Climax Moly - Decogasm.

In the altogether more innocent year of 1936, you could name a company "Climax Molybdenum" Company" without attracting too many muffled snorts of mirth (I love that band, BTW), even if your board of directors were all fourteen year old boys. Today, putting the words "Climax Moly" in your ad sounds like you're soliciting prostitution. It is possible there may come a day when we people living in 2012 seem quaint and innocent. It's hard to think how, but it has to be possible.

This ad comes from a 1936 issue of Fortune magazine, the publication read by the Monopoly guy (Whose name was once "Rich Uncle Pennybags, but has since been changed to "Mr. Monopoly". Sad.). Fortune is now somehow siamese twinned with CNN and Money magazine, but back in Yore, it was just a super thick monthly simply dripping with mouth-watering deco eye-candy. Art Deco was inspired by industry, and captains of industry read Fortune.

The picture in this ad was airbrushed. For those who don't know but are interested, here's a quick explanation. Those who care but already know or don't know and don't care can skip the next paragraph. The ones who don't care are probably reading OMG and, if they ever wound up at PAG!, it was only by accident, and only hung around long enough to go "what-EVERRRR".

Fishes with her bare hands, and votes.
An airbrush is a cool-looking little spray gun you hold like a pen. It's connected to a compressed air supply (usually a motorized compressor), and it atomizes paint into a spray and allows the artist to control the air-to-paint mix with a fancy trigger. Regrettably, some artists see the airbrush as The Only Tool They Need, and embark on a career painting T shirts at the mall for people who don't know any better and don't deserve any better. As I have ranted before, airbrush art generally looks like airbrush art, and while it does take a lot of skill to control the thing well enough to use, the barrier of entry with regard to taste is the lowest of the low.

According to Wikipedia, The first real commercial atomizing airbrush was presented at the World's Columbian Exposition (World's Fair)  in Chicago in 1893. Hey, cool! Also, the same World's Fair was the scene of the world's first serial murderer, as described in Devil in the White City, (which is an okay book - equal parts interesting history lesson, tedious history lesson, and tedious procedural crime drama.)

Lots of Art Deco flat art utilized the airbrush. Deco is typified by dramatic color, minimalist design, stark silhouettes and clean lines, which lend themselves very well to the cut-stencil technique involved in airbrushing.

In this factory scene, we see a load of scrap metal being loaded into a rail car on a magnetic crane. Clouds of backlit smoke supply your standard deco drama. Silhouettes of smokestacks and factory windows were obviously sprayed over an adhesive stencil, or "frisket", cut with an X-Acto knife. Climax is trumpeting the benefits of molybdenum steel, as opposed to ordinary mild steel, for structural engineering. Moly steel is stronger, is less effected by heat, and less prone to failure. Climax's angle is that it's more expensive to replace a part than to make it stronger the first time. Fair enough.

I learned to say "molybdenum" around the age of ten when my dad bought me a second hand Team Mongoose BMX frame, and built me my first good bike. The frame was "chromoly", which is an alloy of chromium, molybdenum, and good old steel. It made for a lighter, stronger frame. Chromoly is still used for things like roll cages in racing cars and, believe it or not, bike frames. Large bike manufacturers have moved on to aluminum and carbon fiber, but there are still small boutique bike manufacturers that do incredible things with steel (chromoly is still a type of steel) like Surly and Salsa. In the hands of a really good fabricator, chromoly steel can be as light and agile as aluminum without the harshness that comes with a typical ALU frame. When aluminum flexes, it suffers, and eventually will break. It's best to keep aluminum from flexing. But steel can be made into a spring, with clever tempering. A steel frame can be designed to absorb rough vibration without transmitting it to the rider, but an aluminum bike frame built strong enough to last will have to be thick enough to be harsh.

Anyway, please enjoy our special crop of this deco factory scene for your next CD cover, if you still use those things. We present it in slightly-higher-than-normal 2400px size, unpolluted by our watermark, for your delight. You're welcome.

Click for extra big.

Click for big.


Anonymous said...

I have to say, I believe there can never be enough Art Deco works in the pages of P.A.G.! One of the coolest art forms ever. Kudos! to Phil & the AreGo Team!


PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

I hear ya, Misterfancyhotballs_2. Unlike nouveau, or almost everything from 1972, the minimalism and classiness of deco wears pretty well on the eye. I'll never get tired of it. Thanks for reaindg!


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