Tuesday, December 28, 2010

KK: Latkes by Special Guest Alli Borson

Alli in her element! Photo by Lance Sabbag
I'm very fortunate to have many friends who cook and every one of them has a specialty. Alli Borson, in addition to being a costumer, is also a fancier of traditional Jewish recipes such as challah (which I'm sure if we ask nicely, she will also share) and latkes- or potato pancakes. These delightful creations are perfect for dipping into a variety of sweet and savory sauces and aren't -just- for Hanukkah. Latkes have their origins in Eastern Europe around the 18th century with that darned Columbian exchange of the potato, but caught on as Hanukkah fare because of the symbolism of the oil they're fried in. In the 19th century they made their way over to the United States with thousands of Jewish immigrants. But enough history- without further ado, here's Alli:

I made myself hungry rambling about latkes.

Hello everyone! Alli here, friend of Miss Kagashi and Mac over at the Steampunk Cookery blog, and I'm here to tell you all about latkes! I recently hosted a Hanukkah dinner at my house, and I made both brisket and latkes! A lotta latkes! Latkes have been something that I have made with my parents for years and years, ever since I was old enough to know that it would be very painful if I stuck my hand in the oil with the latkes. In college, I have been known to simply say to some friends, "I'm making latkes", and they will show up and devour them.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

January Preview, Housekeeping, and a Special Announcement!

Watercolor of an Algerian bride
The holidays are over, but there is still some special content coming up on the Steamer's Trunk! So as we say hello to 2011, here's what you can look forward to:

Kagashi's Kitchen:
-Sugared Walnuts (A Chinese New Year Staple, which will be on February 3rd this year)

Tutorial Time!:
-Turkish Trousers (Sorry everyone, money's been tight so I've been unable to budget for supplies)

Clothing You'll Love:
-North Africa

Focus on Folkways:
-Sensational Silk
-Baby It's Cold Outside: Outerwear From Around the World

Babbling Books:
-Mayan Cuisine by Daniel Hoyer

Featured Travelers:

-A surprise New Years Day post (Hint: it will make you go "awwwww").
-An interview with the amazing UK steampunk band, Sunday Driver, who mix Asian and Western influences to create a unique sound that... well, why don't I let them speak for themselves:

My monthly feedback question for you good people is: Would you be interested in seeing posts with photos/progress of multicultural steampunk projects that I (Miss Kagashi) am working on?

And remember that there's still time to take part in the Steamer's Trunk 1st Annual Charity Drive! We've already raised a lot of money (enough to buy a heifer or two water buffalo!) but we still have five days left, so chip in what you can or pass the link around!

Thanks for everything, world travelers!

CYL: Technology and Totems- Northwest Coast Native Americans

A 19th century Tlingit chilkat blanket

The peoples of the Northwest coast were not wigwam-builders or buffalo hunters- they were salmon fishers and on the most part and lived off of the land in a manner so technically advanced that it will make you re-think Native American clothing and art.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Charity Drive Update! And Mergatroyd Makes Two!

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce to you- Mergatroyd, a lovely llama who will be accompanying dapper Bernard on his trip to his new home.

But as you all know- two isn't exactly a party, now is it? We have over a week left in the drive, so let's keep pushing that chip-in button and make a difference in peoples' lives!

It should also be noted that Australian artist and blogger Stuart Anderson graciously donated $150- a WHOLE LLAMA- to the drive. I think the very least we can do to thank him for this generous gift would be to check out his fascinating blog about Oriental Post-Apocalyptic Steampunk, which is all about the Victorian fascination with Eastern culture and art and how to integrate that into steampunk. Furthermore he also examines Eastern art and how it impacts today's fashion as well, something (quite admittedly) I'm not terribly aware of.

Remember everyone! Keep sending love and llamas! Tomorrow night will be coverage of a steampunk Hanukkah dinner and guest contributor Alli Borson will show us how to make homemade latkes.

FF: Noserings: And the People Who Love Them

A Karakalpak woman from what would be modern day Uzbekistan. The photograph is from the 30s, but the dress is from earlier.
Personally, I don't really take the punk element in steampunk terribly seriously, at least in the modern context of the Sex Pistols or Vyvyan from the Young Ones (then again, Vyv wasn't meant to be taken seriously, I'm pretty sure). To paraphrase G.D. Falksen, I think the punk element in steampunk is more about the idea that we're dressing up in clothes and adopting the manners of Victorian-era civilizations- which in the context of modern society is very odd. In modern American society for example- wearing a gown or a nice waistcoat is against the grain. In a way, this blog could also be considered punk in steampunk: while most of the community is wearing the clothes of industrialized portions of Western Europe and America, I'm advocating the option of the attire of places elsewhere in the world who might not have been or be considered in the main mode of fashion. Food for thought I suppose.

But enough musing. One of the potential symbols of this punk movement is the symbol of the modern punk movement- the simple nose ring. A lot of cultures during the Age of Steam were piercing their noses: for status, for identification, and for beauty.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

BB: Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume by Josephine Paterek

For Native American Heritage Month, one of the books I heavily relied upon for the research and documentation was this text, the Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume by Josephine Paterek. It's over 500 pages of documentation, photographs, and appendices that could tell you everything you would want to know about the styles of dress that Native Americans wore, how they were constructed, and how the materials used were gathered.

The tribes are categorized into geographical regions of the United States and even includes seperate sections for the California coast peoples, the Plateau, and the Sub-Arctic. From there the regions are broken up into entries for the predominate tribes that include traditional pre-contact dress and the transitional dress of the 18th-20th centuries. Within these well-sourced entries there are sections for women's and men's attire, makeup/body painting/tattoos, decoration, hairstyles, ceremonial dress, and accessories with appropriate photographs accompanying them.

A Metis-Lakota outfit from Canada, 19th century
Admittedly the book could be a little better illustrated- as it is a book about art (essentially) and I feel the visual element was underrepresented in a few of the regions like the Northeast. My other issue is that Paterek refers to native clothing as 'costume' which is both a social and spiritual faux-pas amongst Native Americans (the polite term is regalia, or in a pinch, attire). However, this nomenclature doesn't make the book any less useful or impressive, and it's thoroughness is unparalleled. One of my favorite touches are the appendices at the beginning of the book explaining materials, dyestuffs, and colors available by region and animal species and how they were gathered. It really puts things into context and makes you even more impressed by the beauty and workmanship of this clothing.

If you're interested in Native American clothing and customs, then this book is for you- and you can readily find it used given its age.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

CYL: Fashion from the Land of the Tsars

Maria Alexandrovna in a court dress with traditional kokoshnik

Privet! Today we'll be visiting the land of the Tsars and looking at the clothing citizens of Imperial Russia wore, which is only appropriate since for much of the world cold weather is here! For the purpose of simplicity, we will only be covering the territory that would be modern day Western (European) Russia. The Caucasus (this includes the Cossacks, as awesome as they were), Siberia, and the Central Asian countries will be examined in separate articles. Without further ado, here is the wardrobe of the wealthy, some ostentatious masquerade outfits, and the clothes of the masses...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Charity Drive Update- One Llama Down, Several to Go!

After three days our drive is sitting at $162- enough money to buy one llama....

Bernard used my fez tutorial to great result!
This is Bernard, the Steampunk Llama and he's itching to go to his new home- problem is (much like going to cocktail parties) he doesn't want to go alone. If you want to send Bernard some friends, then please pass that chipin button below or spread this link like jam! Remember, if you can't give a lot, just a dollar or two would be helpful!

To those of you who have given, I commend you! (Particularly some kind reader who gave twice!) We have a couple more weeks to go, most of our goal to gather- but as it stands we can already make a difference in someone's life.

A big thanks goes out to author G.D. Falksen for boosting the signal for this drive! He made this his charity of choice for youtube's annual Project for Awesome!

Thank you so much for your support everybody- let's send some more love and llamas!

(Oh yes, and CYL: Russia will be up tonight!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1st Annual Steamer's Trunk Charity Drive! Send Love and Llamas!

Llamas are just two of the thirty animals included in the Ark
Inspired by the sense of giving during the holidays, the Steamer's Trunk will be hosting a charity drive through chipin.com and Heifer International. This idea stems from the fact that this blog examines the culture of people around the world during the Age of Steam- and much of that culture is either endangered or extinct today. So why not give back? Our gift from Heifer will help people in struggling corners of the globe by giving them a source of income, food, and potentially hope. Furthermore because Heifer is not a missionary group, we are not assisting in the degradation of that culture.

This year we're going to shoot high and try to raise $5000 for a Gift Ark. What is a gift ark? It's a package of animals that keeps on giving. The concept is that in time the animals will breed and be distributed between families and communities, creating a web of possibilities for under-privileged people.

The Gift Ark contains:
- 15 pairs of animals to be distributed all over the world! 

A family in Cambodia could receive two water buffalo for milk and aid in farmwork! Two camels in Ethiopia can provide milk and a means of transportation! The possibilities are endless and the animals could end up anywhere where there are people in need- even the United States.

From now until New Years there will be a Chip-in under the Steamer's Trunk name, which will be linked to at the bottom of every blog entry. Put in whatever you can or want to- even a couple of dollars can help us reach our goal. Should the $5000 not be raised, then I will use the money towards a Heifer gift of a smaller size. Any leftover money will be donated to one of Heifer's global aid projects- such as supporting a Latvian Orphanage or women's empowerment programs in Cambodia or Laos.

So pitch in- put in a dollar or two. I've already chipped in some of my own money (I've put in $10, Chipin just won't let me use it in my own transaction) to start us off! Thanks, world travelers- we'll have a new post on Imperial Russia within a few days.

Steamer's Trunk Global Gift Roundup!

A Chrysathemum silk scarf  ($18) from serrv.com would be perfect for a woman or for a gentleman's cravat

This season in many countries is a time of giving- no matter what religion or background you are. Whether it's a gift for a sister or brother, something handmade for a parent, or even just a few coins in a charity's bucket, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/etc. time is a great time to feel good about yourself by making someone else feel even better. Want to get some special steampunks in your life a fun (and multicultural) present? Here are some of my picks:

Monday, December 13, 2010

FF: Welcome to December- Holidays Around the World

An 1857 print by Japanese master, Hiroshige. It was believed that on Omisoka, fox spirits gathered to breathe fire at midnight. To find out more about Omisoka, read on!
 In the Northern or Western hemispheres, December is a festive time in which you cannot successfully stretch without hitting a holiday or celebration. But if you take into account other regions and faiths of the world, December is stuffed with festive occasions- some wild and rambunctious while others solemn and focused. So what would the people during the Age of Steam be observing around the world (... no, not Kwanzaa or Festivus...)? Well, let me show you some of these ancient holidays and their fascinating traditions, so that no matter where your airship may wander you can celebrate. Some of these holidays (such as Bodhi Day) are open to people of all backgrounds and religions, too!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tutorial Time!: Tassels

Chinese (Qing) dynasty chopine-style slippers adorned with tassels on the toes.

Tassels are a common form of decoration in the folk dress of many cultures: Native American, Asian, European, and Middle Eastern. Adding a tassel is a great way to finish off the ends of a sash, accent the point of a bodice or vest, or highlight bustling (they attract the attention of the eye and add movement to the outfit). Military uniforms and gun holsters also look sharper with a tassel or two.

Home decoration and fabric stores would have you buy these little sprigs of awesome for anywhere between $1.00 to as much as $20.00- but with some practice you can learn this very simple technique to make your own.

2nd Edition or: Oops....

Let's face it- with any scholarly work there's going to be some mistakes made: by the author or their sources (or both). When errors turn up in nonfiction books, second editions are called for to fix these fallacies (read: cover their asses). Since the Steamer's Trunk is dedicated to getting it right, this means that I need to fess up and correct mistakes for the sake of my readers. So here's a hit parade of errors I've made-which I'm going back and fixing- but you all deserve to know that even Miss Kagashi is mortal (but only just...).

Error #1
Found in: 
Mongolian Modes

The original text:
"The 'horned' headdress seen in many extant pictures is called a boqtaq, and was a combination hairpiece and headdress."

The correction:
Turns out ladies and gentlemen that the horned headdress that I love so much is called an ugalz. This is a boqtaq- which is a much older garment by far (Kublai Khan's wives were fond of wearing them) but from what I've heard from a reliable source, they're making a comeback!

I was browsing an SCA website for information on deel, as the construction of the garment has changed very little in the last five centuries or so. When I saw them mention a tall headdress called a boqtaq, I assumed that they were referring to the ugalz. It was a very silly mistake to be sure, but a fairly honest one.

The REAL boqtaq- which would still be fun to steampunk.

Big thanks to Anne Young, who caught this one. Not only is she an exotic headdress-fancier but also pursuing a PhD in anthropology, specializing in (you guessed it) Mongolia. This correction has been cited to Mongolia by Jennifer Hanson.
I may have made a mistake here, but at least I've discovered yet another fun garment to try out because of it!

Error #2
Found in: 
Fez Frenzy!

The original text:
"Understandably, the fez was named after the Turkish city of, well... Fez- where the distinctive red dye used to color these hats was made."

The correction:
 Fez is located in Morocco, not Turkey. When this way brought to my attention I felt like an utter idiot, because I KNEW that fez was a Moroccan port city. There was a time that Fez was captured by the Ottoman empire, but this was back in the 16th century. Even after the Industrial Revolution Morocco was the last holdout in North Africa from Ottoman rule.This was just a moment of dumb and I hope it doesn't happen again.

You will all now forget the mistake I made by looking at this Ottoman baby in a fez.
 An anonymous poster, which sometimes is enough to made you feel stupid on the internet.

All right, now that we have those squared away, let's get back into the swing of things with a tutorial: which I will post later tonight. As always, you are all welcome to bring up any inaccuracies or errors I have made in my research for potential correction, just send me a helpful e-mail! Thanks World Travelers!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Featured Traveller: Alisa

Alisa at Steamcon II wearing her hand-made geisha-inspired steampunk gown
Steamcon II saw some people pressing the envelope as to the basic types and tropes of steampunk, but I think my favorite that I've seen thus far (and the best executed, in my opinion) has been Alisa's interpretation of a steampunk geisha. This fantastic outfit has a very luxurious blend of East and West and lots of layering that makes it look...well... real! Alisa was kind enough to share her insights into making this exquisite piece.