But where can I buy all the pretty???

Visit Vagabond Romantics shop now to browse and buy altered art, wearable collage, and lovingly curated craft materials unearthed from the farthest reaches of granny's attic.

Monday 31 August 2015

Steampunk Weekend in Photos (sort of)

 One of the drawbacks to running a stall at an event is that you often don't get to see much of the event. So these are by no means an exhaustive representation of the First Annual Llandrindod Wells Steampunk Weekend, merely a small sampling of a few of the glorious characters who passed through the craft tent and made my day a bit brighter in spite of the Welsh showers.

Michael and Marie Powell, the Vice-Chair and Administrator (respectively) of the festival.
The parrot  was nameless and it's unclear whether it was attending in an official capacity
Kolonel Mustard, one of many dashing dandies who attended the festival. One of the great joys of the event was seeing so many well-groomed and dapper gentlemen. Because let's face it, a woman who wants to look fabulous is spoilt for choice, but balancing sartorial elegance and individual eccentricities is a much trickier affair for men. 
I didn't catch the names of these women, but I simply had to
capture their hats on film, and we did have a lovely wee chat too!

Again, don't have a name for this striking couple but aren't they gorgeous? The gent reminded me a bit of Nathan Fillion but I didn't dare say it lest his glamourous lady friend mistake an innocent comment for a pass and take offence.

I initially addressed this formidable lady as "Your Majesty" only to be corrected. It turns out this particular Bert and Vicky (although indeed re-enactors) weren't attending in an official capacity. I rather cheekily pulled out my camera and snapped away as we talked (and very engaging conversationalists they were, too) so apologies if they don't like this image, but I think it is all the more wonderful for capturing "Albert" mid-sentence and HRH looking on in apparent disapproval. 

And last but not least, the wandering minstrels (or should that be Wandering Minstrels?! Again, I never caught a name!) who intermittently appeared to entertain us with Victorian ditties. If only they had asked me to give up the day job and go on tour with them, I'd have spent the next few years as a groupie, following them in whatever the steampunk equivalent of a VW microbus is... a steam engine? Perhaps a hot air balloon. With plenty of champagne.

Sunday 30 August 2015

On Steampunk

Disclaimer: I make no claims as to actually living the steampunk lifestyle myself, I am merely an interested observer and admirer of the aesthetic. The thoughts expressed here are merely my own ramblings and should absolutely not be taken as being in any way authoritative on the subject!

Now that that's out of the way....

I attended the my first steampunk event yesterday and just had to write and share some of my thoughts, along with a selection of images of some of the best dressed folk to be seen in Wales this weekend.

When I first began creating altered art, a common comment I heard was "That's very steampunk" - though that was never my aim. Twenty years spent living with a software developer has made me a kind of geek-by-proxy, but I don't do sci-fi,  and I'm reluctant to adopt the aesthetic of a movement that I don't consider myself to be a part of. For me, it was more about creating work that counterbalanced the decidedly feminine glamour of my Burlesque Period.

In preparation for the event this weekend and for the first time, I've been actively aiming to create Steampunk work. But what does "steampunk" really mean?

For me - and judging by the costumes on show yesterday, this seems to be a fair observation - there are a few items that immediately flag something up as steampunk:
1. Gears
2. Goggles
3. Clocks
and of course, the colour brown. And also grey. Corsets pretty much de rigueur for the ladies, extravagant facial hair for the gents and hats all around. But when the term was first coined in the late 80s, it referred to a genre of fiction that incorporates a sort of future reality as the Victorians might have imagined it.

So how does that translate to art? It can be a little tricky - there are only so many gears one can incorporate before it starts feeling like a cheap attempt to co-opt someone else's subculture to make a quick buck. But I found that in some ways, it really didn't matter what found or created objects I used in my own work, because everything ended up looking great with the judicious use of paint effects to mimic an oily, aged industrial look. My favourite piece incorporates a mixture of mainly scrap wood and waste materials, found objects and moulded clay to create a fantastical panel which one woman likened to the drawings of Heath Robinson. It was much admired, and very gratifying to hear surly adolescent boys exclaim "That's so cool!" and grown men linger over it - a refreshing change for my work to transcend the gender divide!

I wanted to make sure I fully appreciated the origins, aesthetic and scope steampunk before opting in to an event, so tried to do my homework responsibly, and judging by the public reaction to my work, I guess I did okay. It's kind of difficult to pin down a complete culture which has evolved from a niche literary genre, but in the end I found that's also because steampunk has grown to be such an all-encompassing and inclusive movement that it really transcends any simple definitions. And that is a very modern thing indeed.

Saturday 22 August 2015

Festivals ahoy!

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, but here at Vagabond Romantics I have never been busier! It seems festival season is upon us. It's a far cry from our home of the past 20 years in Edinburgh, but this rural area seems to average a festival every fortnight or so!

Very excited to be running a stall at two intriguing upcoming events. This Friday and Saturday I will be in the picturesque spa town of Llandrindod Wells for their annual Victorian Festival and first ever Steampunk Weekend. I can't wait to don my glad rags and take in the atmosphere - and hopefully sell a few of these goodies as well!
The very next weekend I'll be a bit closer to home at the Small is Beautiful Festival at Machynlleth's own iconic Centre for Alternative Technology, showcasing my upcycled work in the name of Zero Carbon Britain. And of course proving once again that green can be glamorous. I'm looking forward to meeting some fantastic people dedicated to real change, and hoping to sneak off long enough to see one of my favourite performers, Josie Long (enthusiastic recipient of a custom-made Vagabond Romantics necklace - yes, I'm a fangirl).

If you're in the area or looking for a good weekend out, check out these events - and do pop by and say hello! I am much faster at making than I am at admin, so there's always far more work to see IRL than online....