Friday, March 14, 2008

I've been steampunked!


I'll admit it. I'm not proud. Three months ago, I didn't know what steampunk is, and now I'm proudly represented among some fine examples of the style. This Treasury (an Etsy term for a collection of items "currated" by an Etsy member, in this case Fairies and Treasures), has the usual hallmarks of the style--the vintage-future-techno punk. But that's not all that it's about.

My investigations of steampunk began when my dad gave me a couple of boxes of old watches and clocks that he dismantled 20 years ago for one of my mother's forgotten art projects. It was a great find, but only a superficial aspect of the style. Still, as I read more about it, I realized how well the steampunk aesthetic fits with the other vintage items that have so captivated me lately.

Steampunk had its origins in science fiction of the 1960s to 1980s and still exists as a fictional movement, but also as a subculture, as a musical genre, and as a style. It's been applied to movies, anime, graphic novels, computer games, and even computers. Steampunk--sometimes referred to as neo-Victorian--hearkens back to the days of steam power, before electricity, combining a touch of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells with a cyberpunk aesthetic, with lace and machine parts in equal measure.

One blog devoted to the style, The Steampunk Home, describes it beautifully: "It's finding a way to combine the past and the future in an aesthetic pleasing yet still punkish way. It's living a life that looks old-fashioned, yet speaks to the future. It's taking the detritus of our modern technological society and remaking it into useful things."

Other definitions and applications of steampunk abound, and I don't pretend to have more than a beginner's knowledge of what it's all about. But it's exciting to explore.

19 comments:

decadentdiamond said...

Oh wow, you're making me so interested in it too! I instantly thought of LeeLoo (Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element) as a 'steampunk' person after read your entry... am I correct? Maybe she needs to have more of a 'darker' quality?

The treasury is beautiful too.

Callooh Callay said...

I think that may be too futuristic--not enough Victorian influence (maybe more cyperpunk?). Not sure though--it's an interesting comparison.

Rosebud Collection said...

Very interesting and thanks for sharing. I never heard of it..

Callooh Callay said...

Oh good, I'm not the only one who was out of the loop.

Kerry said...

love the term...
off to seach steampunk!

High Desert Diva said...

I'm so hooked on steampunk! I love your piece in the treasury. I dismantled an old clock a month or so ago...this treasury is giving me some inspiration....maybe a pendant for myself with some of my grandmother's jet buttons....hmmmm....

I have a link on my blog to Datamancer...a steampunk site that is just incredible. Check it out if you have time.

Nora said...

Congrats on being in a treasury! I like you jewelry, very unique!

Jenny said...

I had no clue. Thanks for defining it! Lovely stuff!

Callooh Callay said...

Thanks, everyone.

High Desert Diva--Thanks--Datamancer is a very cool site. There's a whole realm of this out there!

missfire said...

Love it, and that's a beautiful piece that fits right in!

The closest I ever get to steampunk is lusting over it on Etsy and watching Bladerunner. I just can't pull it off :).

Cicada Studio said...

Congrats on finding your new niche!

Distressing Delilah said...

Cool. There is a name for that style..I love it!

Rosalie said...

Thanks for telling me what steampunk it -- I've been seeing references to it everywhere and was too shy to ask.

blueboygifts said...

awesome, now I knwo what steampunk means. I have always wondered about that. Thanks for breaking it down and explaining it!

Callooh Callay said...

This is so encouraging! I thought I was the only one not cool enough to know.

Vaudeville Vintage said...

I really enjoyed your blog on Steampunk but I have to say the origins of steampunk started way before the 1960s. Actually more like the 1860s! It's largely influenced by the scientists, scholars, dreamers and science fiction writers of that time. Jules Verne wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth(a huge part of the steampunk culture) in 1864. Traveling to the center of the earth, under the sea in submarines, time travel and space travel all played an important role in the evolution of steampunk. Which is why so many steampunks value George Melies silent film.. A Trip to the Moon so highly. That film was made in 1902. As well as the industrial revolution...Metropolis (1927). The British travelers in the 1890s to 1930s that were exploring and settling India, Egypt and other exotic places and going on safari. What I love about steampunk is that it's so rich in literature, film, art, history, science, fashion and other cultural influences! It's nostalgic, romantic, elegant, futuristic. And while I've spent a good many of my formative years as a punk, then a goth, and even a rockabetty, I've got to admit I think steampunk is sooo much richer and definitely more varied! Have you checked out the steampunk band Abney Park? They're on myspace. Thanks for letting me ramble, I really enjoyed reading your blog!

Callooh Callay said...

Thanks for all that--I knew somebody would come along more knowledgeable than me (hence all my disclaimers). It is pretty fascinating.

Susan

theardentthread said...

Lovely blog you've got here!

I fell in with Steam Punk because I'm an anime freak. Steam Boy, Last Exile, Castle in the Sky and several other films and anime series out of Japan focus strongly on the steam punk theme and make it work so well.

And being a costuming geek who lived in the UK for a while, of course I have a trunk full of Victorian gowns and assorted accessories. Unfortunately I have no place to wear them! Oh well.

Callooh Callay said...

Ardentthread--You'll have to be the one to throw the party! Can't let all that good stuff go to waist.