Steampunk is an aesthic and a subculture based around the idea of alternative history and fantasy versions of the past. It is Victorian-inspired and influenced, with a heavy emphasis on clockwork gadgets, steam power, airships and other steam-age technologies, all with a science fiction twist. Steampunk costumes and accessories tend to include Victorian-style items such as top hats or corsets, along with lots of straps, goggles, leather and brass -- and the ever-present clockwork.
No airship captain's outfit would be complete without a pair of flying goggles. Goggles are also a must for the inventor fresh from his steam-driven workshop. Some steampunk goggle tutorials call for round plastic jar or bottle caps with the centre cut out to make the frames, with suitable clear or tinted transparent plastic or glass lenses cut from sheets of plastic or taken from sunglasses. It's also possible to adapt a pair of swimming goggles, adding leather sidelights and colouring the edges with a suitable metallic paint. The elastic strap for the goggles can also be replaced with a leather or leather-effect strap more in keeping with the steampunk look.
A top hat, bowler hat or other Victorian style headgear can be turned into a cool steampunk accessory. A decorative pair of goggles can be added in place of a hatband. Larger gears, like the ones from a clock, can be attached to the hat band in a cluster. Sections of chains in different gauges can be looped into accents and sewn to the band. Other items that can work well include large beads in metallic colours, ribbons, buckles and buttons. Buttons in particular can be effective; brass buttons can be used or plain buttons can be coloured with acrylics to give them an antique metal look.
Polymer Clay Crafts
Polymer clay can be used to make pendants, cuff links, tiepins, rings and other items. Because it is a soft and slightly adhesive modelling material, items such as watch gears, glass gems, beads and pieces of chain can be pressed into the clay, which is then baked, holding the decorative inclusions permanently in place. The clay can also be textured using items with a raised surface or texture sheets supplied by polymer clay manufacturers. Texturing the clay can make it look like cast metal, leather or other materials. Polymer clay is available in a range of colours, including metallic shades, which are especially suitable for steampunk designs. It can also be coloured with metallic powders or painted.
Clear Resin Crafts
Clear casting resin can also be used to create steampunk rings and other jewellery. The resin can be poured into a mould or directly into a ring blank or other metal finding. While the resin is wet, beads, sequins and watch gears can be dropped into it. Small images such as old-fashioned stamps or vintage advertisements can also be used in resin jewellery. When the resin hardens these inclusions will still be in place, as if floating in the clear resin. If a doming resin is used, the inclusions will be magnified. For best results, use a high quality jewellery-grade resin with an epoxy or polyurethane formula.
Steampunk Shadow Boxes
A shadow box is an attractive way to showcase items such as souvenirs or small ornaments. To make one, all that's needed is a box with a glass lid; a lid can also be made from a sheet of transparent acrylic (Plexiglas, Perspex) cut to the correct size. They are ideal for making steampunk decor. A steampunk shadow box could include vintage photographs, ephemera such as advertisements, clock parts, small dolls in vintage attire or other toys, lace or fabric; it could also contain models of popular steampunk motifs such as steam trains, airships or Victoriana. The box can be painted or lined with patterned paper; the objects are arranged inside so they can be seen through the glass front.
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