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April 30, 2012

Handset letterpress-printed covers for my steampunk novella are hot off the presses and ready for mutilation!

Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate, letterpressed cover - a set on Flickr

Last week Fritz Swanson and I printed these *awesome as Hell* new covers for the "patrons-only" print edition of "Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate." These covers are handset using a mix of antique lead type and wooden poster type (i.e., the kind used on Old West *WANTED* posters), with a few modern elements (like the graphic on the back, which is a magnesium block Fritz had made a few years back). They were printed using Fritz's century-old Chandler & Price New Style letterpress--which we hauled back to Michigan from New York a few years ago, and were almost crushed by (long story; immaterial here). (FYI, the letterpress shown in that Wikipedia entry is Fritz's *actual* press in his Manchester, MI, workshop. NOT SHOWN: Me off in the corner cursing my damn stupid eyes as I realize I've once again set all of the type completely backwards.)

This print edition--which runs 70-some pages--has letterpress-printed covers and laser-printed interiors with original illustrations by Chad Sell. Each book has a hand-sewn binding and is individually distressed, signed, and numbered.

If you just want to read the story--which is well thought of, if poorly publicized--you can drop a buck or two and buy it for Kindle through Amazon or pick-what-you-pay for the DRM-free ebook (including a Kindle-compliant mobi file, PDFs, digital extras, and more). But if you want a unique steampunk curio--perfect for giftifying or stashing in a very confusing time-capsule--then the Patron's Print Edition is the way to go. Want a customized message or dedication? Just mention it in the "notes" when you pay.

As for the story itself:

[“Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate”] is at one level nearly wacky, but it has deeper concerns, reflected in the examination of the treatment of such disadvantaged individuals as alcoholics, Confederate veterans, the Chinese, Jews, and of course clockwork ex-soldiers. It all comes together very effectively.
— Rich Horton, Locus, July 2008 (Recommended Story)

April 27, 2012

A Simple Jig to Make New Tumblers from Old Booze Bottles (via @ManMadeDIY)

Want to cut wine bottles? Build this jig!

I'm not generally a huge fan of Instructables--the skinny on my criticism: project quality is inconsistent and the site's presentation insanely frustrating--but this little jig is *fantastic*! I *love* this sort of mid-1970s upcycling, and am really glad it's making a comeback (not least because I have a ton of weird liquor bottles I look forward to making into drinking glasses).

The results?

Rad!

*thx ManMade DIY !*

A Quick, Easy, & CHEAP Homebrew Super-Soaker (from @kipkay)

Hi-Power Super Soaker! - YouTube

April 20, 2012

PowerPot is an awesome project, both technically and ethically

The PowerPot by David Toledo — Kickstarter

April 16, 2012

Pick-what-you-pay for "Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate" steampunk novella (with extras!)

David Erik Nelson -- Pick-What-You-Pay eBooks

Good News! You can now get my celebrated steampunk novella, "Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate"--previously only available for Kindle--as a DRM-free book bundle that includes ebooks for basically any device, plus two different printable PDFs, and a few digital extras. I'm experimenting with a sliding-scale pricing scheme, with an exclusive steampunky curio for you big spenders. Check it out!

April 11, 2012

Dirt-Cheap Amplifier Aesthetics: Grills & Fabric, New & Used

One of my goals with the projects in Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred was to present designs that--both in terms of the functional guts and the finish aesthetics--could be adapted to suit both your own tastes and the supplies you could easily get. For example, the grill on the Dirt-Cheap Amp is an old computer power supply fan cover--which just happened to be the perfect size to secure my 8 ohm speaker (itself torn out of a broken Barbie boom box).  I've also had good luck pulling grills off of old/broken small appliances I've gotten for free as resale shop rejects or garage sale leftovers.  As far as new sources, check out your local hardware store, where there are many neat vent, drain, and recessed-lighting covers (the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC aisles are always profitable places to search for neat fittings, in my experience).  

Failing all else, you can cover the front of the amp in fabric (as is standard in the old school Fender guitar amps).  When doing a fabric cover, I like to start with a double-layer of nylon window-screen mesh, which protects the paper cone of the speaker from getting dinged.  Double up the mesh, then cut a square at least a few inches bigger than your speaker hole and staple it in place around the perimeter of the screen (you can, of course, cover the entire front of your speaker cabinet in screen, which will make your amp look a bit more pro.  I sort of like the look of the doubled mesh, but if it doesn't work for you aesthetically, you can recover it with basically any single layer of fabric (going the Fender Tweed Amp road, for example).  In terms of finish, you can pull the fabric all the way around the lid and staple it from behind (thin fabric won't usually cause you much grief in terms of getting the cigar box to close once you finish).  A few brass-headed furniture tacks added to the edging of the front of the fabric cover, or framing it out in thin strips of wood or brass, will give the amp really slick look.

FYI:  Folks occasionally ask me if this design--which calls for an 8 ohm speaker--will work with lower impedance speakers.  I've tested this out, and had the amp work perfectly with 3 and 4 ohm speakers I've scrounged out of old boom boxes.  So, if you're salvaging parts, feel free to grab those 3, 4, and 6 ohm speakers as well as the 8s.

April 07, 2012

See Poor Mojo's Giant Squid in Upcoming Steampunk Anthology!

Ecstatic Days -- Blog Archive -- Steampunk Revolution – Announcing the TOC

When I'm not soldering, snipping, or cranking out marketing copy and textbooks in order to pay the bills, I write basically unpublishable fiction--clockwork sexbots, murderous baristas, haunted dogs, sinister midgets; about what you'd expect. In a bizarre twist, a story from the *least* marketable of those endeavors is seeing print! Mojo, Fritz, and I are pleased to brag that one of our Giant Squid stories--"An Exhortation to Young Writers (Advice Tendered by Poor Mojo’s Giant Squid)"--will appear in Ann VanderMeer's upcoming anthology Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution (I also had a story in their last steampunk antho, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded). Our Squid will appear alongside works by such luminaries as Lev Grossman, Garth Nix, Cherie Priest, Bruce Sterling, and Catherynne M. Valente--which, frankly, stuns me to the core.

{*squeeeeee!!!*}

April 04, 2012

Dyeing Easter Eggs with Old Silk Neckties!

Silk-dyed eggs | Foxflat's Blog

These are *awesome* and easy and cheap--but DO NOT EAT THEM WHEN YOU'RE DONE!!! Industrial fabric dyes are pretty consistently toxic, and eggs are porous.

Happy Gentile Pesach, everyone!

*props for the tip to Damon via Facebook!*

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About the Author


David Erik Nelson is a freelance writer and former high school teacher. His fiction has appeared in Asimov's, The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded.

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    Make cool things (water rockets, cardboard boomerangs, a $10 electric guitar, a sock squid, etc.) while learning cool skills (basic soldering, sewing, carpentry, woodburning, etc.), and do it all on the cheap (most projects are under $10, many supplies are *FREE*).
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