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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Things I Wish My Fellow Steampunks Would Remember

I know I am about the farthest thing from a reliable guru on Steampunk as a subculture. I, myself, am still fairly new to this world, even if I am a veteran of cooking and crafts. However, it seems that sometimes people forget some of the roots of our fiction and lifestyle. It is varied, and that's part of the beauty of it. I do not look forward to when those who have been into this style of culture longer start to refer to others as being 'posers', nor do I look forward to every Dick and Jane to slap on some goggles and call themselves Steampunk. I think there is an entire untapped potential to Steampunk, that maybe we need to be reminded of, in my own humble opinion, such as:

1) The Victorian era was all about useless, cumbersome articles of clothing for the sake of looking cool! Truth is, as far as the Victorians were concerned, as long as it was fashionable and showed others you had a lot of money, they were all over it. Take the classic corset for instance. As any feminist or fashion major will tell you, this particular undergarment made breathing more difficult, fractured ribs, and all for the sake of making one's waist as tiny as possible. What people tend to forget is that not only did it bring a woman's waist in, but it showed off how much money said woman had. A woman of class did not have to do manual labor, and as such was able to be bound in a tightly binding corset that restricted her movements, since she didn't have to do many, any way. Same is true for petticoats. Many cartoonists at the time satired such styles, as seen here:

So next time you see someone wearing a cool but impractical outfit and scoff, remember that, in many respects, such fashion would be more likely in a Steampunk universe.

2) More happened in the world than Victorian England during the 1800's. I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. When thinking of this time period, it might be refreshing to see more than just the typical "Victorian Gentleman/Lady" and see some more historic perspectives. Take the United States for instance. Over here, we had a civil war, the expanse of the western frontier, the gold rush, a boom in immigration. All of these would make excellent steampunk fodder. In Japan, they had the meiji period, a time when Japanese people had to choose between western ideals and native tradition. In India, they were dealing with being under the thumb of the English empire, struggling to maintain their culture in light of these invaders. China had a lot of events happen during this time, from the Opium wars to imperialist pressure from the west, to a decline in their Monarchy. Germany would not be founded as a unified country until 1871. This was an eventful period of time for almost all cultures. Then why is it that we concentrate on England? I love English culture and history, but it's a little strange to me. I know many others have characters that are from New York, The Confederacy, or who are travelers, but they are far less common. That's not even touching on the fact that, in an alternate universe or possible future, there can be thousands of histories all over the world being made. It's worth the research.

3) Science fiction and Fantasy have their overlap. While we all wish to live in a world where everything was logical and scientific, but the truth is that in a world with fantastic technology, there is always going to be an aspect of it that cannot be true. While there is some degree of suspension of disbelief to make people stop questioning it, it ends up becoming arbitrary to say "The way this technology works....It's like voodoo magic or something!". Of course it is, unless you can recreate said technology in real life. So what's the problem? Can we not just enjoy the ride?

4) Not everyone has to be technological in a steampunk universe. Remember that most people in the Victorian era still maintained their own unique folk lore and belief in magic. On top of that, occultism was extremely popular among the upper class, with people making a pretty penny off of seances and magic spells. Just like today, many cultures retain their unique superstitions. Take the United Kingdom. People in the country side of Wales, England, Scotland, and Ireland (A part of the UK from 1801-1922) held on to their time old beliefs of nature spirits and folk magic. A magic using character, if done just so, can fit in just fine in a steampunk setting, forming an excellent foil to the more scientific characters.

5) Just have fun with it for god's sake. I am so sick of people attaching arbitrary rules to what is considered steampunk, as if it is set in stone. This is like trying to decide what constitutes as art, it's impossible and pointless. So what if steampunk becomes popular. So what if people keep saying "It's so steampunk, see look goggles!" Honestly, shouldn't we be happy people are curious? That people want to know more about our culture? The same issue is true of genres of music. If someone dares ask "What would you say is a good goth band to listen to?" Goths scoff as if the asker should know already, instead of leading them to their favorite bands. It's pointless and elitist. So why are we getting our knickers in a bunch? Shouldn't we just cool our collective jets and let what happens happen?

But then maybe I'm just naive...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Framed Vintage Post-Cards

I had this frame in my room for a while, but I had nothing to put in it. Any print I had lying around wouldn't be the right dimensions. So I decided to make something myself. Not long ago, I bought The Big Ass Book of Home Decor (Which I highly recommend and will be doing more projects from), and found a perfect project for this frame. Simply take pages from an old book, glue it to the cardboard insert that comes with the frame. Then you place old postcards on top and voila!

In the original book, he used postcards with black and white photos, but I thought these were nicer. They're actually prints, not photos. I couldn't find any black and white photos that I liked, so I figured this is better. Plus, I was kinda worried that if I didn't get just the right kind of black and white photo that it would fade into the background.

I still have another, much larger frame to put something into. Any ideas?

Chinese Tea Marbled Eggs

I know I know....It's been done....A lot.....But stay with me here. Since I have just started this blog, I just wanted to start something I knew I could do in a day and that will turn out ok. More challenging stuff to come, but for now this is will due. I hate not having anything posted.

Well, let's get right to it then. You know, I always found it at least a little annoying that all of the typical Steampunk themed snacks are European, or rather English, in origin. I know it's because a great many of them were inspired by English afternoon tea, and that many people have characters from England, but the Victorian era was an era of worldwide expanse. The Victorians loved to travel, and this would be even more so in a Steampunk universe. So I decided to try to post "Steampunk" themed recipes from all over the world, so look forward to Indian, Japanese, Thai, American, Italian, French, Chinese, Mexican, and more! These tea eggs would be perfect for a tea party, banquet, picnic...Well, anything really. The marble design resembles lace, perfect for Victorian themed events.

I tried to make this a recipe all my own, which can be hard to do with something that's so common. Just when I think I have an original take on this, someone else already did it. But I think I got something I could call my own.....Though it still might need a bit of tweaking.

6 Eggs
Water (But of course!)
2 Tablespoons Black Tea
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 Anise Pods
1-2 Cinnimon Sticks (Broken in Half)
4-5 Cloves
About 1 Tsp Crushed Schezuan Pepper or Black Pepper
The Zest of 1 Clementine
A Splash of Rice Wine
A Dash of Salt

After the clementine is zested and ingredients are gathered, place the eggs in a sauce pan large enough to hold all of the eggs without crowding them. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 12 minutes. I would recommend turning the eggs every so often to keep the yokes centered.

This pot is actually a little large, so I only filled it about halfway. As long as you cover the eggs.

Boil Boil Toil and Trouble
After the eggs have been simmering for 12 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice cold water until you can touch them easily, saving the cooking water. After that, take each egg and tap with a metal spoon, making a lattice design, but DO NOT PEEL! That's the most important part.
It's a little dark, sorry.
Place the eggs back in the water, and bring once more to a boil. Add all the remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer for another 2-3 hours, adding water periodically.
After 2-3 hours, remove from heat and drain eggs. I placed the eggs in cold water once more to make them more manageable.
After the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel off the shells. You should see a beautiful web-like design on the egg.
End product. Aren't they pretty?
And a close up!
The eggs have a very mild flavor, vaguely salty and with a slight anise flavor. The pepper I added did come through. Next time, I might simmer them for three hours instead of two. Feel free to alter this recipe to suit your liking and please tell me how it turned out for you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Welcome to my new blog!

Hello, and welcome to my new blog! This is where I will record all my new Steampunk projects, from recipes for tea parties, to sewing, to jewelry making, to, well, almost anything and everything that seems fun at the time. Be sure to follow me to keep an eye on all my recent projects, and don't be afraid to recommend some for me to try. I recently purchased all of the issues currently printed of Steampunk Magazine so hopefully I have a bunch of new ideas. My current to-do list is posted at the side, if your interested.

As for who I am, I am an artist, a cook, sometimes a seamstress, a beer aficionado, a food lover, a role player, a student, an avid reader, and I love Steampunk. My star sign is Cancer, I was born in the Year of the Goat, if you believe in that sort of thing. I love trying new things. Hopefully, this blog will give other people ideas for projects as well, though I will definately try some of the projects I've been seeing around on the web (I've been wanting to make this keyboard for a while, though I have no idea when I can get started on that)

I will (hopefully) post again soon! See you then!