My Steampunk Maker Summer

I’ve been a little silent on the blog front lately. So, after attending a summer writing conference and networking events, and all the repeated “Blog, Blog, Blog” messages I heard from every savvy marketer, I thought I might share what I’ve been up to lately.

Writing and Art.

Aside from decent progress on two novels, I’ve tried my hand at steampunk maker art. I’ve managed to produce a few amateur examples, and don’t plan to quit anytime soon. The style is quite addicting once you give it a go.

My first costume project (aside from buying a better corset) was to fashion a pair of goggles. Sigh, I know they are a cliché, but I love the hell out of mine now and I don’t care. Say what you will about these ubiquitous accessories, but they do instantly communicate the genre. And they were tons of fun to make.

The simple welding goggles underneath my "punked" pair.

The simple welding goggles underneath my “punked” pair.

I started with a cheap pair of plastic welding goggles, a used pleather purse, lots of bling, copper wire, a good thimble and a grommet maker and just went for it. Here are some progress pics. The hardest part was sewing through that pleather with fishing line (the heavy-duty salt-water kind) and getting the darn connecting chain to go through the middle. However, once they were done, they did look amazing on my hat for Alt*Con here in Tallahassee this Spring. Wow, they were heavy on my forehead! I think they left a mark for that entire next morning.

Details were added with copper wire. The pleather covering was sewn on with fishing line and a good thimble.

Details were added with copper wire. The pleather covering was sewn on with fishing line and a good thimble.

I’ve also had the jewelry-making bug. Specifically inspired by hardware store shiny bits, I’ve tried to find ways to use brass nuts, washers and even copper electrical wire crimps along with glass beads for a unique look. You can find more examples over on my Facebook page if you are interested in that sort of thing.

A friend of mine gave me some old broken watches, so I’ve had a treasure-trove of the “real stuff” to play with too. One such pair of earrings came out nice enough to be an official part of my costume.

Steampunk earrings for my costume made with real vintage watch parts.

Steampunk earrings for my costume made with real vintage watch parts.

Why do all of this? It helps me get my head in the steampunk game. After all, this is one genre in which writers must occasionally look the part. The costume is coming along slowly. I bought a pattern to sew a better skirt and bustle, so that will be the next project.

Having props and costumes also helps me envision the material world of my novels. I will tell you for a certainty that wearing a real corset with stays helped illuminate how my female characters might feel, even though I’m sure I wore mine far looser than a proper Victorian lady. After all, she would’ve had her whole life to “train” that ribcage into the acceptable shape! This helps explain all the impossibly tiny waistlines one sees in costume museums. Perhaps that and the lack of modern artificial growth hormones in antique food…

My finished steampunk goggles. Greater than the sum of their parts.

My finished steampunk goggles. Greater than the sum of their parts.

Keep at it, steampunks. I’m off on vacation (with some setting research thrown in there for good measure). I will see you again soon.

—Cristen

About Cristen Elizabeth Rose

I’m a writer and artist.

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