There’s a certain aesthetic that goes hand in hand with steampunk—the brass, the cogs, the gears, the glass. Part magic, part science, part history, it’s become one of the more recognizable subcultures in a long time. It’s inherently geeky and sexy.
But, for me anyway, real steampunk artistry is beyond just looking good. It’s about meaning something, too. Hot-gluing a gear on some felt and charging $50 is not steampunk, isn’t cool. Unless you’re being ironic. Then, in that case, that’s very punk of you.
Since I spend an inordinate amount of time scanning various steampunk sites, I thought I’d provide a few suggestions. Steampunk makes for some great, thrifty, and beautiful holiday giving.
Steampunk is all about the details. And if you’re in the mood for the macabre, and want something that will truly set you apart, consider something from Moon Raven designs. Bronzed bat skulls? Yes, please. Tiny, shiny, spooky and splendid. My particular favorite is this one — and only $24.00.
I think I’ve seen one too many holiday displays this year with wallets. But you know, really? How about something a little more original. These remarkable skeleton key wallets are handcrafted by Urban Heirlooms. Just the perfect blend of mystery and aesthetic appeal. Also of note: the leather cuffs and skeleton key necklaces.
19Moons really exemplifies, for me, the confluence of steampunk artistry and form: the bold colors, the gems, the delicate clockwork. The pieces are all stunning, combining vintage items with that steampunk flair. Particularly lovely items include the moth below, the mechanic ruby beetle ring, and this clockwork dragon pendant.
How about some literature to read? A great overview is the Steampunk anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, containing some excellent short stories. Also, if you haven’t picked it up yet, Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker is a fantastic steampunk-zombie-alternate history novel. And if you want to go high-tech, consider Steampunk Tales; each issue is only $1.99 and is formatted for the iPhone (shameless plug: my short story was in the last issue).
But the most steampunk thing of all? Try your hand at DIY; make something yourself, then make up a story about it. Taking bits of the past to make something new and memorable: that’s what it’s all about.