Saturday, January 8, 2011

Welcome to Steam Ingenious

Welcome to the first post of my new steampunk blog. Other versions of me have other blogs that I should be updating instead of creating a new one, but my steampunk addiction needs an outlet. This blog, I may actually be motivated to post in.  But no promises.

I feel obligated to take a moment to introduce both the blog and myself before diving into content. If you know what steampunk is, and you know all about me, feel free to skip ahead.

What is steampunk?
You may be a relative of mine, or someone I went to middle school with, surfing your way here from facebook and you may be wondering, "What the hell is steampunk anyway?" I imagine one could easily write thousands of words on the topic and not run out of new things to say. But I'll try to be brief and practical. The simplest and most inclusive definition of steampunk that I've see is that "Steampunk is Victorian Science Fiction." That can mean either Science Fiction as the Victorians imagined it, ala Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, or Science Fiction that in some way incorporates Victorian attitudes, style, or technology.

"Steam" obviously refers to the cutting age technology of the Victorian period: steam power. "Punk" has nothing to do with music, but attitude. Good steampunk, like good punk rock, is DIY, non-conformist, and anti-corporate. The best thing about steampunk is that no two steampunks are going to have the same vision of a steampunk outfit, aesthetic, or world, though there are common design elements. Gears, cogs, brass, copper, goggles, elaborate weaponry, the color brown. All these things are the typical elements of steampunk, though one could be perfectly steampunk without incorporating any of them.

Steampunk as a subculture has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. There are steampunk bands, steampunk clothing lines, a growing number of steampunk events in every part of the world, and innumerable websites and online communities.

Who am I?
My name is Violet von Micklesburg. Actually, no, it's not. That's the name of my steampunk character. My real name is Kim. I'll answer to either. Violet's story will be told at another time. Mine? I've always been obsessed with the Victorian period. I became a fan of Sherlock Holmes at the age of 11 and have remained a Sherlockian all my life. I've also studied Victorian literature and most of the fiction I read is set in the 19th century.

I've been aware of steampunk for years, but only realized in 2009 that people actually dressed up in steampunk costumes and went places. A little over a year ago I started surfing around the internet, looking at gorgeous Victorian dresses that I couldn't afford and wishing I could. Before I could spend any money on a Victorian outfit, I told myself, I needed an excuse to wear it. Steampunk was that excuse. I somehow got my husband to agree to dress up steampunk with me, and we chose A-Kon, the huge annual anime convention in Dallas, as our first outing. That gave us from January to June of 2010 to put together our costumes. I don't think we did that bad for our time and budget constraints (although there's been better pictures):

From A-kon 2010

Somehow I imagined these outfits would be simple pieces of clothing that we would purchase the bits of once, wear once or twice a year, and that would be all. How naive I was then! Steampunk isn't a fashion statement. It's a disease. And we infected ourselves. We had no sooner returned from A-Kon than we started improving and revamping our outfits. Three weeks later, we were at San Japan, San Antonio's Anime con. And we haven't really stopped since. We wore our outfits to the Texas Renaissance Festival, and Dickens on the Strand in Galveston. In two weeks we're attending a steampunk evening in Dallas, and are planning on hitting at least five cons this year.

I've taught myself to sew and plan to make a full Victorian bustle dress. (I've already made the bustle.) I'm knitting lace gloves, shawls, parasols, aviator hats, and anything I can find. My husband spent a large part of today working on painting a toy shotgun for his costume. It's a full-time addiction and we wouldn't really have it any other way.

As for this blog, I intend to share both my completed and ongoing projects and more general thoughts about steampunk. Even after only a year doing this I think I've learned a lot about what not to do that might be useful to someone else.


  1. Hello there, Violet. I've really enjoyed looking around your blog. I live in San Diego and have always enjoyed steampunk books, clothes, etc, just didn't know what it was called! I've just signed up for a Yahoo steampunk group to learn more. I don't know how to sew, but your ideas are great. Thanks for being here!

  2. I've started taking a look around and I'm hooked! Your blog is bookmarked, your book reviews carefully noted into my to-read list, and I'm sure to come back. See ya!

  3. Thank you for sharing so much... Due to you I was able to make this:

    1. Tamseer- That is really cool! I can barely sew, but I hope I can do something like that in the future.

  4. A wonderful site full of wonderful things. All sorts of little lights and turning gears. Bravo.

  5. Violet, your site has helped me no end!
    I am the manager of a theatrical costume hire service who have been asked to take part in a local festival and provide a dressing up/portrait taking experience for the punters! This years theme: Scifi. Or, more accturately; HG Wells. Woking, the town in which it's all happening, being where he resided around 1890.
    ANYWAY - not so necessary history lesson aside. They wanted a Scifi dress up tent. I rolled my eyes and they're getting steampunk. Obviously. How could we not?
    I have, however, founf myself endlessly having to explain myself.

    Really this has been a very long comment simply to say thankyou for putting it into such succinct words for me. I found myself knowing what I wanted to say, but not knowing how to in just one sentence.

    Keep up the great work. Your site is wonderful.