curious oddities

Beak of the Week

Mister Bertrand Bird and Son

brooch by Tilly Bloommr-bertrand-and-son-tilly-bloom

Embracing the bizarre,  Scottish lass, Miss Tilly Bloom, creates wearable delights from her home in Brooklyn, New York.

Tilly Bloom’s jewelry is strange and charming, taking every form from bracelets to cuff links, earrings to buttons, all incorporating Victorian Era images and styling.

You can subscribe to Tilly’s monthly newsletter here, and visit her Etsy shop for more truly wonderful items including prints of  her work.


Anniversary flight of the Silver Dart

Backed by the passion of Alexander Graham Bell and the funds of his wife Mabel, the Aerial Experiment Association was formed. A year, four months, and many test flights later, Canada saw its first powered engine flight.

On February 23, 1909 a group of volunteers on skates pushed The Silver Dart out onto the ice of Baddeck Bay in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Piloted by Baddeck local, Douglas McCurdy, the plane rose almost 9 meters and flew for almost a kilometer and a half at 65 kph.


To mark the 100th anniversary of this first flight, a replica of the Silver Dart was constructed and flown on February 23, 2009. I wish I could have been there to check it out. The plane took and  almost 5 years and a whole lotta cash to construct. Despite a couple of disappointing early test flights, the plane  performed beautifully for the Centennial Celebration.

Here is a video of the replica flight last month

For a bit more on the historical flight The Canadian Centennial of Flight has posted an excerpt of their fabulous 9-part documentary On Canadian Wings.

For More information on the Silver Dart Flight, here is the official site.

Eric Freitas’ New Clock & Curious updates
March 6, 2009, 4:12 pm
Filed under: General, Steampunk | Tags: , , , , ,

Hello all, and how I’ve missed you!


For those who haven’t seen them yet, the immensely talented clock builder Eric Freitas has posted pictures of his newest mechanical marvel. Visit his blog for an incredibly detailed documentation of the creation process, including lots of delicious photos.

Unfortunately this piece isn’t for sale.

I interviewed Eric Freitas back in July, if you missed it, here is the link.

Eric, thanks again for sharing your beautiful work with us!

After much contemplation over these past long Winter months, I have decided to focus on the Curious Oddities shop and Blog.

I am applying to some craft shows here in Toronto, and there is a fabulous Circusy, vaudevillian event in the works for late Summer. Look forward to a new website, delightful new items, news, interviews and adventure.  I’ll keep you posted.

“A man without a moustache is like a cup of tea without sugar”

Whether you favor the Dali, the Walrus, the Handlebar, the Imperial, the English or the Fu Manchu, everyone has a favorite moustache.

The Plushtache by Shannon Gerard

Lovingly referred to by many delightful names, the stache, push broom, mo, mouthbrow, soup strainer, nose neighbor, cookie duster, and flavor saver, has transformed the ordinary to memorable for centuries.

Would Friedrich Nietzsche have been as influential a philosopher and philologist without his substantial whiskers? Would Colonel Sir Claude Maxwell MacDonald been promoted to Privy Councilor without his glorious “up-do”? Where would Adolf Hiltler have been without his lip caterpillar? Hulk Hogan without his horseshoe? Ned Flanders without his walrus?

A little piece of trivia:

Are you aware the March is International Mustache growing Month? It begins with “Just grow it January” and “Facial Hair February” ending in the grand shaving of the beard to reveal a glorious moustache for the “Moustache March” festivities.

Black moustache by Lupin (left)

Further reading for the enthusiast:

The American Mustache Institute

For the best moustache archive on the internet visit Mustaches of the 19th Century

The Glorious Mustache Challenge: a documentary following a selection of guys in their 20’s who decide to tackle the social stigma of the moustache in order to “bring it back.”

The Mustache Rangers : The abstract ramblings of Commander Major Alastair Q. Bastidious and First Lieutenant Rutuger G. Phooneybaum,  reporting on the year seven-hundred-seventy of their nine-hundred year mission in outer space.

King Size Flavour Savours flickr pool (oversize moustaches)

STACHE onary by Rhymes with Twee (left)

Hot Girl Mustache flickr pool

Handlebar Mustache flickr pool


Moustache hair pins by Little Angels Jewelry

The Monocles have arrived!
October 20, 2008, 3:11 pm
Filed under: General, Steampunk | Tags: , , , , ,

Be sure to visit the Curious Oddities shop for a humble, but growing, collection of delightful things.

Brass Monocle Necklace on Copper Chain by Curious Oddities

Beak of the Week
September 14, 2008, 10:04 am
Filed under: Beak of the Week, Steampunk | Tags: , , , , ,

Tere Ryder’s Bird and Moon Studio is based in Seattle, Washington

Bird With Gears

Her fantastic birds are embellished with pieces found at auction and in flea markets, junk and antique shops. Some of the gears and clock parts have been extracted from antique pocket watches that dating back to the 1800’s.

“…thinking about birds most of the time now feels like such a good thing….something about flight, freedom, soaring, etc…….One can’t help smile, and that is what I try to imbue in my birds….a different personality for each one that will make one smile”.

Tere has only given her creations descriptions, the name is up to the adopter- she expressed that “…each one kind of speaks a different thing to each person that sees it”.

You can visit her lively blog here.

Bird With Compass pictured left and above

Curious Clocks: the extraordinary work of Eric Freitas
July 29, 2008, 5:31 pm
Filed under: Steampunk | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I always find myself drawn to those who push beyond the surface, and really dive into the craft that carries their art. Anyone who has seen work by the extremely talented clock builder Eric Freitas will understand why I was compelled to get in touch with him. Eric builds timepieces in his Michigan workshop that are the perfect marriage of delicious aesthetic and hand-built quality.

“In some part I’m making clocks this way to celebrate the mechanics of clocks by making the parts themselves pieces of art.”

Each component is painstakingly designed, cut, contoured and aged by hand. The completed clocks almost always look exactly like the preliminary sketches, which are beautiful on their own.

Eric’s mechanical clocks are especially intriguing as their gears and working parts are exposed. In this world of digital devices, who’s inner workings are a mystery to most, it is a pleasure to see the mechanism- to see how the pieces all work together. They resemble something old and solid, part of our human history, but have been manipulated to appear from a different place or time-not quite our own. Eric was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

Hi Eric, thanks so much for your time, I really appreciate it.

I appreciate the exposure. Thank you!

I share your interest in gears, pulleys and old mechanical systems- what inspired you to focus specifically on clocks?

I have to laugh a little when I get this question, because I’m not sure I always knew. It started as a whim; a simple idea of contradicting the structure often found in timepieces, with forms that were so strange and random that the time was almost unreadable. I created these rusty, gnarled clock faces and used plastic motors to control the hands. Then, half-jokingly, my friend said “you know, what you should do is make the gears and everything, and make them look all gnarled to match the faces”. It was practically a dare. One of those inaccessible ideas that sounds spectacular, but no one ever really follows through with. I think the difficulty of this undertaking was alluring to me. I was just ready for something bigger than the painting I’d done previously, and this idea seemed like it would be worth the hard work. There’s something very inviting, and gravitating about seeing mechanical things at work. I wanted to make these strange, and almost inhuman-looking clocks to really invoke curiosity and astonishment in people.

Clock/watch building has traditionally been taught mostly through apprenticeship, how have you found self-teaching- has it been a big challenge, or are there lots of resources available?

Learning how to machine all of those parts was without question one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Prior to this, I’d only used art supplies, so every little step was foreign to me. Having a teacher certainly would have made the process faster, but looking back I’m very glad I did it myself. There are plenty of books available on clockmaking, and I liked the personal nature of working through all of the problems myself. Just me in my garage, with some machines I didn’t know how to use, and some books I didn’t quite understand yet. I think learning from a traditional clockmaker would have put me in the wrong mindset. I needed to be able to say “why not?”, and not have an answer.

You build both quartz clocks and a mechanical clocks, what is the difference between them? Do you have a preference?

The mechanical clocks are made completely by hand. They’re powered by a weight, and regulated by a pendulum swinging back and forth. The quartz clocks have faces that involve the same kind of style and metalwork, but the hands are turned by a commercial motor. I definitely prefer the mechanical clocks, but I really do love some of the things happening with the quartz ones as well. They’re a great way for me to try different visual things in a very immediate and unrestricted way. Also, there are some designs that are simply better suited for a motorized piece. The integrity of the sketch is what’s most important, so if a design looks cluttered with gears, I won’t use them.

You are being featured in the world’s first steampunk group show, can you tell me a little bit about it- what can we look forward to seeing as your contribution?

On August 16th, at the Hamptons Antique Galleries, an eight day show will begin that’s boldly titled “STEAMPUNK-THE NEW GENRE OF ART+DESIGN”. There have been shows that implied the idea, or sort of danced around the label in the past. I think It’s great that Art Donovan, the curator of the show, is just putting the word out there in big bold letters. He knows this is a hot movement right now, and that a lot of people are curious about it. Part of steampunk is taking the old technology we love so much, and pushing it to new levels that were never achieved because something new replaced it. It’s easy to latch on to this romanticized version of the past, because in today’s world, we’re surrounded by so much plastic and mass production; the soul has been ripped out of the things that we use on a daily basis. This is the aspect of steampunk that I identify with. I’m creating functional objects that are very personal, and have a lot of life in them. For this show, I’ll be including two of my mechanical clocks, No.2 and 3, and my fourth quartz piece. I’ve also got a new one in store for everyone. A quartz clock that incorporates working gears on the face! I’m very excited about this, because it offers a taste of the mechanical clocks, without winding or maintenance.

If you are going to be in New York in August, be sure to head down to the STEAMPUNK-THE NEW GENRE OF ART+DESIGN exhibit.  Now there is a fine excuse for a road trip!

You can view more of Eric Freitas’ work, including sketches and detail shots, on his Flickr pages. His personal website also contains more information about the designing/building process, and regular updates on his projects- the site is beautifully designed and well worth a visit!