I’ve been invited to host a Steampunk masquerade ball on February 2. For those of you who don’t know what Steampunk is, the best explanation I’ve found is that Steampunk is where technology and romance intersect. One subset of it is Victorian sci-fi (think a modern interpretation of Jules Verne and HG Wells). Or if you remember the movie Wild, Wild West, with its steam-driven machines? That’s the steampunk aesthetic.
The ball is just part of it. In addition to dancing and music, the Circle City Aerodrome has arranged for Victorian card games, a silent auction, and—my fave—a Penny Dreadful. I’m part of this interactive mystery, which should be a blast. You can even read about my character’s backstory here.
I’ve been working on my ball gown. In true thrifting (and Punk!) fashion, I’ve created it from found objects. The basis is a 1940s wedding dress with a fabulous ruffled skirt. Unfortunately, the bodice was unbecomingly tight, plus the crew neckline (combined with the sheen of the satin) made me look incredibly busty. So I whacked the top off, turned it around, and turned it into a bolero jacket.
The bodice of the dress I replaced with a Goodwill Outlet-sourced corset top. I’ve added black lace and braid trim to cover some stains and add definition. I had to separate the over- and underskirts in order to hem the underskirt and take up the overskirt. I tell you what, this is the most complicated project I’ve done, and I’m not even building it from scratch.
Steampunk is big on PUNK; taking bits and pieces and mixing them together in a new way. It’s heavy on the DIY. Some people love to make their own costumes; others spend a huge amount of time “modding” modern technology to look as if it ran on steam.
And you know what else is big on DIY? Homesteading. The number of Steampunkers I’ve met who also keep goats, raise chickens, or practice permaculture is amazing.
Steampunk is supposed to be a big trend for retail in 2013. But anyone who goes out to buy a factory-produced clockwork necklace is missing the point. Steampunk is a chance to flex your creative muscles and let your imagination go wild.
Long live Steampunk!