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My family went to the California State Fair on August 31st. Mightily disspointed that the Sky Coaster had been replaced by a bungee jump.

However, there were some very Steampunky items on display at the fair.

 

The was the “Garr Scott”, a true steam-run tractor. It ran a large belt down to a columbine or thresher. It put out a mighty horn blast as steam poured out of the stack. It startled me a number of times. I’m not sure if there is much traffic out in a field that would neccessitate having such a powerful horn.  But there is a more than decent chance I’m ignorant of what kinds of audible communication might be handy while plowing or planting.

 

 

 There were a number of sculptures that had a very Steampunk look to them. The best of those I’ll save for last. Some of these are more steampunk than others.

There was a bizarre sculpture that doesn’t really fit into any catagory. A winged lady with knives for wings…

The gear turns her around and rings a bell. Her name is Lilly Rose.

There were the automotive bulldogs…

“Junkyard Dawgs”

 

There was a beautiful sculpture of a dragon done in stainless steel and copper. It was selling for $26,000. Done by William Mang, entitled Zanthony Chinese Dragon. It large and beautiful and has a surprising secret. Taken without a flash, the dragon is stunning. Take a photo with a flash and the copper in the wings gives the impression of the wings actually being on-fire.

 

And lastly, the most steampunk item I saw at the California State Fair was this humongous sculpture. Done by Dave Lane, he says about his sculpture:

“Grandpa Mosley” is the companion of last year’s “Grandma Planet”. This culture, which builds and moves planets, encountered space dwelling creatures, and built a place for them to meet and talk about things. Nobody can tell what they actually look like, so they’re depicted here (in the cylinder) as characters from alphabets. I used to work with a guy, Willie Mosely, who reminded me of my own Grandpa, also named Willie. They were both pranksters. Lately, I’ve been thinking of Jonah. The name Mosely goes to Mosul, across the river from ancient Nineveh. This piece uses parts from a variety of sources, can you find them?… A basketball backstop, old wagon frame, casters from caterpillar forklife, a stevdore (hand truck), spray rig wheels, I-beams, harrows, J.D. drive sproket, logging tongs.

I have many more photos of this last sculpture which I will happily upload later this week when I have more time to edit them to a file size more blog/internet friendly. They are currently big enough to wallpaper my house with.

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Let me say to begin with…   I am a firm believer that you cannot just smack a gear on something and call it Steampunk. The most beautiful Steampunk mods I’ve seen combine asthetics with function. A gear turns something, it makes something else move that makes something else do something. If you are going to use a gear in a steampunk item, hopefully it is useful, or at the very least, makes something move. There is, thankfully, more to steampunk than just gears and old watch parts!

If you already know what steampunk is, you can skip this next paragraph.

What is Steampunk? Good question… Look here: http://steampunkworkshop.com/ and here: http://thesteampunkhome.blogspot.com/ , try here: http://www.datamancer.net/, and of course, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk

It’s a genre I’ve been following for a while. Until this point I’ve been too scared to attempt anything serious myself. Well, I’ve done jumped in the Time Machine and turned the key. I’ve taken apart something relatively expensive and I will post pictures of its progress soon.

In the meantime, some Steampunk treasure hunting tips!

When I first learned that such a genre existed and saw pictures of the wonderful mods of Jake Von Slatt and Datamancer, among others… I was very excited. How thrilling! To me, like jumping off a cliff! How could they RISK something as expensive as a computer, laptop, LCD screen, an entire piece of furniture!? Well, perhaps they have more money than I do. Or perhaps just more guts. I looked up “Steampunk” on Ebay and saw maybe one page of a few random things. That was a year or more ago, and steadily the market for Steampunk is increasing. There are hundreds of items listed on Ebay now. Folks are catching on and getting creative. Which in turn mean things like Cogs and Gears are becoming harder to find. The secondhand (haha) market for used watch parts is quite brisk.

So where do you look for a good deal? Well, some folks on Ebay have realized that if you attach the word Steampunk to their auction of junk (junk can be good), they have a decent chance of getting you to pay a lot more for it. Since they know you want it and you don’t know where else to get it.

Basic Search Tip: Using quotation marks around a phrase makes the search engine look for the exact phrase inside the quotation marks. “ooga booga baby” will only return results that say Ooga booga baby. If the sentence read, I want to ooga and booga my baby. it wouldn’t show up in that search. Use quotations marks to look for SPECIFIC things. You can include words outside of quotation marks to look for something very specific along with some other thing that may not be included in an exact phrase. For instance, “purple vintage clocks” will only return a purple vintage clock (if there is such a thing). But “vintage clock” purple might return a vintage clock that has a manufacturers sticker on the bottom with purple ink.

You can further narrow your results by including a price range on the left hand side of the screen. That helps exclude those several thousand dollar items that only make you consider with regret your party years in college and your career choices in life.

So without futher ado, here are

“Lizabeta’s Condensed Recommendations for Steampunk Treasure Hunting”,

a list of brainstormed words and phrases to manually search on Ebay for that missing Link, Lost Shaker of Salt, Cog, Gear, or Brass Bit that will be the finishing touch on your creation.

Which you will then post on the internet for all of us to enjoy! (right?)

1. Hand Crank – Vintage Sewing machines to apple peelers to Air Raid Sirens. Hand cranks generally involve gears that do something. Which, you can then take apart and make them do something YOU want them to.

2. Broken – You are just going to take it apart into pieces anyway. You don’t need something to be new or in working order to reap the steampunky parts. Broken Watch, broken clock, broken vintage, broken pieces. “Not working” is another good one in a similiar vein. “Good for Parts”

3. Vintage – Pay good attention if you use this as a modifier. Some stuff is listed as vintage cause it ‘looks old’ and is really a reproduction. Which is fine if that is okay with you, but if you are looking for authentic antique pieces, just read the full auction. Vintage light bulbs, vintage cameras, vintage tools, vintage fabric, vintage radio… the list goes on and on.

 

$28.00 'Old Looking' sewing machine
$28.00 ‘Old Looking’ sewing machine

4. Old Looking – This is great for two reasons. One is, a lot of folks just don’t know what they have. They can’t find a better way to describe it. Two, if it is old looking, but they don’t know how old, you could be getting a really great deal because they haven’t listed it directed at the market that is looking for it. Three, maybe it’s not old, it’s a reproduction of an older item… in which case, it probably doesn’t cost as much as an antique or authentic piece. The sewing machine, as well as several other items I saw,  were all sold for under $30 dollars each.

 

 

Awesome photo light meter gauge-y thing!

Awesome photo light meter gauge-y thing!

5. There is just nothing like taking advantage of someone who couldn’t figure out what they had, was too lazy to figure it out, or just has too many items to sell to take the time to look. Put the words “I don’t know” in quotations marks.   Make sure you’ve checked the “Search Title and Description” box. To narrow the results, add a modifier to your search phrase, like this: “I don’t know” brass  or: “I don’t know” old looking  or: “I don’t know” victorian. Keep your modifier outside of the quotations marks. The “I don’t know” phrase will return a LOT of results. They will take sifting through to find the treasure, but find it you will. Here are some random things I found just this evening listed with the phrase “I don’t know” somewhere in the listing. “I don’t know anything about”  = I can’t price it accurately!

$20.00 Brass Antique Gas Pump

$20.00 Brass Antique Gas Pump

I found radio tubes, telegraphs, brass victorian keyhole plates, awesome brooches, medallions, a brass black powder flask, and gauges. All under a search of “I don’t know” and all for very very reasonable prices. There was even an old military safe for $25.00.

 

 

 

The glasses below are a great example of what I’m talking about. Someone told this seller to add the word steampunk to his listing.

“VINTAGE AO WIRE MESH SAFETY GLASSES / GOGGLES IN BOX

a person who is more of an expert in this field has told me to add steampunk to the listing -I am not sure why” (Emphasis his)

$39.00 "Steampunk" Safety Glasses

$39.00 "Steampunk" Safety Glasses

His glasses sold for $39.00. (emphasis mine)  An identical pair in a Non-Steampunk listing closed with NO bids at the bargain of $3.99!!!!  Others sold for around $10-20 dollars.

The bargains are still out there. Search hard, bid smart, plan well and you too can publish how-to’s on how to modify your Whatchamacalit into a Thingamagig that everyone turns aged-copper-green with envy over.

Stay tuned for my own debut Steampunk creations soon.

 

 

Don’t forget to check out my Condensed Recommendations for Maximum Buffet Enjoyment!!!

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