Steampunk Hands 2015 – Wrap up

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As the gears spin and the clocks chime, Steampunk Hands 2015 draws to a close.

It has been another exciting event, learning new things from communities around the world, and getting to see how other steampunks have fun, learn and create wherever they are.

We got to see how projects and friendships developed from last year’s event. There are new books out this year as a cross-country and cross-language effort. Steampunk continues to advance and be part of more and more areas of people’s lives and in mainstream efforts.

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Our enjoyment of steampunk and its many expressions also keep growing. Conventions keep happening around the world, and when one falls away, another pops up. There are more books and stories being published, from the major publishers as well as from an ever growing legion of independent and self publishers. There’s new music, new TV shows, new web series, new games, and always without fail, new fashions.

We have a great deal of fun in our community, and we also learn new things without even trying. This month we got to learn about topics ranging from photo shoots to circus acts, with plenty in between.

All of this was possible due to the content creators from around the world, whom I thank deeply for their participation, and I thank all you readers, who have followed the daily updates, and who will read along once the month is over – your continued support for everyone and the community as a whole is greatly appreciated and most flattering.

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As we continue along for the next year, creating and enjoying steampunk in so many ways, I want to leave you with my parting words from Steampunk Invasion, September 2014:

Do what you do

Be who you are

Support each other and the community.

 

Have a great year, and we’ll see you in February 2016 when we gather together for another month long sharing some of our favorite things!

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Published in: on February 28, 2015 at 10:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Steampunk as Workshop

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For those that consider the aesthetic used in Disney’s 1954 production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to be steampunk, that was my first exposure to the grandeur and wonder of steampunk-before-it-had-a-name and the Victorian sense of design. Even though I was barely in grade school, I knew I wanted my home one day to look like that Grand Salon.nautilus-plans

Over the years since that first of many viewings of the movie, I have come to appreciate more than just the visual appeal of the set design. Now, there is genuine interest in how it was filmed, and how the costumes and props were created. Like steampunk, the process of creating something takes many forms and includes many facets.

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Our community seems to create more of everything than any other group I can think of. Our authors have been creating new worlds in their books for decades. We have artist, musicians, makers, fashion designers, and more. We really can’t go one step in the community, or event, or online forum without seeing, and sharing, something interesting. It would seem that we can’t help but be creative and bring ideas to life – it’s like an addiction that we don’t want to stop.

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Our books range from the immediately new to the antique, from whimsical fun to hard driving social commentary, and from the independent to major publishers. Our artwork draws on the many design styles of the last 150 years to evoke a certain feel, while the subject matter is clearly steampunk. Our musical styles are as varied as they were in the 1800s and still tell stories of adventures with all its trials and tribulations. Our fashions definitely show the explosion of individual creativity, bending designs to evoke an old time feel in the cut and style but still presenting some modern element and perspective.

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We create steampunk in so many ways and forms, tangible and intangible. We create worlds to play in, not only in reading stories but also in the space and environment we enjoy at small local events and large regional conventions. While we are all together, we create a feeling, a buzz of energy, that not only affects us in a fun positive way, but ripples out to affect those around us, sharing our happiness to bring smiles and wonderment to others.

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We create memories at every turn, whether by ourselves or with others. It might be excitement at finding a new item for our outfits, or a must-have print to be framed and hung on the wall, or simply wading into a gathering of fellow steampunks and being greeted warmly with a smile.

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And of course, we create ‘things’ – wild, fantastical things guaranteed to amaze and bewilder, to stupefy and inspire. Things that seem commonplace if they weren’t also genius works of art. Things that are born out of “What if” written large in all caps, shouted from the rooftops at ear-splitting volumes, and bulked up on steroids. These might be the things that are people’s first exposure to steampunk, the gateway into the land of steampunk.

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With everything that we can build, and make, and create, to hold or to experience, each one of us can drift off to sleep thinking, “WOW! What an amazing steampunk day!” And tomorrow holds the promise of even more  :)

 

Published in: on February 28, 2015 at 10:43 am  Comments (1)  
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Steampunk as Classroom

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In the middle days of my steampunk involvement, when the term ‘steampunk’ was still pretty new, I was reading the available books just to read a good story. I wanted an engaging narrative set firmly in the Future That Never Was. I just wanted to be entertained.

Once the online community started to grow in earnest, there was a chance to interact with people from around the US and in other countries. Ah, the joy and promise of the burgeoning internet – dial up modems, CompuServe, bulletin boards, and minimal graphics. Still, it was there and people in our community were starting to find each other.

It was when I started getting into steampunk with a real continued passion, attending Steamcon in 2009 and Nova Albion in 2010, and starting Airship Ambassador that my education, and sometimes re-education, started to, uh, pick up steam.

Because of that participation, I have come to learn a great deal about many topics I hadn’t really given any thought to before.

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In school, I found history classes to be the most boring subject ever, a vast desert wasteland of dead, dry, dusty boredom. Ancient Egypt was cool, though, and the Greco-Roman days – at least what little was presented in those textbooks. Bugs Bunny’s version of Christopher Columbus, and the Brady Bunch’s dream sequence about Jesse James was a thousand times more interesting than all of my history classes put together.

My Dad would always say in response to my general disregard of history, “Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.” Yeah, yeah, boredom for eternity, got it.

The History channel came along and peaked my interest in some topics for an hour at a time. It was a bit more lively than sitting at a desk, learning dates and names and whatever.

But then, steampunk.

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Well, I mean, if I’m going to live in this world, I should have an idea what it was about so I can start breaking all the rules and create the Future That Never Was that I wanted. it started simply enough – music. Abney Park was around and some other groups were becoming more known, and I wondered how any of that music might be related to or compared to the music of the 1800s. There can’t have been much, right?

Within a few google searches, music I had listened to my whole life came flooding in with a realization of “Oh, yeah, that was in the 1800s”. Beethoven, Liszt, Wagner, Verdi, Debussy, and so many more for the Romantic Period. But there was also religious and folk songs, ragtime and the days of vaudeville. The music of the time was as varied as it is today.

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Moving on from that, I did an interview with artist James Ng and asked about his iconic work, the Imperial Airship. That, and his image of the Immortal Empress led me to more historical research fro about a weeks worth of reading on the Dowager Empress Cixi and how she came to rule China for decades. Another interview with Michelle Black led me to learn about Victoria Woodhull, who sought to run for the US Presidency in a time when women couldn’t even vote. Now THIS kind of history was interesting!

It’s not just real history that I’ve learned from steampunk. it’s present day factors that I’m learning about too. I have come to realize just how finely nuanced each and every one of us truly is. “Normal” is just that range of responses with the most hits, but within that range, and especially outside of it, are the really interesting bits to be learned. I have come to learn more about other people and what affects them, and perhaps more importantly, I have learned much more about myself.

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Descriptions like introvert and extrovert barely scratch the surface in describing how and why people act in their lives. Sexual orientation like gay and straight are only two stops on the tour. Gender identity, race, culture, family structure – not just words to use in describing someone but rather they are interesting facets of who a person is.

Ultimately, all of that comes down to people being more than a bunch of convenient labels and becoming something much more – our friends.

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What else have I learned through steampunk? A billion ways (ok, maybe thirty) to tie a (despised, hated, evil) tie beyond just a Windsor knot. The evolutionary style of the bustle. The reason for paper collars on men’s shirts. Population migration patterns and reasons. Technological development and the associated setbacks and breakthroughs, along with the “respected but ultimately disproven” and the “ridiculed but correct” theories. How a steam engine is designed. How gas lines for home lighting were pressurized. And the potentially obsessive history, reasons, and design of indoor plumbing. (You think that’s funny? When you get dropped into a steampunk world all on your own, one of the first things you will want is modern indoor plumbing and hygiene and not a chamber pot or an outhouse.)

What could possible be left to learn? Modern electronics, painting faux finishes, construction techniques, adapting old recipes to work in today’s kitchens and foodstuffs, and the benefits of reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Steampunk, more than any other fandom type group, is our classroom and makes us learn something, even if we are involved “just for fun”.

Published in: on February 26, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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