The Newcomer (Jesse) Tuesday, May 31 2011 

As a newcomer to the Steampunk community, let me give you my interpretation of it. Like most things, I was first introduced to the culture by friends. According to these individuals, this is a culture based on the artistic expression of a retro-futuristic world based on all things steam powered. As I spent time with these folks, I began to learn more about what it meant to be a Steampunk. Apparently there is more to it then wearing goggles. At first, I didn’t think it would be something that would really catch on. How wrong I was. As I am typing this, the community behind Steampunk is rising dramatically, spawning many events. One reason I believe that Steampunk is on the rise, is that it is “normal person” friendly. Unlike most deviate demographics, this one tends to be far less shocking, yet still facilitate expressions of individuality. Often, I would witness curious bystanders from all age levels and walks of life take an interest and quickly make themselves a part of the community. In my pursuit to immerse myself into Steampunk, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting lots of wonderful people. These same people have been very helpful in welcoming me into there way of expression.

As far as I know it, the style of Steampunk seems to be strongly, but not limited to, Victorian dress and mannerisms. A major source of fiction most Steampunks like to reference is the writings of Jules Verne. Often, Steampunk is a depiction of how the past envisioned our future and technological advances. This generates a lot of exciting and interesting attire and props. I often find the people in the Steampunk world to be rather friendly and creative. As mentioned above, the age range that you find people tend to vary greatly. Were as most are college age, I’ve have also met a lot of Steampunks that were both children and older adults. The fact that this expression can entertain such a wide range of people is a good sign that Steampunk is going to be around for a long while. Speaking for myself, this community has been most accepting of my eccentricities. As per most groups like this, there are some downsides. Since how Steampunk is fairly young, there is still much debate as to what constitutes as Steampunk, and what doesn’t. A few times in my exploration of this art, I encounter a lot of gray area that makes it difficult to tell if something is appropriate to the style or not. At its core, an artistic expression, I feel it does it a great disservice to define it too much, at risk of denying creative liberties. The only other set back that could exist, is that there is a large difference between someone who is new to the scene, compared to someone who has been in it for a long while. It certainly shows, which people, has put a lot of time and effort into there attire and costumes. Unfortunately, this sometime leads to elitism. If the veterans are not careful, they could scare off a lot of future Steampunks. Luckily, I have not really experienced any issues like that. As I have said before, I find most people in this culture to be friendly and fun.

Over all, I find Steampunk to be a very entertaining and welcoming form of expression. Attending a Steampunk event is a good way to dress and behave in a contrary manner to our normal lives. There are also similar demographics that share a similar ideal to Steampunk. One of my personal favorites is Dieselpunk, which is much like Steampunk, but depicts a slightly more modern aesthetic. Opting out Steam power for gas power and the attire tends towards the 1920’s mobster. Another style that has been around for a while that is a little more different is Cyberpunk. Were Steampunk deals with a retro future, Cyberpunk often express a dystopian possible future. There are many more varieties and groups that could be listed. As it stands, Steampunk is probably the largest of them all. For any who would be interested in Steampunk, should definitely give it a try. As far as my advice to newcomers to the scene like myself, Make some friends in the community and learn from them. As you become more involved, start working on small projects to add to attire, and build up from there. Part of the appeal is the also the resourcefulness people utilize to use for props. Sometimes old junk and thrift stores can be a gold mine for a Steampunk. The last and most important piece of advice I have to give to a newcomer is to have fun with it, and make exciting new friends.

Steampunk World’s Faire Tuesday, May 24 2011 

… it was something different. There were big problems with organization, with the size of the hotel and the weather, but the attendees made it fun and exciting because we were there to have fun. If you were going to go on one day it would have to have been Saturday. The vendors were settled back down from being moved around, the weather was nice until 8 pm, and events were going off pretty close to on schedule. Things were going on everywhere and people were recovered from traveling as far as Texas. Maybe next year it will be better, but I can recommend going and having a good weekend.

A good friend of mine was nice enough to collect images form the fashion show and the story that was supposed to be told on her website so click here to see it 

So what is steampunk to others? Tuesday, May 24 2011 

While at an event a couple of weekends back, there were many people who were very confused (mainly people who were not dressed). What is going on, what is Steampunk? This is one of those age-old questions, because Steampunk is different for everyone. Hell what I think it is and what my boyfriend thinks it is are completely different things. In a room of about 10 I can guarantee that all definitions will be different. Wikipdeia says it is

– Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisionedthem; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.
Urban Dictionary says

-Steampunk:A lifestyle choice, wherein the participants embrace deliberate anachronism and quasi-anachronism as seen in steampunk fiction. Often characterized by modifying one’s electronic gadgets to make them look a century out-of-date

even BBC gets into the act by putting out this

What I believe it is in already on this site right here . I used to have my thesis on here (how historical subcultures can change mainstream culture). Now I can go on having people write in and put in what they think steampunk is which could go on for years. I have chosen 5 people from different walks of steampunk, they will write in about what they think it is. First up we have Ashbel (writing as a dieselpunk), I am working on getting a  post-apocalyptic writer, Jesse (writing as a Newcomer ) Michael Salerno (as some who has been around for a while) and A Count Named Slick Brass ( as a entertainer). All of these articles will be different and will give an interesting view of steampunk.

Spotlight Article- Personas by The Emperor of the Red Fork Empire Monday, May 16 2011 

Persona building is not as difficult as you may think. It does take some consideration and time to have one that is put together well and is likely to become self sustainable. I have found two different but effective ways of getting the foundations of your persona: 1. If you are familiar with role playing games, their character generation is a nice place to start. 2. If you are not familiar or want a more detailed look of your persona from the get go then using the question method is good but lacks the structure of the game path. I recommend the role play books for those who may not have any idea what they want their persona to be.

It would not hurt to use one then the other, you might find an idea that you did not think of and could give you a greater insight to your persona.

I am not going to go into the use of role play books because they do a good job of leading you step by step.

I will talk about the question method. The way this works is that you take different topics and ask more and more detailed questions based off that topic.

Example: For background of the Persona, you can start with: Is your persona from a fictional universe? Is it one someone already created or one you made up? Which planet are you from? Country? State? City or town, village, suburb? What was your House like? Your room? And so on.

You can take any piece of that line of questions and go back to get more details if you want. This method is more fluid, is highly dependant on your imagination, and where you want to start asking questions.

Some start with the origins of the persona while others like to start with what the persona looks like. By this I mean how they dress. You can get a lot out what the persona is by what they wear. If your persona wears a suit, they are definitely not a coal miner. If your persona wears a weapon, why is that? Is it ornamental or have they had to use it? By what your persona wears it is very easy to put them into a class within the society they are from. Another place to begin is the name of your persona, if it’s a fancy name it is more likely you come from an upper class, where if the name is generic or short it means you are from the working class. If your name is more of a nickname, or has a title at the beginning, it says a lot about who you are.

Once you get all the meat of your persona you can then start to get into the nuances of it to make it more believable. The persona’s personality, their mannerisms, and their faults. I am a firm believer that if a persona has no faults and is “supermanish”, then it is doomed to become less and less interesting for a person to portray. “Oh, you hit me with this thing and it should have killed me cause its my one weakness, but look how I lift a whole island of it and toss it into the sun.” If you are new to personas I suggest you stay close to home and keep your persona’s personality similar to you. It is always good to start with what you know then if you want to spend the time to research something of interest you can always incorporate it later.

A very important thing to keep in mind is that this persona is yours, you can do whatever you want with it. That includes changing it as much as you want, never feel that any decision you make about your persona is etched in stone. You will find, as you take your persona out of the box and interact with others that your persona will take on a life of its own. It will evolve and change and it should, there is always things to improve upon to suit what you want so don’t be afraid to change it. Remember that this is about having fun.

The Red Fork Empire 

International Steampunk City Monday, May 9 2011 

In the end it was a good idea that was not well organized. I was only there for one day because of work but I don’t think things changed much over both days. Now let me start by saying it’s a good idea, they took part of own town and made it a place that was welcome to vendors from all over New England. They got the surround businesses involved in the day as well. The bands were great, the mixtures of things that are historical, steampunk and crafty were interesting.

Now here is the problem, some of the vendors were on the 5th floor of a bank building that was closed at 3 and you needed a key card to get to the 5th floor. Some of the people on the 5th floor were big names in vendors that should have been placed in a more highly trafficked area. Other less interesting and less creative vendors were placed with more prominence .  The burlesque show was in a small room… which was fine but it was in the middle of a maze of halls that I did not know was there. The movie screening was not all that close to anything and no one know that it was going on. The website was hard to navigate and the schedule was even harder.  I know this would have been hard to do, but the streets were still open to traffic which made it hard to walk places. It rained a little but that is no ones fault and unavoidable.

The events in the park, construction site and visitor center were fun and well organized, the outfits were amazing and it was well advertised on local news, steampunk sites and Facebook

article dealing with event can be seen here . More Articles to come

What to buy, what to make? persona Part 3 of 3 Monday, May 9 2011 

What to buy on line and what not too, these are only suggestions but in a subculture where individuality is key these are some ways to do it.

I suggest making your own clothes. I am not crazy, let me explain before you start in on me, I am going to tell you a secret I am a seamstress but I did not make most of my clothing and I will not make a white button up shirt cause you can go anywhere and get one for 5 bucks.

If you don’t know how to sew, you should start learning. Small things are good to start out with vests, arm warmers, leg warmer, Boot cuffs and covers and cravats they also have great tutorials on thread bangers .

This is easy and I will get more into it in another article where I tell you how to do it, the fun and easy way. These things will make your outfit yours. Try not get everything at one place and wear them together. Try not to make it a big piece that everyone will know the source of like the steampunk arm. 

I have seen great forums for people making armor out of foam and you can never tell like blind squirrel props and the rpf.

I suggest that a person looking for a costume try a thrift store or consignment. Start there and alter them, it is easier than building from scratch. As a teacher of mine once said, touch everything. He was talking about paint but that same thing applies here, put your own spin on everything, don’t use it like you bought it. Every little detail counts.

I would buy small things from retailers. Hair, jewelry and shoes, hats and nick-nacks, all are possibilities. When searching online, don’t use Steampunk as a keyword. The problem with using it in the search is that since the scene has exploded there are a lot of things out there that are either not steampunk or are far more expensive then they should be ‘cause they know they will sell. There are websites devote to this stuff  called Regretsy, it is pretty funny take some time to see what I mean.

These are just some idea to think of while you are working on our personas for Steampunk World Fair and though I did not say this the most important thing is to have fun. Not having fun= not doing it right. Next weeks paper will be our first guest writer, the Emperor of the Red Fork Empire, one of the most well know persona in the steampunk sphere.

Links for this article

 Thread bangers

Blind squirrel props

 The rpf

Regretsy

 Steampunk World fair 

Red fork empire

Go Fly a Dirigible Monday, May 2 2011 

Now to be a steamista you must also be see and go to events, get to know people and shmoos.

This weekend was a delightful event, hosted by yours truly at Harkness State Park. Lots of people where there and a couple even brought kits, while others strolled around the grounds.

People brought food for lunch and picnics. There was one interesting event. When we First arrived there was no wind, we though a frizbee around until about noon, when the air raid sirens, the wind picked up and the kites where off. For the  rest of the day we had a nice wind. My companions and I left about 3 for a short and interesting ride back home.

What to wear? Persona Part 2 of 3 Monday, May 2 2011 

So let me start this entry by just saying that not all these articles that will deal with persona building. This question seems to be growing because people are getting ready for Steampunk World Faire. It is coming up at the end of this month. Many people who are attending are trying to tighten up their personas for this event. I have done many lectures and consultations on persona building. Once people have an interest and a name their next question should be what to wear, if you are not that earlier person that has it already.

I just want to say think broadly on a persona, don’t be afraid to be a teacher, fisherman, or chimney sweep. Lucretia from the Wandering legion of the Thomas Tew loves to cook. She took that and decided that she should be a chef. (How wasn’t that easy). Now let us keep going using her as a model. For the sake of simplifying and not getting newbies confused we will ignore the cultural significance of her outfit (that is another whole article and more). She is a chef, what is the thing that screams chef? That double breasted coat. We thank her and will use her as an example soon where we talk about making and buying costume piece.

If you are something like a scientist you will probably want to wear clothes that can be cleaned easily cause you are going to get dirty, when your latest experiment blows up, Where as a professor is probably not going to work so much outside in the dirt, he or she will be able to wear nicer clothes then a scientist. Thing about what you are going. Can you do it in these clothes? Is this something that will need to be cleaned often? Do you need to run? Oh yhea think about it, if you need to run you don’t want a long skirt with a bustle, or something that will rip easy if you fall. Do you need pockets or do you need a bag cause you have so much stuff?