#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.

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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. 

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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

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#6: Through the Looking Glass was originally published on karen j carlisle / off the artboard

About karen j carlisle

writer artist gardener chocoholic tea lover
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