My name is Jeff Sodemann and I was born in 1960. I am a polymer chemist by training and experience. My world has always been very analytical and my decisions based on logical analysis of the facts. This is the way scientists are trained, or at least that was the way when I was in school.
Science wasn’t always this way. Before the turn of the 19th to 20th century scientists were called “natural philosophers”. They studied the world in a way that incorporated not only nature, but art and music and philosophy. We lost that with the advent and acceleration of technology and the focused study of narrow fields. Technology today is the application of the scientific principles that were going through a time of exponential growth in these early days. Today most of our technology is based on the scientific discoveries being made around this time in thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism.
For me Steampunk art captures a world of fantasy where technology and artistry are much closer together. It’s iconography is set in an era, the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, when science and art had not drifted as far apart as they have today. It is a fantasy filled with gadgets and machines. Not all of these are practical, but they stir the imagination. The best of them are identifiable and their mode of operation discernable. We can imagine using them or working with them. To me just sticking a gear on the side of an object doesn’t make it Steampunk, though I may be guilty of this from time to time. The gear, at least, has to look like it does something important for the operation of the object, then it is Steampunk.
This is my art. It started when I decided to make a Steampunk themed living room. I made both art pieces for display and functional pieces like lamps, speaker boxes etc. Well, I really enjoyed making these things and started to run out of places to put them. So I thought maybe I would just share the images with others who might appreciate them.
The objects I make use antique and vintage pieces of old technology combined with new mostly machined and fabricated parts. I would never destroy an intact rare piece for use in my art. There are plenty of antique parts and pieces available in the world from which to create a wide variety of finished art. I am not opposed to using more recent “vintage” materials as well. Flea markets are a great place to find these sorts of broken pieces and parts.
The term “Steampunk” may be too narrow to describe what I make. I like to incorporate early electrical devices more often than steam which pushes my art into the Teslapunk genre. Nikola Tesla was a genius engineer with a penchant for drama. He also invented what is probably the most elegant machine design of all time, the three phase induction electric motor. Teslapunk incorporates early electrical devices in a way that makes fantasy pieces that capture the magic that was electricity and magnetism in it’s earliest development.
The main points for either Steampunk or Teslapunk are to make art that incorporates old or obsolete technology into pieces that just have that right look. For more information see my Teslapunk blog here. In this way a piece is both antique and modern. It is a way of preserving the old and a way to bring the roots of technology, and therefore science, back to the world of ART.
This website is a place where I display my artwork. The inspiration for the art I will be displaying here started in late 2012. My wife Kathleen and I decided to remodel our living room. I had always wanted to do a room that would have the look and feel of the images seen in a series of old PC games I had played many years ago.
These games were MYST, Riven and the subsequent sequels. I found the style of these games spoke to me. They seemed to have a feeling that was late 19th century, but somehow technologically advanced. Jules Verne type science fiction. So in late 2012 we started on a project to make our living room resemble this style. When I started looking into it at that time I found that the style had a name as well as quite a following. I apparently wasn’t the only geek who found this style fascinating and my fellow appreciators had come up with a name for the style- “Steampunk”.
A thankyou Kathleen for being both tolerant of my plans and also trusting of my vision for the room without my having anything like actual plans. While I had a general idea where I wanted this to go, and could see it in my head, but my wife just had to trust me.
Our living room eight years on (2020) has now reached completion. I will probably add and change things as time goes on but I thought this site is as good a place as any to show off our creation. Kathleen was a major help in all of the work done.
I had said that this Steampunk Room was the inspiration for my art. In doing this room I made many custom pieces for both function; lamps, speaker boxes, etc., and decoration. I would fabricate some pieces and combine them with antique and vintage elements to get the style I was looking for. I found that I loved making this stuff. So much so that I started running out of space for them in our Steampunk room. My plan is to continue to make these pieces and display them here. Hopefully they will find and audience that will appreciate and be inspired by them.
For now I will take you on a tour of the room as completed. Steampunk Living Room
Each project in its own blog is laid out showing my process for making each piece. I have tried to supply enough information for someone to copy each project or at least use them as inspirations for their own creations. Some older pieces, where I didn’t record their making, are just blogs with detailed pictures and descriptions.
Thanks for looking and I hope you will be inspired to make your own art.