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By Mandy McGee

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I have finally caught up with Vicki of Museum of Robots in between conventions to chat. Museum of Robots designs and manufactures retro-futuristic housewares, home and personal accessories. The center of their design philosophy is that they are fans first: they go to sci-fi conventions and fine art museums, vintage car shows and sci-fi movies, science exhibits and toy shows.

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(Richard and Vicki; photo by Frank Pryor Photography)

Mandy: Who are the humans behind Museum of Robots?

Museum of Robots: We’re Vicki Küng and Richard Küng. Richard has been collecting robots for 25 years; Vicki is a lifelong science fiction fan who got her first robot at age 6. We are designers by training and profession, and the line is what happened when we decided to create things we’d like in our own home.

Mandy: Why did you start the site?

Museum of Robots: We started the company 5 years ago. We’re both designers and we wanted to move from design consulting to developing our own line of products. We began selling at large wholesale shows, and immediately had a great response from museum and design stores, so that really inspired us to keep going. We found that it was important to get the products in front of the actual consumer, so we started selling at conventions. It was exactly the right move.

And to clarify - there is not a real Museum of Robots. Someday, we hope. We’ve started with the gift store and we’ll bootstrap a museum you can visit from there.

Mandy: Do you design the items in your store or do you out source?

Museum of Robots: Our work is original design, and we work with manufacturers to produce the products. We use a range of manufacturing methods, from traditional to digital, from sand-cast to 3D printing. When possible, we manufacture in the USA; when we utilize foreign manufacturing, it is with producers of high-quality goods who understand our creative and company vision, working responsibly with materials and processes. We also license art from artists we like, and use that on some of the products we make.

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Mandy: Why did you choose the style of steampunk/vintage?

Museum of Robots: We don’t really think of the line as steampunk, or even vintage. Retro-future seems to sum it up better - it gives us a range of design influences to work with, although we do sort of fall into a something-punk arena: atom punk, steampunk, diesel punk, cyber-punk. But our influences come from everywhere. We love toy robots and mid-century modern chairs, and urban vinyl, and Italian design. Add a love of technology, sci-fi books and movies, vintage cars, modern design, Googie architecture and Disneyland, and the resulting mash up is Museum of Robots.

Mandy: What is your most popular item?

Museum of Robots: The Rocket Salt & Pepper continues to be our strongest seller, although the rocket and raygun jewelry are catching up. We find the most popular items are rockets, rayguns, and robots. We’re apparently good at things that start with R.

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Mandy: How well do you do selling at conventions vs the web site?

Museum of Robots: Conventions and the web site are two different selling venues, although some customers do both. At the conventions, it gives us a chance to see how people respond to the products, and our designs and products are constantly improved by what we hear from people. Not everything goes online - there are new products and limited production items that are show-only. Online is more of the core line, and we are so fortunate in our customers - they are from across the US, and work at some of the most amazing and innovative technology and science companies.

Mandy: Do you enjoy conventions?
Museum of Robots:
Love, love love conventions. We started out on the fan side of the aisle, and I truly can’t think of anything more fun than days spent at a con, marinating in convention culture. As exhibitors, we think it’s our job to be a part of convention fun, so we really focus on having a nice booth and product offering. It is hard to miss a good panel, and we are generally too tired to take in much of the evening activities, but these are small things compared to how much fun the conventions are.

Mandy: What is your favourite convention?

Museum of Robots: That’s like trying to pick a favorite robot! Our favorite shows are the ones with a good vibe - happy attendees, nice people, and management that understands why we are there. Not every convention gets it. The ones that do are the happiest places on earth.

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(Me and Vicki at Emerald City Comic Con last March)

Mandy: Do you have any plans to expand the site to a physical store?

Museum of Robots: We’d love to experiment with a pop-up or two as way to dip our toe into a retail presence. No immediate plans for a physical store, but yes, we’d love to have one when the time is right.

Mandy: Are you going to get more merch on the site this year?

Museum of Robots: We’ve got new items that we introduced at San Diego Comic-Con this year, and we are busy getting those on the site. We really listen to comments from people at the cons we attend and use that information to tweak and improve the entire product line. The result is what goes on the web site.

Mandy: Do you take commissions?

Museum of Robots: We’ve done a number of custom projects and are always interested in collaborations. We created a special exhibit t-shirt for the Shelburne Museum’s Steampunk show last year, and a custom product for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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Mandy: If you had a superpower what would it be?

Museum of Robots: There is a rumor that my superpower is weaponized sarcasm, but I think something involving flying would be more useful. Although with all the lifting and toting of things we do going to conventions, I think that the ability to pack up all our stuff and smallerize it so that it fits in a pocket would be the holy grail of superpowers for the convention circuit. I always wish we could just pop things back into a virtual inventory like we used to do when Museum of Robots was in Second Life. Then fly home without a plane.

Mandy: Do you have any hidden talents?

Museum of Robots: I make great orange marmalade, and it won a blue ribbon at the county fair one year. I think it was the single malt scotch in the mix that tipped the balance in my favor.

Mandy: Do you have any plans to do anything else creative besides museum of robots like a different kind of design or a different creative area all together?

Museum of Robots: We are both designers by training, so we use those skills - graphics, 3D, exhibit design, fashion design, digital design - on all aspects of Museum of Robots. We have individual projects and clients in addition to Museum of Robots, so we keep our skills and design brains current.  

Follow Museum of Robots

Buy their products

By Morgue Anne

Hello, internet users! Unless you have been living under a rock or been stuck in MySpace, there’s this wonderful thing called Kickstarter that is helping a lot of fantastic artists accomplish their dreams in a way otherwise impossible before the internet. Through the magic of crowdsourcing, these phenomenal creators are working their tushes off to make their wildest fantasies of art a reality. How does it work? Easy! You (yes you) throw in what you can afford to projects that you think should exist in our world, tell all your friends about it by hitting the share buttons (this is very important), and once everyone has done their part, we have all been a piece of something larger than all of us!
Got it? Great! Here’s some projects that could use your skipping a trip to Starbucks to help fund.

Incredible Expeditions

Have you ever played Cards Against Humanity? That was a small kickstarter that became a huge phenomenon and is now a common name amongst almost all drinking human beings in the United States. Games are probably about as expensive to make as they are fun to play, and that’s why Liz Spain needs your help to bring this deck of cards she has been play testing for years into the public spectrum.
Yes, they have already reached their goal. This means that you can expect Incredible Expeditions to become a reality soon, but they have set stretch goals so that you can still get one of the first copies of the game and participate in it’s wonderful storytelling with your friends! Imagine hanging out and being the first of your friends to have this game, to be able to say “Oh, you can’t get it in stores yet, I only got a copy because I helped make it”. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? $40 good? Because that’s all it costs to get the game.

Then again, Liz Spain has been cool enough to put up the .pdfs so you can print it from home to play. But you should at least throw in a couple bucks for karma points. Also Extollere’s very own Mandy McGee did the portraits for the game.

… And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Deadimage

Ready to go international? Support some music that will rock your face off? While this isn’t set up on kickstarter proper, Trail of Dead is utilizing pledgemusic.com for their similar formatting to let people pre-order their newest album as a way to ensure it gets made. They have set up their campaign to be the absolute minimum amount they need to make “Tao Part III” a reality and are so close to their goal they can almost taste it! Many of the larger-ticket items have already ‘sold out’ in a sense, but you can still pre-order the album, a signed copy, or even a vinyl version for whatever the exchange rate of pounds to dollars is (1 pound = 1.56 American Dollars). Support some cool music or even a private concert! Only 20 days left on this, go get it while there’s still stuff to grab!

Prom Queen: Midnight Veil

Alright, this one is pretty fucking cool. Prom Queen (band) wants to take the idea of the concept album to a whole new level. They are raising money to make music videos for every single one of the album’s songs to create a work of art you can watch as a film or in individual pieces. Kind of mind blowing, right? This could very well be this generation’s ‘The Wall’ in it’s own right. The great thing is that they have all of experience necessary, it’s all ready to go, all they need is…the money to do it. So close yet so far, Prom Queen has 24 more days to raise $12,000. The album itself is only $10 and the completed DVD is available for $50! That is an amazing dream that is right outside of someone’s grasp and YOU can help put it in their hands. Then again, you could spend that $10 on one more pack of cigarettes (or whatever your vice is). In case I’m not being clear: Go support this kickstarter.

Seattle Geekly Podcast

Back in my early podcasting days, the Seattle Geekly were some of the first podcasts I ever got into. Our paths crossed several times over the years, and I was genuinely sad when I heard they were shutting down their operation. Fortunately, they are so very close to reaching their goal to get the money together for a year of podcast episodes. For only $3,000 they can promise 48 episodes ranging from 45-90 minutes of pure Seattle Geeky goodness. They have only 7 days remaining on their kickstarter, but just over $500 to go! All it takes is for you to give up one trip to the coffee shop and you can have a set of buttons that you get to wear forever and show off how you brought this piece of Seattle culture back to life.

By Jason ‘Kantrip’ Calhoun

Westward #1 & 2
Writer: Ken Krekeler
Artist: Ken Krekeler
Kinetic Press

Westward is a unique comic that combines elements of science-fiction with modern politics and CW network style drama, cast in a Steampunk world that is mired in pulp-y shadows.   If that first sentence read weird, I apologize, but that’s about as simple as I can describe the first 2 issues of Westward.  

Westward is the story of Victor West, a wealthy LA-Style playboy, who awakes after a 10 year coma following a devastating accident.  He has no memory of his previous life beyond what he is being told by his handlers and family and to make things even more confusing, he’s been informed that only his brain survived the accident and that his body is mostly artificial.   The organization that rebuilt Victor seems keen to kick him out into his family’s care as soon as possible, a transition that becomes even more traumatic for our protagonist, when his father dies of a heart attack upon seeing his recovered son.  After his father’s death and release back into the world, Victor discovers even more secrets about his new body, his family’s company, and his own past.    

Ken Krekler does a great job building Victor’s world in the first 2 issues of this series.  Issue 1 establishes the political and technological climate of the world, while issue 2 goes further into the life of the Victor West and his supporting cast.   In two issues Krekeler does a better job of cementing the reader into this reality, than the Big 2 (DC and Marvel) does in six issues of their regular books.   I was initially critical of the Steampunk setting of Westward, but the creator utilizes these elements in the least obnoxious way possible.  He makes them background noise.  Like with movies such as Blade Runner, Alien, or Moon, the audience is made to assume all these amazing buildings and gadgets are as commonplace as cellphones and hybrid cars are today.  We don’t question the details, because the human characters are what the story is about.   Victor’s fall from grace feels almost like a dark wish come true for anyone who has watched Reality TV centered around the wealthy and famous.  Past Victor is cast as an arrogant, selfish, hedonist who uses his excesses and superficial lifestyle to hide from his own inadequacies.   It is not the most original concept for a protagonist, but knowing Victor’s tragic future makes his past feel sad and hollow.   Every time he talks about getting high or sleeping with a random groupie, it comes across as a cry for help, and not some jackass douchebag abusing his station in life.   

Krekeler also builds in elements of the Occupy Movement and cyber-activist groups like Anonymous, with the threat of class-warfare in Westward.   When the focus isn’t on Victor, the reader is teased with news about protests and threats of cyber-terrorism on large corporations.   The West Corporation is the main target of these organizations, and Issue 1 not so subtly hints that Victor’s accident may be linked to an attack by the unruly elements.   While I initially found the political unrest a bit too in-your-face initially, as I read through the two issues, I noticed that the mystery that Krekeler was building had a reason for making them annoying.   The story tries to make you see things from the position of one of the social elite and not the Civil League of Anti-Worship, at least for now.  

The art reminds me heavily of Phil Noto’s.  The characters are attractive but not fake.  Everyone has an aura of originality to them that makes them recognizable from the other cast members.  Emotions are muted in the face, but the characters’ body language tells the reader volumes.  Rather than focusing on word balloons and faces I was forced to take in the whole panel.  How everyone was positioned?  Why did he say that while facing away from her?  Why was she so relaxed 2 panels before but now sitting so stiffly?  These small elements help to build up the air of mystery and suspense in the book, which is critical since about 90% of this series so far has been talking heads set to a backdrop of High-Steam Technology.   

My only complaint with this series is the inking.  I understand that a black and white format with heavy shadows helps to build up the noir elements of the story, but Krekeler’s inking is so thick that some of the panels come off as muddy.  It also doesn’t help show off the complex nature of the technology that Westward is built upon.   When Victor discovers his artificial nature at the end of issue 1, the effect came off as just a mess of gears and pistons flying around with no real connection.   In Issue 2 another jumble of parts spring out of Victor’s arm and some how assemble a gun.   There are also moments where some technology has a beautiful level of detail, but in other panels the parts all look like rushed sketches.  Specifically, Victor’s public reveal in issue 2.  The gears and chains in his abdomen have an almost photo-realistic quality to them, but his arms look like rough line work with no shading.  I’m not looking for perfect engineering with the Steam-tech in Westward, but maybe some more subtle shading and consistency on the level of detail.  

Overall Westward is a good series.  Upon first read I felt overwhelmed.  Mystery.  Social Drama.  Politics.  Steampunk.  Too many ideas and concepts introduced at once to make this seem like a good read, but after I got over the culture-shock and settled into the book everything comes together nicely.  For new readers there is a collection of the first three issues available through Kinetic press, or you can contact your local comic book shop and try to order the individual issues.  Either way if you want a complex mystery with a dense sci-fi setting, look Westward.

 

The Massive #11
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Dark Horse

Month after month I have raved about The Massive, and for good reason.   Its post-apocalypse done right.  Brian Wood uses a very subtle but realistic Eco-disaster approach to upending the modern world, and rather than giving the reader the perspective of a plucky and eclectic group of survivors, he sits them on the deck of the one group of people who would be the most lost in the event of complete environmental collapse.  Activists.    

Of all the issues so far, Issue 11 is my favorite by far.  Part 2 of the 3 part Polaris story, Megalodon is a Mary-centric issue that reveals some of Mary’s motivations, but mostly shows us just how connected with nature this character is.  

The issue starts out with Wood educating the reader on the Farallones, a group of islands and sea stacks about 30 miles off the coast of California where Great White Sharks gather to feed on the Gulls and Sea Lions once a year.   As it has in the past, The Massive focuses the greater part of the issue on explaining the impact that The Crash has had on the planet.  We’ve mostly learned about political or geographic impacts, but this is the first time we’ve really had a detailed look on how animal life has been affected.   We learn how the Great Whites have been driven into deeper waters and that some of their more ancient cousins have woken up.   The issue then shifts back to the Kapital where the ship is still reeling from the events of issue 10.  Despite the mass-exodus of crew the boat is still able to operate.  9th Wave’s determination is apparent by the fact that they are still able to continue hunting for The Massive, but morale continues to drop.  Mary takes the lead in this issue finally revealing she knows about Callum’s cancer, and starts recruiting a new captain to continue Cal’s legacy.   Wood also hints at a schism between her and Mag, who has been rather silent since the events of Subcontinental.  Mary and the ship’s pilot take off after yet another “so close, too far” signal ping from their sister ship, and find themselves crashed on the Farallones during the shark migration season. 

This issue is my favorite for several reasons.  First off Wood establishes that while the world is trying to recover from an ecological disaster, humanity is still causing irreparable damage to it, without even trying.   This doesn’t come off as preachy though.  The story makes it clear that just the mere act of being in the water causes ripple effects through sea life.   Mary is very aware of this fact which makes her actions in this issue, and previous ones carry a lot of weight.   On a boat full of environmentalists, she is the one completely aware of how one person can affect the world.   There is also a beautiful moment between her and the Megalodon shark at the end, that challenges a lot of preconceived notions about sharks.  #11 also brings the helmsman Lars further into the center of the story, which I’m not complaining about one bit. Lars has always been one of my favorite supporting characters.  Someone who doesn’t have any upfront complexity to him, but when he springs into action, you know there is more to his story that he lets on.  It also felt great to have that mystery of Callum’s illness lifted.  Not everyone on the Kapital knows, but the fact that Mary and Lars are working to hold 9th Wave together imparts a new surge of hope into their mission.  For new readers, this is an okay issue to jump in with.   While the story centered around the Kapital may lose some of new readers, Mary’s encounter with the Megalodon is the real focus of the book.  This issue is a great way to introduce new readers to this complex character and really establish how dangerous the world has become Post-Crash, aside from human threats that is.    

Taking over pencils this month is Declan Shalvey (Venom, 28 Days Later, Sweeny Todd).  Shalvey’s art is a nice shift from Gary Erskine.  While not as detailed and somber as Gaary Brown’s art, Shalvey really nails the jagged and scarred nature of the Farallones and their shark inhabitants.  His pencils also convey the hopeful and enlightened atmosphere of the story as well.   Mary’s face isn’t as severe, and Lars is given his own identity rather than looking like Callum without glasses and beard.  Then there’s the 2 page spread with Mary and the Megalodon.  I’m only able to describe it as awe-inspiring and humbling.  I doubt any other artist could have pulled off these pages as well as Declan Shelvey did.  Jordie Bellaire returns as colorist, and its a joy to see her work acting as a unifying element between Erskine’s style and Shalvey’s.  The change in art from last month to this was not jarring, and I lay that accomplishment squarely on Bellaire’s shoulders.  My only complaint with the issue is that Mary’s eyes turned into cartoony black dots on one page towards the end.   Considering the amazing facial detail that Shalvey did through out the book this one panel stuck out like a sore thumb.  It did convey Mary’s shock at being surrounded by sharks but broke the mood for only a moment.

It’s not often that I find myself gripping a comic book tightly, and savoring each page, and that’s one reason why Massive #11 found a very special place in my heart and comic collection this month.  When you read the issue through quickly, its just another adventure of the Kapital.  If you read it through again, and take in all the information about sharks, and The Farallones, and look at all the detail in the pencils and colors you find not just a comic book but a fuck-ton of research.  A lot of very detailed research.  I have to applaud the entire creative team this month for a stellar entry to an already fantastic series.   It was the total package.  Major advancement of the plot, a supporting character getting a bigger role, educational facts about sharks, and great artwork.  I’m curious to see how this arc closes out with the next issue, Polaris: “Nunatak”.    

Overall Rating: 5 of 5
New Reader Rating: 4 of 5

 

By Mandy McGee

I launched Extollere into universe (or just here on Tumblr) in February 2012. It has been a great year for us full of wonderful reviews, random articles and interviews. I had the pleasure of bringing on two wonderful writers to help me start this project, Grace Ibrahim and Morgue Anne. I owe them a huge thanks for writing amazing things. Also to the few guest contributors over the past year, THANKYOUTHANKYOU!!! 

I complied the 15 most popular posts for 2012 by the number of views, not likes or comments. I have my favourites but the readers have spoke. 

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15. Pride Celebration with Anime! Our writer Grace Ibrahim loves anime and for Pride month found the gayest anime out there to review for you. Read the full review

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14. The handsome, talented and handsome Steampunk maker, Jake von Slatt makes it on the list. Check out some of the new things he has made and the things he has to say on his site. Read the interview

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13. Seattle erotic and fashion photographer, Gabino Mabablay has been up to amazing things since we last talked to him. Follow his tumblr for the most recent updates on his photo projects. He has had very sexy shoots (as usual) and just as beautiful as ever. I had him show his work at a club I curate art at and he (at no surprise) sold half the show with in the first week of it being up. Read the interview.

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12. The faboulous and beautiful, Andie DeRoux has been up to great things since the interview I did with her. She is still creating amazing art and having art shows. She is still modeling and has now taken to photograph models as well. Watch out for her in 2013. I am sure she has lots of great things in store for us. Read the interview.

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11. Steve Schiltz of the bands Longwave and Hurricane Bells has been traveling a lot over the last year. He sometimes tours with Blue October playing guitar and most recently has joined James Iha on stage. Another great and amazingly talented person to watch out for in 2013. Read the interview.

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10. 2012 was a good year for the band Caravan of Thieves. They had an album come out, which we reviewed, and toured the country. I didn’t have the chance to see them when they came through Seattle, but I hope to see them in 2013. Check out their music video and review in this post

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9. Actress, Brandy Kopp makes it to number 9. She appeared in the movie “Matt’s Chance” (the one I did still photos on) by Nicholas Geyney and will be in his next movie, “Unknown Son”. Read the interview

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8. The eccentric musician, Annie Hardy from Giant Drag, had a tough year and is slowly coming back out of her shell creatively. She tells all (she can) in the interview I had with her. We have stayed in touch and I will be helping her with her new music label, Full Psycho Records. Stay up to date with what goes on in the Full Psycho clan. Follow Full Psycho on twitter. Read the interview here.

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7. Director Nicholas Geyney was great to work with and get to know. I had a blast working on “Matt’s Chance”. I photographed the premiere and I loved the work the crew and cast did. He will be touring with it in 2013 with some of the cast and crew in tow. Look for it in your town as well as “The Unknown Son” when that comes out. Read the interview.

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6. I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Stevens, the creator of Diesel Sweeties and laughed my ass off (a lot). He is great! Read the interview.

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5. The Beautiful and talented model and actress, Kelly Polk makes it to number 5 most popular post. She just finished a short called “Honestly, Honestly” and she traveled around at the end of 2012. She is back in LA and I can’t wait to see what she does in 2013. I full recommend keeping up to date with her projects and buy her modeling pictures on her website. Read the interview.

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4. One of my favourite interviews of 2012 was with Jenna Busch. She is beautiful, talented and a GEEK! Since our interview she has been involved with a bunch of new projects, one including being the Stan Lee’s co-host on his web show “Cocktails with Stan”. I know she will have amazing things happening in 2013. You better keep up with her! Read the interview

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3. I am so pleased that Professor Elemental is one of the most popular posts on Extollere and it is one of my more recent posts. He was a hoot interviewing him. Definitely an entertainer to keep up to date with. Read the interview.

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2. It is no surprise that this article made it to one of the most popular posts of 2012. This was a fantastic post by Morgue Anne. Her letter to Geek men who put down Geek girls is only one of the many out there but it still needs to be read. We all need to speak up about issues such as this or nothing will ever change. I have read and seen tons of videos of responses to the “Fake Geek Girl” buzz. I am glad to have this on my site and be one of the most read. Please pass it around and chat about it. Shit like this needs to be dealt with. Read the article.

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1. I am so happy that the most read/watched post is the video interview Morgue Anne and I did with the ladies of Vaginal Fantasy Book Club. Felicia Day started this online book club with her lovely co-hosts (Veronica Belmont, Kiala Kazbee and Bonnie Burton) in January of 2012 and it has been going strong since. We also learned a lot about technology failing you too. This video is better as audio but still a great interview. These ladies also are responsible for bringing fantasy/sci fi smut into my life. Read the post and watch the video.

Thank you for reading Extollere and I (along with my staff writers and contributors) look forward to bring you more articles, reviews and interviews in 2013!

By Mandy McGee

Morrison’s Prophecy’s album is available for free digital download. Go get it!!! Morrison’s Prophecy is a goth electronic band from Seattle.

By Mandy McGee

I discovered this today and had to share it. 

Lady has bustle!

Director: Katherine Stewart
DP and Editor: Christopher Sheffield
from an idea by Katherine Stewart and Sue Kaff

By Mandy McGee

Professor Elemental isn’t like any other Hip Hop artist I have heard. His flamboyant silliness (what I mean is he is British) and songs with titles like “Fighting Trousers” was enough to buy my affection. I don’t generally listen to Hip Hop but once in a blue moon something catches my attention. Professor Elemental is one of those. While he is not the first Steampunk Hip Hop artist to surface (ie. Doctor Steel), he is the first to put a British spin on it. Sometimes you just need nice, fun music to enjoy. This chap knows how to keep an audience entertained. So make yourself a cup of hot tea, put his latest Wax Cylinder on the Dictaphone and enjoy the interview.

Mandy: For my readers that may not know you, who is Professor Elemental?

The Professor: I am the world’s only Steampunk Hip Hop Emcee. Purveyor of fine teas, monkey butlers and excellent hats.

Mandy: How long have you been doing music?

The Professor: About ten years properly, but I was always writing rhymes and the like.

Mandy: Have you always wanted to be a musician?

The Professor: No, not at all. I never imagined that I could do this sort of thing full time. This has been my first year of doing it for a profession and it has truly been one of the best years of my life. My entire adult life has been spent wishing that I didn’t have to go to work every day and I am finally there.

Mandy: How would you describe your music?

The Professor: Sunny, with occasional heavy outbreaks of bass.

Mandy: Are their any other musicians in your family?

The Professor: Nope. My Dad says he can play the spoons, but I don’t believe him.

Mandy: Is your family supportive of what you do? Have they always been supportive?

The Professor: Gosh yes, they are lovely. My sister was the first person I ever rapped to and she is amazing. One of the best audiences I could ever ask for. Likewise, I love having my Mum or Dad at my shows.

Mandy: What music influences you?

The Professor: A mix of the silly and the incredibly heavy-American underground hip hop, old Stax records, electro swing, the bizarre world of Steampunk music in it’s many forms & all of Brighton Hip Hop.

Mandy: How did you get into Steampunk?

The Professor: It was a complete accident. After ‘cup of brown joy’ came out I found myself inundated with friendly Americans telling me that I was Steampunk. Eventually I sought it out and found that it was like the long lost tribe that I had always been looking for.

Mandy: What bands have you been listening to lately?

The Professor: Viv Stanshall, Pete Rock, Torae, The Muppets, Dizraeli and the small gods, Sound assembly, DJ Premier, Rufus Thomas, Killer Mike, Longusto, Dr Syntax, Aphex Twin, Burial and the list goes on and on forever.

Mandy: Who inspires you (in life and musically)?

The Professor: I am lucky enough to be in a town where I am constantly surrounded by excellent, innovative music. Plus Brighton is a very eccentric place, so there is always nice people to have tea with and adventure to be had. Those around me are massively influential. So many of my friends do excellent music or direct films or write super poems, it’s nice to soak up some of their creative inspiration too.

Outside of that, I tend to be very influenced by comedians over musicians. Listening to a lot of Daniel Kitson and Stewart Lee lately has had a big impact on where I’d like to take the Professor stage show. Likewise, poets like Rachel Rose Reid and A F Harrold do very bold things with words, that I’d like to try my hand at one day.

Mandy: What equipment do you use or like the best?

The Professor: Oh that’s not really my department. My music might as well be recorded by a magic box powered by wishes, for all I know about the tech side. My lack of attention at that side of things is one of my many failings.

Mandy: Do you remember the first tape you bought? What was it of?

The Professor: Oh yes, it was ‘hip hop and rapping in the house’ a compilation of great rap songs and awful awful late 80s house music. Still, it was mine and I loved it.

Mandy: What are your fondest childhood memories (in your house in your neighborhood or town)?

The Professor: I was lucky enough to have had an excellent childhood (all suburban and cozy). I guess some of the times I was happiest was when I was working on the comic that I used to sell at my primary school. It was a super hero epic called ‘Marzipan Man’ and it sold for 2 pence. I think I made it to issue 50 before I got bored and moved on.

Mandy: How do you write and record your songs? Is there a method from start to finish or does everything happen organically?

The Professor: Not really. Tom sends me some beats and I then see which inspires me, usually with a nice silly idea. I do like redrafting though. I tend to rewrite a song at least four times before it’s done. Writing without worrying that it’s not perfect first time around make the process much more fun.

Mandy: What has been your favourite band to tour with?

The Professor: I haven’t ever toured with another band. Just me, on my lonesome, at a service station in kent eating a Gingsters meat slice. Bets bands I have gigged with though at BB Black dog, The Men who will not be blamed for nothing, king porter stomp and Sound Assembly. They are all super lovely.

Mandy: Who haven’t you played with that you really want play with?

The Professor: Might sound a bit odd, but I don’t know really. Maybe some Hip Hop acts for a change. Homeboy Sandman would be cool.

Mandy: What are your plans with your music in the future?

The Professor: I want to keep my fan-base happy basically. They are nice, and as long as I can look after them and make music they like; then we can keep hanging out and having adventures together. There are plans for world domination too, if I get time.

Mandy: When you are not playing music what are you doing?

The Professor: Terrible, terrible things to my body and mind.

Mandy: Do you have any hidden talents?

The Professor: Oh goodness me yes. Lots.

Mandy: If you had a superpower what would it be?

The Professor: I would definitely stretch, like Plastic man. He is by far the best super hero ever, plus he is pretty lame and not well liked by other super heroes, which makes me like him even more. I don’t really want to think about that in terms of what that might mean for my psyche.

Mandy: Are their any other projects you are involved with?

The Professor: Yus indeed. I have completed three honest to goodness actual hip hop albums which will be released in 2013. They are with The Menagerie, Mr Simmonds and Rob Crespo; all of which I am looking forward to sharing with the world. Plus there is the comic, the web series (The Chronicles Of Professor Elemental) and some very secret projects which I will be announcing soon. Hurrah!

Mandy: What advice do you have for other aspiring musicians?

The Professor: I like Malcom Gladwell’s theory that you need to do something for 10,000 hours to get good at it. That’s great advice, just do it lots and lots and lots. Also, get good at administration. None of the other rappers ever told me that being a full time emcee requires at least 85% of your time to be spent on admin rather than driving a massive Cadillac and wearing teeth made of platinum. Doing what you’d like to do for your living is excellent, but my goodness you need to put in a lot of hours.

Pop along to www.professorelemental.com and he’ll make you a nice cup of tea.

Check out more of Professor Elemental on the following sites:

Bandcamp

Twitter

Facebook

Check out his new single/video, ‘I’m British’.

(Photo credits for most of the photos are unknown except the comic book cover which is by Mike Hawthorne)

By Morgue Anne

This year, I made a decision to only give handmade gifts. A week before Christmas, while I was frantically assembling pillows at my sewing machine, I realized this was a ridiculous expectation and expanded my gift criteria to include non-handmade items purchased from independently owned retailers. This is my adventure in buying local.

imageAaron J Shay

Aaron J Shay is a local musician who plays big songs on a tiny instrument, and was kind enough to perform at a show I put together once a month at VERY short notice. Not only did he impress me by being able to put together a 30 minute set with about 4 hours heads up, he included in that set a cover of my favorite Pulp/William Shatner song. I wasn’t the only person impressed, though. A friend of mine came to the show and was so excited about the music he heard that he bought a CD on the spot. The next day, I realized what a perfect Christmas gift more of his music would make. I contacted Aaron through his facebook and explained the situation, and once again I was in awe of Aaron’s grasp on his art - not only did he remember my friend when I described him, he knew which album he had purchased! We arranged a time for me to swing by his house so I could pick up the right CD as well as a collection of short stories he had written. I was able to get a heartfelt gift for a friend, I was able to put cash into someone’s hand so they could purchase something for their own loved ones. I also made a push for Aaron to record his cover of “Common People”. You’re welcome.

You can also find out more about Aaron here

(Above drawing is by Meredith Scheff-King)

imageFuchsia Phoenix Hair Design

Chivahn of Fuchsia Phoenix cut my hair for me a while back and I was genuinely sad when I had to wash it because of how perfectly she had curled my hair. Given that my Mom has the same un-tamable mane that I do, when I saw a post on facebook saying Fuchsia Phoenix was open for a few hours the day before Christmas I jumped on the opportunity to swing by and buy her a gift certificate. The salon itself is in an ActivSpace, but Chivahn has transformed her space into a girlish wonderland with pink-on-pink circus stripes and some truly amazing artwork framed on the walls. Not only does she work wonders on hair, Chivahn can’t keep her creativity calm and creates a wide assortment of jewelry from Ouiji hairpieces to cameos you would never expect. My favorite was a Rainbow Dash rosary necklace with a lightning bolt pendant. Fuchsia Phoenix may outwardly seem like the sparkly princess palace to end all pretty pink parties, but men are welcome and skulls sit comfortably alongside the little ponies, so no matter where you fall on the freaky spectrum you’ll feel at home.

The Salon’s website and Facebook.

image

Le Noir Bazaar

Tacoma is not a place I travel to frequently. Gas is expensive, and there’s a playful snobbery about Seattlites and our smelly Southern sister. The last minute Christmas shipping panic took hold of me the day before Le Noir Bazaar (Formally A Little Touch of Magick) held their “Victorian Christmas” in-store event. This meant that they were open late enough for me to swing by after work AND they were having some awesome sales. I’d been meaning to visit the shop for well over a year now, so I laced up my winter corset and drove the thirty minutes down to see if the buy two, get one jewelry selection had anything my Aunt would enjoy. Spoiler Alert - it did! The shop itself was smaller than I had expected, but before I even stepped through the door I knew I was in for a treat. Le Noir Bazaar holds a surprising collection of locally crafted jewelry, accessories, and even cosmetics. My Mother loved the hand crafted soap I put in her stocking, and the sale meant I got a hair piece for myself with 0 guilt. After several compliments from gentlemen about how good I smelled, there is no question about me returning to figure out which scent I sampled and buy as much of it as I can afford. The owner was energetic and kind, the shop girls were immaculately dressed and attentive without being annoying. I was genuinely surprised at how much variety I was able to find. Le Noir Bazaar isn’t just a go-to for “Goth Stuff”, they’re an irreplaceable treasure of a store, and will be seeing me in the future.

Visit their Facebook or main website for more info and online catalog. 

(Picture above is Extollere’s own Morgue Anne shopping at Le Noir Bazaar. Photo by Dan McCormack)

Otherworlds

Otherworlds is another small shop that packs an impressive punch, although since it is in Edmonds it is a lot closer to my usual haunts. Despite being decked out in all the Steampunk Finery that only true dedication to the style can produce, they are not exclusive to the genre and offer a haven for all things geeky. On my next visit I will spend far more time drooling over their bookshelves for my own selfish reasons, but they are a book store the way Le Noir Bazaar is a clothing store - that is to say, they use it as a starting point then do what they want, and I fucking love them for it. On top of a disgustingly impressive library of books available for purchase (I was sick to my stomach by my inability to truly book nerd out), they also have an awe-inspiring assortment of knick-knacks, still more jewelry, and card and board games. If you find yourself overwhelmed by fantasticalness, fear not! You can purchase soft drinks at the counter and have a seat at the large wooden tables to collect yourself and maybe play a round or two of cards. They have events almost every night of the week, including a monthly Steampunk book club as well as dancing on Mondays and gaming nights on Fridays. This means that as well as a really bad ass pair of leather gloves, my boyfriend also received a whole new set of options for date nights.

To find out more info go to their official website or Facebook.

(Above photo by Bill Hinsee)

Written by Mandy McGee

There are a lot of spectacular conventions every year. This year has been good to me in conventions with a few exceptions because I didn’t have the funds to fly all over the country. I have gone to Steamcon only twice before and I am not particularly into Steampunk but I do love watching what people come up with for costumes (and there are some astonishingly creative costumes). This year I am going because I have some great gigs lined up which I will discuss later this month. I cannot give away all my secrets!!!

If you are into Steampunk then this is a great convention for you. They have been running for 4 years now and each year they have expand and add new things and events to the line up. If you live in Seattle or can get out to Seattle then you should attend. It will run October 26th to the 28th.

Some of the guests attending are Rasputina, novelist Kim Newman, and Joe Benitez (artist of many comic books including Lady Mechanika). There are many talented vendors and artists displaying their work and amazing events to attend. The League of S.T.E.A.M is going to be showing off their crazy carnival sideshow and Nathaniel Johnstone (formerly of Abney Park) will be playing with Rasputina for Music Of The Night Concert.

Check out the website for more information and a full schedule of events. 

Written by Mandy McGee

Sepiachord was created by Jordan Bodewell and is supported by numerous other writers, researchers, photographers, etc. This website is dedicated to music that fits the description of Steampunk. Jordan says the website is “dedicated to exploring music that takes pre-modern elements folding them with contemporary sensibilities to create a sort of “side-step” to pop culture.” 

Mandy: What is it the format of Sepiachord?
Jordan of Sepiachord: We do standard music magazine things like reviews, interviews, photo essays, videos and the like. Spiritually we’re closer to a punk zine than to Rolling Stone (though we’ve been called “The Rolling Stone of Steampunk”) because we’re really just enthusiasts: fans of music who love talking about it, exploring it and getting others excited about it.

Mandy: How did Sepiachord get started?
Jordan of Sepiachord:
I’ve been talking people’s ears off about the ideas behind Sepiachord since at least 2001 when my friend Matthew Simmons and I were discussing the concepts of punk rock, retrofuturism and Victorian music. At the time the word “steampunk” was only being used by a small cadre of fans and aficionados. We batted around the idea of bands sampling telegraphs and calliopes or working elements of Gilbert & Sullivan into some kind of sea-shanty hip-hop. We were both already fans of Tom Waits and Nick Cave and around the same time another friend of mine, Greg Dare, was working with Seattle’s Circus Contraption. Greg introduced me to the Tiger Lillies and soon I was intrigued by the sonic connections between all of these artists and performers like Voltaire and The Doors. I seemed to being seeing a “genre that wasn’t there”. Right around this time Jennifer (co-founder of Sepiachord.com) introduced me to Rasputina and it felt as if I was really on to something.

I was doing a lot of DJing at the time and my sets became less about punk, rockabilly and country music and more about well…. “sepiachord”.

It would just take a few more years and a LOT more discussion before we decided to do a website. We finally went live in 2006.

Mandy: Why steampunk music? And what is steampunk music?
Jordan of Sepiachord:
One of the biggest discussions we had was whether or not to call what we were talking about “steampunk music”. My roots are in the American hardcore punk scene so, as funny as it may sound, I take the word “punk” pretty seriously. I felt that if we included the word punk (even if coupled with steam) folks would be expecting some vein of aggressive rock & roll, since we didn’t want to confuse people I came up with sepiachord.

I’ve been interviewed a lot and the “why steampunk music” comes up every time, and that’s just a focused phrasing of “why steampunk”? I think we live in a contemporary culture where we’re swimming in a sea of idea, images and artifacts. Many of which go way, way back. To me it seems inevitable that some folks would be drawn to a culture that welds seemingly disparate ideas together into something that both celebrates and gives a nod-and-wink to absurd technology. Technology is both amazing and a bit dehumanizing, so why not take it back and make it fun? We’re fascinated by machines, but we don’t want them to run us.

Musically I think we’re in a mix-and-match culture. And I don’t think it’s anything new. At the heart of “pop” music is the idea of taking various sounds and styles and giving them a spark of newness. I remember hearing a quote from Neil Young back in the 80s about how rock music is a beautiful mongrel, it’s better because it’s not pure. Look at hip-hop, it’s based on the idea of taking sounds and rebuilding *re-imagining* them. But again, that’s the nature of pop music. In the 60s bands like the Doors, the Kinks and the Beatles were mining music-hall, vaudeville and cabaret for inspiration.

"Mack the Knife" is a great example, it’s become a schmaltzy American standard but it’s really a murder ballad from a German Epic Theatre piece from 1928!

Taking things apart and putting them back together is at the heart of Western culture, it seems inevitable I was drawn here.

I suppose the fact that I literally grew up in a country & western bar and was weened on polka music didn’t hurt either.

Here’s my working definition of steampunk music: Just as steampunk in general takes pre-modern elements and re-imagines them into something beautiful and strange so does steampunk music.

Mandy: What are some of the artists you talk about on your website?
Jordan of Sepiachord:
Early on I was afraid that we were going to have to talk about the same 10 artists until the end of time, then I realized how many wonderful artist were out there… I could list hundreds of artists, and I actually hate doing this because I’m bound to leave someone out, but here goes:

Tom Waits
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys
Dresden Dolls
Birdeatsbaby
Abney Park
Pinataland
Beats Antique
Circus Contraption
Nick Cave
Toy-Box Trio
Neko Case
Vernian Process
Tiger Lillies
Eli August
Rasputina
The Bad Things
Unwoman
Vagabond Opera
Ghoultown
The Doors
Zoe Boekbinder
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing
Bakelite 78
Jefferson Deathstar
The Pogues
Nouvelle Vague
The Peculiar Pretzelmen
Curtis Eller
HUMANWINE
16 Horsepower
Hellblinki
Harlequin Jones
Eliza Rickman
Jill Tracy
Ramshackle Glory
Unextraordinary Gentlemen
and about a gazillion others…

(If I missed mentioning you in this list you are free to lambast me publicly for the oversight)

Mandy: Do you have a musical background?
Jordan of Sepiachord:
Well I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of musical performers, written for punk zines, dived off my first stage 1984, lectured on the history of punk, ska and rockabilly, booked dozens of shows, DJ’d since 1988 (both in clubs and on radio), and was an embarrassment to my high school band (sorry Mr De Fries)… but, no, I don’t have a lick of musical talent and can’t carry a tune to save my life.

Mandy: What conventions do you go to?
Jordan of Sepiachord:
Any one that will have me! Cost is always a factor so we really can’t travel as much as we like. I’ve had the pleasure of coordinating the live music at Steamcon since its inception, and I must admit that I still love it. I try to attend as may of the local events as possible, including the Steampunk Exhibition Ball. I’ve travelled to the inaugural World’s Fair in NJ and visited the fine folks of the Chrononaut Club down in San Diego during Comicon. Last year we made it out to the first ever Gearcon in Portland OR. And I always try to stop down at Norwescon.

Mandy: Do you like conventions?
Jordan of Sepiachord:
I’ve been told I have a knack for enjoying myself no matter what I’m doing. But, yes I like conventions by and large. It’s a blast to meet new people and (hopefully) check out new music. I’m *really* tall so traveling is always a joy for me, but I do love to be new places.

Mandy: What are your plans for Sepiachord in 2012?
Jordan of Sepiachord:
We’ve released a new thumb-drive of music, and we’re already well into the heart of getting all the music together for this year’s Victorian Monsters themed Steamcon. The major project is a redesign and rebuild of ALL of our websites:
Sepiachord.com

VictorianAdventureEnthusiast.com

SicThings.com

Stay tuned!

Mandy: If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
Jordan of Sepiachord:
Ha! I’m known for asking interviewees the question “What would you do if you were invisible for a day?”*, so I guess I should say “Be invisible… for a day.” I play lots of Role Playing Games and for some reason I’m drawn to characters who can either walk through stuff or fun incredibly fast…I just wish I could sing. That way I wouldn’t ruin great songs by amazing bands when I try to sing along.

*Which I stole from my old buddy Rev Norb and his zine Sick Teen, and he
stole it from another punk zine sometime around the beginning of time…

Written by Mandy McGee

Doug Campbell is the creator and eye behind Aetherial Images. He has a knack for capturing the most beautiful moments him and his subject share. That is what he is all about. We are alike in our craft because we like to pull pure emotion and personality out of the model even if they are acting a part for the camera. There is still a bit of raw energy behind it. Working closely with the people we photograph is something of value to us. You don’t always have that chance so I say grab that moment when you can. Doug usually shoots on a green screen so he can use the concepts in his mind and his graphic design training to his advantage. His images are heavy in the Steampunk genre, a little industrial and dark and sometimes very sensual.

Doug Campbell 

Mandy: For our readers that don’t know you, who is Doug Campbell of Aetherial Images?
Doug: I was born in Seattle, stayed in Seattle, truly local. I fine-tuned a communication background that consisted of print, and radio as well as visual into a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design. I spent several years in tech support and when my job was outsourced I changed fields. I’ve always been a communicator, I read body language and expression…I’m a bit psychic sometimes. I can read a person as well and sometimes it creeps them out when they ask me what I think, and I ask, “Are you sure you’d like to know?”

Mandy: How long have you been doing photography and how did you get started?
Doug: I started in High School in the 80’s watching monster movies with my dad. He would explain how they were made. So I did some experimentation in film with models. The camera and I parted ways for almost 20 years, but I picked up where I left off. This time I used the the new tools I had at my disposal. I am self taught in film and digital photography.

Mandy: Have you always wanted to do photography?
Doug: I like taking pictures and always have, but the photography is taking off in exciting ways I hadn’t anticipated. I’ve found that people come to me to celebrate something. It’s why they’re paying for my approach. They tell me in the days and weeks up to the shoot what they’re celebrating and we talk about what got them there…at the end of some collaboration, we’ve got beautiful pictures!

Mandy: Why do you choose the type of photography you do to focus on?
Doug: I ultimately need it all to create my PhotoArt. I take pictures of weather disturbances, nature, urban and rural decay. Those that get it, have donated their photos for my use because I’m not always able to travel due to health issues. I found a niche’ and I’m wedging myself as tightly as I can into it. I find joy uninhibited in my family photography. Children play with an abandonment that several years of psycho-babble about “their behavior” tones them down for adulthood. Work is work, but when that email or call comes that someone wants me to photograph them…that’s gold. I do compassion shoots, as well. It’s sad to see a pet go, sadder still when you decide it’s time to assist in the journey. Those are the shoots that bring the other end of the scale. It’s a dark trick indeed.

Mandy: What is most important to you, technique or vision?
Doug: It’s a toss up. A photographer’s greatest trick is to convince the subject the camera doesn’t exist. Everyone in the room knows it’s there of course, but it’s more of a conceptual thing until the shutters drop. Hunter Thompson explained it best, that there can never be such a thing as “reality TV” because just the act of bringing a camera into a situation distorts the reality of the situation. So if it’s all contrived, why not CONTRIVE? I tell people to reserve their spot, plan a half day playing in their costumes, and we’ll laugh, have fun and take some pictures.

Mandy: What equipment and software do you make use of in your work flow?
Doug: I have my own hardware and photoshop suite. I purchased the software was when I turned pro. I took my craft out of the hobby stage when I invested in myself. I use Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver and Flash. I do full-on graphic design and have enough RAM where I can run a few side-by side. I design a vector and drag it into the photo on the fly while heavy dark trance is pounding in the room as I work. I suppose it boils down to USB cables. If it wasn’t for them I’d be sunk. They connect me to my Terrorbytes of external maelstroms, and bring the raw elements of the Gods into the maelstrom from my camera. I build my own computers (and have for others) to do the work I do.

Mandy: What photographers inspire you?
Doug: Ansel Adams, his landscapes are excellently composed and worked with to provide near perfect retinal response…I feel like I could be lost in the Nevadas with an Ansel Adams book and navigate my way out using his photo references of the landscape.

Mandy: Tell me about a great memory about something you created.
Doug: I like images that cause a struggle in the spectator. They are drawn in, they spend the time questioning themselves, but something grabs them. Sensuality for some, horror for others, textures for still more. At a huanted house, I once photographed a beautiful woman pulling a skull out of a cadaver. Downlit, hitting her tophat, and this skull dangling from a meat hook. The bottom of the frame was the bridge of the nose and cheekbones so if you looked, you got the point of view of the top of the head facing you of her straddling this corpse, pulling a head out looking EXACTLY like Slash, from Guns And Roses. She and I both know we were at a haunted house, with lots of other people, and that the cadaver was rubber, but the finished product is VERY charged. It was set in an Art Nouveau style. It is in sepia and it screams 1925 or so, but it’s 2012. It’s not politically correct “horror” of our time and it’s not bloody either. YOU are filling it in, you’re adding the ick

Mandy: What inspires your photography style?
Doug: The people that come in front of the lens. I spend some time sizing up the situation, making setting adjustments I require, and go.

Mandy: If you could work for any publication what would it be?
Doug: Probably for sentimental reasons, Rolling Stone.

Mandy: What advice do you have for individuals interested in pursuing a career in photography?
Doug: Find something that hasn’t been done before or well, focus your energy on that one small point and go. EXCEL at it! If it’s nature, nudes, or autopsy photos, be the best at it. Immerse and be part of the work. You can’t photograph something that doesn’t touch you emotionally in some way.

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Written by Mandy McGee

Jake von Slatt is an IT professional living in Massachusetts with his wife and two girls, who has a passion for hacking mechanics and turning them from an ordinary object to an extraordinary work of art with Steampunk flair. I first met him almost 3 years ago through mutual friends via the internet and then in person at Seattle’s first SteamCon. He is a hardworking, kind-hearted, brilliant, DIY artist. I could spew out a bunch more adjectives to describe how awesome this guy really is but I think I will let my interview with him speak for itself.

(Click on the pictures to view the build of that object)

Mandy: For our readers who are not familiar with you, who is Jake von Slatt?
Jake: That is an interesting question! Initially Hieronymus von Slatt was my D&D character in high school, a Chaotic Good/Gnome/Thief. A kind of a trickster character. In the late 90’s I started my first blog and I was surprised to find that my real name was way more common that I thought! Plus several of the folks out there that shared my name were also creatives doing various kinds of art. A quick AltaVista search confirmed that “von Slatt” was a unique string on the net so I resurrected my old D&D character for this new purpose. I adopted “Jake” as a “nickname” because “Hieronymus” just seemed too fussy for daily use. The “Jake” is a homage to two characters; Jake Cutter of the TV show Tales of the Brass Monkey and Jake McGraw the interstellar truck driver protagonist in my all-time favorite novel Starrigger by John DeChancie.

"Jake" was never very different from me, but he’s always been a little bit out ahead, and in the direction I myself wanted to go. I’ve followed him on many fun adventures!

Mandy: What is it that you do?
Jake: I make stuff and I show people the things I make and tell them how I did it. This in-and-of-itself gives me pleasure. But it turns out that doing this inspires other folks to make things, and they send me pictures of what they make and tell me that my work was their inspiration. I didn’t really expect that when I started and certainly didn’t understand how much greater a pleasure it would be!

Mandy: How long have you been doing engineering Steampunk contraptions?
Jake: All my life. But I didn’t start calling them that until late 2006 when I started http://SteampunkWorshop.com

Mandy: Why and how did you get into Steampunk?
Jake: I was always into it as a genre of Science Fiction, and I mean the original dystopian Steampunk not the modern airships and corset stuff which is actually a throw-back to the 19th century penny dreadful.

Mandy: What are your favourite projects that you have done?
Jake: I’d have to say either the Wimshurst machine article I wrote for Make:Magazine because of the great numbers of people who have built their own, or the Victorian RV which is a project I continue to enjoy with friends and family whenever I take it to a con or on vacation.

Mandy: What project has been the easiest to create? The hardest?
Jake: The little etched and copper plated Altoids tins were the easiest. I love simple projects like that! The CNC milling machine I resurrected was one of the hardest. Simply moving the 5000lb thing from the machine shop that sold it to me to my own shop was a big challenge. I also learned a whole lot during the conversion process and the education continues as I learn how to write G-Code to program and operate it.

Mandy: Do you find any project too challenging and scrap it or keep going?
Jake: Occasionally, but I am getting really good at conducting feasibility experiments so I don’t put a tremendous amount of energy into something that cannot work. Recently I had the idea to create some etched brass backs for the iPhone 4. Rather that dive in I made a prototype with no art on it—and discoverer that a pretty brass back on your iPhone sacrifices two bars of signal! It was a failure but has lead me to a new technique which I will be publishing a step-by-step article on very soon.

Mandy: Do you just remake things or do you create from scratch too?
Jake: It’s usually a blend of the two. Found objects very often suggest the direction to go, but to get there you need to make pieces from whole-cloth to bridge the gaps.

Mandy: Any new projects you are working on?
Jake: Faux-daguerreotype iPhone back panels—post should be up in a week or two!

Mandy: What do you do with your work once it is done? Do you display them somewhere, sell them, do custom work for people etc?
Jake: Some of each. I’ll show them at cons and sometimes I’ll give them away. I am hoping to make a small business of the custom iPhone back panels; for as long as the iPhone has a back panel!

Mandy: What or who inspires you? your work?
Jake: I think I am most inspired by people who are making a living doing art. That is an incredibly hard thing to do in a world that values consumerism over being a patron. My work, on the other hand, is inspired by history, fantasy, and what I happen to find in the trash that week.

Mandy: What do you do outside of the mastery work of Jake Von Slatt?
Jake: I’m an IT manager for a small aerospace firm. It is all very dull except for the occasional seminar on blowing up asteroids with nuclear weapons.

Mandy: What book(s) have you read lately? Suggest any for our readers.
Jake: Beyond Power by Marilyn French is a comprehensive history of patriarchy and a proposal for how to begin to dismantle it. It’s had a huge influence on me and has helped shape my personal philosophy. Here are some representative quotes:

"The only true revolution against patriarchy is one which removes the idea of power from it’s central position, and replaces it with the idea of pleasure."

"The starting place is within the self, in an investigation of our needs and desires, a reconsideration of what gives us pleasure, what make living seem desirable; and of our pursuit of power or control. The goal, as I have suggested, is not to eschew domination, aggression, or conflict, but to find ways to thread such drives through our lives so that they produce pleasure rather than misery, disconnection and the ill will of others. The goal is not the impossible but the possible, for the end is not transcendence but felicity."

For more recreational reading; I am a fan of Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon Series and Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford series. Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha’s Sex at Dawn was a fascinating book, and Dean Koontz audiobooks are always good for scaring the piss out of myself when working late nights in the workshop!

Mandy: Do you plan on appearing at any conventions this year?
Jake: I will very likely come out to Seattle for SteamCon IV. It’s a bit early to tell, but how could I miss The Nathaniel Johnstone Band AND Rasputina!

Mandy: If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
Jake: Immortality. For the obvious reasons; I want to see how it all turns out. Barring that, teleportation so I can visit far away friends whenever I want. And steal stuff from locked vaults.

Mandy: What advice can you give to those who want to hack, mix or make?
Jake: Take stuff from the trash and take it apart. It doesn’t matter what, VCRs, microwaves, dead auto parts. Just take it apart and by doing so you’ll learn how things go together, then you’ll start seeing the new ways they can go together. Break it until you make it.

You can follow Jake on twitter

or go to Steampunk workshop online

All images are courtesy of Jake von Slatt. Don’t forget to click on the images for the full build article.

Written by Mandy McGee

Gabino Mabalay is a Seattle (born and raised) based photographer. He is a friend and an artist I greatly admire. He has a great eye and really gets his models to open up and work it. Gabino has a great work ethic and process when it comes to his shoots and he is very determined to get a great finishing product. He has an, ever growing, inspiring and varied portfolio of work with strands of experimental concepts, fashion and nudes. He works with digital as well as film and has recently started doing more alternative processes. I have him showing at one of my events this month in Seattle and I am more than pleased with what he has come up with for the show (digital transfers on wood canvas with rabbit glue). If you are in the Seattle area you should check it out.

Self Portrait

Mandy: How long have you been doing photography and how did you get started?
Gabino: I have been doing photography since junior year in high school. I was also given a little camera back when I was in grade school but really didn’t take off with it till then.

Mandy: How did you learn photography school or self taught?
Gabino: During high school I took classes both there and at a non-profit teen program. I went on to go to Cornish College of the Arts where I got my BFA.

Mandy: Have you always wanted to do photography?
Gabino:
I guess I had an appetite for it back when I was young and it sort of just spiraled out from there.

Scanned Polaroid

Mandy: Why do you choose fashion photography to focus on?
Gabino: Fashion photography is a great way to make connections and to work with some very talented people. After doing a few shoots here and there I was hooked.

Mandy: What else do you enjoy to photograph?
Gabino: I love night photography and I really do miss going out at very late hours capturing surreal scenes with long exposures.

Mandy: What is most important to you, technique or vision?
Gabino: At times I can be very technical, while others I care more about the final image and less how it took to get there. My personal philosophy about photography is that when you focus too much on the technical aspects of getting the “perfect” image, you miss it entirely.

Mandy: What equipment and software do you make use of in your work flow?
Gabino: Of course the most economic route right now is to shoot digital and I have my fair share of both Nikon and Canon digital. For film I have Polaroid kit cameras, Holgas, and an old Hasselblad to name a few. On the computer side I love Lightroom. I can get about 80-90 percent of the work done on there and for the final finishing touches I can jump into Photoshop.

Mandy: What have you learned lately in photography?
Gabino: Lately I have been working on alternative printing. I’m also considering learning how to make Wet Plates, but the chemicals associated with that stuff scares me. Ha, but you only live once right?

What he is working on now and what is currently hanging for my event.

Mandy: What photographers inspire you?
Gabino: Some of the photographers that I have been following lately would be J Caldwell, Burroughs, Mark Velasquez, Amy Fries, and Corwin Prescott

Mandy: What inspires your photography style?
Gabino: Good question, honestly I don’t really have a straight answer for you. I browse tumblr a lot lately and I see all this amazing imagery on there. I also work with some stellar people who help focus and develop my artwork.

Scanned Polaroid

Mandy: If you could work for any publication what would it be?
Gabino: This is one of the most difficult questions to answer. The industry as I see it has had some major shifts in the past decade.There is not too many huge print organizations that I would really consider. There are of course Vogue, Vanity Fair and Elle to name a few… but not the US versions.

Mandy: If you could have any super power what would it be?
Gabino: I am a fan of Iron Man… but that’s not really a power. It’s a toss up between flight and Ludicrous Speed.

Mandy: What advice do you have for individuals interested in pursuing a career in photography?
Gabino: I think the best advice that I can give someone is to get out there and start working on your craft. Do what you can to learn from those that are willing to teach you. It doesn’t matter if you take classes or tutor under someone. Just have fun, get messy, and make mistakes.

Mandy: Where can people find out more about you, your work and how to buy images?
Gabino: Find me on my tumblr, flickr and follow me on twitter. Almost all my images are for sale. Email me for info and prices.

All images are owned by Gabino Mabalay

Written by Grace Ibrahim

Caravan of Thieves is a four piece steam-punk ensemble. Their sound is something akin to Abney Park meets the Beatles which doesn’t come out quite the way you would imagine. Fuzz and Carrie Sangiovanni started Caravan of Thieves as a husband and wife duo. In 2008 they added violinist Ben Dean and shortly after were joined by double bass player Brian Anderson. Their third release, The Funhouse, came out earlier this year. They wrote it amidst touring in the spring of 2011. The Funhouse has fifteen tracks, the two I liked best were number seven “Candy” and number nine “haunt me” which made me want to run through a park with a ray gun shooting butterflies. The Idea behind Caravan of Thieves was their desire to make music in a free form bohemian style. Music that could be presented anywhere allowing them to shirk off the fetters of “traditional” life such as unnecessary responsibility and structure. I think their music presents that very well. Most of the album meanders with out much of a feeling of purpose behind it, telling stories and prose as it goes along to a destination only the band has in mind. I recommend you listen to it and see where it takes you.

Check out their official site

Buy MP3s of The Funhouse

Interviewed and Written by Morgue Anne

Delightfully Deviant is the loving clothing creation of a Seattle-area couple. I had the opportunity to meet Pandora and do a fashion shoot with her, and was blown away by the quality of her work as well as the impeccable Victorian-Gothic style.



Morgue Anne for Extollere. How did you get into clothing design?
Delightfully Deviant: High School. I used to put Jolly Rancher suckers into my hair and made dollars into hair fans and drilled holes in quarters and hung them in my hair. I liked things that were odd and slightly off. Things that would make people stop and say, “What is that person doing”. I made a whole outfit out of safety pins once in 11th grade and was sent home. I would cut intricate designs into my shirts and skirts. I couldn’t be too creative because I was kinda closeted (christian) as a child.

MA: What did you want to be when you were younger? 
DD:I wanted to be a botanist 
because I like plants. I don’t like dirt. It has poop and worms in it and I hate worms…but mostly the poop. I wanted to be a teacher, but hated kids. My first major was English. I graduated high school as highest in English but couldn’t pass English in college. So I moved on. Then I went for mortician because I meet a guy in the OC Goth meetup. He was a Mormon and Goth. He had a hearse and I loved it. I kinda fell in love with hearse before I “became” Goth.

MA: How do you feel being a Military wife has impacted your seamstress career? 
DD: Being a military wife has enabled me to work at home without having to get a nine to five. I was able to also network with other wives to get photography, accounting and other things. Out here on the navy base island we all stand together to get things done.

MA: What project are you most proud of?
DD: I am most proud of an outfit ordered for new years by North County Portraits. They were doing a photo shoot in a dungeon. I stressed and stayed away for three days in a row and mailed it out overnight. It made it on time and its now my profile photo. I loved his work, the model and tell everyone about him.

Photo by North Country Portraits

MA: Tell me a little about your goals. Why did you set 200 in first year, etc?
DD: In 2008 I bought my website, actually my husband Ricky bought it for me. I came home crying after getting kicked out of a bellydance troupe because the person who ran it said I wasn’t dedicated enough. The main lady had taught me how to make dread falls so when I came home crying my husband said why don’t I just make my own company. Ricky came up with the name of the company and its history from there. I started making clothing for friends and random Goths in San Diego in 2008 but it really got kicked off here in Oak Harbor when I worked at the casino. When I left the casino I didn’t want to go job-hunting anymore so I started my esty site. My first sale was on March 5, 2011. After looking at how many sales everyone else had made I figured with a no name or a un-known name on the market I figured 200 was a reachable goal, in some degree.

MA: Is this your full time job? Are you able to support yourself with Delightfully Deviant yet?
DD: I tried to get a second job in the beginning because we went from being “Dinks” (Double Income No Kids) to one income to support us both. My husband told me not to. He wanted me to sit down and sew and get the website and business off the ground so he could get out of the navy. Without the support of my husband I would have been unable to get this done.

MA: What style do you identify the most with? Goth, punk, cyberpunk, steampunk, etc. DD: Personally I wear Neo Victorian Goth but the styles that I work with and the styles that my creations touch is Victorian, Goth, rockabilly, steam punk, pretty much every alternative life form.

Photo by James Waechter

MA: Where do you draw your inspiration for new clothes from?
DD: Mostly my designs just “come to me”. I am most influenced by the work of Laura Jones at Retroscope fashions and have in the past year become a HUGE fan of her work. I was in Seattle and I had heard about this shop on Queen Ann. I picked up a book I had heard about and started reading it. It was full of patterns and ideas from the 1800 and that’s what started me in the direction of historical reproductions but I am still a long way from being able to reproduce one exactly. Most of the time when I want to make something I draw a picture of what I want and my husband makes it come alive on paper. I give him the inches and sizing and he makes the pattern.

MA: What is your “Signature Item”? What sells the most?
DD: Cyber Goth headbands and mask are my signature item. I have the best price and quality and I have become the go to person for this, especially in Italy. 75% of my cybermasks and headbands have gone to Italy.

Photo by Marie Winton


You can find Delightfully Deviant’s work at 
http://www.etsy.com/shop/delightfullydeviant