Monday, April 25, 2011

FF: Be Not Afraid of Color!

Turkish caftan 19th century (Alain Turong)

I know I'm due for a recipe or tutorial post, but I was feeling particularly clever tonight (also I just finished another illustration for the upcoming steampunk adventure novel by G.D. Falksen- Blood in the Skies). Instead of locking myself into my sewing room I've decided to instead tell you to "BE NOT BE AFRAID OF COLOR!".

I promise, my good readers, that this is not going to be a rant. Instead, it's an argument. They're really not the same thing, just ask Monty Python. I propose that the most steampunk color is purple.... don't look at me like that, I have my reasons!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CYL: Those Incorrigible Cossacks!

Three members of the Cossack "life" guard 1899 (militaryphotos)

Bitajemo!

My first exposure to the Cossacks was in 8th grade language arts when our class read the famous short story by Richard Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game". The villain in the story was a man supposedly of Cossack descent... which (like a good reader!) led me to look it up in the dictionary because as a 13 year old American I rarely came across the term. I daresay it was actually more interesting than the story I had just read (writing a report on it didn't help, but that's neither here nor there).

The trick with 'Cossack' is that it both names a group of people and a branch of the Russian army- so over time the word has gained a stereotype of burly men in exquisite uniforms, riding horses and twirling their mustaches (and believe me, we'll see some of them too!) when in fact... any age and either gender could be a Cossack. This journey we'll be looking at both, so let's head to the plains of Eastern Europe!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

FF: These Boots Are Made for Walking

We can always trust the Mongolians to have something fun on their feet.

One of the things I've noticed about steampunk fashion is an adoration for boots of all shapes, sizes, classes, and creeds. Whether this is because boots suggest a more rough and tumble air or just because they're so bloody cool remains unclear, but all the same- a good pair of boots appear on just about every "how-to steampunk dress-up" guide. Victorian ankle boots and army surplus models are certainly great (I own a few pairs and wear them around on a day-to-day basis), but you should know by now that there are many options and inspirations from around the world during this time. So, ready boots?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

TT: Chinese Rockets

Extant drawing of a dragon-headed multi-stage rocket (Grandhistorian)

I'm going to tell you all a secret: Imperial China invented A LOT of things. No, seriously. I would make a list, but I fear that that would be a blog within itself (if someone wants to take that and run with it, feel free). A few of my favorites include sunglasses (used as early as 1000 C.E. by Imperial judges who wanted to appear unemotional and impartial at trials), the collapsible umbrella (1st century C.E. for use on the chariots of political bigwigs), and the landmine (3rd century C.E., for... well... same use as always- blowing people and things into wee tiny bits). Then of course there was the mechanized water clock invented by a Buddhist monk to regulate the Emperor's sex life...

.... the man had a LOT of concubines.

A lot of these groundbreaking technologies were developed centuries before the Age of Steam- so why bring them up? Well, if something like a rudimentary rocket was in use on the battlefield as early as the 13th century C.E., just imagine how advanced it would be with the industrial and technological explosion that a steampunk age would offer?  But before we ponder that, why don't we look at this simple, yet inevitably complicated invention: the rocket.

Friday, April 1, 2011

CYL: The Neglected and Overlooked Nation of Britain

Victorian women's dresses from (L-R) the 1830s, 1860s, and 1890s (TFC)

You know, if you mention the 19th century and steampunk countries to event-goers or artists the answer you never seem to get is Britain. This overlooked island, though obscure in its contributions and actions on the world's stage in the Age of Steam, still has an exotic culture to inspire even the most timid steampunk. Why don't we take a look at the fashion of this strange land?