Yay Steampunkery! I’ve always been a bit enamored with Steampunk things whether it be fantasy, fashion or functional. Basically, the concept is a melding of design from yester-year with technology from tomorrow. I’ve wanted to make steampunk stuff for a long time now, but I get too caught up in creating designs with “actual function” rather than just making some art. I can’t just go sticking gears and watch-parts together with clay… or… can I?
My wife bought me a book called Steampunkery: polymer clay and mixed media projects. It’s unquestionably very thoughtful but I couldn’t help but feel that it’s concepts were a bit… beneath me. I spend weeks and months on my sculptures. Many of the projects in this book can be done in one sitting, using techniques that include just sticking gears and watch parts together with clay.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. I’m not entirely clear on any big general lesson, but there’s definitely something liberating about glazing over “function”. Our brains are built to try to fill-in gaps in our understanding, which is how I miss so many errors in this blog-post, and exactly why you can cram a bunch of gears together, step back and say, “yea, that could really work”. So maybe the big lesson is about perception vs. reality. The more we try to focus our perceptions into reality, the more perceptual reality seems… in fact, can one even observe without their personal perception’s influence? Christ, this is supposed to be about easy-peasy clay and art stuff!
Anyway, I’ve been repeating this technique of “to hell with function” for almost a month now and am really thrilled with the results. Projects that only took a couple days for me to complete WAS unheard of.
These 2 fellas above are the first two steampunk bugs I made. They have magnets on there bellies so they can stick to most metal surfaces. For the insect with the long legs, I tried coiling wire in small pieces that could be assembled such that the legs would articulate. Each leg piece looks similar to the spring of a wooden cloths-pin. The trick was to coil the wire evenly and at a designated size, such that each joint could move but still hold a pose. The only trick to that is a lot of trial and error.
After determining the proper size ratio for the joints, I started assembling legs. That’s when I realized I could add these articulated legs to just about anything… and maybe I will!
Inspired by a fellow artist and her Ball-Jointed Dolls (BJD) I tried making my own Wire-Jointed Doll. The joints are all hinged exactly the same as the bug legs except for the shoulders and hips. Trying to create a movement similar to a ball-and-socket joint using wire proved to be a difficult challenge, and was a reminder that I had to try harder to worry less about function.