(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Steampunk Sideswipe

Monday is a work day for my ‘day job’. There I was minding my business, working and conversing with my client about work stuff and I heard the word ‘steampunk’. Double take. Did you say ‘steampunk’?Yes! After her expressing surprise that I actually knew what ‘steampunk’ was, we launched into a long conversation on all things steampunk!  Post Costume Ball photos were requested for her perusal. It was refreshing to meet someone (of the non-costuming population) who actually knew what steampunk was, a bit on its history and not just thought it was goggles and gears stuck on something!

It is obvious that steampunk sells. Take a look on etsy and ebay and there is a plethora of things to buy, some  of which needs quite a bit of imagination to relate back to anything steampunk or even Victorian. A quick search on Amazon produces links for books, accessories, How to’s and clothing (some a little debatable).  Is Steampunk becoming too mainstream?

Last year major fashion houses got bitten by the steampunk bug and it has been spreading. Louis Vuitton’s models goggled up for the 2012/12 season and The Times asked Is Steampunk the New Fashion Trend? Just this week there was an article doing the rounds, on Facebook: How the Steampunk movement is catching the eye of High Tech 


I have being steampunking it for several years now and have a few costumes. I find them fun and (mostly) comfortable to wear. I love the fact that I can reuse bits for other costumes. It reminds me of historical re-enactment where the costumes are more clothing than just a one-off costume.

scoutM2       VictoriaOtto2

I have developed quite a penchant for cephalopods as you can see on my Redbubble page and on my website. (and my latest Victoria costume!) My outfits are possibly not as ‘mechanical’ as others but that is also the allure of the genre; it is different to everyone.  Some add mechanicals, armour and contraptions galore, some are upper class Aristocrats, mad scientists or explorers… anything can happen! (Above you can see my Steampunk Scout Mistress who has a badge in kraken lore and handling).

So what is steampunk? Essentially it is a genre based on alternative history usually set in the industrialised Victorian era (though it can be earlier or later if you wish). It is the ultimate ‘what if’ scenerio: What if the electronics age didn’t happen and everything was steam driven?) It can be post apocolyptic, fantasy, historical. It is what you make of it. Google it.

Most of all, I love writing and reading steampunk (though some of it seems to be of the gaslight/gaslamp genre. Now that is a whole other blog! Think steampunk with supernatural, though it is a bit more complicated than that). I started out writing fantasy and very, very quickly I found myself plotting for mad scientists to be foiled by my Victorian heroes/heroines who are often themselves armed with science or gadgets. (I must admit I love the ‘properness’ of the Victorian era; there is so much juxtaposition between the civilities and the havoc that can be wreaked!)

steamin library(thanks to Catherine Scholz for this photo in the Mortlock Wing of the State Library)

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