My Steampunk Costume
- Also see my essay on What is Steampunk?
- See some photos at Flickr
- Read on, for some notes about the photos, and my costume
It didnt begin with Steampunk – just a thought that it would be 'fun' to dress up as a character from Science Fiction at a friend's wedding. I dont mean Darth Vader, Captain Kirk or Chmeee – that would be silly. It had to be something much subtler, and the idea of a 'tell' developed – a simple emblem or item that says who you are in an otherwise nondescript costume. For example, the 'tell' for a woman dressed as Angua would be a dog's collar with a badge saying Ankh-Morpork City Watch and a piece of blue blanket attached to her belt. I thought of a number of characters, and their tells, including a Meanwhile City agent (from one of my favourite films); but most of my ideas seemed to drift back to the Discworld or the Ringworld. It would be quite easy to dress as Louis Wu for example – all you need is a 'falling jumper' – and there is plenty of scope to design that, as only vague hints are ever given in the books. I also liked the idea of dressing up as Lu-Tze, the history monk; which, of course, required that I build a spinner or portable procrastinator to strap to my back.
The project gradually evolved into a steampunk exercise and, more precisely, into a the character of a steampunk explorer. A sort of steampunk Doctor Who, with gadgets appropriated from various science fiction books. You cannot see my gadgets very well in the photos, but here is a brief description of some of them, and other aspects of my costume.
- Stepper Box. This is a cedarwood box containing some simple electronics that allows me to step between worlds. It is powered (as it has to be) by a potato. A stepper box is (presumably) a psionic device, and it only works for the person who constructed and 'tuned' it. In my design, you can see the large metal vanes of the tuning capacitor. All travellers up and down The Long Earth can be identified by the stepper box at their waist, allowing them to travel, at the flick of a switch, either east or west through the multiverse of the Long Earth.
- Spinner, or Portable Procrastinator. My spinner is a prototype, designed for Lu-Tze by the history monk Qu, and allows me to travel outside of time, once the clockwork has been wound up. It comprises a wooden cylinder mounted in a wood and metal frame and driven by a clockwork motor. When it is running, the central wooden column spins and, in effect, wraps time around itself. For verisimilitude (and just in case it actually worked) the black wooden bars are made from ancient bog oak, carbon-dated to 5300 BP, and bought from a specialist wood supplier, Timberline. (The item is sold as the finger board for a bass guitar). The clockwork was appropriated from an old wind-up gramophone, the rest of which had rotted away in my father's garden shed.
- Compass and Sundial. You cannot see this, as it is packed away in my satchel, but I have a brass compass and portable sundial to aid in navigation
- Eyewear. No steampunk traveller is ever without his eyewear! As well as the sunglasses, you'll see that I have an optician's test frame, which I thought looked suitably unusual.
- Watch. I am also wearing a mechanical watch on my wrist and had another two about my person; one on the end of my waistcoat chain.
- Symbol Reader. Sadly, I didnt have time to build my symbol reader, which would have been wrapped in a velvet cloth and stored in an old tin that used to contain smoke-leaf. Perhaps I'll report on this later?
- Waistcoat. Just a quick word about the waistcoat. I bought a cheap suede waistcoat on Ebay and took it apart, re-building it with fabric from funkifabrics.com, which I sewed on an ancient Singer sewing machine. Rather than using dressmaking pins, I glued and/or stapled the fabric – that's a Top Tip, I expect. The waistcoat is adorned with various buttons and brooches, including some from Captain Cumberpatch.
- Hat. I dont like the hat – need to think again.
- Shirt. The tunic shirt is from Elgar Shirts, which I bought at a local steampunk market. To get the special faded look, Elgar Shirts used the fabric inside out. Another Top Tip.
- and so on... Moleskin trousers from ... err... M&S actually. Boots from Ebay... most bits from Ebay.
David Gibson, 04-Aug-2018
This page, http://site2.caves.org.uk/steampunk/costume.html was last modified on Tue, 21 Aug 2018 09:14:45 +0000
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