Monday, March 28, 2011

BB: Freebie! Racinet's Le Costume Historique

19th century Spanish folk dress by Racinet. Love the embroidery on the skirts.

Between 1876 and 1888 Auguste Racinet, a French artist, compiled a visual encyclopedia of world costume spanning antiquity to the contemporary. It was pretty. And all was well. Except that the book was largely forgotten outside of costume designers and other such strange communities of people.

In the same vein as Max Tilke and Braun and Schneider, this book encompasses a large portion of the world, is in wonderful color, and is available for free on the almighty internets. Unlike Braun and Schneider, however, Le Costume Historique goes into some fantastic detail, including hairstyles, makeup, and accessories with some plates. True, while Racinet isn't politically correct by a modern definition (Monsieur Racinet, your Chinese models don't look particularly Chinese....), his sense of detail and dedication to the garments should at least be commended and studied.

So check it out, it's available for free here at The Costumer's Manifesto labeled in English and categorized into time periods so you aren't confused. Happy researching, world travelers!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Preview: April Showers Bring... More Blog Posts!

More mustache than you know how to deal with! (Mansvolk)

Let's mix things up folks, shall we? Yes, I owe a few posts, but frankly I'd rather tuck them away for later than to do a sloppy job. Also I know I promised a rant about airship pirates, but I've calmed down a bit since then... false angst alert, I suppose. You might also notice a smaller list of topics- that's because April is Finals for me, and I'll probably be doing a few short, spontaneous posts to fill in spaces between- such as Featured Travellers and Mix It Up!

Clothing You'll Love
Andean Attire

Talking Tech
Chinese Rockets

Focus on Folkways
Be Not Afraid of Color!
Made for Walking... Boots from Around the World

Tutorial Time!
A Basic Guide to Applique

Kagashi's Kitchen
Second to Naan

I'll also be announcing a special contest this month, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mix it up! 10 Alternatives to Top Hats

Look familiar? (Motoring Pictures)
 All right, time to clear some air. Less than a month ago a blogger who attended Wild Wild West Con in Arizona made a (probably unintentionally) controversial post about the "Top 7 Overdone  Steampunk Fashions " at the con. What was intended as a piece of snark to poke fun at some costuming stereotypes exploded into a flamefest of people accusing the blogger of being elitist, ignorant of people who either can't sew or afford a fancy outfit, and trying to restrict others' creativity.

I'm not going to lie, I stand with her. I'm not doing this to be snotty or because I'm a professional costumer (so therefore I don't understand what it's like to not have a lot of cash or the resources/skill set to make an outfit) but because steampunk is supposed to be a creative genre. You're welcome to wear whatever the hell you want. I don't care. Wear goggles on your goggles, because as much as I detest them and they pervade at least 65% of steampunk outfits (or somewhere around there), I can't take away your right to wear them. However, I beg for you just to look at OTHER possibilities (because that's what I do on this blog, doncha know) to broaden your horizons, if not for the sake of newbies. Yes, newbies. I have a few come up to me at every event and ask if that person who said that their outfit wasn't "steampunk enough" because it lacked goggles, a top hat, or a nerf gun was right. And I'm sorry, that doesn't sound particularly creative or welcoming to me. The last thing we need are people being hindered creatively because they feel they need "status symbols" to belong.

One of Ms. D'Andrea's points concerned that most Victorian and steampunk of archetypal fashion- the top hat. We see them everywhere. Convention floors are veritable seas of top hats in either black, gray, or brown- from the tiniest doll hat with feathers glued on it to the standard felt behemoth that a lot of vendors have in stock. Do I like top hats? Certainly. Am I sick of seeing them? Sure am. There are legions of hats that fell from popularity and memory as the 20th century progressed, so why don't we look at a few? Should you find yourself enamored, a few links will be provided of where you can get your own- affordably!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Out and About: Marche du Nain Rouge- 2011

Mac and I in front of the Detroit Masonic Temple. Say hi to Mac everyone! (Ladies, he's single!) (Al Bogdan)

What do the ghost of Antoine la Mothe du Cadillac, a velociraptor, a brigade of men dressed as the wives of automobile moguls, vikings manning a flamethrower, and a handful of local steampunks have in common? They were all at this year's Marche du Nain Rouge in the heart of Detroit, Michigan and they celebrated in a way that only Detroiters can. There were over a thousand revelers in this year's march, from people manning chariots (modded bicycles or scooters), to hundreds of costumed revelers, to families or couples looking for a fun afternoon out.

Want to find out about more kookiness or why I'm wearing red paint on my face again? Read on!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

FF: In Search of Steampunk St. Patrick's Day

A Victorian St. Patrick's Day postcard. I might heave.
Once upon a time, there was a fellow named St. Patrick. He did some awesome stuff with shamrocks, leprechauns, and snakes, and in honor of his awesome we all get blitzed in the pub every year. The end. Also if you don't wear green, you get pinched.

....This is most Americans' understanding of St. Patrick's Day. I'm not sure how folks in other parts of the world might partake in this most Irish and Catholic of holidays, but here in the United States St. Patrick's Day has become about as Irish as Cinco de Mayo is Mexican. Similarly, not many people know how this holiday developed or how it was originally celebrated.

Let's see if we can explore the origins, traditions, and how St. Patrick's (NOT St. Patti's) was celebrated in the 19th century so maybe we can piece together how it could be observed by steampunks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

GLLC: And the winner is....

Entries were judged on creativity, effort, accuracy, and how much tea came out my nose from laughing.

So you learned, you spoke, but who conquered? I received 4 very nice videos as a result of our very first Great Language-Learning Challenge and as promised, it's time to announce the winner....

...Below the cut (Look, I'm creating suspense, just like a reality tv show!HAHA!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Nativepunk and Some Anachrocon Memories

The photos from Anachrocon are in, folks, so I'm pleased to present the first incarnation of my Anishinaabeg Native American steampunk creation, which I premiered at Anachrocon 2011 a couple of weeks ago. The judges were so impressed with it that I won 2nd place in the masquerade!

Photograph by Ryen Wilson.

Let me take you on a tour:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Attend the World Steam Expo

Spot the blogger!

Last year I was in attendance as a panelist at the World Steam Expo (being held this year on May 27th-30th) in Dearborn, Michigan for its maiden voyage and now the convention planners are hard at work trying to top themselves. I personally think they'll succeed, but I'm dismayed at how many people either refuse to come to WSE or just haven't heard about it. Which is why if you're on the fence, I'd like to bring you over with my Top Ten Reasons You Should Attend!

Why should you believe me? Because I'm a native Michigander, poor as a dustmite, and I've been to a variety of steampunk conventions over the last couple of years and believe World Steam is really the hidden jewel in the bunch. Here are my reasons why:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CYL:The Roving Roma

A young Roma performer- 19th c: Svenko


What do you see when you hear the word gypsy? Colorful caravans of exotic individuals? Life on the road, with no country to call home? Hot, thick music dripping with expression and rhythm? Well, when it comes to "real gypsies", the people known as the Roma (aka Romany/Romani/Rrom) these connotations are not entirely inaccurate... but it's not the whole story.

But don't get depressed! Sure, the Disney-tinted images of "gypsies" with hiked up messes of skirts and opened shirts is... well... wrong, but that doesn't mean that these world travelers were bland in their dress. Why don't we take a look?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tutorial Time!: Basic Wrapped Turban

"Woman in a Blue Turban" by Delacroix. Dallas Museum of Art

So you're looking for some awesome headgear? Hmm... well bowlers and top hats are all well and good (and done OFTEN). Fezzes are cool- but we've already covered their construction in a previous tutorial. Let's face it, folks, buying new hats can be expensive (but a joyous experience, one which I would recommend having with the folks over at Blonde Swan) and making them does take a certain degree of skill. But what I'm going to show you today is a hat that requires very little money, barely any sewing, and can be in a matter of minutes... with some practice.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March Preview... Wait, March?

A Meiji-era geisha (Okinawa Soba)

If anyone could tell me where February went, I'd be very grateful... At any rate, I apologize for the low density of posts this past month; I became very wrapped up in mid-terms, super secret projects, commission work, working on the Nativepunk, and a fairly long trip south to Anachrocon 2011. As promised, backlog will be dealt with and in the next week you should see a few ghosts of February's docket:

Clothing You'll Love
Joseon Korea

Tutorial Time!
Turbans 101

Kagashi's Kitchen
I Love it When a Flan Comes Together

However, March also brings some shiny new content coming down the pipes, including:

Clothing You'll Love
The Roving Romani

Focus on Folkways
Masks of Moon and Vermillion- Geisha Makeup in the 19th Century
In Search of Steampunk St. Patrick's Day

Featured Traveler
Joanne Alford

Special Content
Marche de le Nain Rouge- is an old French custom brought over to a variety of Francophone territories during the 17th-19th centuries. The city of Detroit, which was founded by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in 1701, has brought back the tradition of scaring off the "red dwarf" that causes the mischief and strife of the previous year through a loud and raucous street festival. Should you find yourself in Detroit on March 20th don a mask and join the parade!

I'll also be posting photos of my finished Native American steampunk as worn at Anachrocon once more come in. I would post a teaser picture, but I've become a little paranoid these days about things being taken out of context.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Guest Post: Khaki; Or, How India Invented Camouflage by G.D. Falksen

Two Punjabi infantrymen by Lovett

(G.D. Falksen is an author, lecturer, and impresario who specializes in writing literature for a variety of genres. It's his work on steampunk, however that's gained attention from the likes of MTV, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The New York Times. His work has appeared in Steampunk Tales, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, and he frequently blogs for His various essays on global steampunk possibilities were really what got the ball rolling on multicultural steampunk and inspired this very blog.

In addition to being one of the most recognizable names and faces (and boy, is it a nice one) associated with steampunk, Mr. Falksen is also a huge aficionado of Indian culture and military history- two interests that he combined in this article. Miss Kagashi thoroughly approved as one of her interests is drooling over military uniforms.)

Throughout the 19th century, colorful uniforms were the order of the day, a practice inherited from the 18th century.  Beginning with the general adoption of drab colors shortly before the First World War (or during it, kicking and screaming, in the case of the French) and continuing through the development of pattern camouflage in the decades that followed, the 20th century witnessed the adoption of camouflage uniforms as a battlefield standard, replacing the earlier fashion-conscious model.  But in fact, the practice of using camouflaged uniforms began half a century earlier, in the middle of the 19th century, in the dry and dusty regions of northwestern India, with the creation of a not particularly glamorous shade of brown known as “khaki.”

GLLC: It's Video Time!

I took Adam Jones' suggestion and named the owl Curio- it's snappy.

Hello Travelers, I've just returned home from Anachrocon 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia - hence why posts have been few and far between around here. But never fear! Backlog will be dealt with in a timely fashion (*cracks knuckles*).

So as the astute of you have probably noticed, it's not February anymore, which means that the Great Language-Learning Challenge has officially ended for 2011. Did you have a good month? Why don't you tell me about it in your videos?

To be fair to people who need to time to access a camera or upload their video, I'm making the deadline for the competition March 10th- which gives people a little over a week to submit their entry for the prize! The winner with the most creative/fun/memorable video will be announced March 15th, so stay posted to Multiculturalism for Steampunk for more details!

Remember to look over the video rules and required tags one more time before you submit!