Monday, April 20, 2009

Respectable Steampunk, Beyond Cogs & Watch Bits

Steampunk items have really only come to my attention within the past year or so, thus I am by no means an expert on the matter. However I feel that good steampunk creations are a combination of Victorian nuance with fantastic function or mechanics. I've seen some beautiful water cooled computer casings and intricately detailed mechanical insects. Unfortunately, I've also seen a plethora of items that were non-functional, impractical or wholly dependent on watch parts and cogs for their edge. Granted, there are some nice pieces that incorporate watch parts and cogs but predominately more that lack originality. The saddest thing that I've seen as of late was a gathering of machine embroidered cogs on a kitchen item with the word "STEAMPUNK" printed underneath. I really expect to see distressed pink shirts with screen printed bronze cogs over the breast at the mall any day now.

In thinking about a post regarding steampunk items, I chose a few rules. No cogs, no watch bits, no keys and nothing terribly expensive. Just handmade items with a little edge that could be enjoyed by any steampunk lover without being glaringly obvious. Initially I started by thinking "Okay, I'm a Victorian... what do I practically need?". Things like momento mori, mourning items, combs, hats, gloves and snuff boxes came to mind. I found surprisingly slim pickings in areas I expected to find many. Few people make steampunk silhouette portraits for instance. Seems odd to not find many mourning items though considering mourning was practically an Olympic sport in the era. In the end I went in a slightly different direction, but tried to keep the essence of function, edge and a bit of Victoriana in mind. I've only selected a few items to share here which hopefully appeal to a wide audience. I look forward to finding a few more to post eventually.

NYC Souvenir- by BROOKLYNrehab

What respectable Victorian with an interest in the sciences doesn't want a specimen from the notorious Columbidae of New York City? This item is methodically preserved by the seller and would make a lovely addition to a cabinet of parlor curiosities.

Antique Microscope Slide Pendant- by Aminyitray

How simplistic yet clever! This pendant is a perfect way to carry bleeding edge Victorian science around with you wherever you wander. This seller has a number of scientific curiosities which might interest the steampunk aficionado.

Starving Child Eating Lobster Tote- by UtilitarianFranchise

The image on this bag is deliciously eerie. It reminds me of an etched frontispiece to a horrific Victorian novel about possessed sea creatures. This is the kind of bag that is just yearning for a proper lady to store her cross stitch samplers and crotchet doily projects inside. I really wish this image was on an evening bag though. Perhaps one with a ornate clasp closure and a delicate chain handle.

The Individuated Scarf of Self Actualization- by FuschiaMinute

What a freaking fabulous name. That being said, I could absolutely see this scarf being paired with a simple brown waistcoat, a pair of spectacles and a leather field case for the gent who wants to survey the country side while still keeping all of the luscious colors of impressionist paintings close at hand for inspiration.

Floozy Flytrap by GrandmaWasAFloozy

Now here is a simple, elegant piece that has a bit of edge to it. It's delicate appeal is really enhanced by the addition of a silver button closure and a bloody fabulous name. The crafter behind this item sells a number of exquisite items that have a Victorian feel and a lot of bite.

1 comment:

  1. These are great finds, thanks so much for including my floozies! I own one of Aminyitray's microscope slide pendants, it's absolutely fab.

    I'm in complete agreement that a lot of the steampunk offerings out there are lacking in ingenuity, which for me is the very basis of the aesthetic. I would dearly love to see more working clockwork and mechanical charms. I'm also a big fan of broken porcelain dolls, typewriter keys, dead insects, human hair, and anything 1:12 scale or smaller.