Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Photo Credit - Night Fox Photos

Photo Credit – Night Fox Photos

Makers? Writers? Are we the same? Are we so very different?

Kawaii Kon 2014 descended upon Waikiki, HI the first weekend of April and there was fun to be had by all… cosplayers and mundane alike!  I was one of the mundane, suffering to walk the halls in everyday dress, leaving the cosplay to my son (Doctor Who 10 & Tulio).

I began the weekend with the ‘Ye Olde Intro to Steampunk Panel’ on Friday night. A number of local Steampunks came together to present a basic user friendly introduction to the Steampunk culture… there is only so much that can be covered in 50 minutes, but we did our best.

My part of the informational section was talking about Writing Steampunk and Steampunk: Hands Around the World.

Two of the other panelists, Abby and Rick from “Ricks Steam Punk Etc,” spoke about ‘making’ Steampunk gear.

Being a costumer/crafter I’ always fascinated by discussions on the subject and squirmed out of my table seat to find a seat on the floor to watch. They talked about three types of Steampunk Making and I thought I’d see how they compared to Steampunk Writing. Why? Cause I’m crazy like that… 😀

Photo Credit - Night Fox Photos

Photo Credit – Night Fox Photos

Three types – Scavenging * Modding * Tinkering

Scavenging – finding items that have been discarded and using it for your own purposes

Modding – taking an object created for one purpose and making it fit another

Tinkering – taking bits and pieces and cobbling something from the ‘ground up’


Writing as Scavenging – I know I do this all the time.

  • Find a starting line I jotted down at an earlier time…
  • Find a scrap of paper that I’d stuffed into my handbag with a few lines of dialogue…
  • Find a writing prompt or an image that strikes my fancy

Nothing wrong with using what wasn’t needed before and make it useful now… or keep it for another time down the line.

Writing as Modding – 

The first thing that comes to mind is mashups & re-imagining & re-setting. We see it all the time,

  • a modern retelling of Emma by Jane Austen hits the silver screen as “Clueless”
  • Tee Morris’ “Aladdin and his Wonderfully Infernal Device” mixing Steampunk and Aladdin together
  • taking a Victorian Era story and setting it in a Steampunk world of advanced steam-driven technology
Photo Credit - Ricks Steam Punk Etc

Photo Credit – Ricks Steam Punk Etc

Writing as Tinkering

Using the basic building blocks of fiction, but for those new to Steampunk, it might take a little bit of effort.

  • Science – using Steam era science can be new to some, but I highly recommend looking for information on what was already in use in the Victorian Era… you might be surprised!
  • Multicultural Influences – colonialism/imperialism from the Brit standpoint was to ‘Make the World England!’ but that doesn’t  mean that England was isolated while it affected other cultures. The use of Indian silk, Chinese err.. China, etc. What elements from other cultures will transplant themselves in your settings AND characters?
  • From the Ether/Aether – who says you can’t just ‘come up with something’ and write about it. Again, my favorite word in writing is VERISIMILITUDE! If you can make it SEEM real… in fiction it IS real!

Part of the fun that keeps me writing is the discovery of new people to inspire me, new ideas to explore, and new concepts to investigate, I hope you find the same things appealing and inspiring…

So… get going and create!

Keep in mind that there are just my thoughts at this moment… if you have other thoughts… please add them to the comments I’d love to discuss this further…

Ray Dean – Living in Hawaii has few perks when it comes to Steampunk – the main idea is the Victorian Era History that is so readily available…  

**sorry for the posting delay, had an issue with the laptop… crashes galore.

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Today we welcome Karen from Teen Librarian Toolbox — it’s time to get crafty! You don’t have to be an artisan to make Steampunk crafts. Here’s some ideas for kids and adults alike.

Steampunk Crafts

By Karen from Teen Librarian Toolbox

As part of Steampunkpalooza with author Suzanne Lazear, we are bringing you today some excellent Steampunk Crafts.

Steampunk USB Drive (using Polymer clay)
Ehow takes you through the 7 easy steps to make a fantastic Steampunk USB Drive.  If you search on Etsy and Deviant Art you will see that people are making and selling all kinds of Steampunk USB drives for quite a chunk of change.

Steampunk Jewelry
There are a variety of books out there that discuss making jewelry out of everyday things found in your toolbox.  These are all easily adaptable to make some amazing Steampunk inspired jewelry.

You can also use Pull Tabs, Beading Wire and Small Beads to make jewelry, like these ear rings found on Flickr. There are also step by step instructions over at Wiki How on how to make a pull tab bracelet. 

Check out these and other jewelry books at your library for tips, tricks & inspiration


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One of the things I’ve discovered about steampunk fans is a very strong do-it-yourself ethic. When you go to a steampunk event, the first thing you hear is often, “Oh, I love that! Did you make it yourself?”

My answer is usually, “I’m afraid not.” I’m not particularly crafty and I can’t sew for beans. But I love handcrafted and unique items. The raven pendant I’m wearing here is cast bronze by one of my favorite jewlers, Randy of Knotty Jewels. This gorgeous skirt was made by a very talented man named Peter, of Shoptroll. I suppose, with a pattern and the right tools, I *could* have made a reasonable facsimile myself. Maybe. Probably not.

Honestly, I’d much rather patronize a great local craftsman, doing what he does best, than to make a bad imitation on my own. I’m also a huge fan of thrift shops and I’m not bad at adaptive reuse. But…I do feel a little weird about having NOTHING in my steampunk garb that I made myself. So do I need to take up leather working or welding? Probably not. Maybe I’ll find a craft that suits me and run with it. Or I might just stick to crafting stories and practicing creative shopping. 😉

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Today we welcome Anna-Marie York from SteampunkFamily.Com

Anna-Marie York writes adventure stories for www.steampunkfamily.com.

A New Year’s Resolution, with brief discussion of William Morris, Steampunk Anti-Hero
by Anna-Marie York

If you are considering a resolution for this new year, consider this one:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

These are the words of William Morris, an unlikely steampunk hero. Like other steampunk heroes, he was born in the nineteenth century (b. 1834, d.1896). Unlike steampunk favorites Jules Verne and Nicola Tesla, Morris lived out his life in England, a subject of Queen Victoria. He was a writer of prose and poetry, a painter, designer, manufacturer, and activist, and his fabric and wallpaper patterns are so popular they are still available today. He was associated with the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and a founder of the Arts and Crafts movement.

When steampunks discuss our influences, Morris is seldom mentioned, and for good reason. The man was a luddite. He worshipped nature and abhorred the gears and pistons of industry that so fascinate us today. He once wrote, “Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization.” He looked back to the Middle Ages as the ideal era of mankind, and both his visual art and poetry is redolent with nostalgia for those bygone days. He loathed mass-produced, commercial crap and longed to return art to every day life. He was a hands-on designer, learning block printing, tapestry weaving, calligraphy, illumination, embroidery and other arts himself before teaching the employees of his decorative arts firm to execute his designs. He spent his life trying to bring art back to industry.

Now we’re getting somewhere! A do-it-yourselfer with nostalgia for a bygone era, appreciation of more primitive, hands-on technology. He and his friends even dressed up in costumes from the era they admired and took pictures of each other. Sound familiar?

So back to our new year’s resolution, courtesy of William Morris, steampunk hero.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

This is a steampunk impulse, to be sure. It is the spark igniting a thousand case mods. The challenge is to bring the steampunk aesthetic into your everyday life. And although I encourage you to become an artist, and to support artists, I don’t mean to suggest a rarified state only to be achieved by the fantastically talented or super wealthy. As Morris said “…I do not want art for a few; any more than education for a few; or freedom for a few… ” Like Morris, I believe art and beauty are goals everyone can reach.

Let me leave you with a simple example. This is an object that is useful for dental hygiene.

Although it is useful, it is in no way beautiful. So why should you look at it every day? You shouldn’t have to. You probably have your shoved in a cupboard under the sink. My sink has no cupboard, so I did this.

The bottle is either from a thrift shop or pulled out of the recycling. The glass on top once admonished me not to mess with Texas, but two minutes with a razor blade fixed that. So, rather agitating my spirit by staring at a hideous plastic advertisement every morning, my eye is soothed by an object I know to be useful AND believe to be beautiful.

Happy New Year, Steampunks.

~Anna-Marie York

Morris Wallpaper copyright Victoria and Albert Museum

Case Mod by Pith Helmet Provisions

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Today we welcome Steampunk author Seleste deLaney who’s going to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart.

Seleste deLaney started on her career path as a young child. Stories of talking animals soon gave way to a love of superheroes and science fiction. Her first foray into the world of romance came at age twelve when she envisioned a sweeping epic love story of two people thrust together and torn apart again and again by fate. As she recalls, the plan was for them to admit their love on his deathbed. But, as is often the case with pre-teen girls, a story of that depth gave way to other pursuits, and sadly it is completely lost other than vague memories.  After that, she occupied herself with short stories for a while, and then poetry until after she had earned a degree in chemistry, spent time as a high school teacher, and became a mother of two. Then she delved into writing fiction once more.  She never lost her love of the fantastic, and her stories now always reach into other realms. The worlds and people she creates occupy as much of her time as the real world, and she is most fortunate to have a family that understands her idiosyncrasies and loves her anyway.

Gun-Modding for the Artistically Challenged

by Seleste deLaney

For the Romantic Times convention, I dressed as a steampunk vampire hunter for one of the balls. I was supposed to have a crossbow, but that plan fell through at the last minute and I was in need of weapons. Since they had to fit in my suitcase (and I am bad at spending money), I bought a cute little derringer from Etsy. But it was so cute and so little (and didn’t fire darts like it should), I decided I should have a second one and set about modding it myself.

Now I’m preparing to dress as Ever, my heroine from Badlands, for FanExpo in a couple weeks and she’d probably laugh if someone handed her a derringer. I checked out Etsy and found a fabulous gun…for $70 plus shipping. Now this isn’t to say the gun isn’t worth that. The thing is gorgeous (and big). But there’s that thing about me not liking to spend money coupled with the fact that my son had the base weapon on his loft in our basement.

So yes, I decided to give it another go. Only this time, I’ve learned a few things.

1)     The first thing I learned is practice weapons are good. Get some cheap ones and see what you’d do if you were just winging it.

2)     Apparently the cheap guns (non-Nerf) don’t hold onto the paint as well, so don’t expect your practice ones to hold up well.

3)     Basecoats are a beautiful thing. For the new one, I sprayed everything with a light brown Krylon to start. It’s a good color because even if it shows through, it kind of looks like it should be there.

4)     Paintbrush variety if you’re hand painting is good. I don’t like to take the guns apart, so spraying only works as a basecoat for me.

5)     I suck at detail work. When I mentioned artistically-challenged, I meant it. I don’t have the patience for detail work. What that means is:

  1. Embrace what I can do. I like adding a little bit of gold rubbing on places where more artsy people would do some detail work. It still adds interest without making me cry or pull my hair out.
  2. Work around what I can’t. The really nice lines between the raised pieces? I can’t do it in black because I will screw them up, but a slightly darker brown just for a bit of contrast will work.
  3. Strive for perfect imperfection. A lot of modded weapons have a “worn” look to them. Artsy people have to try to get that by doing extra steps. The artistically challenged people have it easier. If we try to make ours perfect, odds are it’ll have just enough imperfections to fall under this header. WIN!

6)     Don’t forget a finish coat. After all the paint is very dry, spray it with clear coat. If you’re adding little baubles, I’d spray before AND after. (Might be wrong, but if the bauble pops off, hopefully that way it won’t take all the paint with it)

7)     Don’t rush the drying process. For RT, I only had a couple days and things weren’t “finished”. For FanExpo, I’m getting it done well over a week in advance so I have time to let it sit before I touch it again.

Now, I won’t pretend that my homemade gun is going to rock as much as the one on Etsy, but I also didn’t spend $80 on something I may break or forget while I’m in Canada. Plus, my kids are going to want to play with it, so better it’s one of their toys in the first place.

Do any of you have advice for novice modders? Or horror stories? Or want to smack me over the head with a tesla because I’m being silly?

~Seleste deLaney


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