Steampunk inspiration and resources

DIY and Crafts

Greetings From TeslaCon!

img_0120I’m enjoying the great state of Wisconsin this weekend as an attendee at the 7th annual TeslaCon. The theme this year is Paris, and by extension all things French during the steam era. I’ve attended some great lectures on things like the catacombs and theaters of Paris, tips on upcycling thrift store items to create Steampunk fashion, and an overview of the Romantic movement in arts and literature in France compared to other places. The organizers have done a wonderful job of hiding speakers around the space to create atmosphere, plus all those awesome French advertisements they put up all over the hotel.

Here’s a few pics from the weekend so far 🙂

My Very Own Steam-Pumpkin Creations

During this most recent move to Michigan this fall I was forced to leave my art supplies in storage. Luckily for me, Ann Arbor has a fantastic shop called The Scrap Box where I could fill a whole bag with all sorts of amazing odds and ends for just a few bucks. I’ve carved simple pumpkins plenty of times, but I’d never built up a jack-o-lantern with accessories so I thought I’d give it a shot.


My first impulse was to make an airship, and I realized that if I tipped a pumpkin onto its side I could get a blimp shape. The stem was the perfect base for the nose cone, and the gems were each a dime and look fabulous both in the light and the dark. I added an extra candle to the smoke stack and the light reflected off the aluminum tube and looked awesome.

img_9973I mentioned using power tools on this baby before, which was what I used to at least start the hole for each gem, then I used clay tools to make them the right size.

I think the engine was my favorite part to build. It’s a small cardboard box, the smoke stack tube and several funky foam shapes I found and painted gold.

img_0008But of course, every airship needs a captain! And the air gets awfully thin up there in the clouds so I made him a respirator and goggles.

The mask is a repurposed berry container plus some caps and foam tubes I found. Most of the mask is held together with toothpicks and a little hot glue. The eyes are another set of caps and some sticky backed foam. I hid the stem inside the top hat, that serves as the handle. At first I didn’t have enough air flow even though the area behind the mask is one large hole, so my captain also got a pair of ears to help.

“Why not just cut a hole in the back?” you ask. I’m glad you did.


I decided my respirator needed a power source, so I cut a whole in the back to let the light from the “furnace” shine through. As an added bonus, there was moisture inside the pumpkin that made it look smoky! The red mesh is from a couple bags of oranges, and the box was originally meant to display jewelry so the window was already there.


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They’re Back! More SteamPumpkin Inspiration

During my first Halloween Extravaganza in 2014, I created a little gallery of Steampunk pumpkin designs.

This year, I’m taking it a step further. Think of it like trick or treating for your eyes.

Have you created a Steampunk pumpkin of your own? Send me your pics at and I’ll add them to this post!

Steampunk’d Comes to Netflix

First Penny Dreadful, and now the world’s first Steampunk reality TV show has come to my favorite streaming service! I admit it, I watched half of the entire run of the show in one sitting because I can’t seem to get enough of watching brilliant and talented people making beautiful things 🙂 And the timing is perfect as people everywhere turn their minds to crafting the perfect Halloween costume.

Plus, the show brings all the catty fun we all know and love from the reality competition genre, but rather than just sewing like Project Runway or just character design like Face-Off, these makers are challenged every week to create a functional Steampunk space with at least one matching costume. The judges give them extra tasks as well, like creating a Rube Goldberg machine that serves breakfast or giving the bedroom a mechanized way to go from day to night, so every assignment stands out and addresses specific needs and a range of talents.


Where to Find “Steam Era” Military Uniform Images…

You may remember that during the month of February FWtGT celebrated all types of makers, and I gave you some digital resources like the New York Public Library. I have a great example today of a way to use digital collections like that one. Military cosplay is common in the world of Steampunk, which makes perfect sense given all the airship captains and officers fighting in India during the 1800’s. So if you are looking for some reference material, look no farther than the NYPL! I included just a sampling below, but there must be at least two dozen lithographs of uniforms from all over the world in the 1890’s. Enjoy!

Have you found any great stuff using the resources I recommended? Tell me about it in the comments!

“The Costuming Diary” Website has Links, Costumes, and Patterns Galore!

She made this Steampunk lion tamer outfit from a tablecloth!!!

She made this Steampunk lion tamer outfit from a tablecloth!!!

If you want to get your hands on some resources for steam era costume design, look no further! I am not much of a seamstress myself (though I have been known to pick up a needle here and there), but for all you cosplay enthusiasts and makers, you should definitely check out the bank of online resources that The Costuming Diary has collected. And, they’re free!



Tips for Makers: Adhesive Chart

I found this excellent reference chart about different materials and the best types of glues to use on them. Check out for the full article.

M50_adhesive_chart_bigLooking for more tips and tricks for makers? Check out this page.

DIY Goggle Tutorials

Goggles are a quintessential Steampunk fashion accessory, and luckily for us in the steam-o-sphere, there are a lot of nice people who have made tutorials about how to make your own. This way you get the satisfaction of creating something yourself and you can personalize your new piece of wearable art to go with the character and costume you have created. There is a wide range of materials and skill levels involved in these videos, but I bet you can find one or a mix of techniques, that would work for you! I have these videos in a vague sort of least-skilled to most-skilled order, starting with an easy modification (mod) and ending with more complex projects built from scratch. When I started looking for these tutorials I was really surprised by how many of them were based on taking an existing pair of goggles and adapting them. I had assumed the sweet oculars I’d been seeing were built from scratch, but it turns out it is easier than you might think to get a really cool finished product.

If you have already made your own set of goggles, I’d love to post a picture of them in my Gearhead Gallery at the end of DIY month on the blog! Send ’em to

Adapting Plastic Safety Goggles

Dollar Store Materials from Scratch

Easy Mod of Swim Goggles

Using Foam

Intense Mod of Diving Goggles

More Complex, Leather Optional