Steampunk, for the uninitiated is a sub genre of science fiction that masterfully blends Victorian and futuristic elements. Don’t confuse it with Goth or Emo. Steampunk in my opinion is far more artful. Here is a mini primer on Steampunk with examples from film, fiction, art and fashion.
I think my interest in Steampunk began while watching reruns of Wild Wild West with Robert Conrad when I was little. I loved all those crazy gadgets and evil villains like Emma Valentine played wickedly by Anges Moorhead and Dr. Faustina (the great Ida Lupino). The show drew inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe, HG Wells and of course Jules Verne.
Steampunk fiction continues to grow and evolve as a genre. Michael Moorcock is good place to start with traditional Steampunk fiction. Steampunk fiction is influenced by authors such as Charles Dickens, and again HG Wells, and Jules Verne. Personally, I thought Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series was Steampunk, but some would argue that it’s only sci-fi.
Want to see Steampunk in action check out Katsuhiro Otomo’s Steamboy. I love this movie, it’s dreamy, exciting and gorgeous to watch. Some other favorites of mine include Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky and Howl’s Moving Castle (the books are great to read as well by Dianna Wynne Jones). Van Helsing and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are a must see too. Visually I loved the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow although I’m not sure it that classifies as Steampunk, but love the costumes.
Want to meet real live people who live and breath Steampunk? Go to Meetup.org and search for Steampunk events and groups in your area.
Check out this beautiful photography by Viona Art. Her work is very luxe, rich and dreamy. She does more than Steampunk but I think this is a great example of the look of Steampunk for women. It’s Victorian but with a futuristic, darkly seductive twist.
Here is another image from Robots vs Badgers. Again, you’ll notice the Victorian elements blended with out-of-this-world pieces.
Another great example of Steampunk. It’s the combining of old, antique pieces and parts blended expertly to be used for current purposes. Below is an Ipod charger modified to fit perfectly in the Steampunk world. PBS Arts did a bit on Steampunk awhile back. You can catch a bit of HERE where you’ll see more things like the ordinary objects turned into a piece of Steampunk functional art.
I’m a fan of Steampunk for a variety of reasons. What people do with this genre is wildly inventive. Although I don’t go to conventions or make costumes I do love and greatly appreciate the detail and creativity that goes into it.
If you’re interested in creating a Steampunk inspired umbrella check out our Creative Machine Embroidery Jul/Aug 2013 issue. We have all the steps to create a truly unique and fully functional parasol.
Questions for you who are involved in the Steampunk. What would you recommend to someone new to Steampunk: books, movies etc. Do you sew your own costumes? What are your favorite conventions to go to? Have any pics? I’d love to see!