to see more of.

Hopefully ours is a project that leaves you wanting to see more from us. I feel it will be, we’ve worked very hard to make it so.

Thank you for supporting us, and for your interest and participation, this has been a wonderful experience already,

Myke Amend

0

New Shirt Design

Well, actually it is an improvement and upgrade on the previously proposed tee shirt design. Now that we’re ready to go to production on these, I started off doing some […]

Well, actually it is an improvement and upgrade on the previously proposed tee shirt design. Now that we’re ready to go to production on these, I started off doing some graphical cleanup and decided it would be cooler if the shirts were two sided and had fancier text on them.

I’m catching up from the kickstarter – having sent out files and orders for all elated prints, the coloring books, the downloads and other rewards we offered – the limited edition tee shirts for the kickstarter were needing some rework before final printing, so I decided to go ahead and rework these as well – so I could order all of them at the same time.

If you have already ordered shirts, you might notice that the new price is a dollar more – don’t worry, you’ll be getting your shirts for the price you paid.

All shorts ordered up to now, or ordered now, should be ready to ship on or around the 15th of June. So, if you are reading this after then, they are already to ship.

These will be sold until this batch of 50 or so shirts sells out, and then we’ll be introducing a one-sided design using the device as the large image on the front.

PURCHASE:
purchase link: http://infernaldevice.net/Artprize/store/fundraising/infernal-tee/

back:

front:

front (closeup):

back (closeup):

0

COOTIES

Well, it looks like I am devoting myself this year to finally finishing up my children’s book – but for now, I am working really hard at making our kickstarter […]

Well, it looks like I am devoting myself this year to finally finishing up my children’s book – but for now, I am working really hard at making our kickstarter successful.

We are beyond dedicated to making this happen… so much so that I stayed up all day and night putting this special drawing together (image below), which will be available in printable PDF format exclusively to everyone who donates $1 or more though our Kickstarter.

A $2 purchase of a good piece of fine art paper from your local craft store, plus this download, and you’ll have this silly piece of my steampunk storybook for your wall… $3 total investment, and no shipping.

We’ve also received an unpublished text by G.D. Falksen to add to our kickstarter offers: An Original Never-before Published Exclusive Short Story by award winning author G.D Falksen; You get a hard copy of the short story in a binder, decorated with exclusive print by Myke Amend (an illustration of the story within) – each illustrated cover HAND EMBELLISHED, numbered, and signed… making for a *very unique* work of literature and art combined.

Other offers include everything from exclusive prints from me, the Airships and Tentacles Coloring Book, the Airships and Tentacles Scrapbooking kit, Original Paintings, and other incredible offers as *much* less than regular price…

We’ve had some good fortune this week, blogged by Warren Ellis, tweeted by Neil Gaiman and Kyle Cassidy, you may have seen us mentioned by Vernian Process, Abney Park, Nancy Overbury, and other greats… who we will be sure to mention more in depth when we compile our big list of People Last Against the Wall…

Please help us to keep this momentum going. 7 days remain, and we are nearly 30% there. Your donation of $1, retweeting, reblogging, or otherwise spreading the word of this project can put us over that hill.

Cooties - Available only through our kickstarter

Cooties - Available only through our kickstarter (click to enlarge)

0

Coloring Book

So, I’ve been trying to think of something really good, but inexpensive that I could put together as an added incentive to be a part of our kickstarter, and in […]

So, I’ve been trying to think of something really good, but inexpensive that I could put together as an added incentive to be a part of our kickstarter, and in staying up all night making a new engraving – it came to me…

This coloring book.

When I was a kid, Advanced Dungeons and Dragon’s Monster manual, and their Dieties and Demigods, had some rather awesome illustrations in them: All black and white. I loved those illustrations, but I loved them even more when I caught a Glimpse of my friend Brian’s book… which he had taken colored pencils to for each and every illustration. I thought it pretty amazing how with some simple color over the black and white of the pages, those illustrations really came to life. They were simple to color, because the shading was already there – which made for a basic coloring level, with lots of room for improvisation, and advanced looking results.

I thought to myself this AM, “Hey… all these engravings I’ve been doing would be perfect for this”,and so I set to gathering up pages for a coloring book… and with all the engraving that I do, I have a *lot* of them.

Here are the images that will be in this coloring book… which will for the time being, only be available through our kickstarter for an $11 donation (which includes Shipping and Handling). The coloring book is 26 full pages, and ready to color.

You’ll notice that some of the images below are colored, because I copied really quick from my gallery. These images will be uncolored in the coloring book version.

You can get this coloring book by donating $11 through our Kickstarter. Like all donations, no credit cards are charged until the Kickstarter has ended (11 days from now) so if you are waiting till payday… please feel free to go ahead and pledge now.

0

New Video

This new video for our kickstarter and Artprize pages shows our piece in place on the river. Thee 3-D model and lighting for the model were done by Ben Amend […]

This new video for our kickstarter and Artprize pages shows our piece in place on the river.

Thee 3-D model and lighting for the model were done by Ben Amend (My nephew), and combined with a few days of work on my part, and the music of Vernian Process, it came together fairly well for a three day project.

The track included in this video is an old Demo version of “the Delta Queen”. You can hear the final recording version at VernianProcess.com

0

Myke Amend talks About The Device

Myke put together this video last night for our kickstarter page, it explains the project, and how we’re going about this. He also does a (somewhat clumsy) demonstration of the […]

Myke put together this video last night for our kickstarter page, it explains the project, and how we’re going about this. He also does a (somewhat clumsy) demonstration of the device… due to how incredibly directional a blow-dryer is as source of wind. He manages to successfully target the device and pull it together in the end though.

He forgot to mention the new rewards such 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

0

Gaining Steam

Our Kickstarter has started to pick up in activity over the past few days, and though we’re at about 2% with 40 out of 45 days to go, the chart […]

Our Kickstarter has started to pick up in activity over the past few days, and though we’re at about 2% with 40 out of 45 days to go, the chart is looking rather parabolic in its beginnings which has us feeling pretty optimistic about the monumental undertaking ahead of us.

If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, they are *the* platform for launching and funding creative projects. Money is only donated if and when the artists reach their goals, meaning that investors can be certain that either the project *will* happen, or the funds are returned to the investors. It is an all or nothing deal for both sides involved.

In addition to being a part of art history in the making, donors get the added benefit of rewards offered by the artists in return for donations. Ours range from heartfelt thanks, to signed fine art prints by Myke Amend, tee shirts, official sponsorship status, and so much more.

Much thanks goes out to Overflow Cafe, Guy Cox, Amanda Young, Dana Young, Megan Brown, Mr. Shreck, Mrs. Shreck, Chris Baar, and several anonymous donors. We are grateful, and proud that you chose to be a part of this project.

We’d also like to thank Pamela of Totus Mel Tats, who in addition to being a core member of the Etsy Steam Team, runs the arts and crafts blog and feature spot Wunderkammer.

Last, but certainly not least, we’d like to thank One Girl’s Treasure Eclectic and Fashionable Resale, a vintage and used fashion reseller on Lyon street in Grand Rapids’ beautiful downtown area, who in addition to being a great venue for emerging and experienced artists alike, also backed Cirque A Circa for last year’s ArtPrize event.

Victorian Lace

Victorian Lace: The intricate tatted stylings of Totus Mel, available on Etsy

One Girls Treasure

One Girls Treasure: Fashionable Resale in Grand Rapids Michigan

2

The Dangerous Kitchen

(above: Myke Amend stands amidst a tight gathering of machines, hanging tools, sorted wood, and machine parts) One of several things we aim to fix along the way – we […]

(above: Myke Amend stands amidst a tight gathering of machines, hanging tools, sorted wood, and machine parts)

One of several things we aim to fix along the way – we each have our own individual work spaces (some more cramped than others), and will definitely need one nice sized workspace near our venue for the final build (or sooner).

A close gathering of tools and equipment, surrounded by hanging tools, stretcher bars, clamps, and bits of wood down to the tiniest scraps - alphabatized by wood type.

This, my workspace was mostly inherited. This is where Bethalynne’s grandfather worked away through the night. I believe the lady in the picture frame (below) kept him in good company. My company is “Jeeves”, the wooden guy who likes to stare and say “finish me”. He also hates being called “Jeeves”.

Scroll Saw and Band Saw

The band saw is broken. I learn (often) that things can be "too tight" - in this case the metal tensioner assembly.

Though it *is* majorly cramped, everything is set up in a way where there is *just* enough room in any direction, as long as all surfaces are clean.

Table Saw

My favorite table sawof the two. The cheetah patterned curtains? I think Beth's grandfather really liked this pattern. It was the 70s.

When making frames or stretchers for canvas, the table saw allows me just enough room to put a 6 foot strip out and across the table where the vices are, and just enough room to make that angled cut.

Router Table

Routing table

I can run a wood beam *just* behind the drill press is I need to use the routing table on it (though I have to stop and turn half way through the beam).

Lathe

The Lathe - The lathe and the older scroll saw both run off of the same motor (I move it around between the two)

The Lathe has just enough stretching room for me to make baseball bats, table legs, and the like. All the vices/clamps swivel, so there hasn’t been a job so far they aren’t good for.

The Garage

The garage used to be a *lot* roomier. Bethalynne and I really need to get studio space, or sell that mural (which I think will require studio space).

The garage…. well, there *was* a garage in here. After last year’s artPrize, it became storage for the 30-foot long mural Bethalynne and I did (in three pieces), buckets upon buckets of leftover paint,  the cabaret-fortune-teller styled shadowboxes I built, some antique wood doors, stacks of plywood, and the other table-saw… that new-fangled one with all the pesky safety stuff on it.

Well, there you have it. This is where I make the magic happen… and by “magic” I mean chanting and screaming words not for mortal ears and especially not for those of children; Also this where I’ll likely be working on my part of the scale model. I suppose it is a good thing that a lot of the more intricate work will be in the hands of people like this guy (Mr. Todd Cahill):

0

Gearing up for The World Steam Expo

(above: “Frenchy and the Punk” photo credit: Frank Siciliano) Less than two months away, on Memorial Day weekend, is the World Steam Expo in Dearborn Michigan, and we very are […]

(above: “Frenchy and the Punk” photo credit: Frank Siciliano)

Less than two months away, on Memorial Day weekend, is the World Steam Expo in Dearborn Michigan, and we very are pleased to have this rare gem right here in our corner of the states.

A fantastic time was had last year, and we are sure this year will be just as good, if not even greater.

This is one of the very best steampunk, neovictorian, and retrofuturist expositions in the World, and Myke Amend will be setting up shop in the Vendor’s Room again this year. In addition, The Gypsy Nomads (Now Frenchy and the Punk), who you hopefully got to see at The BOB during last year’s Artprize, will be performing again – as will Steampunk greats Abney Park, the ClockWork Dolls, and the Extraordinary Contraptions…  And.. And… Well, you get our point: It is going to be an off the hook, incredible event.

Most importantly – If you are looking for a good time and want to meet the people behind our art project, well you could do no better than to come out during the Expo this year.

Pre-Registration (buying your passes online) is only $40 for all four days ($10 a day), and available through April 15th at the World Steam Expo web site.

0

Airship Pirates

Cakebread & Walton: Purveyors of Fine Imaginings, creators of the acclaimed Clockwork & Chivalry roleplaying game, are now set to start working on their new game. Their new game, Airship […]

Cakebread & Walton: Purveyors of Fine Imaginings, creators of the acclaimed Clockwork & Chivalry roleplaying game, are now set to start working on their new game.

Their new game, Airship Pirates, which will feature much art from Myke Amend’s “Airships and Tentacles” series, is based on the band Abney Park‘s fictional back-story, and should be released in Summer of 2011. Details can be found on the subsite for the game, here, which includes two free desktop wallpapers made from Myke Amend’s painting “The Rescue” (featuring Abney Park’s Ophelia) and from his engraving “The Temple”.