Category Archives: steampunk

Steampunk Hands: International Steampunk Q&A

Wow. What a week!

I finished painting and gluing my steampunk Fairy Eliminator, visited local artiscan’s workshops for photoshoots and had my first internation request for a guest blog post, translated into Spanish.

I was also asked to take part in an International Q&A Interview (of several fellow steampunks all over the world) by  Raydeen, who writes the blog – My Ethereality. Today she posted part one of the interview. 

Thanks to Raydeen for asking me. I am honoured to be in such great company.



#6: Through the Looking Glass

Steampunk Hands Around the World: Our Workshop – Creating the Steampunk Aesthetic

Steampunk is not just a writing genre or a series of philosophies (encompasing the reuse, recycle and repurpose ethic, its promotion of hand-made craft and positive outlook on life – Back to the Future). It is also an aesthetic, encompassing style, clothing, jewelry. It is an expression of individuality.

Google defines aesthetic as a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.  So how does steampunk actually look and feel?

Look into the mirror and what do you see?

Are you wearing comtempory clothing or are you garbed in a steampunk outfit? Steampunk attire may have a Victorian look but there is more.  Historically, clothing can denote social rank, wealth, associate links with specific groups or project a desired image. (Keeping up with the Medicis – historical re-enactment article 2006. pdf) Throughout history, sumptuary laws have attempted to restrict the lower classes masquerading as their betters or to control the economy.

Subtle changes in the cut or design of Victorian clothing can earmark the wearer as a wannabe or the genuine article. Accessories can reveal (or betray) a vocation. It can tell the outside world who you are, and possibly how you feel about the world around you.

Do you prefer the appearance of a toff, a socialite or an explorer – a mechanic, a pirate or a street urchin? It is up to you. Do you love the feel of silk, the practicality of leather or the shine of bronze?  How do you want to express yourself? Steampunk allows you to decide. You can recreate yourself in whatever guise you wish.

IMG_6369  IMG_6477
IMG_6286  IMG_6516

How do you achieve the steampunk look?

25 tea box canary victoria 3 explorers beltImagination is the key. In 2011, I participated in a Steampunk Panel, expounding the virtues of accessories. They are my passion. Any outfit (or costume), no matter how spectacular, can be unmade by the use of inappropriate accessories. Conversely, well chosen accessories can elevate a plain outfit into something amazing and rememberable.

Last September, I showcased some of my accessories – More pictures can be seen at September Steampunk Accessories Roundup.

IMG_6251Think about your character (or persona). What could they afford – or want to afford? Is there anything interesting they may collect? What is their occupation? What items would they use? Do you wish to be historically accurate or is that only a starting point? Do you want to mashup another fandom – steampunk Tinkerbell, steampunk Doctor, steampunk Disney princess? Do you prefer an original idea? Again, it is up to you? What do you desire?

How does Steampunk feel?

The steampunk movement is not restricted to clothing. The look is popular right now. We may have been decorating (at least some of) our houses with Victorian and/or steampunk items and furniture for some time, but now it is becoming mainstream – even renovation and home improvement websites and television shows are dedicating articles on how to steampunk your house. 

IMG_7786  IMG_7802

Steampunk can be a philosophy, fashion, decor or a lifestyle. It can reflect your desires, your hopes. It is what you make it. You choose.

Photographs (c)Karen Carlisle 2014-2015

#5 Steampunk Hands: Weapon Workshop

open wings david ruwoldtHow is this for timing? I searched for a recent workshop to write about – as an example of something I learned or made because of steampunk. I had already written about my articulated aviator wings in On Making My Steampunk Wings. I contemplated posting about a recent corset workshop, but that was not exclusively steampunk related (though I did make a new corset for my aviatrix outfit).

I had completely forgotten about this month’s Costumers’ Guild workshop on painting steampunk guns. Over the past few years we have been collecting interesting Nerf guns, water pistols from cheap shops, opshops or garage sales. Now we get the fun of steampunking them up.

The workshop was fun; my artistic muse came out to play. I created a new individually-crafted steampunk accessory and practiced the philosophy of reusing and re-purposing items. A win-win.

Then I thought, rather than write this post about the workshop itself, I could share what I learnt – creating a virtual classroom, and invite you to try it out for yourself.

Last weekend I learned the basics involved in painting up a plastic gun. Here they are:

  • First you need find a toy gun or water pistol to use as a base.
  • Start collecting bits and bobs – bottle lids, tubing, bolts, small plumbing bits – anything that can be glued on to make it look cool. I also have some brass candlesticks that I am planning on using for another weapon. You can buy bits, but I love finding interesting shaped bits and reusing them.
  • Sand back – using fine sandpaper to rough up the smooth plastic surface, so paint will adhere to the gun.
  • Unscrew the bits – lay them out so all areas will be accessed when spray painting.
  • spray paint primer undercoat – to allow the paint to stick to the glossy plastic
  • some decorative bits will be glued on before painting. Others, such as clear tubes, are best attached after painting the rest of the gun (and the pretty bit), so all areas are accessible. Glues such as two-part apoxy, PVA glues, superglue and hot glue guns (though these don’t handle heat very well) can be used, depending on what materials you are gluing.
  • Painting metallic/coloured paints – gold, brass, silver, blue, green (whatever takes your fancy) to give the desired look. Acrylic paints (such as craft paints from Spotlight or craft stores) make it easier to clean up afterwards.
  • some larger areas are best spray painted. Plastic bags and paint tape (sticky tape that does not pull off paint) can be used to mask areas to be unpainted.
  • distressing the gun, by using paint washes (painting a watered down, black paint wash and allowing it to pool in crevices and wiping back from unwanted areas) or using rub and buff over black undercoat
  • add a clear final coat to protect the paintwork and make it more durable.
  • The last thing I added was the leather strips to the handle (so they were paint free)

1 undercoat 2 Spraypainting Karen J Carlisle
. Undercoat (grey or black) 2. taping off sections to spray paint

3 handpaintin Karen J Carlisle 4 rub and buff aging Karen J Carlisle
. handpainting with acrylic paints 4. Using rub and buff to make look used and aged

mine 7 gluing on bits

mine 6b transfer and decals

5. Gluing on tubes and final gun furniture.  6. Adding transfers and painting decals

Introducing my latest creation: It was originally an ex-Nickelodeon Slime Blaster, found at a garage sale for $2. It is now transmogrified into my latest invention -own personal weapon – The Pump-Action-Fairy-Eliminator (the very latest in Irksome Pennate-Being Negation Systems), perfect for my Fairy-hunter outfit (you know – those pesky little biters who insist on raining havoc on the human world)…

mine done mine finished

6. The finished Pump-Action Fairy Eliminator

Why don’t you give it go? Make a pair of steampunk wings or paint up an old toy gun – and share them with us? I would love to see your pictures.