Thursday, May 20, 2010

Home is Where the Steampunk Heart Is


I came home the other day after a morning at the restaurant, only to find that my husband decided to be proactive on the bathroom renovation we'd discussed by demo-ing my tub surround.  Now, there's a reason it was in the discussion stage, with the most important reason being that it is the ONLY bathroom in the whole house.  There are no pretty little powder rooms, nor is there a jacuzzi tucked away in the master, since there is NO master.  This is a 1200 square foot 1960's ranch, with no bells or whistles unless the girls manage to find the instruments I've hidden away. 

So, if we take our bathroom apart, we better be prepared to put in a new one quick.  Which brings us to the other reason I hadn't tackled the bathroom before this-- plumbing is not something I have a ton of experience with.  Neither does my husband.  Don't get me wrong.  We've done a ton of stuff around the house, and I'll happily lay the new tile and put in the new lighting and cabinets.  Even the plumbing fixtures and the toilet won't be a major issue, but I've got to admit the tub-thang is scaring me just a little.  Anyway, at least the current tub still works, and with the addition of several shower curtains, the shower is still usable as long as you don't mind being attacked by multiple swirling sheets of vinyl sticking to your naked body.  Yeah.  Needless to say, the bathroom reno has been bumped up on the to-do list. 

Now, it'd be incredibly tempting to steampunk my bathroom-- get an amazingly deep tub and all sorts of cool plumbing and lighting fixtures.  I'm amazed at just how much is already out there that could pass as steampunk in it's aesthetic value.  With classical yet modern designs being an easy way for homeowners to update their home without dating it, the selection is quite good.

One of the finest examples of steampunk incorporated into everyday life is the steampunk home of Bruce and Melanie Rosenbaum of  ModVic Home Restoration in Sharon, MA. I've included several sites that have pictures, because it is truly that remarkable. Be sure to check out the 360 degree views available of some of the rooms here--

By blending natural elements, such as wood, copper, brass, and iron, with more decorative and whimsical touches reminiscent of the Victorian period, a steampunk feel starts to emerge.  If you keep in mind certain aspects of steampunk, such as exploration and technology, and blend it with the Victorian aspects of nature and discovery, you'll start to capture the feel of it. Personally, I love anything that looks like it would belong in a turn of the century apothecary.  Also, joints and moving parts, tend to be reminiscent of the mechanical and industrial aspect of steampunk. And though so much of it can be created if you're good with your hands and are so inclined, there is also a fair amount that can be readily purchased. 

Restoration Hardware has some great pieces if you can afford them.  This is a curious looking chair, and though it's not blatantly steampunk, it does remind me of a hot air balloon or dirigible. 

They also have these great looking gears.

And who can say no this knob from Anthropologie of a Kracken pulling down a ship, or this chronograph knob.  Love it!!

And though I'm not one for knick knacks, I can't resist this mechanical raven.
I must say I also have a soft spot for fixtures, since I think they always have such a huge impact on the aesthetic feel of a room. Conant Metal and Light have an amazing site loaded with original and reproduction lighting (amongst other cool and interesting things), like this carriage house harp light.  And once again, back to Restoration Hardware for this industrial double pulley pendant.

If you're at all interested in steampunk design for your home, then you must also check out The Steampunk Home blog.  They always find the most amazing things. 

As for my bathroom, I'm afraid I'll be limited to something basic and modern for my tub and surround, since I don't want any major plumbing issues.  However for the rest, I most certainly hope to steampunk the room, even if it is just a little.  I'll be sure to post pics if it's ever completed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Things I learned going to the Steampunk Festival

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending (and was actually a featured artist) at the first annual Steampunk Festival, held at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation in Waltham, MA.  There was a huge turnout for the event, especially when one takes into consideration it was the first year for the event-- over 1300 people attended.  Hats off to Christine Gill for the excellent job she did in putting the event together.

I wish I'd had a bit more time to get a more steampunk outfit together, but unfortunately, after many  difficulties, most of my time was spent constructing the leather corset from hell.  Here were a few things I was reminded of, since it had been a while since I'd last strapped myself in to a corset of considerable stiffness. 

First of all, be sure to dress the lower half of your body before you put the corset on, since getting on shoes, socks, pants/skirts, etc. usually involve bending at the waist.  I, of course, did not remember this little tidbit of information, and I'm sure you can all just imagine the contortions involved in getting the rest of my clothes on.

When I designed my corset, I did not use a busk because I decided it would be neat if I could make the corset reversible to the red brocade.  As a result, I needed another set of hands to lace me up, and since I was going to the event alone, I went fully dressed. 

This brings us to the next thing I quickly figured out.  Driving in a corset is far different to driving without one on.  When the gods decided to scramble my genetic makeup, they decided to be generous in the area corsets are designed to restrain.  With a corset, there is only one place for those curves to go, and that is up.  It wasn't much of a problem until I decided to sit down and attempt driving.  Sitting only shifted the corset further up, and all that had already been pushed to the heavens, got pushed up even further, practically drowning me in my own cleavage.  Funny? Okay, maybe a little.  However, cruising down the highway at 80 mph, when you no longer have the stability of resting your arms by your side, is a little precarious-- athough I can only imagine the image from passing vehicles had anyone bothered to look over.  I'm just glad I didn't get pulled over or get a flat, though my dear husband had the sense to ask if I had anything stashed in the car that I could potentially cover myself with should the need arise.

The event itself was great, and the musuem was the perfect setting for a steampunk event.  Though not everyone was dressed up, the steampunk outfits there were all amazing, and it has definitely motivated me to complete a few more articles of clothing.  I think next on the to do list will be a bustled skirt, and underskirt.  And maybe another corset, complete with steel boning and a busk.

Though I did love the snug feel of the corset while at the event, I must admit that it felt so incredibly nice to get out of it for the ride home, especially on such a hot day.  And that brings me to my final point, though this was not figured out until the day after, when I awoke to sore muscles around the ribs and back.  I guess wearing a corset involves using muscles you don't normally use-- perhaps in keeping you so terribly upright and pulled in.  Still, a small price to pay, don't you think?

Here are some more pictures from the event...