The past thirty-odd years of the decorative and industrial arts have seen a tyranny of modernism. During these years there was scant interest in classical, ornate design elements. This contemporary minimalism, identified by the overused mantra of "clean, crisp design", had reigned unchallenged and nary an antique decorative flourish or hand-wrought detail could be found (effectively ignoring over two centuries of profoundly important design history)".
"Then Steampunk came along and expanded the scope of what is considered 'modern' design. Finally there was the freedom to not only include but celebrate handcrafted elements that took their inspiration from the 19th century arts and industrial crafts. This is a genre that promotes the blessed freedom to create without the aesthetic restrictions of the 'less is more' philosophy".
"It's important to know that Steampunk is neither a simple nostalgia nor a trip down Retro Lane. Running parallel and heavily informed by the current Maker movement, Steampunk strives to embrace modern technology, craft and art as it cherishes the evidence, not the obliteration, of the creative human hand".
Art Donovan, Bookish Interview. Nov 2013
The Sun+ Moon Table lamp features an ultra thin, wire body in matte black steel.
A single, satin brass ring around the globe bulb reflects the light and appears to glow.
Balanced on the opposite end by a crescent moon in brass.
Evocative of the astronomical sciences in a completely un-ornate design.
Designed and hand made by Art Donovan.
Top link is from the New York Times 3/22/13
A tapered, spun filament lampshade. Brass and matte black. 7.5" wide x 13" tall x 6" deep. An electric candle bulb can be substituted for dramatic effect. A mahogany stained wall plate may also be specified. May be hung as a pin up lamp or hard wired. Designed and hand made by Art Donovan
"Instead of curlicues and scroll work over metal to conceal the inner
workings of things, Steampunk delivers the opposite effect. In short, it
is a full blown design exfoliation."
"But why now? Has contemporary modernism, which is so downright sterile in it's lack of ornamentation, run it's course?"
"Perhaps the answer lies in a restlessness and a desire for a messy vitality which allows the imagination to soar."
Written by Author & Architect, Anne Surchin, Pres./ AIA, 2008
(This title and excerpt is taken from the gallery journal for the world's very first steampunk design exhibition: "Steampunk. The new genre of art and design", It was held in Bridgehampton, NY., August, 2008. Among the artists included were Datamancer, Eric Freitas, Jake Von Slatt, Susan Rachael Forbes, Crab Fu, Jos DeVink, and Bethany Peters.
The event was created and curated by Art Donovan. The museography and design was created by Leslie Tarbell Donovan of Staging Places, Southampton.
All material © 2007-2008 Donovan Design Co.
My most complex piece to date.
The Grand Master is 6' tall x 5' wide and featured an illuminated, double-sided center disk. Over three months to design, build and paint. Oversized, hand machined brass bolts. Solid Mahogany body. A Moon Clock is located in the center and is back lit with hand painted phases of the Moon. Five 48" diameter, horizontal rings encircle the disk. The Crown Unit features moving gas flame bulbs along with hidden up-lights to wash the ceiling with light. The amber glass plates are illuminted from within the crown.
The two clockworks on the right are calibrated in special increments:
(Top) The time it takes the light from the Moon to reach the earth in seconds. Avg. 1.25 seconds.
(Bottom) The time it takes the light from the Sun to reach the earth in minutes. Avg. 8.3 minutes
The swinging brass pendulum is back lit with a U.V. bulb.
On the reverse side is a hand painted moon rendered in translucent dyes with the craters hand carved into the fiberglass surface. It was inspired by a digitally enhanced Nasa image.
Twin 41" diameter convex lenses cover both the front and back faces. The gimbal and round bezel are painted in zinc gray with the crown in matte black.
Designed and entirely hand made by Art Donovan for Donovan Design, Southampton, NY
This is certainly not news to those of us who have been working in the genre since it's begining but it is surprising to see, nontheless.
Steampunk hits in 2013- Via Forbes Magazine.
The 221B Gas Flame Lantern. Of course it's an electric bulb (on top) that moves and vibrates like an authentic gas flame. Named after that famous address that all Steampunks recognize, it's a classic Donovan design in brass, warm gray and black. Designed and handmade by Art Donovan.
The "Ravi Palace". 7 ft. tall x 2 ft. wide. An evolutionary Steampunk design where shape trumps ornament. Inspired by the design on spider silk tapestry! By Art Donovan. Read the full story of this work here.
After spending 13 weeks as number one in the art book section of Amazon, I am happy to report that my book, "The Art of Steampunk" is in the Top Ten Steampunk Books of 2011!
Steampunk is a grand theater, referencing the past through modern eyes.
Herein, essays describing the uniqueness of this bougeoning genre of art and design.
Featured in the posts below are my works in Steampunk Art.
The 'flame' of the electric candle occilates inside the glass globe to a dramtic effect.
This bulb is the closest visual approximation of an actual candle flame available. The color, physical movement, size and glow is identical to that of a real flame. This unique configuration is based on original Victorian gas fixtures from the 1800's and echoes a Steampunk aesthetic. The electric candle uses only 3 watts of electricity. The base is made of raw, weathered brass and antique pine.
Designed and hand made by Art Donovan.
author, Anne Surchin, AIA
(From the artist's journal of the world's first Steampunk exhibiton
Bridgehampron, NY. Created and Curated by Art Donovan, 2008
"Petite Cosmo" Maple. Poplar. Brass. Stainless Steel. Glass. Clockwork. The base of the unit has a moon phase clockwork. Hand Painted Moons in eight phases plus a 12 hour clock with hand made hands. The views here illustrate different lamp head designs that may be ordered.
Above: Clear Glass Globe with Small White Bulb.
Below: Spiral Filament Bulb in Clear Glass Globe.
Bottom: Frosted Glass Globe.
It was a pleasure to be featured on Modern Marvel's "Weird Machines" episode tonight.
The episode on H2 (History's sister channel) will be aired again on Dec. 17th at 10 PM Eastern and Dec. 18th at 12 AM Eastern. The show featured all manner of beautiful and bizzare hand crafted devices and my part illustrated the "Steampunk" influence on design.
And in case you've not seen it yet, a wonderful BBC interview from my Steampunk Oxford Museum Exhibition here. Regards to all!
A heavily rusted outer ring with brass details. 26" diameter x 3/4" deep. Elegant Steampunk design elements. Designed and entirely hand made by Art Donovan. One of a new collection of wall clocks and tables and lamps. See our other clocks here!
I am proud to say that my new book, "The Art of Steampunk" was just featured on CBS 'Sunday Morning'.
Above: The Craniometer. A unique piece inspired by an antique device from the late 19th. century. This piece is the third quadrant on my "Shiva Mandala" (Illuminated Steampunk Sculpture).
A full-size skull set in a mahogany ring with brass rods radiating. Lit from the top by a custom UV lamp. Click here to view the entire piece.
Best Regards! Art Donovan (donovandesign(at)optonline.net)
Pure Steampunk Science. Influences of early industrial styling with a machine-age details. Designed and hand made by Steampunk artist and curator, Art Donovan. 14" tall x 12" wide.
A hand painted, glowing full moon crowns the top.
Made of mahogany, lucite and brass, it casts a beautifully warm light.
The perfect lamp for the astronomer's study or library.
I felt that the color profile and textures here were as important as the configuration.
Black, Golden Brass (like those antique microscopes), Deep Mahogany, Matte Warm Gray and Faux Rust. The 'Rust', seemingly out of place with the rest of the finishes, alludes to some heavy galvanic reation to the high voltage. (actually standard 120 volt :) Made of reclaimed wood- cut, turned and hand finished.
The "Parrish Carriage III" (above) has a working clock under the glass bubble . Solid Mahogany, Brass and Bronze Mesh. The Parrish I and II (center and bottom) have hand painted designs with esoteric symbols. My favorite "sister" wall lights. Designed, Hand Made, Hand Painted, Signed + Dated by Art Donovan
Number 1 on Amazon for 13 weeks! (Pop Art).
Here are some reviews for my new book, "The Art of Steampunk" from Foxchapel Publishers.
"...Review: An absolutely gorgeous introduction to Steampunk for those just getting into it. Also, if you’re looking for costuming or jewelry ideas, or just art ideas in general, this is a really good source for those ideas. Just looking at some of these pieces made me drool a little. Welcome to the Steampunk movement. Educate yourself with this book, because it’s the best non-fiction intro to Steampunk that I’ve ever read."
More Reviews Here!
Please visit us on www.artofsteampunk.com
For More Info email me @
The "Sultan Jack" Table Lamp. For Lab or Home. 28" tall x 24" wide with a Solid Mahogany adjustment wheel. Signed and Dated 2011. Entirely Hand Made byArt Donovan, Southampton.
The Steampunk Modern Desk Clock. Entirely hand made- from the base to the unique hands- by Art Donovan
"Otto" Steampunk Device by Art Donovan
"Nemo" Outdoor Mandala with glowing, hand painted full moon and an ultraviolet, illuminated clock below.
Designed and built by Art Donovan
I would surely say that there is a Steampunk-kind of influence in my latest lamp designs.
Our new lighting division, Sage Marine, features three of my latest works. These are cabin lamps for yachts and are made of virtually indestructable materials for the open seas- such as chrome plated silicon bronze and solid mahogany.
Here is the link. www.sagemarine.blogspot.com
Now... back to watching, "Master and Commander".
My new Steampunk Weather Station. Modded light bulbs, naturally weathered brass, perforated brass bulb shade, mahogany, weather instruments and steel. 31" tall with three gauges on the base for time, temperature and humidity. Designed and Hand, Autumn, 2010. Use the "Comments" area for all sales inqueries or custom projects.
When I was lecturing at the Steampunk Art Exhibition (at Oxford University's Museum of the History of Science,) I couldn't help but absorb the influence of antiquity. This collection of one of kind designs is the result, but we feel that 'La Luna' would be truly miraculous in a thoroughly modern setting.
This pair of hand made, one-of-a-kind wall lamps feature hand painted lampshades that glow in natural tones of a full moon at rising. The posts of the lamps are solid bronze and cast acrylic with the overall height of the lamps being 33". The lamp shade is 13" in diameter and 5" deep with the sides of the shade painted in what we call, "Museum Blue" (textured, translucent tones of burnt umber and phthalo blue). Each of the two Rococo lamp bases are mirror images of each other with slight variations. Signed and Dated by Art Donovan. More views are available by request.
Send us a comment for all sales inquiries. Email: LT Donovan@optonline.net