I swore I'd never write about my children, but they have been doing these really cool drawings recently, out of the blue. My father, in his dry way, used to say "A thing of beauty is a joy forever" when beholding something truly ugly, but that is not so for these. They actually are things of beauty.
Elder Child is eight, Younger Child is five; both are female. Below are descriptions by the artists.
Star Drips(Elder Child): "This one's going to be kind of hard to explain. It all started with trying to make a light bulb work in an unusual kind of way. The star drips drip into a little bottle which has a pipe that goes to those things, which go back and forth really fast, scratching the disk. This makes electricity. The little ball goes along and picks up the electricity, and sends it through the tube to the light bulb. It makes a light bulb work... it's kind of all that just to light a light bulb."
Oh, my God. I'm raising steampunk children. They're going to grow up and rule the world...And my favorite part is the little >pop!< at the tip of the alembic, which unfortunately you can't really see here. Where did she learn about alembics, for God's sake?
Walking Machine(Elder Child): "The gear moves around and pushes the bar which moves the arm, to push the legs each one by one and then they walk." The inspiration for this first one apparently came from Gyro Gearloose, with fanciful extras added on. (Both children are vintage Donald Duck/Scrooge McDuck afficionados)
Just...something(Elder Child): "I'm not sure what it's for. It's just...something. The vent sucks up oxygen and makes the pump go up and down. It goes through the pipe which dries it off, and into the tank, which is four gallons full at the moment." I like the way the bulb of the pump is moving in and out.
Machine Girl(Younger Child) "Mama, come look! I made a Machine Girl!"
Me: So, are these lights, hanging from this hair?
YC: Yeah, and the cheeks are fingernail clippers. She is in a cemetery because she is a burier. That's her job.
Me: Are those clocks on the tombstones?
YC: Yeah! And that's electricity coming out of her head. And the skul has electricity too.
Me: So, and these are clocks for her eyes?
YC: Yeah, and her eyelashes are magnifying glasses. And her nose is one of those things for pumping gas...you know, the pointy thing? And with the numbers on top.
Me: Are her legs mechanical?
YC: Yeah, with gears.
Me: What about this, up here above her head?
YC: Oh, that's a sign that says "no frowning." She's thinking about it. See? She's smiling. She's thinking about putting that sign there.
Me: Oh, I see. But the skull is frowning, isn't he?
YC: Yeah, but he's dead! But he's still gonna get in trou-ble!
So...did they learn all this by osmosis?
Newspaper Fragment(Elder Child): "This is a torn piece of a newspaper. It's describing a strange mechanical butterfly that was found midway [sic] through carrying drugs from California to Japan."
The text of the image says, "Strange Insect Found! This unexpected creature has been found carrying drugs from California to Japan. This species is believed to be extinct. But soon there are many other strange insects other than butterflies. There have been dragonflies, flies, moths, bees, wasps and even mice."
Below this is the truncated text of another news story.
Predictor(Elder Child): "The gear goes around and pushes the rod, which squeezes the bulb thingie, which blows air through the tube and out through the vent. This blows the feather which brushes the disc, making sparks, which get sucked up by the other tube which sends electricity off somewhere. Each one finds something to predict. When they come back, they take a vote, and whichever one wins is what's going to come true (this doesn't always work). PS. They're kind of alive."
Wow. Kind of like the weather report, but much cooler. I'd like to have one of these. Maybe it would change the world...?
Thinly Disguised Plagerism
Younger child, not to be outdone, draws this:
(Younger Child): [warning: five-year-old explanation, somewhat moderated, follows] The person peeking in from the right-hand side is looking at a dictionary. The mechanism, which is "inside a mountain," consists of a gear turning a "twirler" (at the bottom), which is scratched by something (that looks like a carrot but isn't). The feather at the top of the carrot tickles the wires hanging off another whirler. Above that is a "shining thing which makes it hot, just like a mixer and dough, and this is the mixer." The "mixer" makes some electricity which turns on the light.
At the bottom is what appears to be a light-sensor, which turns everything off at night (but has a backup switch in case you need to turn it on). The array on the side is "a lightbulb that takes the warmth from the air. So this part is for people who like to be cold." The person-shaped thing on top is "something to show that you can read here."
I promise you that I have not been trying in any way to influence my children. I write the blog when they are at school, and don't show them much of it (though occasionally they'll catch glimpses of some of the images). On the surface, I am neither gothic nor Victorian, nor any other unusual look. Where did this fascination come from? Perhaps it is simply obvious that I love things like this. Perhaps they developed this interest separate from me (after all, they love Castle in the Sky and other steampunk-like children's media). Perhaps it is some kind of virus and they've caught it from me...