Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “punk

30 Years Of Steampunk: The Second Decade – Guest Post By Phoebe Darqueling

Steampunk: The Second Decade

Greetings to fans of Steampunk old and new! This is the third installment of a series exploring the history of the Steampunk genre in honor of its “31st birthday” on April 27. As part of the 30th birthday festivities in 2017, I coordinated and contributed to a collaborative Steampunk novel called Army of Brass. You can pre-order now at a mere $.99 as our “gift” on this most hallowed of days and it will be delivered on Friday.

 

In the first post in this series, I talked about adaptations of Victorian works as examples of Steampunk before the word “Steampunk” came into being. If you want to know more about that momentous occasion and the first ten years of amazing books, check out part 2. Now, we embark on the decade spanning the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s in which Steampunk branched out from literature and found a home in fashion and graphic novels. Plus we see the birth of the first online forums for connecting Steampunk fans.

Army of Brass Cover

Steampunk Fashion

Steampunk jumped from the pages of books into the realm of wearable art sometime in the mid- to late-1990s. Fashion student and member of the fashionable set, Kit Stolen, is one well-known example. He wore distressed Victorian style clothes paired with his own unique hair creations (called “falls”) and caused quite a sensation. Large-scale events wouldn’t show up in earnest for a few years yet, but daring creators like Stolen paved the way for the rest of us to enjoy our corsets and top hats later on.

Visual Media

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

In 1999, writer Alan Moore (The Watchmen) and illustrator Kevin O’Neill paired up to create the first LoEG graphic novels. The story is set in 1898 in the aftermath of the events of Dracula. Mina Harker is recruited by Campion Bond (a predecessor of James Bond) to lead a unique group of “extraordinary” literary figures. She recruits the likes of Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, and Captain Nemo to join her to fight Fu Manchu in the first collection. Volume II centers on the events of War of the Worlds.

 

This two-volume collection of comics is brimming with literary characters and settings from the 19th century. And much in the same vein as the first Steampunk books, this series definitely has a dark side. The 2003 film by the same name, however, was pitched as more of a family affair. Sean Connery plays Quatermain and as the one with the star power, he ended up totally usurping Mina as the leader of the group. They also added a big role for Tom Sawyer as a CIA agent. Many fans of comics hated the movie because it shed all of its darkness, and film critics didn’t love it either. Still, it’s a fun homage to the literature of the steam era.

Wild Wild West Movie (1999)

This is another movie that checks several Steampunk boxes but ran into problems with fans. This reimagining of the 1960s Western-spy crossover as an adventure comedy rubbed many the wrong way. The franchise centers on James West, a sheriff who works for Ulysses S. Grant. At the time, Will Smith, who played West, was one of the hottest actors in Hollywood, and Kevin Kline was on a similar hot streak when he played West’s sidekick. It culminates in a mad scientist on a rampage in his giant mechanical spider. I personally loved this movie when I first saw it. Then again, I’d never seen the original so I wasn’t suffering from any dashed expectations. The movie is definitely a comedy, so I can see why someone looking for James Bond in the Wild West could be disappointed. (But still, giant mechanical spider = awesome. Am I right?)

 

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Girl Genius (2001-Present)

The husband and wife team of Phil and Kaja Foglio created this series in 2001. It straddles the line between Steampunk and gaslamp fantasy, a term that Kaja Foglio created to describe the series as it straddles the line between sci-fi and fantasy. It’s about Agatha Clay, a harried science student in a semi-Victorian setting and carries the tagline “Adventure, Romance, MAD SCIENCE!” It started off as a black and white print book, added color in issue 3, and jumped to the web in 2005. You can read the entire series from the beginning and it is still updated every week.

Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidoqc (2001)

In the original French, this film is called simply Vidoqc because this name is famous in their history. Eugene Francois Vidoqc was a real police investigator in the first half of the 19th century and is largely recognized as the “father of forensic science.” His methods were so advanced, in fact, that people thought he dabbled in the occult. This association is the inspiration behind the film, which is both gritty and beautiful. The structure is unusual and non-linear, and among my favorite films of all time.

The Amazing Screw-on Head (2002)

Dark Horse comics later released this dark comedy by Mike Mignola (Hellboy) about a secret agent working in Abraham Lincoln’s service in 2002. True to his name, Screw-on Head has a removable head that can be installed in a number of bodies with different capabilities. A few years later, the SyFy channel released the pilot for an animated series. Unfortunately, despite the voice talent of Paul Giamatti, David Hyde Pierce, and Patton Oswalt, it never made it past the first episode.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbsDvGtTRWU

 

The Five Fists of Science (2006)

Dark Horse published another Steampunk gem with Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla in the starring roles. This is a tight little book that doesn’t waste any words, which means that all of the front-pages are more than just prologue. If you pick this one up (and I recommend you do), make sure you check out the short biographies of the real people involved, as well as the letter shared between Twain and Tesla that inspired this story full of giant robots and Lovecraftian beasties.

 

Steampunk Hits the Web

In 2006, the first dedicated Steampunk forum was established. Though the creator no longer plays an active role or updates it regularly, you can still visit “Brass Goggles.” This was an important step in the evolution of Steampunk as a community rather than a string of independent people. People could swap tips about making props and costumes, recommend books, and plan get-togethers in a streamlined way.

And Then Came the Music

Panel 08

And don’t forget, Army of Brass comes out tomorrow! 21 international writers came together to create this tale of giant automatons, fearless airship captains, and deadly conspiracies.

 

Order your ebook copy of Army of Brass for $.99 and receive it on Friday to celebrate Steampunk’s “31st birthday.” The blog tour continues until May 13, and so does this special price.

 

Plus, Join us on Facebook April 28-29 to meet the writers, participate in giveaways, and more!

 

Not sure if it’s for you? Read a review, take a sneak peek at the full Chapter 1 or read another exclusive excerpt. You can also get to know the character Captain Jack Davenport a little bit better with his interview on Blake & Wight. If you want to find out more about collaborative writing, Army of Brass contributors and Collaborative Writing Challenge veterans Crystal MM Burton and Kathrin Hutson shared articles for the tour about the pros, cons, and rewards.

 

Speaking of giveaways, you can enter to win ebooks from the CWC writers.

 

 

and if you want to read the other posts in this series you can find them here:

What’s in a Name? Steampunk before “Steampunk” :  https://www.steampunkjournal.org/2018/04/24/whats-in-a-name-steampunk-before-steampunk/

Note from Penny: Thankyou so much to Phoebe for this awesome guest post which forms part of the Army of Brass blog tour. Regular readers may have noticed the Abney Park album featured on the panel in the music section and recall that this blog is temporarily boycotting Abney Park because of Robert Brown’s antiziganistic remarks and behaviour (until such a time as we can speak to him personally and see what he has to say for himself)  However we have allowed this one exception so as not to ruin Phoebe’s wonderful guest post (Coz we iz nice like that innit?) and not at all used it exploitatively to draw attention to this issue we’re passionate about… a-hem… 😉

 


Morning Cuppa: Punk fiction, Poe and Cake (is there more to life?)

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s pristinely punked-up and ruthlessly rebellious parlour located somewhere  near the grumbling appendix of that splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True some have postulated that we are an inconvenient truth which our landlord has sought to bury in his darkest and most inhospitable dungeon, but we consider that any below ground level abode is vastly preferable to one with windows in a city that is overrun by flesh eating birds. In short, we couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. ish.

You find us immensely apologetic that we have not been ‘at home’ the last few days – we honestly swear that we have been up to a lot of very good things and Penny will tell you about them shortly but for now all we can do is humbly offer an appeasing teapot overflowing with splendid keemun xiang luo, an epicly proportioned slice of sticky ginger cake, and two excellent books…

The first of which is….

 

 

 

This book came into our hands via the eminent procurer of curiosities via the historical Suffolk ‘free trading’ system – steampunk author Nils Nisse Visser , and fans of his excellent book ‘Amster Damned’ will be happy to see another splendid smuggler’s tale ‘The Rottingdean Rhyme’ featuring the series’ central character Alice Kittyhawk (as her much younger and frankly adorable self).

The collection is a gleaming treasure trove of subversive, twisted, re-imagined  and perfectly punked-up versions of classic tales from a wide variety of genres and time periods;

Our personal favourite was ‘A Connecticut Rigger In Kings Court’ not only because we are utterly besotted with anything to do with Ada Lovelace but because it was challenging and heartbreaking and had that exquisite but very subtle  tension between beauty and abomination that pervades all good Gothic tales, but presented in a refreshingly original way.

We also loved The Red Headed Mob by Anthony Stark which, although not quite as ‘punk’ as some of the other tales, was a strong, well written and altogether utterly enjoyable tale that set Holmes and Watson amid the political and social tension of the 1980s.

There really is something for everyone in here from ‘Aurelia Awakes’ by Andrea Hintz giving  Pinocchio a delightful Steampunk make-over to ‘Of Folly And Fallibility’ by Amber Cook who skillfully manganese to take Jane Austin to ‘new heights’… “If an ordinary woman is to become a heroine, she cannot allow the unremarkable state of her life to prevent it. She must and will do something, anything, to throw adventure her way…” Or from Rachel A Brune’s ‘Bea Wolf’ to Jeffery Cook and Katherine Perkins’ ‘Consolidated Scrooge’ and plenty more besides but we won’t list them all – you need to have a peek at this chocolate box for yourselves…

 

Our second book this morning is also from Writerpunk Press and (only because of our obsessive compulsive penchant for punking Poe) was our favourite of the two and longstanding followers will remember we did feature it in our Poevember month last year – but it’s such a fantastic collection we’re sure you won’t mind us singing its praises once again…

 

Here in the parlour we have read lots of Poe, we have punked lots of Poe, we have read lots of attempts at punking Poe and we therefore, rather egotistically, consider ourselves to be quite the connoisseurs of the genre. So when we say that “this collection of short stories is a splendid spectrum of Gothic gorgeousness that takes a hearty cross section of the Poevian gamut, distils each essence into scintillating glass vials and then creates a series of new and wonderful word-creatures in which the marrow of Poe lives on” you can take us at our word.

The  macabre, the melancholy and the madness that we all expect from Poe are here in abundance but the ‘punk’ aspect is very skillfully executed throughout to give a collection that is inventive, refreshing, exciting and unpredictable. Steampunk seems to marry well with Poe for obvious reasons but we hadn’t anticipated how well his themes would be translated here  into Cyber, Bio and Diesel as well.

Sandwiched between two vibrant and  enthralling versions of The Fall of The House Of Usher, we have another gem from the world of Alice Kittyhawk ‘The Oval Skyroom’ , the beautiful ‘To Helen’, the sinister ‘Envy Of Angels’ and ‘Silence, Stillness, Night’ , the pure insanity of ‘Ticker’  and so very many more treasures that we often find ourselves dipping into on a rainy afternoon or long skyrail journey. This is an indispensable addition to the library of punk and Poe fans alike.

And now the teapot is empty and we are quite breathless from all this talk so I hope you will excuse us as we retire for a little snooze? We wish you a devilishly delightful afternoon and until we see you again, please be always

Utterly Yourself

 

A Post Script From Penny – I’ve started using the ’embed’ version of sharing amazon titles because it’s easier and quicker than authors having to send me cover files and also hopefully easier to find the book if you want to sample or buy it. I haven’t signed up to the affiliate amazon programme though, if I ever do I will make that clear in the posts. If anyone would strongly prefer me to go back to the old method of posting just the cover file and links let me know 🙂


Soup Of The Day with Punk Fairy Sally Jacob

 

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since those dreadful land pirates, The Chronic Agronauts, utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is Punk Fairy artist and creator , Sally Jacob! Good morning to you, my dear, thank you so much for flying in to help me in my soup kitchen today, Sally, I see you have brought the sunshine with you! Now do please have a seat here at the table and I will put the kettle on. I hope your journey to our dimension was a good one?

Well, I always love flying in – especially on a broomstick!

Splendid! It certainly looks good weather for it! Well now before we take a look at some of your marvellous artwork, tell me, have you brought some soup to share with the orphans?

Sadly my skills at cooking are very lacking, so I haven’t been able to bring any homemade soup with me. However I am more than happy to provide somebody else’s soup!

Not to worry my dear you know Mr Temperance and Miss Plumtartt left some of their ‘interesting’ brew behind when they last visited, I have been looking fr an excuse to get rid of it before it eats somebody. Now, while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you show me some of your wonderful creations?

I’m sharing one of my more recent paintings, called “Bound”, which I feel has steampunk undertones, and an older piece called “Broken”, which has some fun steampunk wings. I’m also sharing a magpie feather and watch movement fascinator, clock hands headpiece and Octopus and titanium quartz necklace.

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Your creations are absolutely stunning my dear, and your artwork is wonderful ! Have you always had a passion for art?

Thank you, art has always been a big part of my life, it’s not necessarily that I consciously decide to keep painting, but the ideas are always there and I have to express them. I was always creative as a child and I don’t think I ever stopped. I get to express that creativity now with my artwork and also the jewellery and headpieces I create.

Marvellous, and what attracted you to Steampunk in particular?

I love the mixture you get with steampunk, you can have so many ideas and put them together and they just work. I have always has a passion for history, and I love that with steampunk you get to give it unusual and interesting twists.

Indeed, and where do you draw your creative inspiration from for each new piece?

That’s hard to say, I get asked this a lot and I don’t have a definite answer. My art is very much shaped by my life and the things my brain is processing at any given time. I will get mad moments where I’m obsessed with painting certain things (the latest one was moths!) and I will find that little part will inspire a whole painting. With the jewellery and accessories I will usually become inspired when I find a component, or I’ll want to make an elaborate headpiece with a sort-of character in mind.

And how do you source your materials?

Well, painting wise its straightforward art shops. With the jewellery I make I love to include found objects like keys, bits of watch and clock … and my headpieces often include vintage beading and trims, sometimes taxidermy all of which I hunt down at local flea markets.

If a customer wanted something particular, do you take custom orders?

Absolutely, I’m always happy to take on custom orders.

Ah, now the kettle is boiled, can I offer you both a hot beverage? What would you like and how do you take it?

Tea with milk please, you can’t beat a good cup of tea!

 Here you are, now do tell me, where can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?

My work can be found for sale online, via my website www.thepunkfaeryartworks.com, and in the real world I trade at various events in the Southwest.

Wonderful! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Sally, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up before it becomes hostile?

I think that’s an excellent idea, and thanks for having me here to chat.

 

 

A pleasure my dear. Thankyou all for joining us today and I hope you will cme back and see me next week, until then, 

Blessings on your brew my dears!

 

 

 

 


Pipe and slippers: The gospel of Agnes Day

Good evening my dears and welcome to Perilous Wight’s Lovely Library (which we are keeping safe for him until he returns from his ‘business trip.’) I am Mrs Baker (otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle) and Peril has kindly allowed me and my little street urchins to shelter down here from the flesh eating Liver Birds until he returns.

Tonight I will be reading to the orphans, once again, from The Child Gospels, (this time from the gospel of Agnes Day) which we discovered on our expedition to Siberia. The chronicles were chiselled onto ice tablets and had been preserved inside a lead lined soupophagus for centuries before we smashed it apart and salvaged them for all humanity to enjoy.

Sadly, our return journey took us through the heat of the Jentacular Jungle and so, as the ice tablets began to melt (and even though it was three o’ clock in the morning and nobody had any tea)  our quick thinking octopus, Collin, speedily copied their contents down onto banana leaves with his own ink, using only his tentacles for a pen.

This desperate act of heroism, he claims, should excuse the rampant spelling mistakes, technical inaccuracies and absence of all  artistic merit which glare out from the manuscript like the foul raisins  in that cookie you thought was chocolate chip.

Peril has of course preserved the banana leaves as only a pedantic book-fetishy ghost can, but Collin asks  that we all bear in mind the manner of their construction and the great suffering he endured and risks to his life and mental well being and so forth and send him extra packs of medicinal biscuits whenever he indulges in…I mean suffers from, a bout of psd over the whole affair. Poor Collin…

So, are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I shall begin…

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Elevenses: Steampunking the tree

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s treemendously treerific parlour filled with only the most tantalising treets.

True some have called it a pithy place inhabited by a branch of the family tree which is barking mad and ought to have been severed years ago, but those people are Max’s parents and so we pay them no heed whatsoever.

You find us this morning still ferociously celebrating Wizmas and filled to the brim with maniacal cheer as we construct our Wizmas tree in the centre of the parlour.

We hear that in your dimension you have a similar tradition during the winter months, well, let me take a moment to tell you how the Wizmas tree came about…

Long before Wiz defeated the Goddess, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter.

People believed that evergreens were the favoured plants of snow pixies, who brought gifts and granted wishes around the time of the Winter Solstice to cheer people up at the midpoint of the cold, dark season. They would bring an evergreen Tea Tree into the home and hang teacups and treats from its branches.

Gaul is credited with starting the modern Wizmas tree tradition. In the 16th century, devout students from the collegiums of Munster brought nuts, bolts, wire and cogs into their dormitories and shaped them into pyramids resembling trees in an attempt to symbolise the evergreens of Siberia where Wiz is said to have defeated the Goddess.

Tina Thrumler, wife of the 16th-century reformer Nathaniel Thrumler, first added lighted candles to a wizmas tree. Walking toward her home one winter evening, she was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst the pit heads of the local treacle mines. To recapture the scene for her family, he erected a tree from pistons and cogs in the main room and added candles to the tiers.

To the Mor Ire Puritans Wizmas was sacred and this new custom of the Wizmas Tree seemed too much like the Tea Trees of old; Wizmas was a time for snow and sobriety, not prancing around the parlour. 

Bradley Williford, of the House Of Tea Time Lords, wrote that he “tried hard to stamp out this pagan mockery of the observance of Wiz’s victory, penalizing any frivolity, carol warbling, spoon jousting, feasting and spurtling most severely.”

But the public persisted and in 1846, even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated Lichfield News standing with their extended family around a Wizmas tree, spoons in one hand and oat cakes in the other.

Hm? No I am not giving a history lesson, Max, I am simply…. oh alright then… Max says I should ‘put a cork in it’ and show you some Wizmas trees (you know, for a Very Quiet Gentleman, Max can be extremely dictatorial at times) Well you can see some splendid examples of the sort of thing we’re talking about here…

Autumn Steam

Vintage With Lace

Laurart

 

Moving swiftly on then to some seasonal music to usher in the afternoon…

 

and because we can’t really ever get enough of this ‘Doctor’ of yours…

We wish you a treemendously splendid afternoon and we will see you on Thursday when we will be All Punked Up With Now Place To Go so until then please be always

Utterly Yourself

 


Pipe And Slippers:The Gospel Of Betty Martin

Good evening my dears and welcome to Perilous Wight’s Lovely Library (which we are keeping safe for him until he returns from his ‘business trip.’) I am Mrs Baker (otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle) and Peril has kindly allowed me and my little street urchins to shelter down here from the flesh eating Liver Birds and Wizmas Witch Hunters until he returns.

Tonight I will be reading to the orphans from The Child Gospels, which we discovered on our expedition to Siberia. The chronicles were chiselled onto ice tablets and had been preserved inside a lead lined soupophagus for centuries before we smashed it apart and salvaged them for all humanity to enjoy.

Sadly, our return journey took us through the heat of the Jentacular Jungle and so, as the ice tablets began to melt (and even though it was three o’ clock in the morning and nobody had any tea)  our quick thinking octopus, Collin, speedily copied their contents down onto banana leaves with his own ink, using only his tentacles for a pen.

This desperate act of heroism, he claims, should excuse the rampant spelling mistakes, technical inaccuracies and absence of all  artistic merit which glare out from the manuscript like the foul raisins  in that cookie you thought was chocolate chip.

Peril has of course preserved the banana leaves as only a pedantic book-fetishy ghost can, but Collin asks  that we all bear in mind the manner of their construction and the great suffering he endured and risks to his life and mental well being and so forth and send him extra packs of medicinal biscuits whenever he indulges in…I mean suffers from, a bout of psd over the whole affair. Poor Collin.

So, are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I shall begin…

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Tea @Three: All Punked Up With No Place To Go?

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s frantically festive and perfectly punktastic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a cheerless crater blighting the landscape of an otherwise splendid panorama , but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us, as is usual for a Thursday afternoon, All Punked UP With No Place To Go so without further ado, let us kick our tentacles up on the table and peruse the society papers and see where we ought to be heading to this weekend…

Well we have the fabulous Professor Elemental Steampunk Pirate Ball this Saturday

Or if you’re about in Nottingham there’s the very first ever Nottingham Steampunk Christmas market which is rather exciting and you could finish up by swinging The Pit and The Pendulum where their regular ‘Bitten By Fangs’ set should give you a seasonal chill!

If you are the sort who finds themselves aimlessly wandering the weekday streets wondering where you are and what your name is or if you may have fallen through a worm hole and landed on the wrong patch ethereal of turf (we know that feeling well, you are not alone) you could do worse than pop along to The Yellow Book  in Brighton, where they have Games Night, Laudanum and Lavender Open Mic, Pub Quiz and lots of lovely friendly staff with fabulous Steampunk Stories to tell you.

Or, looking further ahead, there’s the Walking in a steampunk wonderland on  17th dec in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

So there is absolutely no excuse to be skulking around your parlour with so much festive fun to be had.

We are in extreme haste this afternoon, being eager to don our hats and goggles and be off at once to watch the witches being pelted with hot plum pudding… not that we condone that sort of thing of course, nor will we derive any pleasure from it at all, but we must be seen to be fitting in with the festivities … you understand?… splendid, we knew you would!

We wish you a very principled afternoon where not one of your morals are compromised or called into question and we invite you back to join us in the parlour on Monday when we will be showing you 101 ways to deck your halls with fish… or something like that… so, until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself

 


Pipe and Slippers: The Painters’ Daughter

Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of  praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.

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I am Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.

But this is not a public thoroughfare! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of a drag-dressed octopus and its dribbling Tea Fiend, let me advise you not to be so easily lured into a parlour by the promise of strange fruit. Well, you will find nothing sweet and alluring down here;   here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!

But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? Amontillado? Oh…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one. And I suppose I could read a very little something,

like this perhaps…

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The painters’ daughter

 

Once upon a time, when you and I were naught but pips in the core of the great cosmic apple, there lived a painter. You might chance to meet him still, wandering the shore line as the sun rises over the blushing surf, counting the grains of sand or shuffling the streets at dusk, studying the cracks in the paving stones, calling down and listening for a voice.

Back in his studio, his tumbledown beach hut, he paints each grain, each echo. He paints the light and the shadow, the rising and the setting, the dance and sparkle and the soaking up and the deep. His eyes are full of dreams and his dreams are full of shades and glamour.

One day, the painter’s daughter bare-foot tip-toed into that secret space.

And gazed at all the many muchness of towers of tins of tangy turpscented rainbows.

And wondered what it would be – to touch, to taste, to take in and become such wonders.

One drip.

One lick.

In goes a flinger, smooth and slick.

Gloopy and gorgeful.

Smick  smuck  smack.

Blue, yellow, indigo,

Purple,

black.

She tasted blue – A taste of salt sea and pillow cases, stained glass and new slippers, skinned knees and berryjams and Monday mornings and shaggy hillsides damp in November fog.

She tasted yellow – A taste of custard of course. And a taste of bathrooms and tiled floors and a caravan holiday in 1975, old stiff newspapers and curled up cats, the dust that gathers on lampshades and dims the whole room and a taste of skin and bone and the streets of Rome in July.

She tasted green – A taste of coal and iron, old sandals and ploughed up earth, toadstools and pine woods and rain low down in the valley of the Dove.

Every colour in the universe she drank it down. She gorged on glamour and shade, on dances and sparkles, on things soaked up and deep. She swallowed down the soul of every colour until her limbs felt clogged and cloyed with the weight of them.

One small pot of black she saved for last, – a taste of burning and drowning, of being squeezed out and sucked up and exploded into stars, a taste of being held for eternity and the aching emptiness of an eggshell cracked too soon.

 

This black, she smuggled it away in her pocket, off to her little box bed beside the woodstove. There, when she was feeling dizzy with the reel of the rainbows spinning through her veins, she would sip

Sip

Sip

At the comforting black.

From that day on, every time the painter’s daughter opened her mouth, out spilled thick , oily paint in puddles and spewks that stained the folks and the things all around her in violent assaults of crimson,  viridian, amaranth and egg yolk.

She stopped opening her mouth.

Her limbs dragged heavy as a rag doll and every breath, every step, every heart beat was a drudge and a drain. So much colour inside. So much sparkle and depth. So much echo and shade.

Walking, talking, even breathing seemed mountains too steep to climb with all this weight inside.

She sat on her bed, day in day out, and sip

Sip

Sipped

At the comforting black

Until it spilled out of her eyes in puddles that pooled upon the patchwork quilt and cast back mocking rainbows.

That is how the little bird found her one day. He hopped upon her window sill and cocked his shining eye – the way the bird folk do – and then he fluttered down onto the eiderdown and whistled.

“Go away,” the painter’s daughter hissed, “do you think I care to see your coloured plumes? Do you think I am impressed? What if I told you that I am so full with the light and dark of every colour in the universe that I ache with it and to look at you does not fill me with joy or wonder, only regret and fatigue until I am sick of it.”

The little bird cocked his eye again – infuriating it is when they do that, y’know? – and he reached his yellow bill in deep amongst his tail feathers and plucked out a needle sharp quill the colour of every blue-green under the sea.

The painter’s daughter shrugged in scorn of him and made to turn away when

Ouvchsh!

The little demon jabbed the quill spike hard into the soft, pale flesh of her arm.

Out leapt a tiny spurt of paint.

Then slowly, and with the girl in thrawl,

He dragged the rainbow colours out

In swirls and spirals, tree cassyn pathways to guide the flow of all that weary weight into traces of beauty and scope.

Here was a dream in flesh.

Here was pointillised pain.

Here was inside out for all to see and staining no one but herself; surely, no words would be needed now . The world would smile and nod its head at her, as they knocked shoulders in the street, and whisper

‘ah, so, that is how it is with her, mm, we understand now why she walks so slow and dares not speak. How could a child do otherwise, with so much colour inside?’

So she stepped out.

Stained.

With the bird quill tucked behind one ear

And bold, without fear,

Into a forest of fingers who pointed and blamed and waggled and shamed and prodded and poked and jostled and joked and fat cold palms that pushed her far away.

The painter’s daughter ran.

She ran on and on.

She began to feel very proud of her running.

One dark night, she came to a cave, above a river, above a pool, beside a village and into that cave she crept and lay down to sleep.

When she woke up the smell of sweet meat cooking down in the green valley filled her with hunger and the longing for all the things that human company ought to bring but seldom does.

So she spent the morning gathering leaves,  the afternoon stitching them together and by evening she had made for herself a fine long cloak that hid the patterns on her arms, and a hat with a broad brim to cover her face.

Under the stars, she took out the bird quill from behind her ear and dug it deep into her skin until it was slathed in colour, then she found a broad, flat stone and she began to paint

In swirls and spirals, tree cassyn pathways to guide the flow of all that weary weight into illuminated forms both wild and wonderful.

Here was a dream on stone.

Here was pain projected, disembodied, disowned.

Here was inside out for all to see and staining nothing but this unfeeling earth. And the world would smile and nod and never know where all the colours came from.

As the sun rose over the valley, the painter’s daughter stepped down from her cave, down and down and into the village and by that afternoon the tongues were wagging like wild fire flames; who was the stranger in the cloak of leaves who traded her marvellous paintings for table scraps? Some had seen her return to the cave – a hermit then? An anchorite? A holy one, certainly, a wise healer, a cleric, a teacher, a goddess in the flesh… ?

Every day, more and more villagers made the trek up to the painter’s cave. They wondered at her work – colours and patterns that seemed to describe the deepest parts of themselves. The parts they never let show. How? They asked, with tears in their eyes, how can she know?

They bought canvases. They paid in gold.

Inside her cave, hidden from sight, the painter took her feather quill and emptied herself out for them.

Day after day.

Night after night.

Slowly, as time went by, she began to grow old and paper thin. She had to coax out the paint in crusted oozes from her gummed up veins. Sometimes finding the strength and the will would take hours. Often there was not enough. Not enough colour, not enough energy and too much pain of the flesh and the bone to finish the work. ‘One day,’ thought the painter, ‘one day I will dry up. There will be no way of getting these crusted up colours out of my dried up body any longer. And what will happen then? Will the world understand when I can no longer paint their pain for them?’

The painter smiled and shook her head. She stuck the feather quill behind her ear and pulled off her cloak and hat of leaves. Clotheless under the silver moon, she walked down to the lake pool and stepped right into the comforting black.

The next morning, when the people came up to the cave the painter was gone, but the waters of the lake below, as they looked down into the valley, were snaked with rainbows.

 

Hmph well, yes, at least we may thank our stars that this pathetic Poevember pranking is at end and speaking of stars they are all out and I must get back to my work and you must get back to whatever it was you were doing before you decided to pester me… GOOD NIGHT!

 

 


Tea @Three: All Punked up with no place to go

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s punktasticly poe-etic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a rotting refuge filled with remorseless rogues, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us, as is usual for a Thursday afternoon, All Punked UP With No Place To Go so without further ado, let us kick our tentacles up on the table, pour out our delightful Poe inspired brew from Owen’s Acres, and peruse the society papers and see where we ought to be heading to this weekend…

Of course we have The Crewe Winter Steampunk Convivial which, if you haven’t already bought tickets for you can pay on the door.

Or if you are in the Brighton area, then “Lock up your daughters, your drinks cabinets and your heirlooms … ” because the Yellow Book Room (Britain’s first Steampunk themed pub) is hosting The Filthy Spectacula on the 26th!

All utterly marvellous things to look forward to. We hope you have enjoyed celebrating Poevember with us in the parlour this month and we hope you will join us again for our morning cuppa on Monday when we will be twiddling our thumbs and pondering what mischief to get up to next… or perhaps mischief will find us first? Who knows, or dares to dream eh?

So until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself

 


Elevenses:The Poe-fect gift?

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s perfectly Poe-etic parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a run-down, rodent riddled room in a crumbling riverside tenement building but we consider that such fools have no imagination.

You find us running a little late this morning and for that we most humbly apologize, although we do have an excellent excuse –  last night The Parlour suffered yet another savage Liver Bird attack.  (Exactly why our so-called oracular cephalopterois failed to warn us of this impending disaster is still a mystery)

The great oaf took up a perch on our ill-equipped roof (sack cloth not being the ideal fabric to support such a large beast). We tried pelting it with crumpets – plain, buttered, jammed and even creamed – but all to no avail. At last, when we had used up every last crumb of our illegal tiffin hoards, Max was finally able to get rid of it by reading from our treasured collection of Mostly Awful Poetry by our arch nemesis Christina Biscotti. (For a Very Quiet Gentleman Max does have a surprising number of arch enemies…hmm..)

Still, we are not so faint hearted as to let a little thing like no roof stop our elevenses and thankfully our delightful werewolf butler (who was conspicuous by her absence last night despite our shrieks for assistance) has found us some marvellous treats to round off our Poevember celebrations…

poe cookies.JPG

 

These stunning cakes were made by Ashley’s Sweet Bytes and she sketched each design before transferring them to the cookies  – visit her blog by clicking the picture and see if you can guess which tale is depicted on each cookie!

In other excellent news we have managed to pay our rent this month and solve our surplus cat problems all in one go! We have cunningly dressed each cat in a suit and tie, popped them into a Hippo’ton Cab and shipped them off to a better life in Whitehall where we suspect they will blend seamlessly in amongst the other politicians and possibly even do the country some good. They in turn have promised to send us any bribe money they receive to cover our rent and tiffin expenses… we’re certain we can trust them to uphold their end of the bargain…

But enough of our catastrophes, yesterday we promised you an array of Poe inspired goodies and so we have  urged our oracular pet to scour the whole of time and space and pluck from the aether some Poe-fectly delightful treats for us all, and here they are…

Edgar Allan Poe printed tights (also suitable for tentacles) from The tights Shop

https://www.etsy.com/listing/182390923/tights-woman-clothing-edgar-allan-poe

This stunning hand made leather raven journal from The Diary Shop

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/210348179/handmade-leather-journal-diary-pagan?ref=market

Beautiful ‘No Beauty without some strangeness’ bracelet from Strangeness Charms

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/200964952/hand-stamped-no-beauty-without?ref=market

‘The Raven’ printed fingerless writing gloves from Storiarts

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/158002026/the-raven-writing-gloves?ref=market

Hand made to order – Edgar Allan Poe Lunch Bag from Sammo

https://img1.etsystatic.com/026/0/5155644/il_570xN.555835299_qav1.jpg

Have Your very own Poe-In-The-Parlour with this digital download and print Poe paper doll from Artwolf

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Artwolf?ref=l2-shopheader-name

But our favourite of all the picks is this unique Madeline Usher art print from Leilani Joy Art, we much prefer this rendering of her than the traditional ‘ghoul-in-bandages’ version.

https://img1.etsystatic.com/050/1/5589015/il_570xN.662297355_7drx.jpg

 

Now then, all that is required is some utterly audacious audios to usher in the afternoon and fortunately we happen to have some! We don’t know if Victoria and the Vaudevillains are still gigging but if you do have the opportunity to go see them then you most definitely ought to do so!

There, and now our tea is ready so, we hope you have an utterly ineffable afternoon and we invite you back to join us in the parlour on Thursday when we will be taking a look at where the steampunk action is this weekend.

So, until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself