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Sunday, February 28, 2016

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/02/28/these-are-a-few-of-my-favourite-things/

And so we reach the end of this year's Steampunk Hands journey.
What a month. And I've shared only a few of my favourite things. For my last post I was going to share a list of my favourite steampunk movie, book, artist (etcetera). But I just couldn't decide. The answers keep changing depending on my mood. So I'm sharing some of my favourite steampunk photographs - with some explanations - instead.
The steampunk community and aesthetic figures largely in my life and helped steer my writing career. However, steampunk isn't a solitary passion, realised only via the computer screen. It includes social interaction. My family share a common interest in the costumes and events. Many friends (both old and new) have been lured by its charms - and they are encouraging and accepting. The community has manners and courtesy - a welcome commodity in today's alienating world.
PhotobyCatherineCurl mortlock1_copyrightCatherineCurl
When I think of steampunk, I think of good times, splendid events and hilarious shenanigans. I think of the splendid costumes and the spectacular sights resulting from hours of hard work by diverse creative individuals.
I think of all the wondrous memories I have and all the memories yet to come.
aviator_copyright2016KarenCarlisle forsale_copyright2016KarenCarlislesteve_copyright2016KarenCarlisle  olympia_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
hunter_copyright2016KarenCarlisle lostatzoo_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
I think of the personal inspiration, story ideas, creative and photographic opportunities steampunk has provided. Crafting visuals and writing steampunk/fantasy is my escape. It helps calm my stress and anxiety and helps me cope.
aviatrix_copyright2016KarenCarlisle parasol_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
librarians_copyright2016KarenCarlisle mechanic_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
timekeepers_copyright2016KarenCarlisle waiting_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
The steampunk community - like my garden - provides a calm, safe place.
It's a place where individuality is encouraged. I can let my hair down and not be judged.
It's a place where creativity is appreciated, where technology meets art. I'm not forced to choose between the two.
So when I am stressed, anxious or overwhelmed by everything around me,
I simply remember my favourite things,
and then I don't feel so bad.
You now know some of my favourite things, why not share yours?
Photographs: copyrights as stated: 
Karen Carlisle, Catherine Curl, Rui Barosso, Symon Williamson. 
All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

original post at: www.karenjcarlisle.com/2016/02/21/brown-paper-packages-tied-up-with-string/

All week I have been striding excitedly up to the post box and slinking home, bottom lip hanging out. I was awaiting on some packages. But there was no comforting notice to announce their arrival.
Finally they arrived.
All three packages at the same time. Bonus!
Two are research books for my current steampunk work-in-progress, Eye of the Beholder, and one a book from a newly discovered writer who puts her own spin on classic fairy tales.
 order 1602  order2 1602 murdoch mystery christmas dec 1602
The final item was a Murdoch Mysteries Christmas tree decoration all the way from Canada, via a friend of a friend. And that in itself is a tale.
One of my favourite television shows is the Canadian series, Murdoch Mysteries - a Victorian crime-mystery series with a steampunk flavour. It's full of humour, fun characters and the gadget of the week. In the Christmas episode our hero, Detective William Murdoch, was given a present - a decoration for the tree in the shape of his trademark hat.
Not long after, I found out you could actually buy it. I searched the internet and found the site would not post to Australia. I asked my Canadian friends. They checked (bless 'em) but the item was sold out everywhere. Sigh.
Then an interstate Australian friend, Paul, messaged me. A friend of his in Canada had one and was posting it to him, so he could post it to me. At no charge. There are still some most kind and generous people in the world.
So, not only did I receive a parcel in the post, but I also received a package of love. At least that is the way I see it. Every time I look at the decoration, I remember the thoughtfulness of a complete stranger and a generous friend.
Thank you both.  You provided a spark of light when I was feeling down.
One of my favourite things is standing in the post office line, package arrival note in hand, waiting to discover what wonders will arrive all wrapped up in a neat little package. It feels like Christmas.  Sometimes I am expecting specific items. At other times, I get little care packages from wonderful friends - like my little octopus or Doctor Who cheer up.
TARDIS and octopusSM kraken 3 on
Then there are other exciting packages, like the very first shipment of my very first published book. I will never forget the thrill (or the sound) of ripping of the tape on that box, rummaging through the packing paper and pulling out the very first book. All that hard work; my soul poured out, encapsulated in a paperback. Oh my!
book ship May 2015 arrived June b  It arrived 150419
posting first book ordersAnother of my favourite things is creating - writing gives me an opportunity, not only to create a story, but to photograph and create covers and even film book trailers. I can escape into my steampunk and fantasy world, to deal with my stresses and anxieties. It is both fun and cathartic. And then I get to send packages (not in brown paper packages tied up in string, sorry), to share my creations with others.
How to tie up this blog post 'package' with proverbial string?
What does the postal service have to do with my favourite things - steampunk, reading, writing, creating and friends?
Packages that promises worlds to explore, and celebrate words to share. They deliver evidence of love from friends all over the world and the generosity of those I have yet to meet.
In our modern world of convenience we are used to deliveries to our doorstep. How much more exciting it must have been in the nineteenth century when letters or packages delivered by the postman was still a novelty.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

And Warm Woollen Mittens

orignal post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/02/14/and-warm-woollen-mittens/

I love costuming. It all started with fantasy and Doctor Who costumes. Over the years I developed a penchant for historical re-enactment. That is joy of steampunk costuming - I get to do the intense historical research but can deviate from slavish accuracy and let my imagination run rampant.
Steampunk costuming has leaked into my everyday life. And some of my everyday life has absorbed my steampunk costuming as well. 
bowler14      kraken 5 on      firefly 2014
Steampunk costuming also taps into another of my passions - recycling and reducing the carbon footprint to help our environment. Even better!
Here is the tale of my costuming favourites and my upcycling successes.
My favourite steampunk costume items.
Accessories are my passion little details make all the difference. I participated in a panel on Steampunk Costumes at Adelaide Armageddon in 2012 - my specialty? Accessories, of course!
And, as fate would have it, am running an accessories workshop for the Australian Costumers' Guild next week.
Discovering or making accessories to complement an outfit is the most enjoyable part of the process for me.
Some of my favourite accessories are for my steampunk fairy catcher - gun, outfit, hat, fairy, net, boots and soon to be completed 'captured fairy in a bottle'.
You can see more of my accessories (and some on my wishlist) on my  Pinterest Page.
Steampunk allows me to recycle - or more accurately, upcycle -  to create something both aesthetically pleasing and useful from old forgotten treasures, worn out pieces or junk. This is not unsurprising as the steampunk creed promotes individuality, creativity and usually turns its back on the throw away society and consumerism.
I've been a greenie since the 1980s, when my parents attached our first solar hot water system to the roof.  (We were one of the first houses in our area to have solar electricty.)
But, you say, isn't the majority of steampunk set in the Industrialised age? Yes, but look at the stories, the characters. Many fight against big corporations, conformity and strive to control their own fates...
By reusing vintage items or upcycling throwaways into something useful (and often beautiful), I strive for my own individuality and help the environment at the same time. (Okay, rant over)
Opshops, garage sales.
A few weekends ago, fellow Steampunk SA members and I went on an Opshop Scavenger Hunt for a bit of a lark. While we scrounged and sifted through potental treasures, we also searched for items on a scavenger list. (Good news, my team found all but two of the items and managed to find some useful items.)
Here's a little video I made on on our opshop adventure: Hunting for Steampunk Accessories.
My Haul: I found a fur stole ($3 and in a gorgeous colour), a disney toy rotunda to respray to top a backpack contraption, future ear horn (ex-silver plated vase),  a steampunk-ish top, a fill-in 'smoking' cap and tea pot-cups sets.
There is always tea.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tea & Tidings is coming. Don't miss out!

Just over a week until my newsletter - Tea & Tidings, is out.
For info on my writing, art, events, exclusives and sneak previews, subscribe HERE.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Bright Copper Kettles

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/02/07/bright-copper-kettles/

My second post for the Steampunk Hands Around the World .
Every morning I drag myself out of bed, shuffle into the kitchen and flip a switch. A low rumbling fills the room. My heart skips a bit. Caffeine is on its way.
Morning Tea_copyright2016KarenCarlisleClick.
The time is almost at hand.
I open the tea cupboard (full of tea cups I have collected over the years). I need to choose. But choose wisely. The mood for the entire day will depend on which vessel I choose to drink from. I extract the chosen one.
I've tarried too long. I boil the kettle again. (I don't like cold tea)
I pour the (water), hold the cup in my hands. Take a deep breath, let the aroma fill my nostrils, seep into every pore. Flights of angels sing from on high. Relaxing. Calming.
Tea. Hot. Black. No sugar.
My favourites are Prince of Wales, English Breakfast and Black Rose.
Tea: Facilitator of social interactions.
"Would you like a cuppa?" is always a great way to start a conversation and meet new friends.
Tea: A world of adventure.
There's a fantastic tea store here in Adelaide, T2. They have a wall of tea behind the counter, with teas from around the world. There's even a local blend. Perfect for trying something new. Just pick a variety and they supply you with a small foil package with enough for two cups of tea. I can travel from India, to Russia, to Wales in three cups.
They also have wall to wall shelves full of a rainbow of pots and cups to enjoy your new favourite tea. I blame them for fueling my tea cup obsession.
Tea: A minefield of Victorian etiquette.
Two things to remember - remove your gloves when drinking and don't extend your pinky finger.  How many fingers through the handle? Don't touch the cup with the spoon. Which comes first? Tea or milk? (I was always taught tea first, then milk, sugar or lemon). The list goes on.
Just give me caffeine!
Tea: Bringer of shenanigans.
Have you ever seen a tea duel, or participated in one? All you need is a pot of tea and some plain bikkies (biscuits). There's a few rules which are easy to follow.
Tea: The (un)official steampunk beverage.
Every event has tea - because I take my own. I even have a set of travelling tea cups.
Tea follows me everywhere: writing, workshops, meetings, sewing bees, events. It is the one constant that links my work-life, social-life and hobbies. It links my every day life with my steampunk adventures. One sip and I am there - flying airships, searching for krakens, picnicking with my friends.
Tea: Definitely one of my favourite things.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Today I joined in a Facebook event - Talk of the Tavern: Steampunk Hands Around the World. Kevin Stiles, the Airship Ambassador, was one of the guests - talking all things steampunk. Especially our favourite things.  We listened to the livecast and interacted on the FB event page. (Though the last hour gets a little risque for the young 'uns.)
It all started out quite innocent. Then I got guzumped. Don't get me wrong. It was funny. I laughed. (I needed a laugh today.) They did a shout out to one of the participants. I got chosen.
Hello, Karen.  Go like Karen's stuff. Buy her books. Post a review. Writers love that sort of thing.
Yes, we do.
Even when  I read back my (apparently one-sided) FB conversation. How embarrassing.
And how lovely to have complete strangers spruiking my books on livecast - worldwide.
Thank you guys for the chuckle and for the unexpected plug.
You can find the archived podcast on their site: talkofthetavern.comYou can support them on Patreon.
You can follow Steampunk Hands Around the World on their Link page or on twitter - #SteampunkHands

Monday, February 1, 2016

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/02/01/raindrops-on-roses-and-whiskers-on-kittens/

How can I condense all my favourite things into just a few posts over one month? And how do I choose which ones to include? I decided to listen to the words of Maria in The Sound of Music. My first post for the Steampunk Hands Around the World: 
Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens
It almost rained today. Rain! I love rain. I now live in the driest state in the driest continent in the world - and I miss the rain. Real rain. Rain that thumps on the roof so loud you have to yell to have a conversation. Rain so heavy you can't see the end of your bonnet and have to pull over so you don't run up the back of the unseen car in front, that cocoons me from the outside world. Rain that soaks my clothes when I frolick in it. (My family are used to me running outside and dancing in the too infrequent rain.)
Oh, you meant my favourite steampunk stuff - alright. Bear with me, there is a segue here.
I miss Queensland storms, and the rain I took for granted when I was a child on the farm. Don't get me wrong. I love South Australia, the people I have met here.
But I do miss the summer rains.
And so does my garden - another of my favourite things. Almost everything in it is edible. There are fruit trees, vegetables, edible flowers. I'm even growing a Camellia Sinensis with a plan to eventually make my own tea! My garden is full of useful plants, but is also a thing of beauty.
My garden relaxes me. I helps me control my anxieties - a safe haven at home.  But beyond the garden gate, there's a big world out there. Sometimes it's scary. And I can't uproot my garden and take it with me.
Then there's my cat. My beloved Tisha. I loved her rumbling purr, which infused the body and wrapped up my heart with unconditional love. For twenty-two years, she soothed my soul, providing a welcome anxiety buster. I miss her dearly.
And now, dear Reader, I come to my point.
All of these things help me cope with the world. When I do have to venture beyond my garden, I find a welcome escape in steampunk - the creativity, the whimsy, the connection to the past all help ground me, dampening my anxieties and bolstering my courage to face the world. It is a form of armour; an accessory, a waistcoat, a spiffy pair of boots. Each time I venture out I take a little steampunk with me, reminding me of my favourite things:
  • Comforting rain reminds me of the whimsy in life.
  • My garden - both beautiful and useful - reminds me of a past age where practical items were often also a thing of beauty. And there's also tea.
  • The unconditional love of my cat and the acceptance of the people I meet - sharing my passion for steampunk. Friendly individuals who encourage others, who have welcomed me and supported me.
group photo D RuwoldtPhoto: © 2015 David Ruwoldt.
 You can find more steampunk posts  on Airship Ambassador's webpage.