What is Steampunk?
- Written by Daniel Livingston
I have always been a Science Fiction fan. From comics to books and movies, I took it all in. I grew up watching great Sci-Fi movie classics such as The Time Machine and First Men in the Moon both based on books by H.G. Wells.
I also enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea based on Jules Vern novels. What I didn't know all these years is that there was a common thread. The film versions were all set in the late 1800's Victorian period and they used 1800's technology to create their vision of the future. They created machines and gadgets not possible at that time, using what they had for technology. Electricity was in its infancy so it was used sparingly, but when they had a light or indicator lamp, it was big and bold. There were pipes and steam valves everywhere. Large gauges were a necessity to keep watch on the steam pressure.
Where today we would have chrome, they had brass. Switches and panels were also made of brass giving them the "Victorian" look. Vintage Edison Light Bulbs were protected from damage with wire cages providing them with an 1800's industrial lighting feel. The British setting of these movies also added to the look and feel. There were ornate patterns on the machines panels or supports.
About 10 years ago I came across a picture of a computer keyboard that had been created to look as if it was made during this 1800's Victorian period. I loved it. The creator went on to build a steampunk laptop as well. They were works of art. What I didn't know at the time, but found out shortly after, was that the style had been dubbed "Steampunk". More recently "Industrial Style" Pipe Furniture has also become popular. I just think of it as Modern Steampunk. Now I understand where the "Steam" in Steampunk comes from, but I'm not so sure where the "Punk" comes from.
----- CONTINUED BELOW -----
Recently I saw several "Steampunk" lamps offered on ebay for around $500. They had an 1880's industrial look. I loved the look but the price was way out of reach. I started doing a little research and identified several of the components used for one of the lamps. They were readily available on ebay, online or at your local hardware store. Since we were remodeling our basement, I figured I'd create a unique lamp that I could proudly display in one of the corners of the room.
Now for originality, I get a "0" since I almost exactly duplicated the one I saw on ebay. But for thriftiness, I spent less than 20% of their asking price. I am very happy with how it came out so check out my article where I show you how to Build a Steampunk Lamp.
I may be making a second one, possibly a floor lamp. You see, when you buy a box of gears off of ebay, you end up having several extras left over.