|Photograph by Ryen Wilson.|
Let me take you on a tour:
|An Ottawa or Huron warrior- late 18th century|
I was inspired by the Potawatomie portion of my heritage and the typical dress worn by warriors in the post-contact period from the 17th century to 19th centuries. And yes, I'm aware that 99% of the time men were warriors- but hear me out. This is steampunk and this is the modern age and if I can't take an old stereotype or social rule and make it my own in science fiction, then when can I? I wanted a scavenged and traded look, maybe a hint of feminine influence from Western fashion.
-The roach (headdress) was made by myself and from a secret material I'd rather not share (I'm sorry purists, but at $40 a hank, I couldn't afford porcupine guard hair), scrap pieces of brass, curled wire, and watch hands (yes, watch hands!). The roach was traditionally worn in battle to appear more impressive and also advertise the wearer's scalplock or braid as a trophy. It was a punctuation of, "Go ahead, come and get me. Try and take it!"
-The bone choker was made with the help of my jedi master Tawny, who donated pieces of the chokers that she wore when she was my age. It's not only a lovely looking piece, but the recycling definitely gives it more meaning for me. I strung it on wire so that the hairpipe wouldn't shear through it, like leather or sinew.
|Bust shot. (Photo by Sam of the Imperial Podcast)|
-The shirt was a thrift store find that was tea-dyed, aged with paint, and decorated with leftover watch parts, metallic studs, and whatever pieces of scrap metal I could find wandering around the house. Traditionally men went shirtless. I'm going to assume that you all know my thoughts on this.
-The corset is a nod to a lot of different native influences. It's made of blue wool, similar to stroud cloth. Stroud was a very rough, dense grade of wool that was traded between Europeans and Native Americans and it could only be found in a strict range of colors- typically indigo blue, scarlet, and white. I spent about 12 hours total on the hand-embroidery and beading around the center belt. The design itself was my own invention (i.e. I didn't steal it off of someone's bandolier pouch), taking traditional woodlands star and floral elements. I added some metallic studs for an industrial feel.
-The skirt and apron are a direct nod to the traditional breechclout that men wore (though admittedly I'm wearing one of those underneath as an insurance policy when picking things up or sitting down). My friend Morgan, who runs a steampunk leather business, gave me a bunch of pieces of scrap leather and suede that appear in this outfit. The piece that makes up my apron flap was dye-damaged; so I painted it up (more Woodlands floral patterns), added some jingle cones for a bit of sound, aged it, and strapped it to the bustled skirt.
The skirt was meant to look like I had taken it from a supply wagon- so it was appropriately aged, broken down, and generally beaten to hell (HOORAY, NO HEMMING!). On the bustled side points there are clusters of tassels and more tinkling cones. Morgan also donated some of the lovely conchos that I tacked my bustling to.
-The leggings were made from a pair of army surplus trousers bought for a mere $6.50. I kept them fairly unabused, but added a strip of suede along the inseam and some decorative brass studs. They're held up with some stout, tooled leather straps around my mid-thighs.
-The mocassins (or makizan) were made by hand myself out of a pair of hideous suede trousers that were just given to me. Admittedly I ran out of time, so I wasn't able to decorate them... but boy were they quick to sew. All they needed were a quick wet-stretch and they fit my feet like a glove.
|Another nice shot by Sam from Imperial Podcast|
-The gun was made to look like a repurposed Western rifle. This was the biggest pain of the whole outfit, not hand-sewing moccasins until my thumbs went numb or spending hours embroidering my corset. The stock was an old drill rifle which took 4 hours to sand clean and ten minutes to gratifyingly bash against the basement floor.... it was totally to give it a well-worn look... it was stained with leather dye (thanks again, Morgan!). Add a barrel made from an old windchime and a brass funnel and that part was done. The macehead (which is Iroquois, but I always thought it to be SO COOL) was made from an ornamental ball found at Joann fabrics and painted up then attached with copper plumbing brackets. I have nicknamed it "Polite Reminder", am working on translating this into Anishinaabemowin (Algonquin)...
As a lot of you read, this outfit filled me with a lot of different emotions; pride, joy, fascination, rage ("why did you sand that by hand? I have an orbital sander!" "...."), and even discomfort. I was worried about how people would take this creation, even how other people of Native American descent would think of me after this. However, creating and wearing this outfit taught me something: If you have the inspiration to design it, the love to make it, and the drive to keep going even after your fingers blister- then you should probably have the balls to wear it, no matter what people might think.
The folks at Anachrocon seemed fine with it, or at the very least very polite... or mildly terrified as I don't look like the friendliest person wearing this. This is partially why I chose to smile in my photographs... also because nobody digs (and I quote the awesome author Sherman Alexie on this) a "Tonto face". I spoke with a lot of people who were glad to see others wearing outfits outside of the traditional Euro-American models you see plastered all over the internet or at cons. Some were wearing multicultural outfits of their own, such as Randy Taylor in his offbeat interpretation of Inca Steampunk!
|I asked him what the staff was for. He said, "For calling the aliens to the Nazca lines." I decided that we needed to be friends. (Gretchen Jacobsen)|
That staff lit up, too... Hee!
I also spoke with a fellow named Edward Neary, who wore a Bedouin-inspired outfit he was looking to expand upon (it still looked pretty nice, Edward!). There was even a group of 5 or 6 friends who decided to wear Russian touches on their ensembles. Some of the best global threads, however, belonged to Joanne Alford, who mixed English sensibility with bold Japanese design. She'll be featured as a Traveler this month, so stay tuned!
Also to the three people who greeted me with "How"- lame and childish. I wasn't outraged per se, mainly annoyed and somewhat saddened. I took the opportunity to gently correct one of them, but I couldn't catch the other two.
Ah well. Don't let that paint a bad picture of Anachrocon, however. Most attendees were genuinely congenial and there to have a good time. Though fairly small, the enthusiasm of its members makes it appear larger- the added bonuses of a consuite, diverse programming, and the lovely Atlanta weather didn't hurt either! I would really recommend this for a reenactor (as a lot of the programming would interest them) or a new steampunk as an introduction to steampunk conventions and to gather new ideas and techniques from presenters such as Penny Dreadful Productions or Laura, the Cyborg Seamstress. Personally, I ran a panel on Basic Hatmaking and sat on a Costuming Advice Panel.
I was also honored to be interviewed, along with G.D. Falksen by Jack Walsh from "This is Atlanta" on WABE. Mr. Walsh is one of the two fellows behind the documentary "Four Days at Dragon*Con", which is currently playing on public broadcasting stations across the country (check your local listings).
|While in Atlanta, G.D. Falksen and I stopped by the studio of renowned photographer Thomas Dodd and modeled clothing by Anthony Canney.|
Right now? I've got a costume to work on! Salathiel Palland of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore has commissioned me to make her a steampunk underground railroad conductor! Its an interesting, but fun challenge. Thanks for checking out my handiwork, as always, and it was nice talking to some of your first-hand in Georgia!
|Another marvelous photo by Thomas, wardrobe by House of Canney.|