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Tag: steampunk

With regrettable haste1 ROSEA left the suare of the Duke and Duchess of Kent in order to investigate the objects Captain Adventure and the Cerulean had manage to bring down using the Centurian Eagle’s starboard arsenal. Part of this haste was due to the strange metal spheres’ downward trajectory, Professor von Explaino having theorised their landing in an unfortunately populated area outside Kent’s main entertainment district. Given the likely-hood of other guests from the Kentish political soirée would have made the sojourn to the gambling establishment earlier in the evening — immediately after the strange lights and ominous sounds from the heavens (followed by the rain of metal fire) had made the ballroom less than convivial — there was no time to be lost.

A scant seven minutes later and the Captain had his crew lashing the dirigible to its mouring buoy and slid down the ladder to join the rest of ROSEA towards the earilly silent craters that all but a few stoic or toniced individuals were giving a wide bearth.  Baron von Borg was the first to make out the spherical object in the center of the nearest crater and taking the Cerulean and Christoph headed around one side with Lady Alex, the Captain and the Professor moving around the other.  Having seized the opportunity for five minutes of laboratory fabrication, the Professor put the final fabrications on his Humeroscope – a device created to detect the presence of humers and thus the signs of life in any object.  With the Captain keeping an up close watch the Professor and Lady Alex surveyed the first sphere.

<Alex> It’s a threat to her majesty – no! – the commonwealth itself, a new weapon wielded uncompromisingly in a time of peace!

<von Explaino> Metals, strange ones.  But this device is likely detecting earthworms underneath the device, given these tiny readings

<Adventure> Not large then.

<von Explaino> No, noth-! Spike!  How the …

<Baron> It’s still warm.

Humer scanning the sphere

Humer scanning the sphere

Physical examination

Physical examination

The first trio looked up to see the Baron, the Cerulean and Christoph had started their own investigation of a more tactile nature. The Professor looked at the Baron who gave a grin over the sphere. Before he could administer a scathing — and amusement provoking — retort, a scream cut through to their very marrow with volume and pitch. The Cerulean was already running, followed closely by Adventure, and the others quickly kept pace.

  1. The canapes were excellent, but Lady Alex had noted a number of particularly well known individuals were at the more lucid ends of their cups and she promised not to forgive herself for missing the opportunity until she had counted reportable coupe on all of them.

It occurred to me that I was doing this demonstration a bit backwards, showing the individual components of the laboratory without showing the laboratory as a whole. To make up for that, here’s a few shots of the ‘completed’ laboratory before I dive back into showing the laboratory sections in detail.

North west section of lab

North west section of lab

IMG_0164

North east section of lab

South east section of lab

South east section of lab

There cannot be a laboratory without a workbench for the Professor to plan his science. Placing this desk in the corner means there’s two walls to work with as well as blocking off a lot of the desk making it easier to fit in with the rest of the laboratory.

Equipment

  • Desk: The desk is a desk I’ve had for about 12 years, one of the quick-fabricate-it-yourselfs; like IKEA but with less Alen keys and more particle-board.  Really doesn’t fit the era.  So, the drawers section has been removed and all the visible white panels have had pine wood cut to cover, stained red mahogony.  Darkens the entire desk and actually makes it fit in with the era moderately well.
  • Shelf: The shelf was an IKEA find, a metal shelf without anyone to claim it.  Mounted on three electrical pole insulators it definitely looks shelfy.  Plus it provides a conductive surface across the board (to be explained shortly).
  • Cabinet: Originally, my neighbour helped me build a cabinet to the exact size to fit into the alcove next to the desk.  I bought a bunch of wood, he cut it to size on his massive sawbench, I stained the wood red mahogony, Scott and I put a red velvet sheet on the backboard and we glued and screwed the whole thing together.  It looked fantastic.  The only problem is that the brickwork is so uneven that in a couple of places the unit didn’t fit, even though it was perfectly sized top, middle and bottom.  Curses.  Still, turned on its side it work fabulously as a display area on the desk itself.  The velvet background is inset a bit from the actual back of the board, so in the future there will be powered ‘thingies’ that will be mounted.  The current mounts include a lot of the samples that were formerly in the Wunderkammer, mounted using Bunnings tool-mounting devicery.
  • Books: From the library at work, when they were throwing out some of the outdated collection, I snaffled a bunch of Chemistry books – including a German->English chemistry translation.  Opened books make the place look used.  As long as I remember to dust them.  The leatherbound book from Italy looks good there too.
  • SCIENCE THINGS: Over the years, I’ve collected sciency looking things – from the weird letter holder (with two test tubes, I assume for flowers?), to some brass forceps from Industrie, to a replica 1400s syringe from Austria.  This is the perfect place for displays
  • Light: As the area was dark and there were no overhead lights in that part of the lab, I added a touch lamp.  Surprise, the touch lamp responds to any touch along the entire metal shelf.  $20AUD, awesome.
  • Mist: One of the vodka shotglass containers, plus a mister from a pet store donated by Nel (thanks!) results in misty science occupying one side of the desk
  • Plasma ball: Always wanted one of these growing up, now I have an excuse!
The left side of the Professor's desk

The left side of the Professor's desk

The right side of the Professor's desk

The right side of the Professor's desk

Various samples collected by the Professor's friends

Various samples collected by the Professor's friends

The mister's light is a nice touch, it really mists well when left running for a while

The mister's light is a nice touch, it really mists well when left running for a while

The plasma ball is a must for any laboratory

The plasma ball is a must for any laboratory

The wunderkammer translates from German into cabinet of curiosity. From Wikipedia:

Cabinets of curiosities (also known as Wunderkammer, Cabinets of Wonder, or wonder-rooms) were encyclopedic collections of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were, in Renaissance Europe, yet to be defined. Modern terminology would categorize the objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings) and antiquities.

Naturally, if I’m going to have a laboratory, I’m going to need a few display cases of curios and science.

The first requirement was getting a good, sturdy cabinet that had glass windows around most edges to get the look down. IKEA, great option for Steampunkers, didn’t have anything that matched my requirements. Neither did any of the normal stores I frequented to find furniture. After dinner one night, not thinking anything steampunk, Jos took me to a Samsara store in Milton. They specialize in islandy sorts of furniture, but to my surprise they had a fantastic cabinet available. Angular, with a solid back, solid shelves, and window panels on three of the four sides. Tall enough to be imposing, but with large shelves that ‘stuff’ can collect on. Nice.

The top shelf is a bit high for some people so that one is devoted to glassware storage, with the more interesting glasses I own stacked around the sides. This includes the two Vodka shot-glass bowls I purchased from Freedom – they look like test tubes in a bowl.

The second shelf is a good height for science, I received a birthday gift a while ago which had science-in-a-box. The box was filled with wood shavings and bottles/ jars that had been converted into pseudo-science. Little toys in odd-colored fluid, as well as painted rocks in jars labeled “upsidaisium”, “innertron” (filled with black dust), “faerie dustrose” (glitter). They’re laid out so you have to walk around the cabinet to see everything.

The third shelf is my favorite. A friend gifted me a plastic skull (minus the top of its head) from a magazine they bought. The jaw was mobile, but the dirty great hole where the skull-cap should be was an issue. Or was it? A fish bowl was just the right size for the skull to fit in, so now I have a skull in a bowl. Not that thrilling. From Bunnings I bought some water crystals — these crystals start off like rock salt but they absorb water like the dickens, and swell to a larger size. Filling the bowl with those results in a very murky view of the bottom of the skull, and the top of the bowl is covered with what looks like ice. Very moody. But not enough; going to JayCar netted me some computer-insert UV fluorescent tubes. Those were hidden inside the door so you couldn’t see them when the door was shut, a hole was drilled in the back of the cabinet, and some glow-in-the-dark cables were blutacked to the bottom of the above shelf and a tiny brain was put into the skull under the ice. Now we’re talking science.

The bottom shelf is currently storage for some cases/ prototype devices, but there is a plan to make a destroyed Lilliput village there along with a mechanical spider hiding in under the above shelf surrounded by steel-web covered tiny creatures. And a sign saying “Send More”.

The Wunderkammer

The Wunderkammer

Scientific samples

Scientific samples

Skull+bowl+crystal+UV cable

Skull+bowl+crystal+UV cable

So, in the new house we’ve established there’s a large, concrete floored room with three walls (2 sides brick, one side fibrous cement) and panelled ceiling under the house. What’s the first thing that should be done in such an area?

Fill it with stuff, naturally.

Yes, I started doing the laboratory almost completely backwards, getting very excited and buying lots of steam-punk looking items and furniture. When I brought some friends over they were quite impressed with the space, but then asked what I was going to do about the floor, walls and ceiling. Whoops. Thankfully I wasn’t too ridiculous — time to rethink the plans. Obviously step one had to be tackling the basic structure of the room to make it look more Victorian era. Time to hit the internet and design books.

Resources

  • Hardware stores (1): Floor. Lots of it, and it was concrete. Enthusiastic I may be, but carpet is expensive and — in an area that was until recently susceptible to flood waters — not practical. Especially for a laboratory look. Timber flooring them is out due to expense. So we went the logical step, seal the concrete to prevent overly dust and leave it like that. Rugs were acquired later to lend a bit of a warmth to the area.
  • Hardware stores (2): They have the paint, and they have the books. Rummaging through books enough and we found colour swatches specifically targeting the Victorian era. Funnily enough, they mentioned colours that were actually for sale at the shop we were at! How’s that for convenience with a complete lack of ulterior motivation? Three colours were selected, cottage cream, some sort of green, and an indian red.
  • Hardware stores (3): Given that most of the room was brick, I was looking at a fair amount of trouble turning those into paintable walls. Or so I thought; first experiment – grab some MDF, paint them white, paint them the wall colours and liquid nail them to the brickwork. Surprise surprise, it actually works really well.
  • The Internet: There was some verification about the colours, but then there was looking into ratios and scientific principles, there needed to be method in my paint. The Indian red was for the ceiling, so I had green and yellow for the walls. The split between the two colours was quickly determined to be the golden ratio. Very science, and very appealing for splitting. Looks good.
  • Good friends: Dame Virago and Baron Cyrus von Borg (Amy and Scott) were above-and-beyond helpful with painting the MDF, affixing the MDF, sealing the floors, painting the roof. Much gratitude towards them

NOW that the area is completed, we can start looking into the furniture and accoutrements. You will note in the right picture part of the ceiling that’s exposed beams?  Yeah, a few months into living in the house that part of the ceiling collapsed.  We fixed that up in the emergency pressure stage of building (covered in a later entry).

First coat of red ceiling paint

First coat of red ceiling paint

Second coat on the ceiling, looks a richer red

Second coat on the ceiling, looks a richer red

I’m a child of the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Inspirations for the Prof are drawn from the media that was prevalent at the time, yes we had inspiration before the wide-spread installation of cable modems.

Science shows

From the Curiosity show through to “Why is it so?” when an egg gets pulled into a milk bottle (from Cadbury ads rather than the original), I loved watching the science shows growing up.  I can still recall snippets of the shows, the presenters and the voices, and the little catch phrases.  I don’t know how much of the shows’ messages sunk in versus how much was just watched over in the glory of enjoying science on TV.  While they didn’t have the budget of Mythbusters, nor the international penetration, they still shared Science. This also helped my dad find presents for me, solar kits and other hands-on buildy stuff were always good gifts.  I kept the solar powered ‘stuff’ kit for ages, and I didn’t even have someone cut the speakers into tiny pieces from making the light-sensitive-noise-squarker too often.

Doctor Emmett Brown, Back to the Future

Yes, I’m one of those kids in high school who mimed looking at a watch and their wrist while saying “Damn, damn!”  Even though he had enough money to buy a DeLorean and make a time-machine, he’s definitely SteamPulp over SteamPunk.  To break it down:

Hair: Completely manic, white, barely managable.

Outfits: Fashion victim of the worst kind, EXCEPT when he was dressed in wild-west finery.  Victorian era… coincidence?  I think not.

Science: Flux capacitor.  1.21 Gigawatts.  Nuclear powered time machine using plutonium stolen from Libyans.  “You disintegrated Einstien!” Plus, look at all the pretties over his SteamTrain Time Machine.  Not a rust mark in sight.

Outlook: A generally optimistic viewpoint, a bit of comic releif dusted through everything he did, a fun naivety and he gets the girl in the end.

When my wife and I were going house hunting, I had a simple requirement for any house we were looking at.  There had to be a room that could be come my ‘laboratory’.  Or, rather, the laboratory of Professor von Explaino.  We looked at a number of houses that had spare rooms where I could have a combined study/ laboratory but we eventually found one place that was great.  It was a raised 1960’s house.  Fibro on the top, but bricked in underneath.  One side held the garage and laundry, the other had a bathroom but a large, concrete floored area that was below legal height so couldn’t be classified as a room.  Brick walls, concrete floor, exposed beam ceiling.  Enough room that we could split it between my wife and myself so we both have some areas to indulge our hobbies.

We’ve been in the house just over five years now, and the laboratory has had work performed on it in a very sparodic basis.  With the continual help of very close — and similarly mad — friends, it’s getting closer to being a true, fake laboratory.  Laboratory-tagged posts in this journal will be looking at the unfortunately very gradual transformation of this area from unused space to the laboratory demanded by Professor von Explaino.

The unused under-house that would be the laboratory

The unused under-house that would be the laboratory

Eastern wall of the proto-laboratory, plus minion

Eastern wall of the proto-laboratory, plus minion