Over the last two weeks I have added three new pages to this site to help give easier access to related articles that have been published several days or weeks apart. Many of you probably saw these articles when they were first posted, but as the number of Gear Heads (as I refer to my followers) increases, some folks may not have gotten in on all the fun. Here are links and descriptions of each new page.
Steampunk Sourcebooks– So far I have published 11 of these long articles about a single subject such as Sherlock Holmes, H. G. Wells and Jack the Ripper, with fun facts and information about what has come before and ideas for further punking.
Tips for Makers– Articles about working with metal, plastic, foam and paper.
How to Punk Your Steam– I am publishing one article per month over the next year about different ways to mess with the Victorian era. There is advice for how to do things yourself, as well as links to the work of others to serve as examples. So far there are only two, but the page also lists the upcoming titles for the rest of 2015.
Also, if you weren’t along for the whole ride during my escapades in London, you can get the whole feed by visiting the Steam Tour: An American Steampunk in London page.
As an artist I am always on the lookout for public domain images that I can use in my artwork. As I was looking around for some botanical illustrations, I stumbled upon a delightful site devoted to posting and blogging about these kinds of images. Here’s a series of gems from an article called “The Future Dictates of Fashion,” by W. Cade Gall, and appeared in The Strand in 1893. The author claims to have found a book that is from 1993 and gives a “history of fashion” for the century to come. Time-traveling books?! You can’t get much more Steampunk than that!
Jeff VanderMeer is a heavy-hitter on the Steampunk book scene, and, along with co-author Desirina Boskovich, he released a new book in October entitled The Steampunk User’s Manual: An Illustrated Practical and Whimsical Guide to Creating Retro-futurist Dreams.
“Steampunk, the retro-futuristic cultural movement, has become a substantial and permanent genre in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. A large part of its appeal is that, at its core, Steampunk is about doing it yourself: building on the past while also innovating and creating something original. VanderMeer’s latest book offers practical and inspirational guidance for readers to find their individual path into this realm. Including sections on art, fashion, architecture, crafts, music, performance, and storytelling, The Steampunk User’s Manual provides a conceptual how-to guide that motivates and awes both the armchair enthusiast and the committed creator. Examples range from the utterly doable to the completely over-the-top, encouraging participation and imagination at all levels.” (From the Amazon page)
I have a copy of his Steampunk Bible, but along with several other volumes it had to be left behind in the US when I moved to Europe for the year. Luckily, I have family visiting in the Spring who will bring it to me, and maybe if I ask Santa really nicely he will leave the User’s Manual in my stocking this year.
Have you read anything by VanderMeer? Please share your thoughts below!
Halloween marked the first anniversary for For Whom The Gear Turns and it has been a great first year. Thank you so much to The Steampunk Journal, The Obsession Engine, Hive Queen and Country and Airship Flamel for your reblogs, to the World of Penny Blake for your support, and to all my readers for sharing almost 3,000 things, including the campaign for Steam Tour.
So as a little “happy birthday” to the blog, I collected some amazing examples of Steampunk cakes.
I reached and exceeded my goal of 25,000 views for the first year, and gained 711 followers. Wow! But I need your help to shape my calendar for the year to come, so please give me your feedback below. You can vote as many times as you want, so feel free to reload this post and choose as many options as you like.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to share with you all the articles that have been the most popular in case you are new to following or missed them the first time around. It is really interesting to see what interests you the most, and it helps me decide what to write about, so keep up the good work sharing. commenting and reading! The titles are all active links so feel free to explore these top picks by readers.
This is one of my favorite statistics to check, and it tells me so much about what my readers might want to see more of.
1. Steampunk Scrapbook Paper
2. Free Vintage Images
3. Music to Steampunk by: Lindsey Stirling
4. Steampunk Sourcebook: Captain Nemo
5. Treasure Planet
6. Of Coke and Culture Clash (Multicultural Steampunk)
You can’t imagine how much it warms my heart to see that the two pages that are most personal, about me and the pictures of my artwork, are in the top 6 most viewed things on the blog.
1. Van Helsing Mixes Monsters for Movie Magic
2. Brothers Grimm Punks Your Favorite Fairy Tales
3. About the Author
4. The Dolls of New Albion at Ed Fringe Review
5. My Artwork
6. Hustlers, Harlots and Heroes Book
Have a Happy Halloween!
~Love from ForWhomTheGearTurns 🙂
Plastic is an incredibly versatile material and it is everywhere. With a little ingenuity and elbow grease you can make it into just about anything.
First off, there are toys. At any Steampunk cosplay event you can be sure you will see souped up Nerf guns and squirt guns that look like they walked right out of an H. G. Wells story. But keep in mind that if you want to paint a plastic gun that spray paint will chip over time. If you scour your plastic surface ahead of time with steel wool, sand paper or even a kitchen scouring pad you will create pores for the paint to adhere to and it will last much longer. Kinex is a line of plastic engineering toys so it is a great way to get lightweight and cheap plastic gears that you can paint to look like metal.
At the Form and Function session at The Asylum one of my favorite items was a remote-control Dalek toy that a maker Steampunked by adding metallic paint and little makeshift boiler on the back.
Plastic pipes like the ones you can find at the hardware store are also really useful. Just like plastic guns, they need to be roughed up before you paint them, but they are relatively easy to drill into with a small electric drill so they are easy to embellish. Major Quicksilver had an amazing “power glove” that he built by attaching a leather work glove to the interior so the fingers were flexible even though the gauntlet was rigid. It was enhanced by flexible plastic tubing and a leather strap that attaches to the upper arm.
You can also get the look of rivets without having to use real metal. If you search for “half pearls” on eBay you can find these great little half-spheres that look just like metal rivets, sometimes without having to paint them. The Major warns that you can find one with adhesive on the backs, but they are much more expensive than getting the kind you glue on yourself. And if you are attaching them to EVA foam hot glue will hold them on really well. An audience member also mentioned that dried peas or lentils can also do for rivets in a pinch, as long as you don’t mind a little irregularity in the shape.
Another great use for plastic is if you have to make something hinged. Sure, you can use real metal hinges that require screws but if you want a quick and easy hinge you can just cut plastic packaging like the top from a butter tub or the like into strips. Attach one end of each strip to the pieces you want to hinge and you will have a flexible and lightweight connection. The amazing giant hand at right had metal hinges on one side and plastic on the other. He was able to manipulate the fingers by pulling strings attached to a leather glove on the other side. In case you are thinking of doing something similar, he let us know that the thumb was the most difficult part to get to move, so he used his pinky finger instead, ergo the three-fingered hand.
The good Major also told the crowd all about a wonderful malleable plastic called polymorph. It comes in the form of little beads and you can melt them in boiling water on your stove. After they become gel-like and come together in a glob you have about 5 minutes to mold it into any shape you want. And if you don’t like the result you can just put it back into the hot water and start again. Of course, you have to be careful about burning yourself when you take the polymorph out, so if you use something like welders gloves it will protect your hands. It usually comes as a transparent plastic, but you can add dyes or paint it later. Once it is solid it is a great material to drill into or file.
If you want an antiqued look to your paint jobs you can use a dry brushing technique. This is done as the second layer to add a bit of a weathered look to your surfaces. For instance, if you are trying to get the look of copper armor that has begun to oxidize, you should start with a solid layer of copper paint before you add the touch of turquoise to make it look tarnished. To dry-brush, add a glob of paint to your brush (this is a good use for old brushes) and remove most of the paint on a newspaper, magazine, etc. Even if you remove most of the paint there will still be just a bit left on the bristles, and you can apply this to your finished project.
Do you have any suggestions for working with plastic? Please comment below!
During the “Creating with Quicksilver” session, the Major couldn’t say enough good things about a material called Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam. My only experience with it has been with bedrolls and yoga mats, but he demonstrated several ways to use it when you are constructing costumes.
EVA foam comes and many different colors and thicknesses. There are floor mats that are popular for kids to play on and these often have texture on one side which can add interest. Unlike many plastics, this foam also readily takes to hot glue without extra treatment. It is easy to draw on it with permanent markers, and can be cut with scissors or for more accuracy, a craft knife. It will dull your blade pretty quickly, though, so if you plan to make repeated cuts it is a good idea to invest in a craft knife that allows you the change out the blade easily.
If you do end up with rough edges you have a couple options. You can use something like a Dremel or other electric tool to grind them down, but it will be very messy when the foam starts flying. Major Quicksilver advises running the blunt side of a scissors across any rough parts to smooth it down without the mess.
EVA is especially good for things like armor that need to look heavy and sturdy but you don’t want to weigh you down. There are tons of patterns out there on the web for different kinds of armor, and the foam is great for layering so you can add bulk to your character easily. It is also easy to mold when heated with a heat gun, or even a hairdryer and holds it shape like a dream.
There are some foams, like polystyrene, which are even lighter and readily available, but be advised that there is often a chemical reaction with certain paints that can actually melt the foam. It would be a shame to build a whole suit of armor just to have it disintegrate while you are adding the finishing touches! EVA, on the other hand, is great for painting, especially with spray paint. But beware that the more a part of your project has to bend the more likely it is that your paint job could crack and flake.
Here are a few Steampunk examples I found on the web to inspire your own creations.
I hope you have been enjoying my Tips for Makers series based on the sessions at the Weekend at the Asylum festival so far. “Taming Metal” parts 1, 2, 3 and 4, were for the people who want to use real metal in their props, costumes and gadgets, but that’s not for everyone. Sometimes you want things to look a certain way but you don’t have the time, materials or skills to make it happen. And there is no shame in cutting corners or substituting one thing for another. I know some people are all about the “authenticity” but Steampunk should be a bit of silly fun and lack of know-how shouldn’t keep you from trying your hand at making something cool.
I went to a session hosted by “Major Quicksilver” during my great weekend in Lincoln and he had tons of advice about materials and how to get them at an affordable rate. The most important thing he told the audience was if you see something, buy it right then and there. Don’t wait for a project to start gathering materials, because chances are when you go back to get something it will be gone, or it will have gone up in price. I have been moving around a lot in the last few years so I have been holding off from gathering too much myself, and I can’t wait until I get settled enough to amass the craft room of my dreams.
But even with my space restriction I can’t help myself from going into overstock and scrap store I come to, and I usually leave with at least one treasure. It may take years before I use it, but whenever I start a new project I take infinite pleasure in going through my materials and rediscovering things that will enhance my work. For instance, I started collecting pieces of chandeliers because they were crystaline and shiny. Then I discovered if you turn them upside down they make wicked mini hot air balloons. Some of the scrapbook paper in this piece were from the first pad I ever bought years ago.
There are lots of random things around your house that can be put to new uses. Pill bottles, for instance, can hold tiny things like beads or screws, and the covers can be used as knobs or dials on a jet pack or ray gun. I made a pair of aviator goggles for my toy poodle and I used the caps from pill bottles as the makeshift lenses. He was never going to let me put goggles on him for real, so it didn’t matter if they were functioning. Unfortunately he and the goggles are back stateside or I’d post a photo, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they are adorable.
Want to add a little brass? The wire used for hanging framed art comes in a brassy color and you can get it for pretty cheap. There are also a lot of old cameras and other gizmos at your local thrift store just waiting for you to take them apart and find all the goodies inside. Drawer pulls which can do double duty as various cosmetic adornments and come in lots of shapes, sizes and finishes and there are often bucketloads of these are scrap yards.
So get on out there and start gathering your resources, you never know when a project will come up!
Here are a few places where I get my arts and crafts supplies. (Sorry UKers, I mostly make and therefore shop in the US).
Ax-Man (4 locations in MN)- hands down the best place to get random mechanical parts that actually function, or just look cool. Glass bottles and beakers, circuit boards, switches, leather scraps, magnets, you name it, they have it and it is SUPER cheap.
ArtScraps (St. Paul, MN)- When I got married I made my own wedding invites by getting cheap art prints and cutting them down to size. They have stamps, fasteners and bulk randomness, plus classes and birthday parties for kids.
The Scrap Box (Ann Arbor Michigan)- This is where I got all those pretty chandelier dangles that I use in my shadowboxes. There is a back room where they charge you by weight so you just go in, load up a grocery bag and it may cost you $5 for a full one.
Scrap Creative Re-Use Center (San Franciso, CA)- This is advertised as a great place for teachers to come and get supplies for their classes. In addition to overstock and bulk goodies, there are magnets, wooden blocks and whiteboards.
Urban Ore– This is a pretty hardcore scrapyard with lots of doors, furniture, marble tiles and other home
Do you have and advice about where to find cool and useful stuff? Please comment below!
That’s right folks, it’s time for a monster mash. One popular way to “punk your steam” is to add elements of the supernatural to the tales from history, offering explanations that incorporate ghouls such as vampires and werewolves rather than what the history books say, as well creating brand new narratives where monsters play a role. Also, the Victorian era saw the birth of Spiritualism, the belief that spirits of the dead could and often did communicate with the living. All Hallows Eve, which has now been shortened to Halloween, celebrates the creepy and costume, and Steampunk seamstresses and seamsters, make-up artists and makers the world over use it as a chance to showcase their talents and share their knowledge.
Halloween has always held a special place in my heart, and in fact I launched this blog on October 31, 2013, so October is also my countdown the my first blogging birthday. Join me all month long for reviews of Steampunk movies and books that feature monsters and witches, costume construction tips from the sessions I attended at Weekend at the Asylum, LARP-ing games to give you an excuse to dust off your costume early, and other spooky fun surrounding the history of ghost stories and the practices of Spiritualism.
Do you have a scary or supernatural Steampunk story or photos of your Halloween creations that you would like to see appear on this blog? Send them my way at ForWhomTheGearTurns@Gmail.com. I can’t guarantee that I will post everything I receive, but I would love to get some submissions from readers. Make sure that you include the name you would like your creation attributed to as part of your email.
When I was reading through the program for Weekend at the Asylum I was intrigued by the competition category for “Steam Bears.” These are stuffed animals (mostly bears) that were dressed up or modified especially to reflect the Steampunk aesthetic. Maybe if you make the trip to Asylum VII you can enter one of your own!
Besides the amazing outfits and incredible sessions, there was also an exhibition of Steampunk arts and crafts during the convention. There were some fun gadgets, punked paintings and imaginative accessories on display all weekend in the Tennyson Suite of the Bailgate Assembly Rooms. Check out the gallery below, and if you want to know about any particular work or artist, feel free to leave me a comment. I took pictures of almost all of the labels for the gizmos and I can pass them on if you want more info.
There were so many wonderful costumes during Weekend at the Asylum, so I decided to keep the costume contest participants for another post. Here are some delightful folks from around the convention.
I admit it, I am actually wiggling in anticipation of how awesome Steam Tour is going to be. I booked all my shows for Ed Fringe, ordered my Britrail pass and I am dreaming of all the delicious pub grub in my future.
So here’s the plan for week 1:
۞ Jekyll and Hyde
Main Theatre @ Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall
- Sat 9 August, 21:30
And after the performance, let’s meet up for a cocktail at the Jekyll and Hyde Pub nearby! I’ll wear my goggles so you can find me, and I’ll bring some “My Other Beep Beep is a Whoosh” airship stickers along for purchase, just one pound per awesome bumper sticker to show off your steamy side 🙂
۞ Victorian Vices – Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls
Niddry – theSpace Above @ theSpace on Niddry St
- Mon 11 August, 18:00
۞ Victorian Vices – The Picture of Dorian Gray
Niddry – theSpace Above @ theSpace on Niddry St
- Mon 11 August, 20:00
۞ Whisky Tasting
Bennet’s Bar @ Bennets Bar
- Tue 12 August, 14:00
۞ Dolls of New Albion: A Steampunk Opera
Venue 45 @ theSpace @ Venue45
Clockwork Hart Productions
- Tue 12 August, 22:45
۞ 21st Century Poe: Moyamensing
The Vault @ Paradise in The Vault
- Wed 13 August, 17:50
۞ City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour
Outside St. Giles Cathedral @ Black City of the Dead Signs
Black Hart Entertainment
- Wed 13 August, 21:00
۞ Arthur Conan Doyle Experience
The Sanctuary @ Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
- Thu 14 August, 14:00 (x2)
۞ Morgan & West: Parlour Tricks
KingDome @ Pleasance Dome
Corrie McGuire for Objective Talent U
- Thu 14 August, 19:00
Upstairs @ Greenside @ Nicolson Square
The Egg Theatre Company
- Fri 15 August, 10:20
Pleasance Beyond @ Pleasance Courtyard
Action To The Word
- Fri 15 August, 21:20
I am really happy with my newest experiment! What do you think?
Once I figured out out how to do a hot air balloon I knew I couldn’t stop there! Here is my first (though definitely not my last) attempt at a 3D dirigible/airship. This shadowbox measures 12” x 12” and the back is finished so it can hang on the wall or stand alone on a shelf. I used a combination of glossy and matte papers, but the shiny parts aren’t nearly as shiny in person as they look on the photos. I have a light source directly above my photo area that can give a false impression with its glare.
Each 12 x 12 shadow box takes approximately 10 hours to complete. They start their lives as canvases and are covered by cardstock and paper, then embellished with mixed media accoutrements. I made the dirigible and the boat using a similar method to my Christmas ornaments. Check out the tutorial here.
Here is another small format shadow box. The centerpiece was originally a dangly bit on a chandelier or the like, but I got it at the Scrap Box in Ann Arbor, MI, because I thought it would make a good hot air balloon. I have one more of these gems that I will put into a square shadow box as well.
What do you think?
I first saw these birds years ago in a store in San Francisco. I made a point of always visiting that store whenever I was in the area just to see the gorgeous and ever changing array of songbirds. I didn’t know who made them until today when I found Mullanium.com! Below are just some of the many examples of birds on their website, but because they are decorated and perched on found objects each one is unique.
Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
I found another pretty paper pack for your steamy scrapbooking needs. This pack is from Hot Off The Press. You can find info about ordering as well as instructions and project ideas at http://www.hotp.com/products/4168.
You really can make anything with Legos…