Friday, 25 February 2011

Is this relevant?

Everything's relevant!

The Museum of Lost Wonder

Gear heart

World upside down

Oh, there's so much incredible stuff out there!

Check out these fabulous erotic paper automata by Sandrine Sheon!

Oscillating levers crank shafts and cam drivers

I'll be honest; I'm putting some of this stuff up here for my own reference. I'm exploring paper mechanics and automata at the moment.

How clockwork works.

Transforming motion.


In a way, that's what a story does too, isn't it? Transforming motion. A character changes as the narrative develops.

Either I'm going totally loco or animation pulls things together beautifully.

: )


'The king stared at the figure in astonishment. It walked with rapid strides, moving its head up and down, so that anyone would have taken it for a live human being. The artificer touched its chin, and it began singing, perfectly in tune. He touched its hand, and it began posturing, keeping perfect time...As the performance was drawing to an end, the robot winked its eye and made advances to the ladies in attendance, whereupon the king became incensed and would have had Yen Shih [Yan Shi] executed on the spot had not the latter, in mortal fear, instantly taken the robot to pieces to let him see what it really was. And, indeed, it turned out to be only a construction of leather, wood, glue and lacquer, variously coloured white, black, red and blue. Examining it closely, the king found all the internal organs complete—liver, gall, heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys, stomach and intestines; and over these again, muscles, bones and limbs with their joints, skin, teeth and hair, all of them artificial...The king tried the effect of taking away the heart, and found that the mouth could no longer speak; he took away the liver and the eyes could no longer see; he took away the kidneys and the legs lost their power of locomotion. The king was delighted.[4]
Lie Zi text, written in the 3rd century BC. Encounter between King Mu of Zhou (1023-957 BC) and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an 'artificer'. The latter proudly presented the king with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical handiwork.

Wish I had a wooden heart

Gorgeous. Although, I want a clockwork one. I'd like to make a working model.

la chaise diabolique

I thought this chair was my own invention - little did I know that the steam-powered Manipulator was made for real a hundred and fifty years ago.

'Motion properly transmitted to the human system by mechanical apparatus is transformed into other forms of force identical with vital energy, by which the ordinary processes of the system are greatly promoted.'

The lust bit

I just stumbled on this site. Loving the first story, by Honaria Tox, and the illustrations are gorgeous.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

A steampunk romance

Ah, this is beautiful.

Films and animations

Have you seen this? A lovely way to spend half an hour.

The Maguffin

Where there is love, there is heartache. The infinitely retellable love story.

I need a central image for the film, something to follow, lose and rediscover.The first one that sprang to mind was a clockwork or winged heart. It may work. I'll run with it for now.

Here's a lovely shadow play, based on Philip Pullman's Clockwork.

"Men are grown mechanical in head and in heart, as well as in hand"

The ever-miserable Thomas Carlyle

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Creating the ship

I like to mix flat and 3D elements in an animation. So, I think I'm going to make a ship.

Here are some beautiful papier mache steamships.

And here is a useful tutorial on DIY papier mache ... now I'm going to get messy.

Weaving in music

As I make the characters and sets, I'm hunting all the time for the right music for the film. One can describe the sound as another character, and it's crucial to have noises that work. I'm losing myself today in this song:

While rifling through this record label.

And thinking of this song:
We have tricky requirements. We need hissing and clanking and industrial noises, whistles and violins and accordions, and of course we need a love song - that should be as central to the song as the melody.
I've created a Spotify playlist to gather tracks. Please add music if you feel moved to do so!

Steam*lust*punk playlist


Like any story, we start with the characters. Now I have my star crossed lovers (in pieces), I need to create a world for them. I had imagined a city, but today I realised I should make their ship first. Look at these beautiful things:

To the ornithopter!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

My hero

George. Prototype model. He has a wild gun with a Van der Graaf bubble and various buttons and cables. I'm toying with the idea of a facial tattoo - something pretty and gritty. What do you think?

One of the nice things about jointed paper dolls is that one can remake and replace any parts at any time. So if you want to make a head looking in a different direction, for example, it's a cinch. 


I do believe I could lose myself in this film.

Perhaps I already have.


If you're ever in Glasgow, it's worth venturing into the Trongate to find the wonderful Sharmanka.

Memories from long ago

Every time I visited London as a child, we would go to see the fabulous Cabaret Mechanical Theatre.

Animation inspiration

Watch and learn, voyagers.

Film by Ladislas Starevich. Via the fabulous Ubuweb

Cherchez l'homme

I'm looking for a man. Not just any man. Captain of the skies! Demon lover who knows how to use an adjustable wrench! Someone with a ripped shirt and high waisted trousers, an aviator's hat and a winning smile.

Today, I'm making the Hero. Back soon ...

Lust for steam?

Thanks to our mistress of the mists, Kristina Wright, who will be editing the anthology that inspired this film and blog. The title of the book remains shrouded in mystery as she works tirelessly to oil the cogs and polish the pistons, before unveiling her creation late in 2011.

Curious? Stay tuned, voyagers.

Cogs are turning

It's still the very early stages of making the film. Yet to find the music and the story. At the moment, I'm gathering ideas, images, sounds and inspiration, and experimenting with some techniques and gizmos. This is the magpie stage. Lots of fun with scalpels and a scanner.

The cogs are cut from black card and dusted with gold/bronze eyeshadow. The split pins you see there will hold together the dolls. The background are a couple of pairs of knickers that I've scanned to use as lace, probably for garments for dolls.

Enter Violetta

The star of the film. Yesterday I created the prototype doll, today I am working on her mate.

Violetta is a mixture of ingenue, fox and devilish trickster. Tattooed and booted, she is yet to be put together, but I'm pleased with the parts as they are. I shall add skirts (and petticoats, of course) and depending on how the plot of the film develops, I may have to make bendable legs and/or an undressable torso.

Stay tuned for a doll template to download and make yourself.

Welcome, neophytes

To the chronicles of an animator as she battles time to produce a Steam Powered film.

This film is made to celebrate the launching of a new and wondrous anthology, of which more later.

Follow me as I create a world of lusty machines. Along the way you'll be privy to insights and marvels I can't even begin to imagine or describe! Corsets! Dirty woodcuts! Accordion-riddled musical delights!

Let us begin.