04 December 2012

Meet the artist: Caleb Heinselman

Caleb Heinselman, Mercuryphone, 2012. MP3/iPhone listening device from found objects. 53.5 x 40 x 68.5cm. Photo: Tom Beaumont.

Caleb Heinselman is a self-taught Steampunk artist from Melbourne, Australia, whose work is being exhibited for the second time ever in The Antipodean Steampunk Show. 

How were you introduced to the Steampunk movement? 

I found the word "Steampunk" in 2006, It was October, don’t remember the date, but the time was around 9 o’clock at night. Needless to say it was a life changing moment for me. I was reading the history of a Japanese model kit manufacturer called NITTO, they ran a series of kits in the eighties  called Ma.K. I was reading a comment on a blog about the models and one of  the descriptive words someone mentioned was “Steampunk”. Needless to say copy and paste couldn’t happen fast enough. That’s the moment I found the aesthetic that I had always been drawn too but never knew it actually had a name for itself.  I remember not being able to sleep that night because of it. The mind was a racin'.

What are you doing when you’re not designing and building your pieces? 

I work for 5 Senses Coffee Roasters as the Senior Field Service Technician, maintaining and repairing espresso machines throughout the Melbourne area. A very fitting job that happened by accident back in 97 in Seattle. Outside of that I’m loving my daughter and wife the best I can.

In what ways do you incorporate Steampunk into your day to day life? 

Well let’s see, the majority of furniture in my home has a Steampunk feel to it, my workshop has heaps of bits and pieces that keep my mind thinking of the next project. And I suppose working on coffee machines covers the work side of my life. So you can pretty much say I incorporate it every day.
Caleb Heinselman, The samson revolaser (detail) 2012. Found objects. 38 x 45 x 28cm. Photo: Tom Beaumont.

Tell us about the workspace where the magic happens. 

The day we moved into a home that had a garage I was designing my shop in my head, the day I came home form the local hardware store with all my benches I began building the Cochleaphone, I was about to burst with creativity, obviously. All the designs I had in my head could finally come out. I have four separate work benches that typically have four separate projects in different stages of build happening. I have pictures of inspiration around me along with unique one of a kind bits and bobs I pick up when I’m out and about looking for parts. I have a rack of tubs with each tub holding like objects, If I need screws I know where to look, if I need cogs, or leather it’s all sitting there nice and organized. I used a Dremil  for the first year of building and my work tool bag of your general purpose off the shelf tools. Just this past year I’ve added a drill press. I plan on adding a few more pieces of machinery in the next year or two.

What’s the best thing about visiting Brisbane? 

The welcoming atmosphere of artisan and the staff. This was my second ever exhibition, needless to say the nerves were acting up, everyone was very relaxed, accepting and supportive, That was the best part for me, outside of the excitement factor.

What’s your favourite piece in The Antipodean Steampunk Show? 

I have two. Steam Sphere by Michelle Murray - her work is so clean and precise, I was mesmerised by her craftsmanship. The other was the Tea Bag Jiggler 5 by Russell Anderson, love the mechanism and functionality of this piece - it instantly makes you want one. 

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