Steampunk sculpture

Art Donovan, one of my favorite steampunk makers, has a beautiful, gigantic new artwork, "The Illuminated Astrolabe." Be sure to click through to see the various cunning works:

My most most complex Steampunk work to date with influences of Hinduism, Freemasonry and ancient astronomy. 72" tall x 72" wide. Solid Mahogany, Solid Brass, Glass, Spun-Filament Fiberglass, Plaster, LED + Incandescent Bulbs, Acrylic Resin, Ultra Violet Tubes + Electric Motors.
New Steampunk Design by Art Donovan: The Illuminated Astrolabe (Thanks, Art!)


  1. Interesting blend of influences.

    A thought occurred to me, in consideration of yesterday’s “make a toaster from scratch”:
    Is there a difference in appreciation (or at least in its classification) between steampunk objects that are actually constructed with only the technology available in the Victornian and steam-age eras, and objects that use modern technology like LEDs to achieve the visual effect of “steampunk”? Of course, then there’s the futurist steampunk that appears to incorporate technology that we haven’t even discovered yet, like the ion-propulsion zeppelins in The Golden Compass…

    The electric blue disc on the right contrasts beautifully with the soft yellow glow behind the brasswork. Just not sure how I feel about the use of LEDs here.

  2. Steampunk is just a way of making the unpalatable suddenly appealing.

    A big pile of crap: “Unpalatable.”
    A big, steampunk pile of crap: “Myst!”

  3. It looks like something from an old PC game called “Zork Nemesis”. It was crappy but I liked the atmosphere it had.

  4. Imagine if the artist made a steampunk ukulele…and sold it to raise money for net neutrality! BoingBoing might implode.

  5. If you don’t like steampunk, just scroll past it. The answer to queries about “could we stop with the steampunk” is no, has always been no, and will always be no.

    Coming to a steampunk thread to whine (yes, WHINE) about how you’re tired of steampunk wastes your time and annoys the people who are commenting on the work presented. Please cut it out.

  6. lovely work! i wonder if the components are accessable enough to say, change the lightbulbs when they fail, etc…

  7. @10 thank you, xopher

    There’s plenty of BB posts I’m not interested in: ukelele, apple/mac, Joel Johnson’s pubes, etc. Okay, fine, so I *am* interested in Joel’s pubes.

    Anyway, I’ve developed a strategy for avoiding posts I have no interest in. Now, it might be too complicated for many people, but I’ve made it work for me. Here it is:

    I skip over those posts.

  8. I created an account just to comment on this thread. If you don’t like steampunk, then why oh why did YOU click the link?

    It said Steampunk.
    You read the word Steampunk.
    You don’t like Steampunk……..

    Yet YOU clicked it. I’m sure your Browser didn’t bring you here against your will. Nor did some nefarious virus forward your surfing to this page. So who is really wasting your time?

    I don’t like feces, so I don’t make a point to find feces, stand around it, and gripe to a bunch of people who don’t really care. I AVOID feces.

    It’s one of 2 things, you either don’t read, or you just need a reason to gripe about something. Either way, you willingly navigated to this site. If you don’t like steampunk, stay away from it, because it doesn’t like you.

  9. Cripes, not again.

    You want the straight dope on steampunk? Here goes:

    Steampunk is not going to go away. Give up all hope of that happening. It’s not a short-term fad. Neither is it an arbitrary aesthetic that some bunch of artists came up with on a slow afternoon in Williamsburg. It’s weirder than that. Steampunk is one of those genuinely popular nontheoretical zeitgeist-y aesthetic upwellings, like Art Nouveau/Jugendstil or Streamline Moderne, that has a zillion antecedents, no center, and no clear beginning. Those are unstoppable. The only thing you can do is let them run their course.

    Working in science fiction and fantasy is a good spot for watching developments like this, and I’ve been watching steampunk slowly rising to the surface for decades now. Right off the top of my head, without even trying, I could cite you two dozen artists, artifacts, places, dates, and statements of intent I’ve seen or been present for that were recognizable as nascent steampunk. No one knows where these big aesthetic shifts come from, but Steampunk is the real thing. That means you’re stuck with it. You can love it or hate it, but it’s still going to be part of the history of your era.

    Still don’t believe me? I’ll show you. As of this writing, the magic number at the top of that list is 1,076.

    Get used to it.

  10. Thank you all-Tenn, Robulus and especially Cory, Teresa and the BB staff.
    I most honored you like it.

    As far the controversy- that’s A-OK.
    Things like this require controversy and detractors. That’s what makes it interesting.

    @ #11- Mintphresh. You are quite correct: Including access for maintenance and repair was the part that took the most time to figure out. Good observation!

  11. Art – The controversy wasn’t so much about your piece as it was about the appropriateness of blogging about steampunk art on BoingBoing, which is of course not open for discussion; if a Boinger wants to blog something, blogging it is appropriate on BoingBoing.

    In squelching the CATFOTFIC, I neglected to mention that the artwork itself is visually gorgeous, intellectually fascinating, and deeply evocative. Nice work.

  12. @ Xopher.

    WOW!!! I have taken the liberty of printing out your comments and displaying them on my studio wall. You are most kind. Thank you. Art

  13. I like this new CATFOTFIC acronym. Who originated it? Someone hereabouts, yeah? Owing to a certain synonym to ‘Complain’, I propose that come Oct. 31 it be revamped (*rimshot!*) into BATFOTFIC. =P

    Anyways, killer clock, Art! Who is that haunting music, I need me some of that! Does it emanate from the clock on the hour?

    I love the irony (as I see it) of having this huge, beautiful art installation, with just the tiny bit at the top telling the time! It’s like the mechanism has to be huge to encompass the complexity of the innards, but the display is only as big as it need be for reading.

    Generally I really like Steampunk. Some flavurz I totally love, some interest me little, but overall Iz Gud. One of my favorite flavors is Myst, (glad to see it mentioned above,) I loved the game, ambiance, and aesthetic long before I (not TNH, tho ;) knew of or what Steampunk was. I’m also rather glad that it seems to be (or has done already) taking over the popularity of just Punk, which tho expressing induhvidualism, rebelion, and DIY, did so without any actual style. (Shtick, cliché, paradigm, yeah, but not style.) (personal opinion, natch.)

    To me it embodies a fantasy of personal technology: the ability to take local materials and simple tools, and with your wits alone craft something wondrous, possibly even high-tech.

    I think Einstein is credited for saying “I don’t know with what weapons WWIII will be fought, but I can tell you WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones.” But I think the private dream of steampunk aficionados, crafters, and engineers, is that when we get ourselves bombed back to the Neolithic, we’ll be able to get good technology back on it’s feet rapidly, recovering perhaps a few thousand years of loss in a generation or so.

    Gilligan’s Professor was Steampunk, in my book, and so was Kirk when he made that crude slug-thrower by himself.

    Finding yourself stranded without a machine shop or electrical infrastructure, then seeking out iron ore, charcoal, some copper or gold, fibrous plant matter, resin or gum, a deposit of lodestone, and other things, and hammering it with care and knowledge into a functioning hovercar that’s shiney in all the right places, with leather seats, running lights, and instrumentation to make sure it won’t blow up… That’s my Steampunk.

    I like Art’s too.

    What’s yours?

  14. I love Steampunk but it’s not new. When Wells and Verne wrote it, it was called Science Fiction.
    If it wasn’t for you and BB, Art I wouldn’t have found this;

    And now I get to go see one of my Fav SF writers, Frederik Pohl speak. BB also gave me the opportunity of sitting in a koffeeklatsch with our own Cory Doctorow during the Anaheim SF Convention (I think that’s where he won for I, Robot.

Comments are closed.