Social Distancing 101: A “Restorative” Video

Today’s Social Distancing tip is to relax and watch magic for a half hour. Christine McConnell—gothic artist, creator, restorer extraordinaire—has released a half-hour episode on YouTube in which she gives new life to an old gramophone. I wouldn’t call this a ‘restoration’ as she doesn’t do anything to the actual working parts, but she performs real magic on the horn and cabinet. This was originally intended only for her Patreon supporters, but she felt we could all use a distraction. I can’t think of a better way to spend half an hour, now that I’ve watched as many of “The Repair Shop” episodes as an American is able to see. Relax and enjoy.

Need more Christine McConnell? Subscribe to her channel on YouTube.

A Necklace To Fan Over

A long time ago, I moved from Seattle to New Jersey. It took a while for me to get employed and back on my feet, so I frequently shopped at (or sold things to) a nice second hand shop. On one of my visits to the shop, I noticed an unusual necklace and it was love at first sight. I paid five dollars for it. Not a lot of money, I suppose, but at that time it meant I’d have to skip dinner. But I had to have it.

I wore it a few times, but it really did look dirty and sad, and the clasp was loose. So, it’s been tucked in the bottom of my jewelry box for… eons. This week I decided it was well past time to try to restore it to its former beauty. Here’s the ‘before’ pictures.

Damascene Necklace
A bunch of googling tells me this necklace was produced by the Amita Company of Kyoto, Japan, in the very late 1930s or sometime in the 1940s.
Damascene Necklace
It’s well-worn and shows its age, but nothing is broken. The clasp got a little loose, but it’s just a wedge of metal. I found out it was easy to bend by hand to get a tighter fit.
Damascene Necklace
I can see Mount Fuji in the background, and some cozy homes up front. I’ve now learned that what I thought was black stone is oxidized steel. Sadly, the hanging tassel is really scuffed up. It may be the first piece of the necklace I try cleaning up.
Damascene Necklace
There’s that easy-to-bend clasp. Each side of the necklace has four fans featuring birds, butterflies, and village scenes.
Damascene Necklace
I can’t wait to start cleaning this necklace up. I hope it sparkles!

Can I get a drum roll please! Here come the ‘After’ pictures! After doing lots of research, I used Q-tips, plain warm water, and ivory soap. My method: Dip the Q-tip in water, rub it on the bar of soap, then gently scrub each fan. I went over the entire necklace (including the clasp) three times. Those Q-tips looked disgusting, which I found encouraging. For a final step, I heavily soaped up my hands and picked up the necklace to give it a gentle soapy massage. Then it got a final rinse in clean water. I pinned it to a cork board overnight to air dry, and this is what I woke up to. It’s a very sunny day here, and it just glistens in the sunlight! I’m very happy. I’ll be looking for a reason to wear it VERY soon.

Restored Damascene Necklace
The large fan really cleaned up well. All the details of a fishing village in the shadow of Mount Fuji are there. The silver will always look muted, but now it stands out more clearly.
Restored Damascene Necklace
The tassle is much better. Before cleaning,the three flowers didn’t look like flowers. It’s still not perfect, but I didn’t feel comfortable scrubbing it any more than I did.
Restored Damascene Necklace
Everything shines!
Restored Damascene Necklace
A view of one side, and the clasp fastener. There are four different scenes, which are repeated in the same order on the other side. The second fan from the top has a muddy Mt. Fuji and part of the silver fan wouldn’t clean up. I notice the metal ‘handle’ isn’t shiny either. I wonder what happened to this fan?
Restored Damascene Necklace
This side, and the clasp cleaned up quite nicely. The chain looks a lot better too. Just soap and water, who knew?

If you are interested in learning more about Damascene jewelry (I know I am!) here are some links to get you going.

The History of AMITA Co., Ltd.
About Damascene Jewelry (with pictures of the process)
Vintage Damascene Jewelry
Damascene Jewelry – Art and Science in Two Hemispheres
Vintage Damascene Jewelry: Three Key Traits

Gears, Beards, and Beers

GB and B 2
(Image belongs to the Facebook Capitol Steam group)

Good times do not get better than this. I had such a wonderful time last night! Here’s a highlight moment: As I was pausing in a doorway, just soaking up the eye candy, a young, cute wisp of a girl skittered up to me and laid a gentle hand on my shoulder. She said, “You are wonderful and adorable and awesome!” and then she skipped off. In a nutshell, this is My Steampunk. Happy, open, welcoming, creative people of all backgrounds and ages with one common dream. I can’t resist it.

At some point, I was tapped on the shoulder by a roving costume contest judge and told I was being entered in the contest. Didn’t win at any level, but as they say at the Academy Awards, it was an honor just to be nominated!  For the record, I was wearing my crocheted Gibson Girl wig, sorta matching crocheted bootwarmer-spats over utilitarian black biker boots, a black and silver corset from Corset Story (You gotta love Corset Story. Really. You must), a long sleeved scoop neck shirt, lots of flashy silvery jewelry, and a black western dance hall  style above the knee skirt, with black leggings beneath. And as usual, I had that little item that 98.5% of steampunks own, a jeweler’s loupe. Seriously, under $10 buys your glasses some steam-cred. And I know I can’t live without my glasses. Can you? I scribbled all over the metal on my loupe with a blood red marking pen. Love the effect. It will rub off so I’m careful, but it’s not that hard to avoid.

Yes, I am a very low budget steampunk. It’s more fun to warp items from my closet than to buy off the rack ‘looks’. Though I do spring for good corsets, cause…. CORSETS.

Hopefully pics will be forthcoming. I don’t know what’s out there but I will share as I find.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE LINKS! Explore and get to know these groups. They are each and every one wonderful.  Kudos and thank you to all!

 – My favorite set of pics from the evening.

Fantastic pics at Jacksonopolis.com

Mid Michigan Magnificent Steamy Sponsor!  Capitol Steam (Lansing area Steampunks Facebook Group)

Hirsute Hunks that Sponsored.  I love these guys! Jackson Beard and Moustache Club

Proceeds Benefiting! Cascades Humane Society

Venue! The Grand River Brewery in Jackson, Michigan. Perfect setting and extremely brave and tolerant waitstaff.

Vendors & Artists! Look for these places online – try Etsy.com – and support steampunk artistry.

Poison Ivy Designs
Steampunk Eddie
Errant Knight Photography
Detroit Beard Collective
The Spectra Nova
Spooky’s Geek Boutique formerly known as Spooky Designs
Off the Beaten Path Books
FiendishWear
K3 Creations Artworks
Lush Lapel
Steampunked

I dropped a bit of cash at FiendishWear, as their items were too good to miss. I’ve needed something to hold my needfuls. I’ve been using a clutch purse made from 1920’s fabrics, and it’s fun, but I get tired of the clutching. So now I have a leather accessory hip case to hold what I need on a belt slung around my waist, and to keep it company and increase the collective coolness factor, I snapped up a 6″ brass extendable telescope with leather holster. It works, very nicely. Good for examining beards close-up.

And lastly but not leastly, our musical inspiration. Raven Song sounded so great, and yes, I sang along with “Whiskey In The Jar”. Here’s a random tune from Youtube so you can catch a bit of their sound: