A Look Into the World of Steampunk

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, especially when its done right. 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 is still growing as a genre. Michael Moorcock is good place to start with traditional Steampunk fiction. Steampunk fiction is influenced by authors such as Charles Dickens, HG Wells, and Jules Verne.  Personally, I thought Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series was Steampunk, but some would argue that’s its 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.

steam punk 682x1024 A Look Into the World of Steampunk

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.

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Image from Viona Art.com

Here is another image from Robots vs Badgers. Again, you’ll notice the Victorian elements blended with out of this world pieces.

robatvs badger  A Look Into the World of Steampunk
Image from Robots vs. Badgers

I love this! Here 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 object turned into a piece of Steampunk functional art.iretrophone steampu A Look Into the World of SteampunkI’m a fan of Steampunk. 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.

Questions for you who are involved in the Steampunk world. 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!

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13 Responses to A Look Into the World of Steampunk

  1. Phyllis McCord says:

    My children introduced me to Steampunk. Urban Threads has some very cool Steampunk designs, so computer bags and cosmetic cases are embroidered with cogs and wheels; Victorian monocles are on my glasses case. Craft stores sometimes stock little metal cogs and other Steampunk-style embellishments, too.

    And I’ve always wanted the Steampunk laptop…

  2. Cathy Cattle says:

    I love the look of the Victorian steampunk and also got my introduction to it at Urban Threads. Would love to do a costume using this genre, but really no where to wear it. Children all in their 20′s mine that is, really do not care for it. Guess they like the sleek look of electronics. Nice links you had there in the article. Thanks.

  3. Myrna Goddard says:

    Can’t say as I like it. Certainly different. Looks like a lot of Goth with old fashion clothes to me. I saw this on Urban Threads but never new it wasn’t called Goth. I was one of those that started wearinb bell bottoms when they went out of style so who knows. Maybe I will change my opinion down the line.

  4. Myrna Goddard says:

    Is this Goth with heavey metal added in?

  5. Clem says:

    I like the Victorian Steampunk. I was introduced to it in Urban Threads also. My kids (ages 30-40) look at me like I am regressing into my youth. lol ;-)

  6. Susan M. says:

    Urbanthreads.com has been our gateway into the world of Steampunk!

  7. Alice Oliphant says:

    Was introduced to SteamPunk with Urban Threads. It’s a fusion of light and dark, old and new, and fun and serious. It appeals to my non-traditional side .

  8. Kelly says:

    The Golden Compass was very steampunk. Also, Warehouse 13. I adore the genre. Even if you don’t want to go all out, It’s great to just add a few favorites to an otherwise plain wardrobe. Some of those Victorian jackets look great with jeans! And goggles really go with everything. :)

  9. Kathy M says:

    I am in LOVE with it. Urban Threads has introduced me to the most marvelous designs. I even have my 82 year old mother loving it.

  10. Mary King says:

    I have always loved watching Wild Wild West and more recently the Warehouse 13, and even movies such as Shanghai Knights with their mix of modern and Victorian. Such fun designs.

  11. Leesa Hunter says:

    I too fell in love with Steampunk before it was, with Wild Wild West as a child. VBG. Then my Daughter and a couple of my favorite Authors showed me it was coming back and then Urban Threads!! Wow, us fabric engineers have so much fun! I would love the book to add more items to my need to make list. Thank You for showing me that it is available. Whoever wins will have such fun.

  12. Tamara Voss says:

    I really enjoy steampunk as well. I read Jules Verne as a youth and loved victorian clothing. I was a huge SF fan too. Steampunk was the best of all worlds. :-) In college I was able to purchase a victoran leg o mutton jacket which I wore extensively after relining it in black watch tartan taffeta. Urban Threads and Tim Holtz have really made this popular with crafters.

  13. Mary mac says:

    Yes, I love steampunk, I save all my old watches and clocks to use the “innards” for my steampunk projects.

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