As many of you have noticed and messaged, this site has been inactive for a few months. Major life changes (aka getting a new job, moving across the country, and getting married) just haven’t left me the time to provide the thoughtful reviews and commentary I wanted, so instead of posting half-heartedly, I simply haven’t been posting at all. However, now that I have more stability in life, I am very excited to be returning to this project!
To start us off here is a photo-post highlighting some amazing ideas for a Steampunk wedding.
Wouldn’t we all love to have a wedding like this?
When dressing wedding party members, it’s important to remember not everyone wants to dress-up, particularly if you are having wedding party members who are family, not friends you take with the convention. A great middle ground is to pick key elements that still scream steam, but are more comfortable that a full corset. For the gents: a double breasted jacket or vest like those you can find at ASOS online. For the ladies, boots or jewelry might be the best way to peope-please while maintaining your Victorian flair.
For brides there are several dress options:
You can go for full anachronistic styling with bustles, hats, and mixed colors.
Or you can go for a modern dress with steam-esque elements
The IT Guy and myself we’re lucky enough to get to see Kurios in Chicago last week. For those of you unfamiliar with Cirque du Soleil, the performance group brings together various acrobatic and traditional circus performance acts: contortionists, gymnastic acts, trapeze artists, and more. The acts all tie together following a general story line (for shows like Quidam) or simply all match a costume/inspirational theme (like Ovo). Shows run for about 2 hours (plus an intermission) and have a variety of acts within them. For each show there is always a distinctive selection of acts that match the theme or attitude of the show.
Shows takes place under a ‘traditional’ big top, only better.
Inside the tent is a full size stage with intensive rigging and (thankfully) blasting A/C. Before you get to the stage, though, you can do a fair amount of shopping for the standard theater swag like tshirts, hoodies, hats, and umbrellas (my personal selection) as well as Circ merch like art books, CDs, and the like. New to me was the photobooth where waiting ticket holders could choose from an array of props for a green-screen photo op. Luckily the ITGuy is a good sport and humored me:
Kurios, where “Reality if Relative”, has a very upbeat and excitable attitude. The costumes range from traditional Victorian garb for the balancing gymnasts to colorful poke-a-dotted fish suits for the contortionists. True to the Steampunk aesthetic the main non-gymnastic character, The Man Scientist, was accompanied by large automatons, several phonographs, and cracks of free flowing electricity. The music, played by a live band of a cello, a banjo, a violin, and a single drum and accompanied by a live vocalist, had the feeling of Moulin Rouge: peppy, dance inspiring, and distinctly French.
An aerial bicycle
Russian Cradle (strong-man throws a very small woman around allowing her to complete trapeze style aerial flips)
Chair Balance (chairs are stacked higher and higher requiring the performer to balance carefully on at a constantly increasing height)
Acro Net (trampoline act with parkour inspired motion)
Cirque staple Aerial Straps
Rola Bola balancing act on an aviator’s flying machine
See a full list and description (plus costume previews) on the show’s website.
Personally I was most impressed with the Acro Net. It was incredible to see over a dozen performers all working together with perfect timing to jump, spring, and fly across the stage. It was fun to watch, and the performers seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves too. Unlike many Cirque acts which leave you staring in awe at the grace and strength of the performers this was purely entertaining.
So would I suggest Kurios as a Steampunk outing? You bet your brass buttons I do.
While it’s easy to dismiss the show as simply taping into a popular theme, that doesn’t give the choreographers or costumers the credit they deserve. They took core feelings of Steampunk — the appreciation for the self made artist, the imagination, and the re imagining of the turn-of-the-century circus — and turned it into a non-verbal performance piece. That’s no easy feat, and they did it impeccably.
Kurios will be in Chicago through September, then it will continue to travel. Check where it’ll be next on the Cirque ticket website. Cirque shows travel a lot, and at different times over the years. If you don’t see your city listed, check back regularly OR you can join the Cirque Club and get emails whenever any show is coming to you.
Even if a circus show isn’t your cup of tea, the custom music from the show can serve as amazing artistic inspiration, or to shake up your next Steampunk event playlist. The music is distinctly jazzy and Francophonic making it not only fun to listen to, but wholly engaging and attention grabbing.
Have you been/are you planning on participating in the National Novel Writing Month (known to most folks as NANOWRIMO) challenge? We wanna hear about it! Email documents, comments, and links to submissions[at]steampunklibrary[dot]net.
Share your vlog updates; share your stories; share your favorite author podcast about tips for writing. If you need inspiration, you’re not alone, so send us your favorite steampunk story, website, or artwork and we’ll post it here and via the Steampunk Library Project Twitter page (@SteamLib) to help inspire your fellow participants.
Is your library (or school, or book group, or even just you and your friends) hosting a NANOWRIMO event? Check out this nifty idea for creating novel finishing kits.
Wanna learn more about NANOWRIMO and how to get involved? Visit the official website for all the details.
Good luck to all participants in the 2014 challenge!
Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).
Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter @SteamLib.
Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:
Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.
Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?
Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.
Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.
Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story
Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story
Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,
Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.
When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.
Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.
Halloween is my favorite time of year: crunchy leaves, pumpkin everything, costumes, make-up, parties, and of course the annual revival of “Hocus Pocus”. This post is all about bringing steampunk into your library (or home, or community center) for Halloween. Some ideas are wholly steam-themed while others are ways to add some Victorian flair to any Halloween program.
Have your own favorite program for Halloween, or pictures from a successful event? Have it hosted on the site by sending it to email@example.com. You can also share pictures of events, costumes, and more with us on Twitter @SteamLib.
Program Type: Film Series/Book Group
Time Frame: Varies
Space Needed: Film viewing room, book group meeting room
• Film showing rights, if applicable
• Custodial for rooms
• Popcorn/snacks for movie nights
When you think of monsters who comes to mind? Frankenstein? Dracula? The Victorian monsters became the staple of the silver screen for a reason: their stories are equal parts terror and intrigue. Since there are so many film options now the monsters make themselves an easy pick for a mini-film festival. The festival can be stand-alone, or tied in to other programs, like a book group. The original story behind the films are very short (Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Portrait of Dorian Grey) which are well suited for teen readers. For adults Frankenstein, Dracula, or a Jack the Ripper novel lend themselves to longer book group discussions. The film showings are a great way to stir up interest and advertise the book groups to an audience with a noted interest.
Program: Steam-Themed Family Masquerade
Time Frame: 2 hours
Space Needed: Open floor space for dancing, tables for snacks, and tables for crafts
• Custodial services
• Food (finger munchies and candy)
• Craft supplies (felt, glue, craft sticks, glitter, small paper hats, white and black fabric masks, etc)
For a family-friendly Halloween event host a masquerade! Invite community members to come in costume and read scary stories, share treats, dance a little, and give their kids a reason to put on their costume again. Starting just before the event and running throughout allow guests to make their own party mask. This is easily made steam-y by providing gears, gold glitter, small Lego octopus creatures, and lace to adorn the DIY masks. Costume contest categories can also be made steam by having a category for Victorian Monsters or book characters.
P.S. The library blog Ms Kelly at the Library has great Halloween party games for kids
Looking for a grown-ups only party? Easily make the masquerade into a Victorian Murder Mystery night! Have your guests dress in their best steampunk attire (help them feel inspired to start a custom costume project) There are dozens of sites with downloadable party templates and ideas and some include hosting tips. These party templates can then be altered to have The Parasol Protectorate’s dashing Lord Akeldama as man of the hour, or Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker Machine as a murder weapon.
Don’t forget to include all your steampunk favorites into your Halloween book displays and bulletin boards! What better to bring fear into a reader’s heart than a mad scientist, a sea monster, or a vampire with an impeccably perfect cravat? Inspire Victorian costume by highlighting fashion histories, DIY sewing/craft books, and the colorful covers of YA steampunk in your collection. Steampunk art books also liven up a display and show the genre in it’s best season.
Every year the American Library Association promotes a week-long series of displays and events to draw attention to censorship in schools and public libraries. Simply called Banned Books Week, these events highlights items that have been banned/censored, or otherwise branded as immoral or unfit for circulation.
According to the ALA a challenge “is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” A breakdown of terminology can be found here.
In 2013 307 formal challenges were reported by the ALA , down from 464 in 2012. That’s more than a challenge a day for every day in 2012. It should be noted that because of the specific definition of “challenge” and “banned” the ALA has limited means to keep statistics on what books are being targeted and why. The ALA estimates that for every challenge they count “four or five remain unreported.”
Public and academic libraries across the country show their support for the right to read through displays, activities, and speakers. These events vary is scope from highlighting the irony of banning some books (for example, banningFahrenheit 451 ) to promoting conversation about what themes are deemed unreadable and why (like this display ).
The ALA and other library organizations across the country have supportive materials from posters to display templates to t-shirts. Bellow I’ve compiled some of my favorite ideas for displays and activities to draw attention to censorship and promote thoughtful discussion about what we censor.
Share your own favorites in the comments bellow, or on Twitter @SteamLib #BannedBooksWeek.
Program Type: Book Display
Time Frame: Week of BBW
Space Needed: Single display shelf, visible from library entrance
Budget Considerations: Staff time and paper
Description: Cover selected historically challenged books in yellow paper. On the paper you can choose to represent the attitude towards the challenge of your choice (thought provoking, fear mongering, sarcastic, and so on). Options include:
-Ironic list of reasons it was challenged (ie Anne Frank being sad, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as racist, or Perks of Being a Wallflower as unsuited to age group)
– Excerpts from court cases/media interviews about the book
– Warning sign for reasons banned (ie “contains descriptions of nudity” or “parental guidance strong language”)
Space Needed: Wall for display, cleared area to allow all users access, space for camera/printer/screen
Budget Considerations: Backdrop creation, staff time to supervise users, camera rental (if not owned by the library) paper/ink for printing the pictures
Description: Have patrons pose with their favorite banned book in front of a decorative police mug-shot styled back-drop. Include the height chart, a sign which includes the name of your library, and an “I Read Banned Books”/ “Caught Reading Banned Books” sign. Print a copy of the photo for your patrons to take home with them. For budget reasons this might be set as the ending of an event or workshop.
Time Frame: Week of BBW, best suited for story-time or book groups
Space Needed: Presentation space
Budget Considerations: Costumes & props (if provided by the library)
Description: Have book group members/story-time participants/your class read a banned book and perform a monologue from their favorite character’s point of view. Have them address the reasons they have been banned and how they feel as a character or what they believe the person making the challenge miss understood about their book.
As a community resource for librarians and steampunk fans in all walks of life, we here at The Steampunk Library project want to connect and share with as many members of the community as possible. To that end The Steampunk Library project is active on Tumblr (follow at http://steampunklibrary.tumblr.com/), sharing posts and steampunk art.
Recently Steampunk Library has also joined Twitter (@SteamLib), where we can share links from other steam-inspired people, like the Boston Metaphysical Society (@HMollyRosing), the Airship Ambassador (@airshipEmbassy), authors like Gail Carriger (@gailcarriger), and more. Follow the #steampunk hashtag and @SteamLib to get connected to the community.
Looking for some face-to-face cosplay filled interactions? August may be fast approaching but convention season is far from over!
I will be hosting a Steampunk Library panel in September at the first Steamposium Convention in Seattle Washington, September 26-28. For more info and badge prices visit their website, or their Facebook. Get your badges early to ensure you can see Steam Powered Giraffe LIVE in concert at the convention on Saturday night. Don’t know about Steam Powered Giraffe? Check out the review of them here.
Been to a convention recently and want to share your experience with the community? You can share your con pics with us via Twitter, or send in your write up and pictures of your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org and host it on the site.
Audience: Teens and Adults, groups up to 10 persons
Time Frame: One hour per session
Tables and chairs
Computer and projector
Ideal: Tour of collections
Honorarium for guest speakers
The Federal Depository Library Program is a plan by the Federal Government designed to provide free, guided access to a variety of government publications. These include Hearings, Supreme Court decisions, and less spot-light publications like geographic studies, and Patent Office collections. For full details see the Government Printing Office site: http://www.gpo.gov/libraries/public/
These collections offer incredible insight into US history, and it’s true, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Working in collaboration with your local government documents librarian, create a series of workshops highlighting the pieces of the collection that would be of value to steampunk writers, costumers, or just your general Victorian history buff. Topics to consider are:
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office- crazy brilliant inventions from the Wild West to the elite leisure creations of Edwardian 5th Avenue. Research the technologies people hoped to create as a way to build your own steampunk worlds.
Bureau of Indian Affairs collections – understand the realities of Natives in Victorian America and see the language authentic to the period.
Maps – Many Regional Depositories collect maps and other geographic publications. These show how regions of the US changed over time and how those changes affected the people living in those areas. Original copies may also include fold-out illustrations that were hand-created, a respectable form of employment for women of the day.
Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee- Started in 1869 as the Committee on Education and in 1884 through the mid-1900s it was known as the Education and Labor Committee these papers give insight into the mental and health state of the US. These realities add authenticity to any steampunk story.
US Code and State Statues- What laws were in affect in 1880 that aren’t now? What states had public decency laws regarding swimsuits? What about immigration in 1897? Searching through old copies of federal and state legal volumes can add the details needed to make every costume realistic and every story true to period.
Space Needed: Film viewing room, book group meeting room
Film showing rights, if applicable
Custodial for rooms
Popcorn/snacks for movie nights
When you think of monsters who comes to mind? Frankenstein? Dracula? The Victorian monsters became the staple of the silver screen for a reason: their stories are equal parts terror and intrigue. Since there are so many film options now the monsters make themselves an easy pick for a mini-film festival.
The festival can be stand-alone, or tied in to other programs, like a book group. The original story behind the films are very short (Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Portrait of Dorian Grey) which are well suited for teen readers. For adults Frankenstein, Dracula, or a Jack the Ripper novel lend themselves to longer book group discussions. The film showings are a great way to stir up interest and advertise the book groups to an audience with a noted interest.
Tea time is a simple idea with lots of ways to modify it to fit your library.
Do you offer snack time for school kids? Add a little Victorian flair by talking about etiquette and letting the kids play make-believe. Read a steampunk short story during the snack.
Do you have a book club that meets regularly? Host a public meeting (preferably the first meet up) with tea, top hats, and your first discussion of your group’s Steampunk book selection.
Is there a convention coming to your town? Offer a pre-convention meet up for the locals to have tea, show off their costumes, and get excited for the event. Use the meet up as a chance to highlight your collection’s books on costume construction, crafting, and DIY jewelry.