Steampunk: Cogs, Goggles & Sepia

Or: Why Clichés are actually a Good Thing.

First up, I need you to know that I’ll be talking about Steampunk as a subculture today. Not the genre, which also includes the phenomenon of the “Steamsona”. Should I ever make a list of words that I really don’t like, “Steamsona” would be on it. But actually, this doesn’t matter here.

Back in 2011 there was a video on Youtube that went viral in the Steampunk community: Just Glue Some Gears On It (And Call It Steampunk). While I have some minor disagreements with the lyrics of the song here and there, the overall theme of the song is what dismays me most. While I’m certainly not a fan of copper-sprayed plastic, I have to take up the cudgels in behalf of gears and goggles. Dismissing everything that has useless cogs on it or everyone who wears goggles as a mere accessory as “not truly Steampunk” is a perfect example of horrible elitist behaviour, and it actually makes me want to touch people’s faces. With high velocity. Repeatedly.

What kind of achievement gives someone the right to dictate my fashion? None. Why should I care about the rules self-proclaimed Steampunk experts set up (yes, they’re out there)? I shouldn’t. If I did, I wouldn’t deserve the suffix –punk. Which brings me to my actual argumentation
More often than not those who strongly oppose of goggles and gears say that these elements should only appear when actually necessary. I see those things as more than just simple accessories or patterns: They’re symbols.
They’re something to identify a kindred spirit by.
When I see a person with a gear-patterned T-shirt, or a necklace made of mechanical brass bits, or with a lacy parasol or goggles around their neck, I know they might at least have already heard of Steampunk.
And now, back to the punk thing. When someone claims that gears shouldn’t be worn as a mere accessory, would that person deny a punk the fashion choice of wearing a safety pin through their ear? The safety pin doesn’t pin together anything, so it doesn’t serve its original purpose. It’s just a piece of improvised jewelery, and also, again, it’s a symbol. It’s part of our modern-day iconography. Person with safety pin through their earlobe = Punk enthusiast. Person with a single gear on a string around their neck = Steampunk enthusiast.
Of course this doesn’t mean that the other way around every person with a safety pin as a piercing is an avid disciple of the Sex Pistols. This also doesn’t mean that the gear necklace person has to be a fan of Abney Park, Jules Verne and tea duelling. It’s just a hint. Iconography just isn’t what it used to be.
And with this, I confess that I like goggles as mere accessories, even though I also wear them as protection now and then. I confess that I wear a single gear around my neck on a string from time to time. I confess that I like sepia pictures if they’re well done. I’m not a big fan of Abney Park, though, but that’s for another time, maybe. I think gears and goggles make great symbols. Punks have an anarchy “A”, why shouldn’t we have a cogwheel?
Additionally with an A inside.
This is actually the old version of this post. I’ve got notes for a more in-depth one on this topic in store, but I didn’t dislike this one enough to just delete it. So bear with me posting the improved version sometime soon! ^^

Want more Steampunk Hands? Try here.

Only Two More Nights To Go

Oooh, my fingers are itching to start typing at last! I’ll try not to let NaNo interfere with my social and academical life too much – but I won’t promise not to write during not-so-interesting lectures. And on the train to my band sessions. And at the cafeteria.

However, because I always found it useful to have the expectation of as many people as possible, I decided to share my cover and blurb with you.

toweringslates

While a stuffy middle and upper class sits in their parlors sipping tea, Hester Wren and her family of Rooftoppers run around over their heads, living off the waste said classes produce so carelessly. And while the bodies pile up, friends leave and strangers arrive, a storm is brewing on the horizon, threatening to tear apart the world on top of the city.

I have to admit that I’m a little bit in love with my own cover. The photos were taken here in my fairy tale town as well as the place where we have our band sessions. The chalkboard background is from here, and the fonts I used are Road Movie and Serial Publication. I might have to change a few things (or write a few mails) once I finish the novel and put it out under a CC licence (because that’s what I plan on doing with it in the end), but for now I love it just how it is.

How are your preparations for NaNo going? Have you gotten yourself a cover already?

I’m so looking forward to this!

It’s March already?

February went really, really fast for me. As I mentioned before I spent the better part of last week in the Lower Rhine region on a field trip centered around Roman settlements in Germany. More on that in a few days after I’m done looking over my photos.

With February, Steampunk Hands is also gone. I’m sad I only managed to publish two posts for it, but I still have some in store, so this probably won’t be the last thing you read about cogwheels and goggles here.
Apropos, I made a steampunk-ish earring yesterday, as you can see in the (badly taken and edited, I’m still a bit out of tune with myself from four days of input and over twelve hours of train rides) picture above. I had seen something similar on Pinterest and thought it a neat ideam so when I went to get Suki in Frankfurt last week I just went by my favourite art supply shop that happens to have a well-equipped dollhouse section and got a lightbulb. The wire and hook were already in my supply box so the only thing I had to figure out was how to get the wire through the bulb. In the end I used an awl and a hammer which went well enough.

I hope you had a great week, and I’m off to the dress project I started last night.

10 Favourite Steampunk Craft Tutorials

Hey, my second Steampunk post in one month!
Steampunk isn’t something you can just buy. Sure, you can buy basics, and even intricate gadgets and accessoires, and together they might make an outfit. But those things lack the soul that should inhibit items tied to this very special subculture. Also, making ones own things is fun and there’s nothing like when people compliment you on something, only for you to say “Why, thanks!, I made that myself”.

Here are 10 of my favourite Steampunk-related tutorials and how-tos:

  1. Cowboy Hat to Top Hat tutorial from All Things Crafty. This is a great hat tutorial, especially when you want something to wear on the street without wearing a full-blown top hat, of if your Steampunk character is from the streets rather than from high society.
  2. How to make Goggles from Jar Lids by FenrisDesigns on dA. They might be a bit cartoonish and over the top for a purist, but gladly I am none.
  3. Hexnut Bracelet for the everyday Steampunk on Honestly WTF. Also, spare hexnuts, should you ever need some.
  4. Madeleine Mini Bloomers by The Colette Patterns Studio. Wearable under all those beautiful skirts, or on their own with a pair of fancy thights for a unruly but very comfy young lady or layered and ripped stockings for a tomboyish urban adventurer.
  5. Inventor’s Bell Jar Lamp how-to from Mad in Crafts. Something for the Steampunk home! I think this would look great together with a couple of moss terraria in different sizes.
  6. Steampunk Ear Cuff tutorial, by Bodaszilvia on dA, putting the “punk” back in Steampunk. The other tutorials fom this dA member are pretty great, too.
  7. How to make a Steampunk Flash Drive by ZoDo on Instructables. Instructables has more than one awesome tutorial for this, just look here.
  8. Instructions for Recovering a Parasol on Steam Ingenious. Parasols are a great accessoire, I even use them in everyday life from time to time. I think I might still need a collapsible one, though.
  9. Steampunk Headset by garagemonkeysan on Instructables. This looks like a lot of work, but the outcome is amazing.
  10. Suspenders! Another everyday favourite of mine. This tutorial by Dorian Crafts shows how to make high-quality ones from leather and broadcloth.

How’s your Steampunk month going? The official link list doesn’t seem to bother with fameless names, but will that stop us? Hell no!

Steampunk Hands: One Month of Clockworking

As you might have seen on various Steampunk blogs, February has been dedicated to a web project called Steampunk Hands around the World. Here’s the official link list from the Airship Ambassador who came up with this in the first place.

I’m planning to write a few posts on the topic as well, and maybe, just maybe, if I find the time, make a tutorial for that book bag I made last year.
What part or aspect of Steampunk would you like to see covered here? Are you taking part in Steampunk Hands yourself? What’s your own stance on Steampunk, anyway?

As for the film trailer I used as the header image of this post, doesn’t it look great? When I first saw this video I never knew they’d make a whole film out of the story! All the carnival and circus themes, and the whimsical character design, and a cuckoo clock heart… I’m so looking forward to this! It’s coming to theatres in France tomorrow, I hope they’ll show it here, too. We’ve got a small arthouse theatre in the upper town, so there’s at least hope.

Dreadlocks Nouveau

***

And this is why I was able to finish my star drapes in less than a week now. Yes, it hurt. Yes, I get a lot of prejudice. Yes, it’s totally worth it.

They’re not completely done yet, there’s still a lot of crochet to do. I’ve wanted dreadlocks since I was thirteen, and finally I’ve got them. And not only that, I also made a friend on the way. We’re watching 50s commercials and Anne of Green Gables while dreading, it’s great.

The only thing I’m a bit sorry about is my hat collection, but I think my top hat should fit better than ever now.