Tesla vs. Edison

Back in the late Victorian, Edwardian, and early Diesel eras, two men clashed on the field of scientific battle many of whose inventions would come to define our modern world. History would, by in large, paint a Mr. Thomas Edison in a much more favorable perspective than his rival, Nicola Tesla. Tesla would, however, be adopted by science fiction fans of all walks of life, Steampunks included, as a brilliant inventor who seemed to always get the short end of the historical stick.

Now their battle for scientific supremacy has been immortalized on a t-shit being sold on ThinkGeek, one of my favorite sites for all things shamelessly dorky.

"It is incorrectly noted that Thomas Edison invented 'push-ups' in 1878. Nikolai Tesla had in fact patented the activity three years earlier, under the name 'Tesla-cize.'" - the Fact Sphere from Portal 2

I am totally in love with this t-shirt design, but unfortunately it does not come in a women’s cut, so I don’t think I’ll be getting one myself. Come on ThinkGeek, you of all people should know ladies love science too.

But for all your gentlemen, at least, this shirt is sure to be an excellent addition to your geeky wardrobe. ThinkGeek is selling it for 18.99. Pick one up here.

An Early Halloween Fright

Halloween is still a long way off, but that hasn’t stopped retailers from starting to stock their shelves with costumes and decorations for the event. Desperate to get in on literally anything that could be made into a costume, these have started popping up:

Terrifying, I know, but I must urge you to maintain your composure. Variations on this theme appeared for last year’s Halloween, so it should be of no surprise that these have returned.

And, since Halloween is an occasion where people usually dress up as things that they are not, having these costumes poses no major threat to our subculture at large. Steampunks who are dedicated to the subculture will continue creating and making amazing things regardless of whether or not corporations think they can make a profit off of our look long after Halloween comes and goes.

So while these costumes are somewhat disturbing to our unique subculture and style, I don’t think it’s cause to “jump airship” so to speak. That certainly doesn’t mean you have to take anyone who actually expects you to take these sorry excuses for a Steampunk fashion statement seriously. Still, be nice to them. They may be new to the subculture and be unfamiliar with how un-Steampunk it is to buy your “costume” in a prepackaged set from Wal-Mart.

And, if they just don’t get it, that’s fine too. It’ll all be over on November 1.


While I myself do not consider goggles an absolute necessity to Steampunk fashion, there are few pieces that so enhance a Steampunk’s overall presentation as a pair of impressive goggles. Finding that right pair of goggles, however, is something of a challenge. You want them the  be as unique as your own style and definition of Steampunk, but finding that perfect pair is difficult when a lot of goggles that are available these days just have gears glued to the sides of a standard goggle. Thanks, but no thanks.

The goggles created by atomefabrik, however, are works of art. Gorgeous in their handcrafted detail, these goggles are sure to give you the exact look that you want. Check out the full image gallery for goggles to see all the wonderful designs.

Atomefabrik is dedicated to creating original, hand crafted designs by the artist. The website’s About Me Section is particularly illuminating as to the maker’s philosophy, which, in my mind, is perfectly in line with how Steampunk should be thinking about itself:

“atomefabrik” is the name for my “autonomous manufacture of possible items”,

autonomous= AtomeFabrik is a small business , independant, free of any constraint set by a conservative marketing line or enchained to some bank loans. By “small” I mean = I do the work alone, designing, engineering, manufacturing, packing, web design, emails, and all the cleaning…and I don’t want to grow big.

manufacture= all items are handcrafted using craftmanship processing, which means conventionnal machining rather than high productivity stamping or CNC machining; bolting and riveting rather than robotic welding, hand assembly etc…human “imperfection” rather than mass production ! Like any craftmanship this manufacturing work comes at a cost. Generally speaking by buying from a craftsman you contribute to the making and the perpetuation of unique and true skills that would desapear otherwise, because, honnestly, that’s the way it is.

possible Items= anything at all, I just try to experiment what Victor Hugo said: ” Possible worlds are a fantastic matrix”

Amazing art and a fabulous philosophy behind it. Be sure to check it out!

DIY Vintage Mens Hairstyling

As promised, today’s post features the masculine aspects of grooming oneself during the Victorian era. Again, our dear friends at Sepiachord have trolled through the recesses of the internet to help make sure that all you Steampunk gentlemen are looking your finest.

Taken straight from the pages of the ‘London Academy of Gentlemen’s Hairdressing,’ the Sepiachord DIY Vintage Mens Hairstyling Guide has tips for haircuts and all manner of facial hair styles.

Be sure to check out the full guide for all of Sepiachord’s useful tips and tricks to being immaculately groomed. And after you and your lady are finished with your hairstyles for the day, be sure to check out the rest of Sepiachord for some awesome recommendations, reviews, and interviews from the world of Steampunk music.

DIY Vintage Ladies Hairstyling

Back when I was first getting into Steampunk, I was faced with the conundrum of trying to decide how to style my hair in a sufficiently retro-punk fashion. It’s a lot harder than it seems on first glance. Everything I found seemed to lean in too much towards one look, and finding a balance between those two aesthetics was increasing frustrating. I finally got to the point where I simply decided to let my hair be as it is inclined to be on its own: long and naturally curly. Victorians loved their curls, and the fact that my hair just comes like that seemed good enough reason to me to just leave them be.

But for most people, curls aren’t something that comes with genetics. It takes a lot of product, pinning, and patience to get that perfect look, and when you don’t really know what you’re doing, it makes the whole process considerably more frustrating. And trying to explain to a hairstylist precisely what you want can sometimes be hit-and-miss, and almost always expensive.

My dear friends at Sepiachord have come to your rescue, though! They recently added a DIY Vintage Ladies Hairstyling section to their website, which instructs you on how to create a Basic Curl, a Pin Curl, and a Scripture Curl.

There’s also useful information to help you get that perfect style though creating and overlapping curls. Check it all out here.

And stay tuned tomorrow, when we’ll cover vintage hairstyling for men, also brought to you by our friends at Sepiachord.

The Tauruscat Dream Helmet

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.

Steampunk in Seattle: Petticoat Workshop

Attention all Seattle Steampunks! For those of you wishing to learn how to craft the perfect petticoat to go with your steamy wardrobe, you do not want to miss this upcoming workshop. Somewhere in Time, Unlimited (SITU) is presenting a Petticoat (1890-1910) Workshop as a two part series, on Sunday, July 17, 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm at a branch of Seattle Public Library.

If you are interested in participating, the supplies fee is $10, which will cover the handouts and a full size pattern.  All you need to bring is pencil and paper for taking notes. Because SITU needs to gather the supplies, pre-registration for this Part 1 of the workshop is required.  You can send a check for $10 payable to Bobbie Kalben (SITU is not a legal entity for banking purposes), put “SITU Petticoat Workshop” in the memo line of the check and mail your check to:

PO Box 28117
Seattle, WA 98118

Or, in a few days, SITU will have a PayPal button for this workshop on the SITU website that you can use to register for this workshop.

Somewhere in Time, Unlimited sponsors historic costumed social events in the Seattle vicinity which reflect the most enjoyable aspects of past eras, so there’s a lot of cross-over in interests between the Steampunk community and Somewhere in Time. Be sure to check out their website for all sorts of articles and information on upcoming workshops and events.

The Victorian Trading Co

There’s a website I recently discovered that is sure to be of interest for Steampunks looking to outfit their abodes with a Victorian flair.  The Victorian Trading Company has all manner of goods inspired by Victoiriana.

The Victorian Trading Co was started in 1987 by Melissa and Randy Rolston in Dallas, Texas and now operates as a small company based out of Lenexa, Kansas outside of Kansas City.

From antique reproductions and fashion to outdoor living and accessories, The Victorian Trading Company is a great resource for finding items to match your Steampunk decor.  They even have free e-cards for you Steampunks wanting to send a message to your equally steamy friends. You can check them out here.

An Abney Park Show in Seattle and AP Swimsuits

Tickets went on sale today for Abney Park’s latest show in Seattle, the Seattle Steampunk Soiree taking place on July 9th at Studio Seven. This is an all ages show, and tickets for those 20 years and younger are able to purchase tickets for just a dollar! 21 and over is $15, which is still a great price!

Make sure to pick up your tickets soon, as tickets to Abney Park shows in Seattle sell quickly and you don’t want to miss out!

And, just in time for swimsuit season, Abney Park is teaming up with  The Gentlemen’s Emporium to bring you Victorian bathing suits featuring the band’s Jolly Rodger across the front. Observe!

There’s an interesting story behind the creation of these swimsuits. Here it is, according to Captain Robert:

The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition
This steampunk event is being held in a hotel with a water parkJake Von Slatt wrote to me with the idea of making Abney Park Jolly Rodger Victorian Swimsuits for fans to wear to the water park. So, to pull this off I partnered with The Gentlemen’s Emporium, who are having these manufactured specifically for us.

These swimsuits are on sale for only two short weeks starting today, and will never be available again after the pre-ordering period is done, so if you want one, you need to get order soon! And for those of you wanting to wear your suits at the The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition, never fear… the Captain assures you the suits will arrive in time for the Exhibition.

Steam Powered Heart

After what has been an apparently miserable April in Seattle, Spring is (more or less) here, and with it comes shorter hemlines and that irresistible draw to the outdoors. Being well dressed but simultaneously well prepared for adventures can be something of a challenge for the Steampunk who wants to flaunt their steamy sensibilities and remain unburdened by cumbersome layers or a hefty dry cleaning bill.

Fortunately, Wondermark has your answer in the form of a new Steampunk t-shirt, The Steam Powered Heart.

The Steam Powered Heart T-Shirt comes in both mens and womens cuts and is one item in a very nice line of shirts, prints, and books created by Wondermark. Click here to see the full offering of goodies for sale by Wondermark at TopatoCo. 

If you find yourself enjoying the humor and wit of Wondermark, do be sure to drop by their main website for a multitude of entertaining comics for your reading pleasure.