During my years in college, I worked on a history degree that focused on two regions histories, Asia and Europe. My European history focus had a smattering of pre-modern history tossed in, but my focus was primarily modern Europe, starting with the events leading up to the French Revolution. So much of the world changed with the French Revolution with its notions of things like secularism and liberal democracies that I found it an absolutely fascinating topic to study. The revolution so completely intrigued me that I even spent some time in Paris studying the event.
After the Revolution, the Terror, and a brief reign by the Directory, order was eventually be brought to France in the form of the Consulate under Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon would eventually seize power for himself and bring about the First French Empire.
All of this history is, however, a little pre-steam. How then, does all of this relate to Steampunk? Well, back in the day, the King of Spain commissioned this portrait of Napoleon leading his troops across the Alps:
Painted by Jacques-Louis David between 1801 and 1805, Napoleon Crossing the Alps is a highly idealized view of Napoleon. It’s also one of the most recognizable portraits in the world. And really, as soon as you look at that portrait, you know this dude is a badass, even if you don’t know exactly who that dude is.
But, in a Steampunk world, that same portrait might look something like this:
This awesome print of a Steampunk Napoleon was created by ApplePoo at deviantART. Be sure to check it out in its full glory at the gallery, and if you love it, consider ordering a print!
As Steampunk continued to grow and attract new people to the movement and subculture, there was some concern that it would lose some of its core values in the process of being absorbed by the mainstream. Notions like individual creativity and the importance of Makers within the Steampunk community are really important to people who live and breathe Steampunk, but really not to those who are just going for a unique aesthetic.
Fortunately, though, it seems like Steampunk is keeping true to its core of makers and individual creativity. There was an article published recently that highlights a program called “Steampunk Accessories” that took place at the Wagner Library in Metairie, Louisiana that inspired kids to create works of art using repurposed and recycled items. To read about it, check out the full article here.
It makes me really happy to see new people being introduced to Steampunk through the notion of DIY and personal creativity, and to me, it’s a sign that while more people are becoming familiar with the notion of Steampunk, Steampunk is somehow managing to stay true to itself and its ideals.
I’ve seen a lot of Steampunked iPhone cases in my day. Believe me, I see more than my fair share of mediocre cases in my effort to weed through the junk and bring you only the very best of Steampunk here. But today’s case is pretty freaking sweet. Observe!
Oh my, it’s gorgeous!
Artist J. “Wilhelm” Dunn, the proprietor of VictorianSteampunk clearly put a considerable amount of attention into these intricate cases. There’s a ton of information on the cases and their various specs within each listing, so if you have questions about the specifics regarding the construction of purchase of one of these cases, please check it out. These cases are available for iPhone 4 and iPod Touch from his etsy storefront. In addition to iDevice mods, he also has a small assortment of jewelry and keyrings.
The Scramble for Africa was a period during the 19th and early 20th centuries wherein various European powers undertook the exploration and subsequent colonization and subjugation of the continent. Africa still struggles to this day with the effects of imperialism, and is, by far, the world’s poorest continent. If you don’t know a lot about the Scramble for Africa, do consider taking a look at this article to give you a basic understanding. It’s things like this that make me glad I’m a Steampunk and not a Neo-Victorian; a lot of this should be downright repulsive to the modern reader.
While European colonialists were running rough-shod over the people and resources of Africa, others were busy plowing through Africa’s fauna. The notion of the safari, back in those days, was for people to hunt game, and even selected a Big Five game list for no other purpose than to bring back skins and heads of their kills as trophies to hang on the walls of their homes.
Fortunately, at least in the respect to the safari, times have changed. You can’t go shooting lions and rhinoceros at your whim nowadays, and the whole animal heads on the wall is definitely not as overwhelming popular as it was back then.
But say you want something like that on your wall, but you’re the gentle sort who doesn’t like the notion of shooting an animal. You may like this Steampunk inspired art by Nemo Gould:
Behold the elusive Acoustapus that was created by Nemo Gould using naught but an acoustic guitar, rocking chair parts, chair arms, salad bowl, beads, light fixtures, brass screws, aluminum. No animals were harmed in the making of this piece of art!
If you fancy the Acoustapus, check out this one entitled Waste Deep:
Also very cool.
Nemo Gould makes all sorts of awesome retrofuturistic sculptures from found materials. You should totally check out his website to see more fantastic artwork.
Ah, summertime! It’s the perfect time of year to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine with a good book. Even crafters, difficult as they are to pull away from their projects, could stand to benefit their respective art by sitting down with a book on their preferred medium and learning about the latest ideas and trends.
To that end, I recently found an article entitled A Summer Reading List for Crafters by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood on mlive, a website for Michigan local news. The article makes some great recommendations for books to pick up if you happen to craft within one of the various textile based arts. Arts featured in the piece include: knitting, screen printing, natural dyes, sewing, fleece and fiber, Steampunk (?), and quilting.
And while one of the above categories is definitely not like the others, all the book recommendations seem to be solid suggestions. Even the Steampunk one kind of has its place as a book on Steampunk doll making entitled Steampunk Softies: Scientifically-Minded Dolls from a Past That Never Was by Nicola Tedman. So for all my fabric crafting readers, and for those considering starting, do take a look at the reading list!
A long while back, I covered the incredible masks created by Tom Banwell here on Trial By Steam. He makes a vast array of different masks and other wearable art that I describe at length in that past post. If you’re interested in his work as a whole, I highly recommend you check out that old post here, where you can learn a bit about his background and see a short slideshow of a sampling of his work.
Tom’s been busy creating all kind of cool stuff since I last covered him here, and a recent creation was particularly interesting to to me. His Tauruscat Dream Helmet is a particularly steamy and unique design.
I love that this piece feels like it has a story behind it and conjures up my curiosity. Why is it called the Dream Helmet? What does it do? How does it work? You can see the full collection of Tom’s photos from the Dream Helmet’s completion at his blog.
If you happen to enjoy his work, you’ll be happy to know that many of his pieces are avaliable for sale at his Etsy store, Tom Banwell Designs. You may also be interested in browsing his website, Tom Banwell Leather.
From the same artist who brought you FOIBLE, The Steampunk Dragon Robot, comes QUIRK, The Steampunk Baby Dragon. Creator Will Wagenaar continued his style of using recycled and repurposed antiques to create incredible sculptures, and QUIRK is made primarily from copper and brass to give him a distinctly steamy appearance.
QUIRK stands 19 inches tall and 23 to 25 inches long. His neck extends and his head can be rotated up and down. To check out more pictures, and to buy QUIRK from Mr. Wagenaar, please visit his etsy listing. And while you are there, be sure to check out the rest of the Reclaim2Fame storefront, which is focused entirely on creating art from recycled, repurposed, and reclaimed items.
Steampunk has a wonderful visual aesthetic, so much so that it is often the first method by which people are introduced to the subculture. The moods and themes within Steampunk occupy an impressively broad spectrum; everything from the dark and post apocalyptic to the light and whimsy can be Steampunk if properly executed.
Personally, I tend to lean more towards the dark, broody, and politically motivated in my Steampunk. It’s what I like when I’m reading fiction, regardless of its particular genre, and there’s a consequential bleed over into my take on Steampunk as a whole. But I do love lighthearted Steampunk when it’s well done.
Like this underwater scene:
Or when there’s flying elephants:
How could you not love this picture? You can’t. It’s adorable.
These, and many other delightful Steampunk inspired images were created by the very talented Terry Fan. You can check out the entire gallery and purchase your favorite print at Society 6.
RoboCop is one of those classic 80’s movies that embodies the time. And while the movie was set in Detroit, a portion of the filming was done in my hometown of Dallas due to the “futuristic” appearance of some of the buildings. Perhaps Dallas seemed futuristic in the 80’s, but that’s definitely not the first term I would use to describe the prevailing architecture.
Anyway, Robocop centers on a police officer who is brutally murdered and subsequently re-created as a super-human cyborg known as “RoboCop“. Here’s the movie poster of his reincarnated cyborg self.
Robocop’s suit is rather distinctive, and as Steampunk is wont to do, his robotic body has been recreated in the aesthetic by Kreatworks, based in Bangkok.
As a subculture, we also seem to love blurring the line between man and machine, making this an interesting subject for a Steampunk reimagining. It’s made of scrap metal and recycled automobile parts.
The Steampunk RoboCop costs $6,400 and shipping would be extra, making this an expensive but impressive piece for the dedicated Steampunk and RoboCop fan. Click here to check out the etsy listing.
Next Town Over is another webcomic with heavy elements of Steampunk and western fantasy incorporated into the storyline and aesthetic written by Erin Mehlos. The webcomic is beautifully drawn, features and intriguing and constantly unfolding story, and updates every Saturday and has been running since October of 2010. Since this is such a new webcomic, there’s no telling where the story might take us, so everything is wonderfully fresh.
Check out the webcomic’s first page below. It gives you a great initial feel for the comic.
To start reading from the beginning of the webcomic’s publication, please click here. And, if you happen to like what you see, you can follow Next Town Over via Twitter and Facebook.