This piece is one of them I am working on right now, I am in process of more than one, something I am trying not to do. In my Steampunk game, there are item cards you can find, some are useful in-game, others are simply treasure. This one, could go either way frankly, but will probably have a limited use. The drawing is not quite done, but I am uncertain what direction I want to go to finish it. I remember seeing my friend’s grandmother wear a wrist piece for sewing that had several things on it. I have seen other ideas like that, some actually were used and some are expansions for the Steampunk theme. Which is this? I am not sure, but it also has a bit of armor to it being a hard leather gauntlet.
There are a couple of details I need to correct or smooth on the piece, but the foundation is there and it is mostly complete. I drew quite a bit of it sitting outside for lunch – pleasant but bad lighting for computer use.
Recently, on NPR, I heard a news program regarding a change in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) program nationwide that is developing. Specifically they are adding Arts…thus creating STEAM programs. This struck me as not only interesting but a very good idea, as well as very appropriate to my blog.
The process began in middle school and elementary schools with teachers in math and arts getting together to create joint curriculum. The reasons for this were sound then and have expanded and developed as the program gains momentum and is implemented more widely. Initially it seems to have started because artistic students, often well suited and very good in these fields never develop an interest or learn the basic skills necessary because the traditional teaching methodology simply does not work for them. From personal experience I can agree with this statement. I have taken quite a bit of math, engineering, and technology related classes at levels from elementary through college programs and done well in them. However, it was in spite of the set program and systems that I did well, not because of it. I felt many times that it was a constant battle to communicate with professors and other students and to get them to see I understood what they were teaching but I understood because my mind applied it the ideas and projects in my head not based on the pointless rote lessons I had moved beyond instantly because they were useless and slow. I had to explain in detail, every aspect of the engineering and proof of every architectural idea I put into projects that other students breezed through because they used the standard rote cookie cutter design that was both a waste of time and bad design. I learned a lot, far beyond the level of the class in question, but that was not the project. I worked significantly harder at each project to get a decent grade and I proved I not only understood the material but understood the process, the reasons, the calculations, the applications, the implications, and how it connected to other work. So why could I not just draw the simple box? Why did my grade not reflect my understanding? I cannot draw the simple box because I do not think like that, the waste of time and resources flew into everything I think and feel. The base design was wasteful, destructive, already designed, and showed no understanding of the material, just an ability to spit out what someone else said. I saw this in business, economics, physics, engineering, algebra, finance, calculus, and many other classes. I inherently understood the practical uses and connections to fields from art to bio-genetics, from English to manufacturing; however, the memorization of a list of formula was beyond absurd. Not only would it never happen, it wasn’t necessary in any practical sense.
What does this have to do with the STEM to STEAM developments? These are the very ideas and processes that are impacting these changes. Students that could be brilliant in these fields will have that chance. Students with creative minds will not learn they hate math but rather that math is part of their art. Looking into the future we see changes in every aspect of life, work, education, economy, and society. What does this mean for the future of careers? Critical thinking is something that develops with creativity, obviously not the only development, but an important one. The ability to adapt, integrate ideas, see possibility, develop ideas, and reach new pathways is already growing rapidly in importance in the job market. This development will only increase as changes occur more rapidly and in more aspects of life impacting every aspect of a career. One thing to consider is how much more quickly a small societal or other change can now impact the economy, and thus jobs at every level. As an example let’s look at another news story heard this week: they have developed a new genetically modified apple called the Arctic Apple that does not brown when cut. People are commenting to the FDA that they do not want it approved but the FDA has found no danger and will probably take the recommendation of the food service and food production industry and approve it. In some cities people will immediately change buying habits in regards to apples as they have other foods. Other areas will complain but do little. Food service will begin looking for availability to this type of apple and wanting less of others to save cost and processing. This means shippers, growers, pickers, fertilizer companies, those that supply fertilizer ingredients, processing plants, small towns supported by these businesses, and more will quickly be impacted. Construction may move to a new area, restaurants in one area will lose business or supply and another will increase, surplus supply will need new distribution channels, and people in all these impacted businesses are now impacted by one simple approval stamp. This particular one is slower than many because trees have to grow and that takes time, but many of these things can happen overnight. Weather can even change the total economy, as it is now because of the late crops in the south using the propane right before major freezes causes a shortage in many areas. I could detail a long line of impacted businesses and people from this. But this emphasizes the need for flexibility, adaptability, creative ideas for development, ability to move into temporary markets, ability to connect disparate and widely different ideas into a whole picture in the developing job market.
STEAM already has a government board examining it to alter the funding for STEM programs and many universities are implementing it already. Princeton is combining dance into this line…I need to look at how, I just can’t picture it. I will cover some of these ideas more in other blogs. I think this one has given enough to think about for one sitting.
Today’s Picture was drawn from an image at DressRepublic.com
The pattern is a little different, but recognizable. I love Sari, I was going to make my wedding dress out of the material but went with leather instead. Some of my roommates in Hawaii had beautiful Sari and we would get dressed up in them and I would go to temple with them sometimes for dinner and to watch the dancing. I loved it, they are gorgeous, comfortable, flattering, and incredible materials. I have collected some images from the correct period Sari and want to include them in my Steampunk game. Besides, they are great practice in how material moves and hangs with the types of materials used and the draping.
Working with my Wacom today I found myself doing a whole new style of art. For one thing, I have to learn portraits and people if I am going to do the art for the game. As such, I did several stages of a test male in a Victorian suit and cravat. I have an art style in mind that is somewhere between a slightly cartoonized old photograph and an old sketch. It requires either being able to draw all the right tones in sepia or drawing it all in color and making it sepia, so far I prefer the result of the second. I am beginning to remember more of the material recreation drawing I learned in college taking design. In the Interior design portion of my program we had a couple of classes that required exact recreations of a variety of design and construction materials using colored pencils. The Wacom is a perfect medium for a quicker version of this method. It is a good skill for this project although it can be very time consuming and I am out of practice. I am uncertain what my final art style will be, as I work, I find I like the images in color for the people. I may combine art styles and use different ones in different parts of the game if they blend together. I have been drawing in Photoshop. I tried GIMP but it doesn’t work right with my Wacom and I am not yet clear how to fix the problem. These are drawn only except for the one I made a sepia version of.
Today we return to Steampunk in the kitchen. I try to keep a copy of all my books on my computer and more and more purchase and get books in that format to use on the phone, tablet, laptop, and wherever I need them. I have been reorganizing thousands of books and categorizing them into easy to find folders. This involves a lot of reading (something which slows the process immensely as I stop to read and get engrossed, as I am now, in a topic).
Molecular gastronomy is a topic that I have been unsure of based on little actual knowledge for some time. Turns out I have quite a bit of information on the topic. The late 17th and 18th century saw the first accessible research in this field and was when the term shows up apparently. Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Physiology of Taste (1825) is one source of information from the period. To quote Albert Sonnenfeld in Molecular Gastronomy (This, 2002/ 2006 p. Preface): “The science of food, which Brillat-Savarin called gastronomy, was initiated earlier by chemists in the Age of Enlightenment, the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and belongs to the history of science. The kitchen was a laboratory like any other for famous doctor and pioneering chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. In Germany, Justus von Liebig, working in the Age of Positivism, applied meat extracts to the soups that still bear his name. The test tubes were pots and pans.”
First, some definitions of Gastronomy (from Debevoises intro):
Brillat-Savarin called himself “le professeur.” Defining gastronomy as the intelligent knowledge of whatever concerns nourishment, the gourmet professor initiates his readers into a veritable eighteenth-century encyclopedia of natural history, physics, chemistry, cookery, business, and political economy.
Hervé This, our new millennium initiator, is more rigorously focused: Molecular gastronomy deals with culinary transformations and the sensory phenomena associated with eating. As a guide he achieves exemplary clarity for the nonscientist reader, and he is consistently entertaining.
Brillat-Savarin’s classic definition of gastronomy in the Physiology of Taste (1825)… (My formatting):
Gastronomy is the intelligent knowledge of whatever concerns man’s nourishment. Its purpose is to watch over his conservation by suggesting the best possible sustenance for him. It arrives at this goal by directing, according to certain principles, all men who hunt, supply, or prepare whatever can be made into food… .
Gastronomy is a part of:
Natural history, by its classification of alimentary substances;
Physics, because of the examination of the composition and quality of these substances;
Chemistry, by the various analyses and catalyses to which it subjects them;
Cookery, because of the art of adapting dishes and making them pleasant to the taste;
Business, by the seeking out of methods of buying as cheaply as possible what is needed, and of selling most advantageously what can be produced for sale;
Finally, political economy, because of the sources of revenue which gastronomy creates and the means of exchange which it establishes between nations.
All of this eliminates many of the faddish groups and chefs from the gastronomy roles but gives a new understanding of some other chef and bartender works. Living in Las Vegas I was not far from the well known Steampunk lounge there and saw a great deal of the concoctions and interests of the owner that changed my interest in the different terms and their application (we are not looking at the drink related field here). In his analysis of the difference between science and technology he arrives at the first difference in cooking and gastronomy being purpose: gastronomy is for knowledge, cooking is production of goods. Another difference is that gastronomy is science, chemistry and analysis. Cooking is technology, including experimentation, observation, and knowledge but not the same at all. His examples of the connections in the 17 and 1800s between scientific advancement and study of food are worth reading.
Some of the results and studies from that period have to be updated based on new technology and understanding but the foundation is solidly in that period. One must wonder was it science or necessity that brought about the development of many types of foods and uses of many ingredients that would be strange to eat if not commonly recognized as good food. Cookbooks are interesting but serve a gastronomist only in showing methods, ingredients, and apparent affects.
An analysis of them can show regional developments and indirectly reveal the reason varies processes are used and how they developed historically. This can direct you in your experimentation and study and can be fascinating information itself. As an example from my own reading, look at China: Only recently are ovens in use anywhere but the town baker if they had one, thus all the things we would bake are there pan steamed, fried, or cooked in some other method. This changes ingredients, ratios, results, and taste preferences that develop. By the same token if you look in a very cold mountainous region the ingredients are things that grow cold, can be stored, or are very seasonal. Compared to tropical regions where recipes tend to use readily available, fresh ingredients with less concern for storage. We know now that Brillat-Savarin was wrong in his analysis of the process of heat on the water in meat (it expands not compresses), however, his work is important to the fields of cooking and gastronomy. Advancement and understanding do not come without experimentation and study. If you begin research (as many do) knowing your goal and your fact you are proving – then it is not science, it is not research. The difference in that time was that most of these people were seeking understanding and knowledge – they were experimenting to find the fact or understand the apparent result. For us Steampunk followers, knowledge is the beauty; you study to see what happens not to duplicate someone else’s work. We want to know what happens and why. Understanding the history and uses helps this, so cooking and cookbooks are tools in gastronomy as are all the methods of science and lab work.
This, Hervé. 2002/ 2006.Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor. [ed.] Albert Sonnenfeld. [trans.] M. B. Debevoise. New York : Columbia University Press, 2002/ 2006. excerpts from The Physiology of Taste by Jean Brillat-Savarin, translated by M. F. K. Fisher, copyright 1949 by the George Macy Companies,. isbn 0 -231-13312-x.
The following page struck me as although interesting and gastronomic directed, very much a result of the fad seen today:
Beakers, Few groups could be as inspired by beakers as the Steampunk crowd, but my mind is currently overflowing with images and ideas inspired by a brief one line and single picture mention in an old Metropolitan Home magazine (March 2007, pg 142). The company that made the hand etched Pyrex beakers with floral designs, rising bubble designs and spiral patterns is out of business, but the image stuck. Following this, I found a blog reference to using Pyrex lab equipment in the kitchen with an explanation of the material differences between American kitchen Pyrex and lab Pyrex (http://www.thekitchn.com/why-dont-we-use-lab-beakers-more-in-the-kitchen-189036). I was sold! Not only is it practical and cool, but she is right, it is safe. This continued the thought of the etched Pyrex, obviously you can safely etch the equipment, the measurements and markings are often etched. So we know the strength is not at risk if the etching is done carefully and sparingly. In reality you would only want spare designs anyway but it adds that touch of beauty and elegance seen in the Victorian period to a classical lab tool still in wide use. Yes, the Pyrex is newer (Corning first introduced it in 1915). However, the safety added by using new equipment is worth the update in this case, especially since it is only a few years. You see lab equipment used as vases and decorative pieces frequently
but I liked the idea of having decorated lab equipment in the lab and kitchen (we know from previous posts I find bring the lab into the kitchen an interesting idea to consider). Beauty, elegance, simplicity, practicality, whimsy, and history brought into our lives – what could be better?
“Working with materials science professor Joanna Aizenberg, Noorduin discovered that altering the acidity or alkalinity of a solution could cause crystal blossoms to grow outward into a bell shape, or to make them curl inward. Combining these kinds of techniques, they could create tendrils, the nested layers of petals in a rose, and the delicate cup of a tulip—which Noorduin felt especially obligated to grow, because he is Dutch. He was able to grow even more complex structures, such as a stem, a leaf, and a flower, all contained in a vase.
Juan Manuel Garcia-Ruiz, a research professor at CSIC-University of Granada in Spain, demonstrated a decade ago that crystals could grow in unexpected curves and spirals. For years, he said, no one had believed that the crystal forms he grew, which so closely resembled living forms, were really crystals—assuming instead that there was just biological contamination.
He said the new paper brings a finer level of control to the process, showing how it is possible to modify the shapes.
Researchers not involved in the work appreciated its beauty and the effort to find ways to control the mineralization process. But when asked why these studies showing how to manipulate matter at the smallest scale were so pleasing to look at, they all had a slightly different take.
Hendrik Dietz of the Laboratory for Biomolecular Nanotechnology at Technische Universität München in Germany, wrote in an e-mail that the choice to build something beautiful is only possible once it’s possible to control matter at the small scale. Thus, the intricate sculpture-like flowers are a way to judge the scientists’ level of control.
“Beautiful (or funny) things such as DNA smiley faces etc should therefore not be taken easily as child’s play,” Dietz wrote. “There is serious science … that has enabled the authors to pull these things off.””
One of the things I studies in college was Interior Design. I have been considering a couple interior design projects in Steampunk. Today has been very long so I am going to share a few of the ideas I have looked at this week in that area. Many of these are images I got from Secret Garden on Facebook, others from gaming sites. I did not take these photos and did nothing to them, they are property of other artists, I am sharing them as part of developing a foundation for a Steampunk design. Much of it would obviously need to be custom, but then I wanted to consider multiple price ranges and skill levels. I would want to have readily purchasable options, custom options, build-able options, ways to alter accessible or current items, and ways to use different types of spaces. This is obviously not a one day project, but would be a good series.
A fantasy, fairy-tail bedroom gone metallic and a bit of Steampunk Victorian. I know I have gone less with the gears and mechanical aspect of steampunk this week, but this is an exploration project to learn, develop, and create. Not as pleased with the bed as some other things.
Writing, art, Business, and practice, any medium is fair game.