One of the greatest things about the Steampunk community is that as an adherent to our modern throw-away culture, they make treasure from trash. At a panel recently at Comicpalooza on Steampunk Show and Tell, I saw and heard some examples of costuming accessories made form trash or garage sale finds.
Pictured here, Steampunk Riffleman holds his creation fashioned from an old bb gun and a garage sale erector set find. Also the Lady Airship Captain on the panel made a period style hoop skirt out of coat hangers for under $5.00. Click here to see the hat, I found online, made out of a cereal box, with directions on how to make it. Click here to see a wicked top hat with goggles made from can tabs, two beer cans, and two soda pop bottles.These pictures and these show and tell type panels and exhibits throughout the world at various conventions and conferences celebrate the amazing art and creativity that is Steampunk.
Never forget, it began as a literary movement. So many things begin with literary, with a book and then the movie or TV show springs from it and so many people forget about the book. Many of us who write Steampunk also have personas and create costumes and many of us are poor and need everything on the cheap so many of us have created our costumes from thrift store finds or from what’s already in our closet. I certainly have. But also we can apply the directive – when you can’t get what you want use creativity – to our writing.
Coming into Steampunk from writing historical, which I researched well by keeping up with the latest archeological finds and newest historical theories, and with years of studying the ancient Celts, I had to keep pushing my guilt aside when writing alternate history. I don’t think I should have felt guilty, instead I should have celebrated my creativity in finding a way to make my story better by changing history a bit. It’s similar to the directive of making what you can’t afford to buy. If we can’t make the history work then we create new history for the story. In Steampunk it’s not only history we are creative with, we often have to do the same thing with Science.
In To Love A London ghost I had to introduce a machine, a ghost debilitater, the entire plot rested on, and to invent this machine, knowledge of protons and neutrons had to be available, even though they hadn’t yet been discovered in the time period of my story. Of course I had my mad scientist turn out to be a genius who discovered protons and neutrons but never announced his discovery as he meant to keep if for himself and get rich off of it. Then I had to describe them in a way that most people would understand without using the words protons or neutrons. To be honest, I had a moment of guilt and feared someone criticizing the way I fudged the science. Knowing this machine wouldn’t actually work to change a ghost into a human, at that part in the story I had three things going on, beams crossing on my machine, a druid chanting to the gods, and a witch casting a spell, so when the heroine is suddenly alive, more than 1500 years after her death, even my characters aren’t sure if it’s due to the science or the magic or the combinations of both. Instead of fearing someone will say that is the silliest thing they’ve ever heard of, I and all authors should take a lesson from the Steampunk community and celebrate our amazing creativity. Sometimes we can’t make our stories work in the actual world, with real science or real history, just like sometime Steampunks can’t afford to buy things they want for their costumes, but still they are proud of what they are able to make on their own that is usually better than what they wanted to buy.