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Unread 08-22-2008, 01:52 AM   #1
Tiny-teenie
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Steampunk do's and don'ts

I think this is the right place to put this, if not I will happily move it to the correct thread.

Anyway, my friends and I are looking to do a Steampunk cosplay at Anime LA 08 or Anime Expo 09. We are four girls and I do believe two of them wish to cosplay as males.

I was wondering if there are any specific do's and don'ts to Steampunk, what would be proper to wear/accessorise with and what wouldn't.

If I could get some advice, I would be very grateful.

Thanks for your time guys.
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Unread 08-22-2008, 02:00 AM   #2
o01101011
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Get the period clothing right. Clearly because of the fiction there are some things that can be tweaked, but the base design should be victorian/old western/19th century.
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Unread 08-22-2008, 02:37 AM   #3
Mangochutney
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If your choice is between something that is a gear and something that is not a gear, it is your moral duty as a steamer to pick the gear every time. For reals.
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Unread 08-22-2008, 03:00 AM   #4
Tiny-teenie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangochutney View Post
If your choice is between something that is a gear and something that is not a gear, it is your moral duty as a steamer to pick the gear every time. For reals.
I am very new to the steampunk cosplay idea. Could you please define what you mean by gear. I've seen pictures of steampunk with things such as cogs sewn on to hats. Is that what you mean? Or all the accessories such as goggles, and nifty mechanical gadgets?
Thanks

Last edited by Tiny-teenie : 08-22-2008 at 03:15 AM.
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Unread 08-22-2008, 11:45 AM   #5
Mangochutney
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Eh, that was mostly me being a smartass. You've noticed that the aesthetic has a distinctly mechanical component, which is what I'm getting at. Figuring out how to incorporate low-tech machinery into things that normally wouldn't have it (like boots) is one of my favorite parts of steampunk.

(nearly all of it should be tarnished, by the way. Brass gets to be shiny, but only if it looks like it's been tarnished THEN polished. Aging and weathering techniques are crucial.)
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Unread 08-22-2008, 12:43 PM   #6
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If you have a livejournal, I would totally suggest you check out the Steamfashion community. They're pretty helpful in offering ideas and people are always linking cute accessories they find in stores.

Otherwise, o01101011 pretty much nailed down the description. Start with something Victorian and find creative ways to embellish it with steamy accessories.
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Unread 08-22-2008, 02:43 PM   #7
Tiny-teenie
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Thank you all so much for your help. You guys are great.
Pocketfightr, thank you for the livejournal tip. I will definitely check that out.
Mangochutney, thanks for all your tips, I will definetly add low-tech machinery to what I can
o01101011, thanks for giving me the time periods too look into.

Thank you again
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Unread 08-22-2008, 09:29 PM   #8
TechieCL
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My advice would be don't get too wrapped up in "Is it Steampunk or not?" Define it too rigidly and you loose your artistic license. Not every idea has to be some adventuring Victorian Brit. There's the "Weird" West (i.e cowboys). There's Chinese/Eastern influences you can bring in. Brown and brass are good colors, but there's other palletes and shades that can be made to work.

Think anchronistic technology - modern concepts with past technology. Functionality, every bit and do-dad should look like it has a reason for being there (whether it actually works doesn't matter).
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Unread 08-22-2008, 11:02 PM   #9
DivineSage
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Check out the webcomic Girl Genius: http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php

It's a great storyline with lots of Steampunk-y goodness.
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Unread 08-23-2008, 03:02 AM   #10
Nachoman
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Continuing from TechieCL's idea, I could point out that you might not even have to go all the way to the steam era to get unreal.
Most science-fiction from the 19th century deal with steam-driven behemoths doing big stuff that people would do small. Also remember that electricity and magnetism was a known factor throughout the 19th century, so much that the earliest reference I can find to a Matrix-type direct brain-machine interphase dates back from the 1850's or so. Full autonomous robots are also present (and some revolt), not to mention that Frankenstein, which many point as the beginning of Scifi, was published in 1818.
Turn-of-the-century Scifi tended to center on city life gone mainstream. The main idea was that cities were eternal and would be the ultimate creation of man-kind. Some stories center, though, on the fact that our cities will outlive mankind. The first megalopolis were predicted and even cities in the sky, based on never-resting Zeppelins.
Warfare, by the way, was still concieved completely as old-tactics with new weapons. HG Wells imagined tanks as ships-out-of-water, steaming accross the landscape under strict naval tactics. Similarly with much previous authors, writing about Zeppelins being manouvered into broadside tactics, or three-layered infantry lines flying in formation as they prepare a synchronized shot.
1910's Scifi centers on flight: colossal Zeppelins, flapping-wing flying hotels, mid-ocean floating airports. Few seemed to have ever heard of the Wright brothers, though.
1920's Scifi continues on transportation, although now on all kinds of transportation: elevated monorails, rotor boats (for oceanic travel), near-supersonic cars commuting from London to Moscow via multiple tunnels. Airplanes were still seen like flying boats, but at least they were now illustrated like feasible flying machines.
1930`s Scifi was hopeful for a bright future for everybody; a natural position if you consider that everybody thought that a big war was looming ahead. The mass transportation from the 20's landed into colossal highways, and cities as gleaming silver towers surrounded by tame forests. Other visions from the era even go as far as to go into a Roman-like golden age full with personal helicopters and antigrav cars.
1940's Scifi begins the Atomic age. Near-omnipotence is at hand, for better or worse.

If you want to see things on these, try watching "Captain Sky and the World of Tomorrow": it's supposed to be based on the 1950's pulp fiction, but its vision dates back to turn of the century. If you wanted to try earlier fashions, prepare for the idea that a lady is a useless piece of decoration that needs to be rescued from her own stupidity(any task requiring thought is unladylike), and a gentleman always wears white shirt, tie and coat regardless of the ocassion, even if he is testing his new time machine or has to visit a mining operation in the middle of the Sahara. If protection equipment require more than to cover his eyes with googles or his ears with protection, then the task is ungentlemanly.

Take care.
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Unread 08-23-2008, 05:02 AM   #11
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The general idea of Steampunk is adventure. It's typically Victorian-based clothing, but altered to be more adventurous and imaginative. It's really about innovation, so Nachoman's sci-fi suggestion is is a good place to start. If you really want to get into it, read the literature. Many Steampunkers will recommend the works of Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; Journey to the Center of the Earth) and H. G. Wells (The Time Machine). I'd also recommend Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (as Nachoman did) and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

But really, the most important component of Steampunk is imagination, so just keep that in mind when you're creating your outfit. Make it whatever you want it to be, don't worry about adhering to rules or guidelines.
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Unread 08-23-2008, 05:32 AM   #12
questionablekri
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A good place for ideas for steampunk help/ideas/etc would be this forum: http://www.brassgoggles.co.uk/bg-forum/index.php (specifically the tactile and anatomical boards.)

also, steampunk magazine has lots of good articles as well. not to mention patterns for steampunk suitable clothing and accessories including spats, aviators cap, artisan apron, etc. http://www.steampunkmagazine.com/inside/downloads/

Also, for steampunk costumes I've found it's better to have an idea of what kind of character you want before you put something together because sometimes things don't work for certain characters and having too much can end up looking miss-mashy. Ex: goggles work more for the mechanics/airship captains/etc because they'd be a necessy and functional piece whereas they'd just look random on a more upperclass/aristocrat character. (unless you were some upperclass airship captain or something.)
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Last edited by questionablekri : 08-23-2008 at 05:46 AM.
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Unread 08-23-2008, 09:27 PM   #13
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Think of means of generating power besides electricity if you decide to carry a weapon for a prop. Hand cranks, turn keys/winders, copper tubbing and fake 'steam tanks' too. Wood is always good too and bolts and gears can be made into accesories as well. I also noticed goggles on top hats or safari helmets.
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Unread 08-24-2008, 01:35 AM   #14
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Freezerburn:
I repeat: electricity was a known factor. If you look hard enough, you can even find on Internet the electrical data sheets concerning the Titanic's electrical instalation.
You do raise a very good point, though, so I would rather recommend carrying stuff like blue-vitrol batteries or maybe even stripping out a zinc-carbon battery pack and making it work from inside glass vials.
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Unread 08-25-2008, 12:32 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post
Freezerburn:
I repeat: electricity was a known factor. If you look hard enough, you can even find on Internet the electrical data sheets concerning the Titanic's electrical instalation.
You do raise a very good point, though, so I would rather recommend carrying stuff like blue-vitrol batteries or maybe even stripping out a zinc-carbon battery pack and making it work from inside glass vials.
I like to see different means of power in steampunk props and costumes, but thats just me. The hand crank like Freezerburn suggested would be cool on a prop, especially if it was functional.
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