Photo Friday: Words and Pictures

This week I got sidetracked. Again. Sometimes tracking crossing timelines isn't an easy task. But I have an excuse; I've been battling my summer bronchitis (my legacy from the inevitable North winds that relocate the dust into my lungs). Dosed up on medication makes it difficult to concentrate. (You can hear me rattle when I walk.) So I picked up a book to read and, to my dismay, I discovered I have ten books on the go. Three of them are from indie authors.  I've been so tired I have forgotten which books I have started  (seven of my reading pile). Just as I was getting frustrated at my lack of motivation, an email popped up in my inbox: an Australian produced anthology (with a theme right up my alley). An idea weedled its way into my brain. How could I resist? The only issue is my constant nemesis: time. I plunged into research, pulling out reference books and DVDs.

   

The minimum word count is 5000 words. Can I do it in a week? If I could, then it may just kick me out of my timeline unraveling funk; completing something is a real buzz and incites more and more writing!

Photos ©2017 Karen J Carlisle

Costume Diary: A New Corset for Oz Comic Con

I've been accepted for a table at this year's Oz Comic Con in Adelaide.  Time for an new corset! First task was to draft up a new under-the-bust pattern, as I've changed since my last one. A new toile was fitted, thanks to Lynne Cook.

  

I used two layers of cotton duck for the structural part of the corset. The spiral metal boning was sandwiched between them, in sewn channels.  The pattern was cut perpendicular to the long grain, so the strongest part of the material would be around the body. The outer, decorative layer was cut to follow the pattern. This one has a pirate map theme, using left over material from one of my blouse projects. The metal busk was inserted, using an awl to create the holes for the 'knobs' (so the material threads were not broken, to reduce fraying and keep material integrity) and sewn in place. Boning channels were sewn in place.

  

I used 25 mm cotton bias to edge the top and bottom of the corset. Finally the grommets were inserted (these are size 0, black). Again, an awl is used to create the hole, to avoid breaking threads.

And here is the final creation - my new pirate map under-the-bust corset. Thanks to Lynne, of the Australian Costumers' Guild for her assistance in fitting. Now to see if I can get a second one finished before the con. Come by my table at Oz Comic Con to find out.

Photos © 2017 Karen Carlisle.

Re-imagining a Better World

Historical re-enactment is often accused of avoiding the real world, ignoring history's atrocities or hiding in the past. Sometimes all three. In my experience this is not the case. Most re-enactors (and historians) will tell you it is important to look back and analyse history so we can learn from past mistakes, to improve our future.

One of the most important reasons to look back into and analyse the past is to learn from society's mistakes. Steampunk looks into the past, but with modern eyes; it is a re-imagination of the past, not a slavish re-creation. Colonial England was all about domination and power, a way to fuel the economy of mother England. Instead, we can embrace the diversity of cultures. The 'punk philosophy' inspires us to question authority, society's ethics, politics and gender roles and encourages us to look for solutions for society's short-falls. Doing so allows us to embrace cultures and celebrate diversity.

Suna Dasi of Steampunk India is one example: "Transferring this and many other aspects of Victorian society to an alternate, Post-Mutiny India, incorporating native characters unhampered by traditional gender roles, seems an opportunity for fiction that is too good to let lie."

Through steampunk, and Steampunk Hands, I discovered Josué Ramos  award winning writer of science fiction, terror and historic tales. Josué is part of the Spanish steampunk community, organising the EuroSteamCon Madrid and posts regularly on (huzzah, for google translation) his blog Mundosteampunk. You can find my 2015 Steampunk Hands guest blog on Mundosteampunk here.

El Investigator is part of the Mexican steampunk community and has been involved in varied steampunk anthologies.

Beyond Victoriana is another blog celebrating multicultural steampunk. Its founding editor, Diana M. Pho, wrote the introduction for Steampunk World, an anthology published in 2014, and funded via Kickstarter. It contained stories from around the world, showcasing the diversity to be found. I'm eagerly awaiting the follow-up anthology, Steampunk Universe - also funded via Kickstarter. Stories highlight disabled and aneurotypical characters. Both have cover art by steampunk artist, James Ng.

The way we express steampunk is wide-ranging. Events range from family picnics, fundraising events and conventions to music events. Music style varies; rap, punk, folk, jazz, swing and rock are all represented in bands such as Professor Elemental, The Cog is Dead and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing.

At a local level, we also have participants of varied educational and vocational backgrounds. Even the degree to which individuals experience steampunk is diverse. Some dip their toe in the genre by reading books, watching movies, listening to music or wearing costumes to the local convention. Others delve deeper - creating alternate personas and joining forums. Some immerse themselves, living the steampunk lifestyle to the full or embarking on steampunk-related careers.

For me, the diversity of those who enjoy steampunk is one of its attractions. Steampunk is inclusive. I can be myself, part of a welcoming and diverse community. And it has made my life richer as a result.