Monday, October 10, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #41: Focal Piece Flashback

Hey, everyone! I had a busy weekend -- socially, not work ;) -- and I'm still playing catch-up. As a result, I am taking the "easy way out" this week and reposting the Focal Piece of the Month from February-March 2010 instead of my usual blog post. I will update you all next week on what's been going on. Take care and have a great week! :D

You will rarely see me feature an item that was designed by someone else as a Focal Piece of the Month, simply because the purpose of this section is to highlight projects that support Something Tangible's overall mission and that showcase the work we do here. That being said, this month I am breaking that rule, and putting the spotlight on one of kits by sb designs I purchased and assembled during my Advanced Wire Jewelry class at the Madison, Chatham & Florham Park Adult School last fall.

It is the Time Is Precious Necklace, which features the inside mechanism of a vintage watch in a claw setting as the focal piece of the necklace. It is an example of Steampunk jewelry, the subject of an oral presentation I am researching for my Metalwork & Jewelry class at Montclair State University this semester. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and cover the subject here, too. I am a master at multi-tasking, you know. ;)

According to a brief description I found at Beading Daily:

"The steampunk culture takes its cues from the Victorian era, and speculates on how our world would be different if steam power had become the driving force behind our culture. Gears and watch hands are used to decorate larger pieces. Old-fashioned keys are also very popular, as are bits of antique cast-offs, such as pill cases, thread cutters and tiny knives."

The movement not only encompasses jewelry, but also clothing, goggles, and other fashion accessories such as boots and hats. This, I found out by conducting a search for "Steampunk" on Google.

Looking at Steampunkopedia's
(Yes, there was such a site! Unfortunately, the link I had no longer works) Steampunk Chronology, the earliest images of the Steampunk culture can be traced back as early as 1962. One item on the list surprised me, but the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense to be included: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in 1968. It was a blending of Victorian-era and modern technology for the time, was it not?

Although its roots are much older, the actual term "Steampunk" wasn't created until the late 1980s. According to Wikipedia,

"Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by the science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (author of The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986) and himself (Morlock Night, 1979 and Infernal Devices, 1987) which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of actual Victorian speculative fiction such as H. G. Wells's The Time Machine. In a letter to the science fiction magazine Locus, printed in the April 1987 issue, Jeter wrote:

Dear Locus,
Enclosed is a copy of my 1979 novel Morlock Night; I'd appreciate your being so good as to route it Faren Miller, as it's a prime piece of evidence in the great debate as to who in 'the Powers/Blaylock/Jeter fantasy triumvirate' was writing in the 'gonzo-historical manner' first. Though of course, I did find her review in the March Locus to be quite flattering.

Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like 'steampunks', perhaps...

—K.W. Jeter[1]"

^ Sheidlower, Jesse (March 9, 2005). "Science Fiction Citations". Retrieved May 10, 2008.

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