11 September 2009

The Steampunk Aquarium Mural

Giant octopus in a rusting iron aquarium
the garage before painting
I recently completed a fabulous project on a tiny detached garage in Oakland, California. My client is an avid scuba diver who loves all things Victoriana, and has a special attraction for octopi. So I devised a plan for a Jules Verne-inspired aquarium.

I designed the mural to incorporate the entire structure: the garage door became the glass "tank" and the building its "case."

The finished mural with many surprising details
In retro- steampunk fashion, trompe l'oeil rusting iron bolts and cast-iron brackets hold the aquarium tank together in a Victorian-style oak woodgrained case. The mural is completed with three portholes at the top and protected with several coats of UV varnish.

all images in this post ©Lynne Rutter

click on images to view larger


  1. Its beautiful, Lynne. Love it!

  2. Love, love the portholes! The water color is nice with the filtered light coming in. Love the iron corners and rivets! Very nice work.

  3. Totally Vernes indeed !!
    Now your client has to get the perfect Monte-Christo outfit and perform in front of his garage...

  4. Love this Lynne, a lot of fun. I am also delighted that you defined steampunk for me, it's a term I see more and more and it was annoying me. Can I ask which varnish you used, here in UK it is tough to find a matt varnish that is UV protecting...actually not just tough, it is nigh on impossible. Would be interested what there is in USA

  5. thanks for your comments, all!
    Cait, Modern Masters is making exterior UV acrylic topcoats that are really nice. "Master Clear" is satin or semi gloss. Yhe "dead flat exterior" with UV protection is fairly new. not sure if they sell MM in the UK though I can't imagine why not.

  6. We get *some* MM...I did have chats with Kelly King about becoming a distributor here but decided against. Many of the products are manufactured in Spain so it should be easier to get than it is.
    I will set about finding out if I can buy here in EU and if not might grab some from USA. Ta muchly.

  7. I just saw this on The Steampunk Home blog and I had to come tell you how awesome I think it is. Did you also paint the woodgrain??? Amazing.

  8. hi- thanks for visiting!
    the woodgrain is also painted. i did this with oil glazes, and varnished with semi-gloss spar varnish for that nautical look. (the mural part was varnished with Modern Master UV acrylic)

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