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Archive for May, 2011

Hi, I’m Lolita Suzanne (aka Suzanne Lazear) and first off, thanks to the folks at Armchair BEA for organizing this great event for all of us who can’t make it to Book Expo America

I’m one of the Lolitas here at Steamed, which is a blog about writing Steampunk fiction (and Steampunk in general), run by a group of Steampunk authors.  I write about Steampunk faeries.  Innocent Darkness:  A Steampunk Fairytale comes out from Flux in 2012.   

I fell in love with Steampunk long ago, but I didn’t know it had a name until a few years ago.   I discovered the clothes, the music, and of course, the books!  If you still have no idea what Steampunk is, I have an explanation here.

I never set out to be a blogger, per say, but when I group of writers formed Steamed I jumped on board.  Somehow I’ve managed to become the defacto blog mistress for Steamed, which just celebrated its second birthday.  I book all of our Thursday special guests, coordinate our blog events like Steampunkapalooza,  a giant Steampunk blog party that happens every April, and I’m also the Monday blogger.  (Today I’m blogging about putting together Steampunk outfits).   I also run an occasional feature called “Book Monday” where I review (mostly) Steampunk books that I absolutly love and think you might love, too.  Because Steamed is run by authors we’re book heavy and we have a ton of posts on writing Steampunk, interviews with authors, and we tend to blab about our favorite books, but we also feature artists, musicians, and jewelry makers, and talk a lot about cute Steampunk clothes (I write Steampunk for the hats and tiaras.)

Thanks again to the Armchair BEA team for organizing this great event.  I look forward to getting to know everyone and I hope you come back and visit soon.

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It’s Monday and first thing off we have a winner to announce.  The winner of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall and Other Lands anthology is…

Danya

Congrats, please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize. 

Next off, I’m going to continue to my series on how I created some of my Steampunk outfits.  Even if you’re not the crafty sort (like me) you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy an expensive ready-made Steampunk outfit (as pretty as they are).  You may already own some of what you need.

Today’s outfit is something I pieced together mainly out of things I already owned.  I love costumes and have a trunk full of stuff.  I had no idea I even already had most of the stuff I needed to create a cute outfit until I wanted to put together a mostly black outfit. 

 

1.  The skirt is just a big, black lacy skirt I’d picked up somewhere at some point.  It’s one of those skirts that can be everything from Gothic to pirate to gypsy.  It’s full enough that I can wear it over a hoop and very comfortable.

2.  The black lace blouse is actually from Forever 21, of all places, as are the gloves.  I bought them last summer when they had a ton of victorian-ish stuff.  They often have great jewelry and you can’t beat the prices. 

3.  What ties this all together is the black corset belt.  This one is from Clockwork Couture but I nearly used a black waist cincher that I usually used for the Renaissance Faire. 

See, just a few easy pieces that you may already have — blouse, skirt, waist cincher/corset can be thrown together to create a basic outfit.  Then you can accessorize it depending on your style and what you already have.

4.  Because I’m obsessed with hats, I already owned the perfect hat.  I got this one from Ms. Purdy.  I actually have a few of her things and I really like them. 

5.  The necklace was a gift from a friend, but I love it and wear it with most of my Steampunk outfits.

6.  Finally, I added a tie-on bustle, which is exactly what it sounds — a big, ruched piece of fabric designed to look like a bustle you simply tie on top of your skirt.  There are a ton of types of these from punk mini ones made of net to elaborate and elegant ones.  I got this one on Etsy from Loriann.  Tie-on bustles are inexpensive ways of changing up your outfit and they’re a lot more comfortable to sit in.  This wasn’t something I had on hand, but that I bought to complete the outfit. 

View of tie-on bustle. Picture by Loriann.

 
See, easy.  Take stock of what you already have and don’t be afraid to repurpose.  That blouse from Renn Faire, skirt from your belly dancing days, or hat you bought for your cousin’s wedding may have other uses–especially if you’re willing to replace buttons, add gromets, or add a little flair to it/  Make a list of what you still need to complete your outfit and case thrift shops, the internet (I’ve found a lot of good costume pieces on ebay and Etsy), or perhaps even try to make it.  If you’re gearing up for something, I’ve found that it’s easier on the pocket-book (and less daunting) to plan ahead and buy one piece per paycheck until I have everything I need. 
 
Now, I just need some gadgets…has anyone seen my raygun? 

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Today we welcome Brenda Sue of B’sue Boutiques who’s jewelry supply store not only has everything you need to make neat Steampunk jewelry, but she also has loads of instructional videos for people like me who love to make things, but in all honesty can’t craft their way out of a cardboard box. 
 
STEAMPUNK JEWELRY MADE SIMPLE:  Breaking It Down to Cogs and Gears
By B’Sue
 
Love the Steampunk lifestyle?   Well as this blog has aptly demonstrated, you need the right glad (or perhaps ‘mad’) rags for your look!   And as every fashionista knows—whatever style genre he/she chooses—you need the right accessories.   Jewelry come first for me!   And the fact is, you can learn to make your own Steampunk jewelry, thus reflecting your own perfect Steampunk sensibilities.
 
Check out this sweet Steampunk pendant I made:
 
 
Gotta tell you, there are no hard techniques involved in this piece.   Let me tell you how!  I started with a luggage tag pendant made in the Victorian style, available here:  http://www.bsueboutiques.com/shop/index.php?keywords=fig39   
 
As this piece is raw brass, you’ll want to patina it.  One fast way is simply to clean the brass by washing in hot, soapy water…all raw brass comes with traces of machine oil on it, so gotta do it.    Dry completely, then torch it.   All you need it is a little creme brulee torch and a soldering block.   Torch it til it gets toasty or turns dark.   OR, you can try my vinegar/salt/patina method, which you can watch me do at YouTube right here:
 
 
When you have achieved the color you want on the brass, simply seal it with Renaissance Wax.  Then you will want to add your embellishments.   I added a pie crust bezel from the Bezels, Mounts and Frames section of our website, found here: http://www.bsueboutiques.com/bezels_mounts_frames.shtml    This is a great bezel to build with as it is textural and deep.  Into it, I glued a vintage soda cap, upside down, with the cork still in it.  
 
Into that cap, I poured a bit of mixed ICE RESIN.   For tips on working with Ice Resin, check out this video:
 
I also inlaid a circlet ring found at our website, as well as a tiny propeller.  These propellers REALLY SPIN!
 
The trick is to pour only enough resin to inlay the bottom of the propeller so that it still spins.  This one does!
 
The actual pendant is available at B’sue Boutiques right here:
 
How would you finish it?  Would you turn it around and dangle something from the hole and make it a heavy, cool looking brooch?   Or would you make it a necklace by adding beads, leather thong, old cord and maybe even safety pin or garter clip connectors?
 
Here’s a funky Steampunk necklace I made with our Steampunk components from B’sue Boutiques and scrabble tiles:
 
 
Come on over to B’sue Boutiques and check the place out!  We have a large, comprehensive Steampunk Jewelry Making Section broken down into watch parts, cogs and wheels, wings, keys, and all the components you need—-easy to find! http://www.bsueboutiques.com  
 
And…here is a very popular video we made at You Tube that will demonstrate how to make an easy Steampunk ring: 
 
Another master of  Steampunk jewelry making is Harry Wood of OSCAR CROW: http://www.etsy.com/shop/oscarcrow   Visit Harry for great ideas and great ready-made jewelry at low prices.   Here is a very cool pectoral he made recently:
 
 
And for more Steampunk Eye Candy, why not visit our Steampunk Gallery?   These are pieces shared with me by visitors to my B’sue Boutiques Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bsue-Boutiques/123052674404364, and entered into an archived album at the B’sue Boutiques website.
 
I hope you feel enabled and inspired…..because who knows?  Maybe YOU are the next radical Steampunk jewelry designer!  Soon they may be beating a path to YOUR door!
 
~Brenda Sue/B’sue Boutiques
http://www.bsueboutiques.com

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This was originally scheduled for Fantastic February, then I got sick and never posted it.  Enjoy. 

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales

 by Tamora Pierce

Book provided by Random House

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales is a collection of short stories from fantasy author Tamora Pierce.

I am a *huge* Tamora Pierce fangirl and I devoured the Lioness books before I ever figured out they were YA (and then continued to read many of her other series all set in the land of Tortall). 

Most of these stories take place in the land of Tortall, but some take place in the “real world.”  Some are long, and some are short. 

We see old friends like Nawat and Aly from the Trickster books, meet new ones, and get to know more about characters referenced in other books, like Kylaia who was referenced in the Lioness books.  But don’t have to have all (or any) of the other series to enjoy this vivid, vibrant, and extremely diverse collection of tales which will appeal to adults and teens alike. 

Like all of Pierce’s stories (which is why I love them) the tales in this book are filled with the trials of coming of age, pushing the boundaries, discovering yourself and where you fit regardless of what others tell you, and  (of course) magic.

One of the most vibrant for me was “The Dragon’s Tale” which features Kitten the dragon from the Immortals books who has an adventure of her own. 

We also get a sneak peek of the new Becca Cooper story.   Can’t wait!

 Do you love Tortall?  What’s your favorite series or character?  If not, is there a series you want to read?  One lucky commenter will win a hardcover copy of this book (open internationally, contest closes May 22, 11:59 PM PST)

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We’ve got a prize to give away first off today, the lovely pocket watch from Steampunk Threads.   If you don’t win a new contest starts Monday.

The winner of the pocket watch is…

skylarkade

Congrats!  Please email me to claim your prize.  (Suzannelazear (@) hotmail

Today we welcome author David Boop.

David Boop is a Denver-based single parent, full-time employee, returning college student, oh, and yes, and author. His first novel, the sci-fi/noir “She Murdered Me with Science” came out in ’08. He has over a dozen short stories and two short films to his credit. He’s written in several genres, including weird westerns. His weirdest job was professional Beetlejuice impersonator. You can find out more on his website, www.davidboop.com.

Meanwhile… On the Other Side of the World.

By David Boop

“Doc’s Alive! And he’s in the Old West!”

While technically a comedy with shades of steampunk (“Ice Tea?”) and science-fiction (It’s not a hold-up, “It’s a science experiment!”) Back to the Future III gave many of my generation their first taste of a weird western.

However, some of us were fortunate enough to have discovered the weird western concept via comics, pulps, film serials or television many years before. I can remember sitting as a little whipper-snapper glued to the TV as cowboys lassoed a dinosaur in The Valley of Gwangi. As easily as I accepted that, I was more than ready to launch into the James Bond-esque world of post-Civil War western intrigue with the original The Wild, Wild West TV series (not the horrible remake.)

As to what makes a weird western, for the uninitiated, it is a gentle blending of non-western elements into the classic western tale. In Jonah Hex, the original comic book character was given the “mark of the demon” which eventually led to him being able to communicate with the dead. In Once Upon a Time in the East by Lionel Fenn, an outlaw is dragged through time in an attempt to find redemption. I’ve read weird westerns with aliens, zombies, robots and magic. The trick to good weird western writing is not to overpower the story with too many non-elements so that the core genre changes from western to something else.

Weird westerns are to steampunk what Star Trek: The Original Series is to Star Wars; the less sophisticated, country cousin come acallin’. While Victorians were having tea and riding in airships as they fought off sky pirates, on the other side of the planet, cowboys were drinkin’ moonshine on a train and battling an undersea invasions from Atlantis. Victorian England and Western Expansion happen roughly about the same time period, so it was only natural that the cousins would meet, marry in classic Jerry Lee Lewis fashion, and produce weird western steampunk fiction, such as Cheri Priest’s marvelous Dreadnought and Mike Resnick’s delightful The Buntline Special.

My own weird western writing started with a little mystery involving the ghost of an outlaw having to investigate and avenge his own death. “The Rag Doll Kid” was picked up by Tales of the Talisman Magazine, and will see a reprint in May within How the West was Weird Vol. 2. I created a fictional town of Drowned Horse, AZ for the piece, so when I was invited to submit to Science Fiction Trails Magazine I set my next piece, “Grismel Guffyfeld’s Quick Drawatorium,” in the same location. I decided to make this town the nexus of weird stuff, and have now three pieces set there. “Bleeding the Bank Dry,” about a vampire hired to pull a bank robbery, was released last year in Six-Guns Straight from Hell. I hope to release a collection called The Drowned Horse Chronicle, taking the reader through an eighty year history of the town from creation to destruction.

This is a good time for the weird western. In addition to the much anticipated, Cowboys and Aliens, Ron Moore, the force behind the Galactica reboot, is rebooting The Wild, Wild West. (I have no doubt Artemis Gordon will end up being a woman, which actually makes sense.) In addition, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series will finally be adapted into both film and television.

So, strap on some irons and jump on your robot steed. We’re in for one hell of a wild ride!

-David Boop

www.davidboop.com

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I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day.  We’re holding a Steampunk writing challenge over on the Writing Steampunk Yahoo group during the month of May.  There’s still time to join in–make sure to say you found us on Steamed.

We have quite a few prizes to give away today and if you don’t win we still have a contest going for Steampunk pocket watch.

First off we have a The Twisted Take of Stormy Gale mug and some romance trading cards from Christine Bell.

Hilde

Next we have the prize pack of  Steampunk e-books from Carina Press.

Laura Kaye

Finally, we have the ARC of The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross.

Jessie

Congrats to our winners, please email me at suzannelazer (@) hotmail to claim your prize and thanks to all who entered.  More contests will be coming.

I wanted to share how I put together some of my Steampunk outfits as I’m amassing more for the different panels and speaking engagements and such I’m starting to do.  I’m not a seamstress in any way shape or form, so I tend to buy things here and there over weeks, months, or even years and put them together.   Hopefully this will be some inspiration for your own Steampunk outfits.  A word of warning, I lean very much towards the Steampunk princess vein and don’t have a ton of gadgets–or even goggles.

Outfit #1 — Steampunk Lite

I needed an outfit that was Steampunky, but not full on for events where I’m speaking as a Steampunk writer, but not necessarily on Steampunk.

I started with this outfit from Steampunk Threads as a base.    I chose it because it was feminine and a bit old fashioned, but not specifically Victorian.  It could serve as a dress for anything from a tea to a school visit and could easily be Steampunked up.  For sake of time I bought this ready-made outfit, but something similar could be fashioned from thrift-store finds–or even your own closet.

Picture from Steampunkthreads.com

I added some really great boots from Clockwork Couture I already had.  These boots are unfortunately out of stock, but they have other amazing styles.

photo from clockworkcouture.com

I added a hat very much like this (because you know me and hats) only there’s more  green in mine.

Photo from Maritime Arts on Etsy

A pearl necklace with a little clock on it from my jewelry box added a little elegance.

I love gloves so I got these from Clockwork Couture, which go with several outfits, though I forgot to wear them when I did a panel at the Burbank Book Festival over the weekend.

Photo from clockworkcouture.com

Finally, I put it all together with a really great belt I found at Mad Girl Clothing.  They’re not up on the website yet (I bought it at the Renaissance Faire).    Any waist cincher or corset would probably work, though I didn’t want to go the full-on corset route for this particular outfit.   I liked this belt because there’s a little pocket for a pocket watch and an additional pocket that’s just the right size for some business cards and a handful of buttons.  I don’t have a picture of it by itself, but here’s the whole outfit.

So, what do you think?  Subtly Steampunk? Well…perhaps the belt is a bit much but I love it.  But now I want a bigger hat…

Are you building a Steampunk outfit?  Where are your favorite places to find things?

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Before we welcome today’s “Visiting Lolita” we have some winners to announce–because who doesn’t like winning stuff.  First up, we have the winner of the bag ‘o books and swag from RT.

Michelle Black

Next we have the $10 GC to Barnes and Noble or Amazon (your choice) courtesy of Steampunk Author Crista McHugh.

Matthew Delman

Congrats!  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.  Also, if you comment on Crista McHugh, Marie Harte, Christine Bell, or Cindy Spencer Pape’s posts you’re entered to win a Carina Press Prize pack–but it ends May 8, 2011, so hurry up.  You can also win a copy of Kady Cross’ “The Girl in the Steel Corset”.  Elizabeth Darvill, aka “Lolita Elizabeth” is also giving away some of her books

Today we welcome Sue McDonald, who writes about Victorian fashion in many places, including for Recollections a historical clothing company.  In addition to having beautiful Victorian gear, they also have a Steampunk line, Steampunk Threads.   We will be giving away a pocket watch from Steampunk Threads to one lucky commenter. 

Sue McDonald has always had an interest in all things vintage and often dresses in Victorian attire, and in addition to writing and acting in short melodramas that take place in the 1800’s, she does “living history” presentations. Her adopted persona, Fannie Bashford is based upon the wife of Charles Bashford, who figured prominently in early Prescott history.   Doing the research to ensure that her costumes were period-correct gave rise to the urge to share that information. She started by creating two costume guides for re-enactors and continues to write  about Victorian clothing and customs. She has also written several “how to” pieces, like “How to make a Victorian-style purse”. Sue also writes articles for The Wild West Gazette, and The Bustledress Marketplace.  Sue also has been writing articles and copy for Recollections. This assignment has also led her into doing research and writing articles about Steampunk attire, which is heavily influenced by Victorian style from the 1800’s.

The Victorian Heart of Steampunk Fashion

By Sue McDonald

For starters, let me say that I have been an aficionado of Steampunk since before the name was coined. I still recall watching the original CBS series Wild Wild West when I was in high school, and am now a bit horrified to discover the series aired in the mid-sixties! The character of Artemis Gordon and all of his fabulous gadgets was endlessly fascinating. I have also been a life-long fan of science fiction, so fabulous machines like those created by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells have always seemed like a reasonable possibility. It is therefore thrilling to see an entire sub-culture now moving into the spotlight of “mainstream culture” here and abroad. More recently I have become fascinated with – and immersed in – re-enactment dressing, circa the late 1800’s, which puts my current love of clothing squarely in the Victorian age. All of which leads me into this dialog about the influence of Victorian dressing upon Steampunk fashion.

It is no surprise that Victorian style would be front-and-center when you consider that Steampunk has its roots firmly embedded in a collection of science fiction books generated in the 60’s and 70’s by several authors who all used Victorian England as their setting for the stories. Just as the currently-popular Indiana Jones movies re-create a World War II setting, with the attendant clothing styles and ever-present “Axis of Evil”, the solidly Victorian backdrop of this special genre of writers set the stage – so to speak – for an alternate world that carries with it all of the romance we attribute to the Victorians, coupled with new possibilities for adventure and discovery.

And the clothes! Let’s face it ladies and gents, dressing in Victorian attire does transport us to a time when women were ever-so-feminine in their corsets, bustles, frills, and petticoats. Gentlemen are somehow at once more masculine and more chivalrous in their frock coats, gloves, and silk hats. I believe the simple act of putting these garments on changes our brain chemistry so that we become somehow altered from just a few hours before when we were wearing jeans and tee shirts.  But the hallmark of Steampunk fashion is the ways in which the basic Victorian style has been expanded to include the various forms of equipage that might have been conceived by a Victorian mind. Victorians were fascinated by every new invention, and were always quick to adopt the “most modern” technology at their disposal. I have to believe they would heartily approve of ladies and gents who are equally prepared for a dirigible ride, a journey to the center of the earth, or a gala ball. One can hardly raise an eyebrow at a pair of brass goggles equipped with an eye loupe for examining a heretofore-undiscovered find, or a clockwork-mechanical arm which endows its wearer with special powers.

From previous blogs I have seen that putting together a Steampunk outfit is at once challenging and exciting. On the one hand each outfit is supposed to be unique to the individual. Mass-production is contrary to the Steampunk sense of uniqueness. On the other hand Victorian clothing cannot be obtained from the local mall. In addition most of us do not have the skills or the inclination to find vintage patterns from which to fashion our garments. Having them custom-made is usually beyond our pocketbooks – having invested most of our money in the afore-mentioned accessories. However, there are ways to obtain suitable garments and make them your own. There are on-line shops that specialize in Victorian-styled clothing, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Steampunk Threads  and Recollections. Both sites present clothing that is solidly in the Victorian style. There are also pattern companies who have thankfully re-drafted many Victorian patterns to fit modern bodies. They have also improved greatly on the instructions that come with a vintage pattern. My personal favorite is Truly Victorian. This site has the added bonus of specifying when each pattern was popular, so if you are shooting for an outfit for a particular timeframe, you can make it happen.

In closing, I would leave you with a piece of advice that I have found invaluable when dressing in period attire. That would be to go online and browse as many Victorian sites as you can, paying careful attention to the clothing shape and details. (By Victorian, I mean mid-to late 1800’s sites – people tend to call a large variety of things “Victorian” when in fact, they are modern items that perhaps have a Victorian influence.) Be sure to note things like ladies’ hats and jewelry, and men’s accessories; like watch fobs and how they wear their jackets – for example the bottom button of the vest is always left unbuttoned, but a shirt is always buttoned clear to the top. Soon, you will develop a ‘feel’ for what is a correct look. This will help you when you are making your own wardrobe selections, so you can avoid beginner’s mistakes.

~Sue McDonald

What’s your favorite aspect of Steampunk fashion?   I have to say, I write Steampunk for the hats (and tiaras…maybe the boots). 

Steampunk Threads is graciously giving away this really great pocket watch to one lucky poster.  North American only please.

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