Threadbanger

In what is going to be an on-going series of tips, ideas, and merchants picked up while attending A-Kon, I’d like to introduce you all to Threadbanger, a do it yourself fashion and style website.

This is yet another great resource for constructing your own Steampunk wardrobe. It’s a very well built community of do-it-yourselfers who are dedicated to teaching others how to make and mod your own clothing. There are a TON of Steampunk projects one can indulge in, from goggles and spats to corsets. Personally, I prefer to buy a corset from someone who really knows what they are doing rather than make that particular article of clothing myself, but there certainly are tutorials at your disposal should you wish to undertake the project.

I’m in the process of gathering all of the required media for my post on A-Kon. It may be a while as I am working late three days this week, as well as the weekend (ugh, talk about welcome back to real life, Audelia). While all of the pieces of what I promise will be an exciting blog post are falling in to place, I’ll be highlighting some of the merchants I ran into who were running booths at the Kon.

Steampunk Headphones

The role of music in Steampunk is a profound one. Though it is not the only facet of our subculture, it is one which can easily reach out to people and give them a taste for what Steampunk is. I know that I have given the citizens of Dallas more than their fair share of Steampunk music as I cruise to and from work. There’s nothing quite like blasting Airship Pirate with the windows down to help soothe the mind when trapped in traffic and throwing up the “Rock On” sign to anyone who gives me a look.

Unfortunately, and contrary to natural belief, there are some times when keeping your music to yourself is the appropriate thing to do (yes, even if said music is Steampunk music). In keeping with the requirements for those social situations, I’d like to direct your attention to a particularly useful and simple Instructable for DIY Steampunk Headphones.

These are a simple and visually appealing solution to those times when you cannot blast your music. At they very least, anyone who sees you wearing this Steampunk masterpiece will realize just how cool you are (or wonder what antique shop you pilfered them from).

Steampunk Composition Book

Today, I have for you all a delightfully simple project that will add a bit of Steampunk flair to those boring school supplies. This evening’s target is the composition book.

What's black and white and altogether boring?

Yes, everyone has had to use these at some point in their life, I think. I’ve personally had to use many during my grade school years. I can’t remember writing anything of any consequence in these books, but I do remember being so bored out of my mind that I colored all of the white spaces in with red ink. It looked very cool indeed, but certainly not Steampunk.

So, how might we go about Steampunking this common composition book?

Ah yes, that looks about right.

Click on the photo or just click here to discover how an ordinary composition book was transformed into an impressive Airship Log! The link will take you to a site called “Cut Out and Keep” which is dedicated to Do it Yourself crafts and tutorials.  A quick search of all things Steampunk on the site yielded 79 hits of projects labeled with Steampunk. So there are all sorts of potential Steampunk projects that might peek your interest.

DIY Education

Now, there certainly is something to be said to the merits of a formal education. As a fortunate holder of two undergraduate degrees (and a minor, all in four years, thank you very much), I can attest to the value of having a formal education in the job opportunities afforded to me and the theoretical better salary (still waiting on that one). Overall, if you can get a formal higher education, it is a good idea.

I was, however, reading the most recent edition of Education Life in the New York Times, and I happened upon an article all about free online learning, and I immediately thought of you all here.

The article, An Open Mind, talks about the new movement of placing educational resources and lectures online for free consumption. What an exciting idea. If you want to know more about that movement and how it came about, go ahead and read the article.

But what I discovered specifically for your delight was a small additional information box nestled in the printed article called, How to Learn Something for Nothing.

This article reveals the best of today’s online resources for learning something new. I’m particularly excited about this because I sincerely miss going to lectures and listening to the professors as they challenge my preconceptions of the world. Plus, through this, I’m able to round out some of my education that was not so thoroughly explored for fear of damaging my GPA. I wonder if they have a course on basic Burmese I could watch…

Of these, Academic Earth is my favorite. I tend to respond well to video material when I am learning, so its nice to just kick back and listen to a professor chat while I’m at home in my PJs with a cup of hot tea.

Pull up a lecture and learn something today!

DIY Culture

Today, I was sitting around reading the paper while I was having my breakfast and I happened upon an article in the New York Times from April 18th that I just got around to reading today in their Arts and Leisure Section (It takes me a while to get through a Sunday edition of the Times).

The leading story is about the powers of globalization and how it’s power is being resisted by the very forces expected to squelch difference and promote cultural homogenization. Things like the internet and cable TV, once thought would bring the world together and promote a sort of cultural global norm, has to some extent succeeded in doing that, but the reaction to it has also been the return to localism, tribalism, and subcultures.

The article, called Do-It-Yourself Culture, never explicitly mentions Steampunk, but I thought it a very significant explanation as to why Steampunk exists, why it is gaining in popularity, and why I personally believe that Steampunk will be a powerful subculture for the foreseeable future.

Steampunk economics and politics places high importance on the ability of the individual to conquer the behemoth multinational corporations that attempt to feed us mass-produced garbage made through the exploitative labor of overseas workers (who, mind you, often live and work in deplorable conditions). That’s why I love Etsy and Instructables; it gives us the power as Steampunks to choose a more ethical and greener path to direct our economic power.

Steampunk is about more than just what you buy, though. It’s a subgroup highly influenced by it’s rebellion against authority and it’s respect for, but not reverence of, the past. As a retro-futuristic movement, we can take those gems of Victorian society like fashion and etiquette and integrate them into a modern world where we understand the evils of racism, sexism, homophobia, and imperialism. Imperialism is a key idea here, because many would argue that globalization is just a new word for cultural imperialism. And to me, the reaction to that fact is why the world is more fractured than it ever was.

Steampunk had its supposed peak in the 1980’s. But I an assure you that the internet and its wealth of information is only fueling the fires of the the current Steampunk Renaissance. The demand to conform that globalization has pressed on all of us has resurrected Steampunk and the rebellious spirit in us all.

Miss Betsy’s Steampunk Keyboard

Steampunk is a subculture which is united by the internet. Without it, many of us would be delving into our steam-driven worlds in solitude unaware of the subculture that so completely embraces your love of corsets and Sci-Fi.

It is of little wonder, then, that the keyboard should play a major role in the lives of Steampunks. It’s a key mode through which we communicate and should, by any good Steampunk rationale, be properly Steampunked so as to inspire Steampunk brilliance.  And perhaps, for some strange reason, Jake Von Slatt’s keyboard did not quite meet your aesthetic needs. Allow me then, to introduce an impressive alternative to the Von Slatt keyboard, Ms. Betsy’s Steampunk Keyboard.

Fantastic. And just different enough from the Von Slatt keyboard for a different, though still decidedly Steampunk look. I really like the red velvet wrist rest and the copper tubing at the top.

The instructions to make this keyboard are on Instructables, one of my favorite sites for all things DIY. Many thanks to my friend for sending me the link to this keyboard. He always manages to find things I don’t online. He’s like an internet ninja.

If you like Miss Betsy’s keyboard, take a look at her Steampunk mouse Instructable for the perfect new accessory to your Steampunked computer.

Instructables

How I’ve managed to write this blog for as long as I have an overlook today’s website is completely beyond me. I have no excuse, not even ignorance, to claim as a valid reason for not introducing you all to this much sooner.

Nevertheless, I’d like to take this moment to finally introduce you all to Instructables, one of my favorite haunts on the web.

This website is all about the Do-It-Yourself mentality, and just like the title of the website implies, this place is the best resource on the web to learn how to make nearly anything your heart desires. A quick search of the website for the term “Steampunk” turned up 20 pages of search results at 13 Instructables per page. That’s 260 hits of just items tagged with the term Steampunk that you can learn to make for yourself.

And really, when it comes to the Steampunk mindset, there’s nothing quite like a gadget made by the wearer. I know not all of us are deft with their hands, which is why we have such wonderful places such as Etsy to shop at, but for those of us that just need a little direction in their quest to mod the ordinary into something extraordinarily Steampunk, Instructables is the place to be.

Do you have a favorite Steampunk Instructable? Let me know in the comments!