Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since 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 Denise, creator of the awe inspiring jewellery and Steampunk sculptures at SpankySpangler Designs. Good morning Denise, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
Yes, I have a rather wonderful and tasty vegan recipe I found on one of my jaunts around t’internets. I can’t remember where I found it but the ingredients are; 10 tomatoes, a vine of sweet cherry tomatoes, a large onion, 6 cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, 2tsp Garam masala, a can of coconut milk, 2tbsp tomato paste and 300ml veg stock.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Chop the tomatoes into quarters, half the cherry tomatoes and cut the onion into chunks and separate the layers, place on a baking tray with garlic (in its skin) and drizzle over olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Roast veg in the oven for about half an hour. Once veg is roasted, transfer to a large pot (don’t forget to remove the sweet and sticky roasted garlic from its skin) and add stock, tomato paste, coconut milk and stir well. Add the spices and more salt/pepper to taste then bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Carefully transfer to a blender or processor a few cups at a time and blend until smooth, or chunky if you prefer (you could use a stick/immersion blender too). Serve with a swirl of reserved coconut milk and croutons or crusty bread.
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at some of your stunning creations, have you brought some along to show us today?
Yes, I have brought along some of my insect brooches, some sculptures and my Victorian inspired jewellery some of which use vintage and antique clock and watch parts, movements and cogs, along with vintaj brass and sterling silver charms, chains and findings to hold it all together.
Your steampunk sculptures really are amazing, what inspires you when you sit down to create each one?
I have always had love of nature, in particular creepy crawlies. I was an odd child and I used to spend hours searching the garden collecting insects and spiders and observing them, watching the way they moved as they scurried and across my hands… A lot of people find them disgusting and are even afraid of them but I find them fascinating and when I became interested in steampunk it seemed natural to me to try and create clockwork versions… On some strange level I guess I want people to find them as interesting as I do but without the negative reaction.
And where do you source all those amazing materials?
I usually find bits and pieces at markets, antique fairs, car boot sales and pestering local watch tinkerers but I mainly make purchases online, Etsy and EBay have a vast array of antique and vintage clock and watch parts!
Your insect sculptures have a particular resonance in light of the recent decline in bee populations and the development of robotic pollinators, was this intentional at all and do you think it is important for art to challenge us in the same way that dystopian fiction can?
Yes, the decline in bee populations has influenced my work, although robotic pollinators could pose a problem as Charlie Brooker has shown us in his televisual show Black Mirror (Hated in the Nation)! And yes, it is important for art to challenge our perceptions, our reality and also to show us possible future scenarios if we don’t change our wicked ways! I much prefer our fuzzy little helpers get the support they need to survive what we have done to them in our search for perfection, rather than relying on robots, that’s if the technology could exist! I have just recently started selling my jewellery on EBay, they allow a percentage of money from a sale to be donated to charity, I have set up my insect brooch listings on EBay and Etsy to donate 15% of each sale to the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust because they are so important to our survival!
You also produce some amazing anthropomorphic illustrations would you like to tell us a bit about those?
My anthropomorpic illustrations take influence from whimsical childhood memories; Alice in Wonderland, Brer Rabbit, Wind in the Willows, Rupert Bear and Tales from Fern Hollow, along with my obsession for collecting Sylvanian Families!
Your beautiful creations have captured the hearts of the Steampunk community, tell me, besides your online store,where else can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?
My work is only for sale online at the moment although I have exhibited at a number of art galleries in the past, including The National Glass Centre, Artsbank Gallery and The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle. I also sell my bits and bobs at conventions, craft markets and Lou Lou’s vintage fair. Details can be found on my website.
And now the all important question, on which the fate of the world may hang… which is the brew that inspires you more when you are creating, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)
Tea of course, with a splash of soy milk, but no sugar as I’m too sour to sweeten!
(Or perhaps ‘sweet enough?’) Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Denise, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready now so lets start dishing it up.
Max and Collin will be All Punked Up in the parlour tomorrow for some tantalising Tea @ Three and Peril will be reading some fabulous fiction from his Lovely Library on Friday. I will be back next week with another exciting steampunk guest to help me out so until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!