Friday, October 8, 2010

What is Steampunk?

by divapixie - Cindy Thompson

I went out on a search last evening to find a true definition of what "steampunk" really is. I am choosing to quote the article "Steampunk 101" from as my definition reference. They refer to steampunk as meaning "Victorian science fiction".,continuing on to state "Here “Victorian” is not meant to indicate a specific culture, but rather references a time period and an aesthetic: the industrialized 19th century."
In other words, Victorian clothing, fashion and ideals combined with what then would have been considered futuristic. Think of combining motorized, steam driven objects with corset, bustles and waistcoats.
"The term “steampunk” was not coined until the late 1980s, when author K. W. Jeter used it humorously to describe a grouping of stories set in the Victorian period written during a time when near-future cyberpunk was the prevailing form of science fiction."
The article goes into more detail about the associations made with the word "steampunk" and also references items that are often associated with this fashion movement as well as dissecting why they have become so iconic to the movement. I highly recommend this article for more in depth detail about all things considered "steampunk".

Now, as for my personal experiences with this movement, I actually have very few. I was first asked to create some "steampunk" pieces about 4 years back. A good friend of mine was going to a Convention event in central Minnesota.
My jewelry sales, then hosted on Etsy, were next to non-existent at the time and I thought perhaps I could send her some jewelry pieces to wear at Con to spark interest in my jewelry shop online. She said the types of pieces people at Con would most be interested in would be "steampunk" inspired pieces. I had no idea what on earth that meant.
After a short stint of research online, I made a run to the hardware store to pick up some nuts and bolts. I also had some parts from an old microwave I had recently taken apart. I lashed these together into a pendant and brooch (the pendant is still with me today and is listed in my Artfire Studio). My friend said the pieces were nice but not quite steampunk.

I continues on in my quest to make steampunk items and have tried MANY different things. Here's what i have discovered from my experiences.
~Some people prefer gears and cogs on their jewelry that have motion.
~Some people think gears and cogs on anything is great.
~Some people scoff at the idea of putting gears and cogs EVERYWHERE.
So as you can see... it's a subjective thing. Just like any of type of fashion, steampunk fashion is left entirely up to the person wearing it. I now subscribe to the steampunk fashion community on livejournal. I often read posts where the controversy over what is or is not steampunk can get rather heated. Everyone seems to have their own opinions and views on the matter. It is essentially, like so many other things, left to interpretation.
So you see, truly finding things that are "steampunk" is actually quite difficult. I prefer to think of some of my jewelry pieces as 'steampunk inspired' rather than truly steampunk. I'll let the discerning participant decide for themselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment