Steampunk Orrery #1


Holiday prep. Work. Family. Friends. Storefront. Art. Steampunk.

These are the things which have been keeping me uber-busified o’er the last couple weeks. The pace holds no promise of letting up anytime soon.

In addition to our monthly stint in Atlanta & keeping stock for the massive bi-annual sale at www.grandviewmercantile.com, my partner and I will also be taking part in a six-artist exhibition in January. That’s.a.lot.of.stuff.

The Mansfield Art Center www.mansfieldartcenter.org asked Lucah to participate in a reclaimed objects show. In our business, we always incorporate vintage and antique items. But this venue allows us to push things further. Since it is mainly an art exhibit [with the potential for selling] we can focus on artistry over marketability. This is a welcome break from the question we must ask ourselves at the beginning of every project: What do I need to do to this piece in order to make it sell–quickly?

With that question eradicated from the equation, a new batch of them takes its place: How effin amazing can I make this piece? How far can I push it? What have I been aching to create but haven’t allowed myself to? What phenomenal piece of art can I dream up and execute?

In the theme-planning stage, Micah and I decided on a steampunk vibe. We further decided to make sure we incorporated gadgetry, moving parts, and taxidermy. Alright! Now we’re talking. Freedom to make some whacked up, ass-kickin’ art.

One of the first ideas to begin churning  in my mind was an orrery. Being a science geek and an artist, an astronomical model meshes both of these facets of Lucas. I’ve always wanted to create an orrery, but simply have never set out to do it. This exhibition booted me in the ass to finally make it happen. And since it is “art”, it doesn’t even have to represent a real solar system. It can totally exist as a fantastical place which spins and orbits only in my imagination.

Working with 100% recycled/reclaimed/antique/vintage materials, this is what I came up with:

 

Orrery #1

Orrery #1

 

Orerry (16)

Orerry (19)

Orerry (23)

Orerry (24)

Orerry (30)

 

Some of the components which make up this piece: antique globe stand, antique hand drill, cash register components, vintage croquet balls, iron, aluminum, steel, copper.
Cranking the hand drill rotates the steel sphere & aluminum ring. The large gear from which the other planets are suspended can be manually rotated. The mounting armatures can be swiveled or extended.

I titled this piece “Orrery #1” because I know that it is the first of many I will create. Now that the seal is broken, this thing is on.

Over the next couple days, I will post images of other projects we are working on for the exhibition. Specifically, a pair of “Prohibition Radios” complete with secret compartments, and a series of in-process images of the transformation of a mangy, balding, taxidermied bear into a battle-ready, copper-armored warrior.

And, oh yeah, happy holidays and shit.

 

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NaNoWriMo Month-Long Updatable Update


As part of my #NaNoPrep, I’m hacking in this roughshod post before the clock strikes midnight. Since my main focus over the next 30 days is to knock out the first draft of Phreak Show, I don’t want to waste words anywhere else. [Well, Twitter is–of course–an exception.] And a month of non-blogging is equal to child abandonment in 36 countries.

So, here is the skeleton. If all goes well, I’ll distract myself with an update once per day–slipping it between changing out my coffee IV bag & maybe a birdbath. [Because a month of poor hygiene is punishable by a public hosing in 28 states. Plus the District of Columbia.]

<— The widget over there should track my word count and % progress towards my goal of 60k. So, I’ll probably post each day’s total, perhaps an excerpt sentence, hopefully some epiphanies, and probably some whining–which is to say: venting leading towards more productive creativity…

Let the 30 days & nights of literary abandon begin.

Day 1 – Kicked off NaNo 2012 with a midnight write-in with the local Wrimos at a Steak & Shake. Churned out 632 words in the word war waged during the first half hour. Via three more sessions today, I ended up with 6,332 words added to Phreak Show. Breaking the 5,000 mark earned me a celebratory pack of Rolos. And, like a good boy, I made sure to back-up the file in all the places.

Day 2 – Words added: 2,795. Around 1 a.m. I had to comfort a friend with relationship issues. Friend duties completed, I whipped out a few unexpected paragraphs, then finally crawled into bed. A few more sessions throughout the day. Leaving #PhreakShow on pause at this upcoming scene: Tera is entering a unisex shower where she will encounter Shim the Gender Enigma. [Spoiler Alert! Shim is feeling frisky…]

Day 3 – Started the day with some early writing fueled by mucho coffee . Traveled 30 minutes east for a write-in [and more java] at an independent bookstore. Apparently, Chapter 6 decided to be hot & steamy & full of sexies. “So, are you ready to check out my crotch? Turn your guess into a known fact?” Ahem. 3,528 phreaktastic words added.

Day 4 – A little morning writing gave way to putting the final touches on a few new furniture pieces. Then, more writing. Enmeshed within today’s 3319 words is a bit more unfolding of the first page hook. Emotional? Yes. Today’s section also contains the official ‘1st Plot Point’ of the 4-Part Story Structure–right on schedule. Chapter 7 ends [as all chapters should] with an absolute, no-doubt-about-it, must-stay-up-even-later-to-read page-turner…

Day 5 – I was able to churn out a quick bit of writing before the day’s madness began. After a ton–as in, a marathon session–of cleaning, Micah and I hosted our first writing and art salon of the season. We had a dozen folks come in and out through the evening. [It’s after midnight right now & 5 us are still creating.] The artists seemed to have made more progress than the writers. We’ll get ’em next week. 3,161 words for the day. 19,028 for November. Total wordcount for Phreak Show: 24,868.

Day 6 – Writing. Packed the van for a show in Atlanta. Writing. Voted. Writing. Distracted by election results rolling in. Also, the insanely active buzz of Twitter. Impromptu :15 word war with some Tweeps. Checked election results. A tiny bit more writing. In the midst of all that, I somehow added 2,380 words, thus breaking through the 20k barrier. “Spanish moss dangled from the trees like stringy, gray clumps of witch’s hair.”

Day 7 – Most productive day since the kick-off. Was able to focus on writing throughout the day and landed 5,022 words. At this rate, NaNo tells me I need 983 words per day to hit 50K by the end of the month, I think I’m on my way to a “win”. The Phreak Show rolled into Savannah this morning and set up at Forysth Park. Part of it looks something like this: 

Day 8 – Added 3,633 words today which arced me over 30k. I’m halfway to my personal Nano goal. And that damn Tera made me cry today. I wrote steadily through the early hours which left me time to check Phreak Show’s pulse this evening. This included spending some time with my planning notes to make sure I’m on track, and refreshing myself with My Guide to Not Sucking: https://johnlucashargis.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/my-guide-to-not-sucking/  All is well.

Day 9 – Wowserz! Somehow I managed 5,088 words today. They came in fits and starts. Maybe, idk, 4 times, I stepped away, thinking I was done for the day. But when I sat back down and read the last few lines written, I found myself clacking away at the keyboard again. Go figure. Today, one of the exhibit tents gained a new name: Phantasmagorium. Here’s a line: “A pro wouldn’t show up to work in secondhand, old-lady-smelling pajamas.”

Day 10 – Writing traveled at a slower, more deliberate pace on Day 10. Drafted an all-important transition scene which ramped up to the next one: an experience which alters Tera’s entire perception of what is happening in the Phreak Show. The Big Twist is coming up 2 short chapters from now. Have to prime the chute. 2188 words.

Day 11 – 3,475 words and I think I’m done for the day. Maybe. The story is flowing along phantastically. Today’s scenes involving revelations regarding how ingrained the phreak images are within the teens–just, wow. I broke 40k. 20k more before Thanksgiving is looking like a goal I can definitely accomplish.

Day 12 – It’s funny how most write-ins end up more about chatting than actually writing. The writer/writer interaction provides for a much-needed break in the solo endeavor, so it’s welcome. I added 150 words during a 3.5 hour write-in last night. It didn’t boost the wordcount all that much, but it was fun. Total added: 2,881

Day 13 – Some writing in the morning, some writing in the afternoon, a duel with the NaNo Municipal Liaison for my region…all led to 4,149 words today. From here on out, I need to average 120 words per day to hit 50k by 11/30. With only 2,156 left, I’m pretty sure I ought to be able to hit that “WIN” tomorrow.

Day 14 – I’m eating a Special Dark. Because I added 2,590 words today. And because of this:

Day 15 – Took a roadtrip to Michigan and was able to hammer out a few words while in the car. 2,013 added for the day.

Day 16 – Added more words on the ride home, and then a few more late in the evening. Scored 1,902 additional words. Hoping to pick the pace back up over the weekend.

Day 17 – Another low wordcount day. [Compared to my 3500+ average.] Scraped up 1,783.

Day 18 – And…back on track with where I want to be as far as daily wordcounts. Added 4,274 on this lovely day. Also, if you check out that widget over at the top of the left-hand column on this here blog, you’ll see that I hit my 60k. Rock.on.Lucas. That was the goal I wanted to hit by next Thursday. I blazed past it, so any words I add between now and the end of the month are just extra gravy on the stuffing.

Day 19 – Zero, nil, zip, zilch words. And proud of it! Took a well-earned day away from writing to focus on some art.

Day 20 – 1,883 words added today. Left off at a great cliffhanger. Which is to say, set myself up with an excellent starting place for the next drafting session.

Day 21 – You have no idea how good these zero wordcount days feel! If I wasn’t at 60k yet, I’d be all: No! Oh no, oh no. Must right the wrong. Must write. Must meet goal. Ahhhhh! But, since I have accomplished what I set out to do, not writing a thing for a whole day comes with the greatest sense of satisfaction.

Day 22 – Churned out 1,767. Even on Thanksgiving. In the morning. Before mass quantities of turkey were inhaled.

Day 23 – Day 29 – Yeah, so no daily updates during this period. I wrote and edited a little, but at a leisurely pace. Once I rolled up and over that hump, I needed to move away from the drafting for a bit. So many other things going on right now.

Day 30 – The final day. I definitely hit my goal–and them some. Current wordcount for Phreak Show = 70,055. I need another week of focusing on other things before diving back in. The crux of the final 7 chapters is fully formed. I’m letting the characters act them out in my head so the drafting will flow out in all its gloriousness.

Character Cabinet Cards


The basic outline for Phreak Show is done. The first chapter is complete and in the hands of betas & CPs for feedback. I am letting the characters & storyline bounce around in my subconscious until 11/1. On that illustrious date, I will kick the drafting into overdrive as part of NaNoWriMo.

What to do in the meantime?

I know! Create an ‘antique’ cabinet card for each of my characters:

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This was a fun process. And while it may seem like a waste of time, as it relates to writing, it is further reinforcement in my own mind that these characters are about to live. They are as real as they can be. They each have a story to tell. And Phreak Show is the vessel which is going to allow that to happen.

I do feel bad for Douggie, though. He doesn’t have a cabinet card yet. The source image I have for this character is perfect. It is Douggie. Unfortunately, it is cropped in such a way that it doesn’t lend itself well to the cab card construction. I’m still chewing on what to do about this.

In the meantime, I continue to live with the characters & pin more paper strips to the plotting wall. November is coming quick. Soon, these lovelies will begin to breathe. And presented in this uniform way, they really are beginning to feel like a team–a sideshow troupe ready to hit the road as The Last American Phreak Show.

Steampunk, Antiques & My Personal Celebrities


Steamjunk on its way to Steampunk

Three times a year, the sleepy little New England town of Brimfield, Massachusetts mushrooms into an antiquing mecca with an international draw. The Brimfield Antique Market boasts 22 separate fields featuring over 5,000 vendors. The sellers converge from all over the U.S. to peddle items ranging from chipped glassware & bits of metal junk haphazardly displayed on  muddy tarps to high-end 17th century English furniture staged beautifully in showroom-style vignettes.

The estimated traffic is over 250,000 visitors per show. That’s a quarter-million antique hunters!

Like the vendors, the shoppers come from all over. Their taste has the same vast range as the items being offered. A lot of folks swoop in from the nearby cities of Boston, Philadelphia and New York. In addition to the American set, I have personally sold to clients from Canada, England, Switzerland, and Japan. These foreign buyers often target Brimfield in search of those unique items they’re itching to get their hands on.

While the majority of the shoppers and dealers are what one could term ‘ordinary folk’, with that many people amassed in one locale, there are also a good number of characters. Dudes in kilts, slave boys in leather hot-shorts, mod ladies, shirtless wonders sporting their own built-in sweaters, steampunkers, etc. I saw quite a few models for the characters in my novel-in-progress, Phreak Show.

Danielle Hinton – The perfect model for Twiggy

One girl in particular was the perfect fit for Twiggy. I pitched my novel concept, shared my character sketch, and asked if I could snap some photos for reference. She is a fan of both fantasy & steampunk, and graciously obliged the rambling request of a stranger. Danielle is a fantastic lady–you can just feel the fabulousness oozing out of her. Check her out on Etsy http://www.etsy.com/shop/ConstantlyAlice & Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ConstantlyAlice. Also, I’m pretty sure I have added another pre-publication sale of Phreak Show to the list. 😉

Celebrities also slip into the mix at Brimfield. A few big names are frequent shoppers. Tommy Hilfiger and his crew often swoop in placing tag after tag on items they’re interested in. [Making the dealers quite happy.] There were rumors that Barbara Streisand was at this last show. I personally wouldn’t be all gushing to see her pass by, but I sure ran into a lot of people that seemed more interested in hunting her down than searching for an antique to purchase.

I did meet and interact with two celebrities-of-sorts which are more inline with my personal interests.

First was Evan Michelson, co-owner of the NY shop Obscura, cohost of the show “Oddities”, and lover of all things weird & macabre. My partner and I went with a Fun Haus theme for this show. Over the last two months, we focused on collecting circus & carnival items, medical & funerary equipment, anatomical models, and both animal and human specimens. Evan was in our booth three different times chatting with us. She purchased 4 items from us and gave us a verbal pat-on-the-back with, “You guys have really great stuff.”

Between visits, Micah said, “We should get her autograph.” I talked the fanboi off the ledge and convinced him not to badger the poor woman. Evan likes creepy things, but I’m pretty sure gushing fanbois are excluded from her must-have list.  In exchange for his reserve, Micah got to assist her by carrying some items and escorting her to her vehicle. On the trek, Evan shared some insight into her personality and how the show has affected her life. So, instead of a restraining order, Micah got a bit of personalized interaction with Evan.

 

The second celebrity  I met and chatted with at length was Bruce Rosenbaum. If you’re into steampunk–and you don’t know this name–then rectify this at once. These links will help: http://www.modvic.com/ & http://www.facebook.com/ModVic. It may be overkill, but I consider him the reigning godfather of the Steampunk movement. We talked about steampunk in general, where Micah & I are heading with our design company, my Phreak Show concept, and random other topics. I showed him the YA Steampunk I was reading, The Girl in the Steel Corset. It turns out he personally knows the author, Kady Cross. At the end, we exchanged business cards and he told me to get in touch with any questions along the way or if we come across any items he may be interested in.

It was great to meet these folks. Especially at the juncture where Micah & I have set a new aesthetic & philosophical course for our business. We are calling it “Victweirdian”. Think: Steampunk furniture, lighting, accessories, clothing, jewelry, and art mixed with oddities that would be included in a cabinet of curiosities. Our shopping and brainstorming for this new venture have already begun.  The leading photo of this post shows some of the ‘Steamjunk’ raw goodies. Stay tuned over the coming months to see how Lucah transforms them.

One piece I’m really excited about is a Victorian ‘Fat Jiggler’. You know–the shaking machine with the belt which supposedly shimmies all your fat off… Well, I found one with a great trapezoidal cabinet design. The belt has been removed. With a little tweaking, tuning up the motor, and the addition of some metal arms and implements–Lucah will have its first automaton maid.