Snow Globe for Sacramento Steampunk Society

It probably doesn’t make much sense on the surface, that I would correspond with members of the Sacramento Steampunk Society whom I had never met – living in Denver and all, as I do. But I had discovered this group when I was looking for steampunk events near where my family members live, and it was such an active and friendly group, I eavesdropped on their facebook page a while, and felt as though I knew these people. They seem to enjoy each other and have so many activities! If you live in northern California and like all things steampunk, I suggest you look them up.

Well, next thing you know, I’ve got a steampunk artshow in San Jose (and members of the SSS were quite involved in putting Clockwork Alchemy together). Then I read a comment by the effervescent Alexander Watt Babbage that set my creative energy on “high.” All he said was, it sure would be nice if we had a piece of steampunk art or sculpture at our group table at the Con.

Oh, I do love a challenge.

I felt my snowglobes (about 6″ tall and 4″ wide) were too small to make an impact on a busy table with buttons, brochures, ribbons and photos, but it occurred to me to make the base larger to give the snow globe more presence. I contacted the elusive snowglobe engineer (he who solves all problems snowgobe-related), and described what I wanted: a double base, supported with metal columns, and the snow globe riding above.

He produced this as a starting point:

Unfinished snow globe structure for Sacramento Steampunk Society.

It was structurally perfect, but needed … something. I knew the support hardware would be new, but the shiny silver was jarring. As I was trying to figure out what to do to soften the color, possibly taping off some parts, and spray painting it matte gold, I happened serendipitously across a post and tutorial from Epbot, describing how to patina just about anything with the right layers of paint.

Epbot: How to Paint a Faux Copper Patina

Perfect timing!

So I tried it on shiny “fresh from the hardware store” silver bolts, using layers of hand-applied acrylics and the improvement to the supports was immediate. It looked great.

We used the Sacramento Steampunk Society’s logo and the SSS group photo inside the snowglobe (logo design courtesy Chance Von Bekke), added riveted leather straps with gears and timepieces, to work with the dark and mysterious logo, featuring a steampunk airship hovering over the California State Capitol.

Sacramento Steampunk Society original graphic, courtesy Chance Von Bekke

Next, we created a scene in the space between the upper and lower base, using tiny historical (with artistic liberties) figures. That scene includes a ray-gun-packing proper lady, a man relaxing in a time machine who looks suspiciously like Mr. Babbage in his Saturday cap, a traveler with a jetpack and a neo-Victorian couple conversing, both hiding weapons behind their backs. Here’s the finished piece, which also includes the Society’s motto on four separate brass plates wrapping each side of the base. Adding a jetpack to a figure just over 1-inch tall made me positively giddy.

Here’s a close up of the scene in the space between the two base pieces. You can see the tiny jetpack, and if you look closely, there’s a Victrola playing as well.  (And note the nicely patina’d supports – Thanks again, Epbot!):

What was totally fun was to see how many times the globe itself appeared in people’s photos of the Society’s information table over a four-day Memorial weekend.  Sweet!

Clara Blackheart photo

Chance Von Bekke photo

Chance Von Bekke photo

Chance Von Bekke photo

Clara Blackheart photo

Chance Von Bekke photo

Pros and Cons (Please Shake!)

It was my pleasure to be invited to show my steampunk snowglobes, whimsical waterglobes and curious inventions over the Memorial Day weekend in San Jose, California as part of the Vendor’s Bazaar for Clockwork Alchemy.

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I’m a newbie to “cons” — some of us lead sheltered lives! I was just out in my workshop, making stuff & sometimes glueing my fingers together, while apparently this entire WORLD of interesting people was out there making costumes and developing unique characters to share. I mean: oh, my goodness! There are some cool, clever and talented folks out there!

So … Clockwork Alchemy was a unique steampunk part of a larger Con, Fanime.  Here’s a little about that:

FanimeCon is Northern California’s largest anime convention. Packed with videos, costumes, music, games, parties, tournaments, panels, and guests from around the world, this annual celebration of Japanese art and popular culture entertains a colorful spectrum of fans and friends.

Anyone who registered for one con, could attend either one or both – there was so much going on they had two locations and shuttles between them. Which means, in addition to seeing steampunk attenders, now and then, we’d get a visitor clearly dressed for the other Con – maybe a Hello Kitty Darth Vader, or a Dr. Who devotee. I was enthralled to see how much love and attention to detail when into everyone’s attire.

Of course, few artists such as myself who were showing at the steampunk-themed Clockwork Alchemy con did not wander off to the convention center to see the goings-on over there: we mostly stayed put with our art. Plus, I was too excited to hear the responses people had with the snow globes, which are very interactive. And, I had to be there to say, 100 times a day “PLEASE shake the snow globes.” Because we have been trained not to touch art, and so many people looked wistfully at the globes, but were hesitant to touch.  We had this sign posted to encourage folks — you have to shake the interior and see the shimmering metallic dust swirl and settle to completely enjoy the snow globe and waterglobe experience.

Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? You could drop it and it would break. Alas! Sparkles happen! And the next thing is, I’d scoop up the parts and fix it. Trust me: there’s barely a sculpture that I didn’t drop myself while it was being made. They are pretty sturdy.

Glass, on the other hand, is not sturdy, and will break. This is not the end of the world, nor necessarily the end of your snowglobe – most glass can be repaired (if the glass is a standard size, as these are.) I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, but we did have one remarkable incident … The author and illustrator of the excellent book, Boilerplate, were at the table next to us. As guests of honor, they were coming and going a bit, doing panels and interviews. Late on day four, they knew they wouldn’t be back to the table due to an obligation and packed up, and invited us — Camryn Forrest Designs — to spread out the snow globes to their empty table. While I was doing this, I managed to DROP A SNOW GLOBE. Yes, I did. Slipped right out of my hand when I was carelessly moving two at once. And just like a slow-motion movie, I saw it tumble out of my hand, bounce off the cushioned seat of the hotel chair, and hit the carpeted floor. I honestly thought I heard a collective gasp around me from the other artists.

Waited for the cracking sound and the leaking liquid on the floor. And … nothing happened. Nothing. The snowglobe did not break. (It was this one, for the record, a beautiful model of a Tesla Coil.)

I’ve broken a few snowglobes in my days, but this one survived the fall. I sort of wish there was a youtube video of my face as it happened: first, I would have been talking and not paying attention to what I was doing, then the realization that it was slipping out of my hands, the fear as I scrambled to catch it, the sadness as I realized it had dropped on the floor, the anticipation of seeing broken glass and leaking liquid, the perplexed look when it didn’t happen, the wonder when I picked it up and discovered: this snowglobe just bounced.  But again, don’t try this at home!

Just to be super-duper sure, we decided not to sell that snow globe at the convention, but brought it back home to Colorado. If it hasn’t leaked in the next week, I am going to say it’s just a miracle. But so far, not a drop of liquid, no bubble has appeared atop the globe, so somehow the seal held. Whew!

In addition to the good people from Boilerplate, we were treated to neighbors on our other side of the booth in Tinkertart. Not only do they create fun steampunk jewelry, one of them takes pretty great photos to show you what the Con looked like from inside the Artists Bazaar. I had promised myself I wouldn’t buy everyone else’s art, but I was so tempted! The straw fascinators at Strawbenders had me .. fascinated! But I held back and came home with the same hats I brought with me. Sigh. Next time.

One of the cool things about Clockwork Alchemy (and there were many), was the Telegraph Office. If you got a message to someone at the Con, and knew generally where they were, you could have a free telegram sent. I mean, young men in dashing hats, marching into our area and yelling “Telegram, Telegram for Camryn Forrest.” (Thank you to Alexander Watt Babbage for that thrill!)  So, we sent a telegram to our very young friend at Tinkertart, and that was a thrill for us, since he certainly wasn’t expecting anyone to call out his name at a Con.

Here are a few photos to show you more about Clockwork Alchemy.

Photo by Chance Von Bekke, “Always” glass heart steampunk snowglobe by Camryn Forrest Designs

 To see the “Always” iridescent heart steampunk water globe in studio lighting, click here.

Camryn Forrest with Chance Von Bekke at Clockwork Alchemy Artisans Bazaar, May 2012

“Ray Gun One” custom steampunk snowglobe, photograph by Chance Von Bekke

“Wheel Life” custom steampunk snowglobe, by Camryn Forrest Designs, photograph by Chance Von Bekke at Clockwork Alchemy, May 2012

Visitors to Camryn Forrest Designs booth at Clockwork Alchemy shake a custom steampunk waterglobe/snowglobe. May 2012. Photo by Sophia StClair.

Camryn Forrest Designs at Clockwork Alchemy, May 2012

Camryn Forrest Designs at Clockwork Alchemy. May 2012.

Those of you who know the story behind the dark glasses ? …. shshshsh!


Steampunk Snow Globes

Camryn Forrest Designs steampunk snowglobes at Clockwork Alchemy, San Jose California. Robert Heynan/Tinkertart photo.

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