Thursday, 29 August 2013

Recent Secondhand Shop Finds

Secondhand shopping had been a bit sparse recently, and I was starting to think there just wasn't much good stuff anymore. Thankfully, I had some amazing finds recently! Most of these I found when I went to Sydney to meet my friend Fiona, and we found a secondhand shop! It was so wonderful to find so many things that are exactly the style I love!

Top with black velvet and white lace

80s? vintage top

Black velvet jacket with interesting lining around edges

Cape jumper

Shirt is my own, cravat stolen off my boyfriend.

Shirt my own, cravat stolen off my boyfriend.

Brocade jacket

Saturday, 24 August 2013

"Steampunk 1.02": My Thoughts on the Revolution

It's 'Victorian Science Fiction'... but what else can it be?

How do we create a Steampunk world and how do we recreate ourselves? I don't want to prescribe a way to do or be things to anyone because change comes from within. We are drawn to things that speak to us. I don't want to be one of those people who says you have to dress this way, think this way. I think everyone has to come to it from their own direction.

What follows is merely my opinions, which I am happy to discuss with others in the hope of a greater understanding and growth of Steampunk.

Creating another world

Steampunk is wonderful, but it is just dressing up, right? Wrong! It doesn't just have to be another persona, an outfit we take off! We can transform our world! We may not all be able to afford to Steampunk our house, but we can make our lives a little more like the one of our dreams! It may be as simple as wearing a piece of Steampunk jewellery or Victorian inspired item every day, or using a few charming anachronistic Victorian words, or raising your hat and bowing to people in the street

There was an article in SteamPunk Magazine that interested me very much. It discussed how creating Steampunk worlds can actually help us see the way to a better world, if it is done the right way. We can't expect the change the world outright, but perhaps we can create a place outside of ourselves where manners, creativity and imagination can reign triumphant. The more we work at it, the more conventions, meet-ups and 'craft togethers' we can have with like minded people, the more people we can introduce to the sense of community and imagination within Steampunk.

Think about what you want to be. Do you want to be charming and well mannered? Do you want to be the catalyst of a stylistic revolution or help create a new way of thinking and living? Do you want to write new worlds, or make clothes that show who you really are? It is all there in Steampunk.

Steampunk is the escapism that fantasy has been for years, but the difference is that with such an encompassing culture it can become a cultural revolution. It could become a spirit of the times, a revolt against the crushing normality of our era. All around the world, Steampunks are using that thing with supposedly alienates us- technology, the internet, to connect with each other. We are anachronistic par excellence, loving the old steam powered technology, but finding ways to use the new ones to our advantage.

We don’t want to go back to the past, we want a better present!

Steampunk people do not necessarily yearn for the past, we know there were many bad aspects to the past such as sexism and racism, and we don't want to relive those! We want to take the elements we love- fancier clothes, nice manners, etc. and set them in our own imaginary world. It is a very creative subculture! But can we make this world a reality?

Branching out

When someone makes something wonderful and then I hear someone say (or write online) 'that's nice... but it's not Steampunk!' I cringe. We need to admire creativity in all its forms. We shouldn't have to have a narrow identity where we can only like things that are Steampunk. One of the great things about Steampunk is the creativity and openness of it.

Steampunk is taking inspiration from everywhere. I have seen Steampunk Faery outfits, Steampunk R2D2s, everything can be Steampunked! There shouldn't be too many rules, we shouldn't criticise people for being 'not Steampunk enough'.

Perhaps the biggest danger we actually face is making TOO MANY rules, we must take inspiration from everywhere, stylistically we are not just Victorian we are Punk and New Romantic and Goth, Steampunk literature is there, but we mustn’t fall into the trap of only worshipping things with cogs. There are books now that just throw a few cogs in there just to relate to a Steampunk audience and that is not a good sign. we have to be more open. embrace Steamgoth with its depictions of darkness and monsters, but not ask for it to be too filled with machinery, embrace urban fantasy, depictions of other glittering worlds. be inspired by rockstars and dandies.

Some of the people who inspire me most are the authors who generally don't write Steampunk, Sarah and Jenn Diemer (although they did do one great Steampunk short story collection), Francesca Lia Block, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, writers who see the world in different ways, but, in a short story, bring us completely into their world.

If we label ourselves too much, pigeon-hole ourselves too much, we are doing ourselves, and Steampunk, a disservice. we must branch out, keep things wide, keep things fresh and buzzing with new and different ideas.
The point of Steampunk is that it is anachronistic. We can listen to other music, read other books, and put them all into our Steampunk. We can have an alternate Victorian future with a post-punk soundtrack and dandy aliens dancing in Victorian dance halls.

After all, Steampunk is about mining the past for the bits we liked, but throwing away the bits we hate. No gender inequality and racism, thank you very much, but beautiful clothes, lovely manners, and the alternate technology and magic envisioned by the Science Fiction and horror writers of the Victorian era.

It's about finding a way to think about things differently. Like the 1985 song Rock me Amadeus, which envisioned Amadeus Mozart as the first rock-star. Sure it's not exactly Steampunk, but something we can draw on for inspiration? Yes? Velvet Goldmine re imagines Oscar Wilde and his words, a story of Dorian Grey but also the idea of Oscar Wilde as a 'pop idol.' Anachronistic indeed. 'The curves of your lips rewrite history.' We can rewrite not just history but the present and future as well. We can rewrite ourselves.


Steampunk is a subculture that thrives on community. There aren't a lot of events in Australia yet, but at the ones I have been to, everyone has been so friendly! They are happy to talk about where they bought their outfits or what patterns they used, what books and movies they like, and it is mostly the same online, helpful and friendly. But we need to make sure this community exists, not just online, but also in the physical world. There is nothing like really hanging out with those who have things in common with you! We need to work to get our groups together and keep them going!

There is a wonderful sense of community, that we are all in this crazy thing together. When I see people joining facebook groups for Steampunk or coming to an event where there are other Steampunks they often say something like, 'finally, I have found others like myself,' I know for myself, it was like coming home. I love my Goth brothers and sisters of course, but Steampunk had that which I had always been searching for. Alternate history, alternate self, the ability to transform myself. It's hard to define, and a little different for everyone, but it can be like coming home. I feel like these last few years I have been more and more who I really am, having picnics, learning to sew, learning about Steampunk books, movies and music, and adding all my other inspirations to it, making my own personal definition of what Steampunk is to me.

Supporting the Community

One of the things we should do is support others efforts, especially those creatives who want to make new things, we need more Steampunk web-shows, movies, etc. Keep an eye out for kickstarters and give them $5 or $10 if you can afford, it, tweet and facebook updates on it to get others interested. Social media is the friend of us anachronists, it allows us to meet other anachronists from around the world, and it allows us to try and get the word out there. We envision and create our own worlds and we can share them. we can drag others out of the dull monotony of everyday life, and show them another world.

The 'Steampunk Bandwagon'

Some people don't want Steampunk to become too mainstream, they see the idea of everyone 'getting on the Steampunk bandwagon' as a bad thing, but imagine Steampunk as a cultural movement, a big one because it has it all, literature, music, fashion, because people make things themselves and inspire others to do so. We shouldn't try and keep it small, we should invite everyone who is interested, give everyone a chance to be part of it! Wouldn't it be wonderful to go see Steampunk movies at the cinema? And, of course, greater exposure means that more people who would be interested can find out about it, and more events for us to attend!

My mottoes for a Steampunk Revolution

In the end, I look to the words of Professor Frank N. Furter, 'don't just dream it, be it.' The words that were scrawled in lipstick on Oscar Wilde's Tomb- 'the curves of your lips rewrite history', the words of the song from the Dresden Dolls that stuck in my head when I was about 18. 'I will join your century but only on a rare occasion... I am the girl anachronism'. Mottoes, battle cries for a 'Steampunk revolution'? or only words to inspire my path? Find your own mottoes and inspirations. Let them inspire you!

I leave you with the words of the Abney Park song, 'Steampunk Revolution'

We've got a steampunk revolution
We're tired of all your so-called evolution
We've darted back to 1886
Don't ask us why; that's how we get our kicks

Out with the new
In with the old
Out with the new
In with the old

Our underworld isn't filled with fear
Just brass and copper, leather scrap, and rusty gear
You can keep your hip-hop techno-pop-rock schleppin-dub
I'm on my way to a coal-powered underground vintage pub

We've got a steampunk revolution
We're tired of all your so-called evolution
We've darted back to 1886
Don't ask us why; that's how we get our kicks

Out with the new
In with the old
Out with the new
In with the old

Your subculture shops at the mall
We build ours with blowtorch, needle, thread, and leather awl
With our antique clock parts we've taken all arts, fine art to fashion
And now we're spreading worldwide to circle the globe with a furious passion

We've got a steampunk revolution
We're tired of all your so-called evolution
We've darted back to 1886
Don't ask us why; that's how we get our kicks

We've got a steampunk revolution
We're tired of all your so-called evolution
We've darted back to 1886
Don't ask us why; that's how we get our kicks

Out with the new
In with the old

Friday, 23 August 2013

Recent Outfits

Saturday 10th August Outfit #1 Daytime
Lunch at Oma's

I love my ruffly parasol and it's so good to prevent sunburn during the day!

Black knitted bow (hard to see because my hair is so dark) a gift from my friend Fiona
White hair flower from eBay
Vintage Gunne Saxe blouse
Second hand silver ruffly skirt. It's shorter than I am usually comfortable wearing, but I loved the roses and ruffles. Thinking of trying to add some extra ruffles to the bottom.

Saturday 10th August Outfit #2 Evening/ Dinner

Watch on necklace chain- a Christmas present
Purple pleather bolero- secondhand
White long sleeved top- from the local store
Beige dress- sale shop

Scarab bracelet $2 secondhand. I have always been drawn to Egyptian symbolism.

Burgundy velvet coat from eBay.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Life Eternal

YA novel by Yvonne Woon
 (Dead Beautiful #2)

I don't usually review the second book in a series because pretty much everything in it is a spoiler for those who have not read the  first book, but with this one, I found the second book for $2 and couldn't resist, so be aware that after here, pretty much everything is spoilers.


In this book, the secrets of the first have already been revealed, but they are re-explained, I assume for those who have not read the first or because you have to wait about a year between books. Don't worry, the explanations are not too laboured and long drawn out, they are nice and short, and to the point.

I really enjoyed the mythology of the story. In this alternate version of our world, when a child dies before it reaches adulthood, it reanimates, only without its soul. The child then has either 21 or 17 (I cant remember) years to find the person with its soul (I assume the person who is born later on with that soul after the child's death) and steal that soul with a kiss, thereby gaining back their life but killing the other. If they do not, after that time they will die horribly. Monitors are humans with a special gift: they can sense these Undead and if they become dangerous they will bury them alive, thus killing them. For the Undead can also take the soul of anyone living to gain temporary life.

In the first book Renee Winters discovered both that her parents were dead, that she was a monitor, and that she was in love with an Undead. She gave her soul to her love, Dante, but he later gave it back. She has kept the reason behind her miraculous recovery a secret from everyone, even her grandfather.

Interestingly in this book she finds herself moving again to a new place, having to make new friends, even more of an outsider than before. I found this a nice twist, doing away with the usual return to the already established setting, and throwing her once again into the deep end of finding her way in a strange place and trying to make new friends, and try and find a way to see her beloved, who is now on the run, wrongfully accused of murder.

I am a bit of a sucker for the forbidden love thing. Having been in a similar situation (without the dead stuff, obviously) that sort of thing always really gets me. I like books where the emotions are so raw you feel like your heart is being ripped out and your flesh flayed from your body. I love that books can make you feel that intense an emotion, such strong joy and pain. The great and sometimes tragic love stories have always fascinated us throughout the ages.

Some people write off YA romance, but I would never do that. Sure a lot of YA novels have the same tropes- the three way love triangle, raw adolescent emotions, magical or undead true love, but there is a huge difference in writing quality. I have picked some books up where I cringe a few pages in and have to put them down. And then there are books like this with evocative but not overly flowery language, good pacing, and a heroine who goes out there does things for herself instead of relying entirely on the male characters to rule her fate.

One of the things I sometimes prefer about YA novels is there is less sex and more raw emotion. YA is all about longing and misery, a lot more emotional and Gothic. In many adult books people are more upbeat and always jumping into bed with each other, which is really not my sort of thing. Also I HATE perky characters. I can't identify with ass kicking pun a minute heroines. I like moody odd kids who don't fit in, dealing with forbidden romances. After all, they have a lot more in common with me.

Things I loved

Her new friend Anya, she's a bit alternative, believes in magic, charms, and has quirky, dyed red hair, (although I am not sure about the 'clubbing' outfits, she wears), and is a loner with a history of suicide attempts. I always enjoy seeing a more gritty, dark character in YA books, that gives the reader someone else to relate to other than the heroine.

Noah was an interesting other love interest because he opened up the question of  what life might have been like if she grew up in the monitoring world, and she could see the idea of how simple and safe life would be like if she could only love someone like him.

Monitors sensing the dead. The stories in the videos. Her dreams. The task of finding the recently dead animals (grim but fascinating). The monitor training, such as building pyres, always having a weapon.

Disappointing aspects

The ending felt very hurried, the last few pages seemed very rushed, and suddenly rather melodramatic. A chase, a death, a kick to the head (those are really, really hard to do). If not for that ending, I might have given the book full marks!

My Ratings

This  book was definitely readable and enjoyable without having read the first book in the series which is definitely a point in its favour. Of course, being part of a series, it does have an open end
I can't definitely decide on a score, mostly because of that ending. I have put it as 4/5 on my Goodreads account, but it is really somewhere around 4.5. I would definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Moth Diaries

 Movie directed by Mary Harron from the book by Rachel Klein

The Moth Diaries is, at its heart, an amazing book about the pain of adolescence and also about the obsessive friendships that develop between teenage girls. A story of teenage emotions on the edge, the book drives us through a constant confusion of is she or isn't she.

It is also a beautiful and elegant Gothic movie and book, that references the classics in the genre and maintains a perfect atmosphere of confusion, desire and unrestrained emotion.

Rebecca has a deep and rather obsessive love for her best friend Lucy, but when Lucy is stolen from her by the new girl, she finds herself alone and alone in the fear that Ernessa is in fact a vampire, preying on the sweet and trusting Lucy.

It has been sometime since I read the book so I can't really compare them, but I did love the movie! From what I can remember, it is fairly faithful to the book.

First of all, some trigger warnings.

The book and movie contain suicide, possible murder, wrist cutting and depression among teens. Anyone who thinks that these things may adversely affect them should avoid the book and movie, excellent though they are.

Things I loved-

The references to classic Gothic literature: The name Lucy (from Dracula), Carmilla, Rebecca reading through old books for the older vampire lore that you no longer hear, such as vampires being born of suicide, and the old atropaics to ward off vampires.

The examination of the obsessive relationships between girls, and the heights of teenage emotion


I don't remember whether the book addressed it in the way the film did, but the film draws a positive uplifting conclusion out of the fact that she refuses to follow in her father's footsteps and kill herself, and chooses to live instead, and face the future.

Closeness to the feel of the original book- 4.9/5

I seem to remember the book framed the story from the point of view of an adult, which made it clearer she would come through it, so I liked that that movie did not do that. It has been too long since I read it to notice any small changes, but on the whole, it felt very true to the book.

Costume- 4/5-

I liked the girls school clothes,they fitted the setting. I loved that they all wore old fashioned night gowns and the time period was a little loose (unless you look at the car her mum drives, cars are ALWAYS the worst era giveaways, but that's props, not costume). I adored the flashback Victorian/ Early Edwardian gown, and Valerie Tian (who played Charley)'s quirky style (apparently she makes her own clothes in real life)


Exploration of the awful Gothic nature of being a teen- 5/5
Gothic novel references- 5/5
Plot- 5/5
Ending 5/5

Overall- 4.9/5 This was a book I loved and the movie did not disappoint.It was a beautiful Gothic film, and finds a place among my favourite films.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Lady of Shalott Short Film by WAG Studios

Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott was one of my absolute favourite poems as a child, probably because of Anne of Green Gables, which I also loved, although it's hard to remember the reason now. I was excited to find that a short film had been made of the poem, also based on the artworks of one of my favourite artists, John William Waterhouse. Here it is. I love the costumes, and some of the haunting shots such as the lovers and the night funeral. The actress who plays the Lady of Shalott is perfect, I am so jealous of her hair!

 Follow this link to learn about the making of the costumes!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Web Roundup: Steampunk and more!

 The Making of the Antipodean Steampunk Show- some amazing Australian Steampunk art!

An archery dress

 The gorgeous Victorian house from Practical Magic!

Book Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross. This sounds like a really interesting, thought provoking book.

Gorgeous historical dresses inspired by art! 

The Cheapside Hoard- a hoard of late 16th and early 17th century jewellery discovered by workmen using a pickaxe to excavate in a cellar near Cheapside in London in 1912.

I love Julia Margaret Cameron's photography, it captures so much mood and character! I wish I could see this exhibition at the Met!

David Bowie Doing Shit- a tumblr of David Bowie pictures. A warning to the very polite, there is a lot of swearing.

Talented photographer Thomas Dodd has a 'go fund me' 'kickstarter' for a book of all his amazing art!

Some very talented Steampunks in Saskatchewan

Steam omnibus from the Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung, September 1880. From The Historical Detective Agency Ltd. on Facebook.

Shared on Facebook- From San Francisco Chronicle--a visionary plan for cross-bay transport, circa 1910. 

A Steampunk table by Tom Spina Designs. Knowing how accident prone I am, a table with this many bits sticking out is not an option for me, but I wouldn't mind this desk:

Some lovely hairstyles from the past. If you don't have enough hair you can always use artificial hairpieces, people in the past used them more often than you might think!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Steamfest Australia 2013

Steamfest Australia 2013 
(Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th August, Ipswich Racecourse)

The Newcastle Steampunks- my friends Stacey, Mardo, Yasmin and I.

A steam train. Unfortunately we did not get a chance to ride on it, but we did get to choke on its fumes everytime it went by the stage area, a nice reminder of why some progress is a very good thing.

Stacey and Mardo before we went in. This was the only picture I got of the gorgeous underbust corset she made. 

With Steampuk author GD Falksen. I got to ask him a few questions about writing, too. Stacey made my gown, too, she is very talented!

The gorgeous parasol Stacey covered. 

The lovely Cyndy Kitt of Cyndy Kitt Productions with her amazingly lifelike parrot.

As someone who owns a bird, I have to say, it was uncannily real, the way it moved, the way it looked at you. It even spoke. 

A steampunk baby carriage, because really, what else would you do if you had a steampunk kid?

This charming and dapper gentleman had an old fashioned looking camera he made that really worked!

A beautifully dressed couple, very friendly too! They made all their technology themselves!

The talented musician Unwoman performing on stage.

Oscar and Victoria cosplay, from the Brian Kesinger drawings.

Unwoman performing The City, it was the first of her songs I heard. I was very excited.

Musicians Abney Park take time out to enjoy Unwoman's music.

Ged Maybury Steampunk Author in a very unique and fascinating Martian exploration outfit!

Meeting the gorgeous and talented Erica Unwoman. She is so sweet and friendly in real life, and she also likes second hand shopping!  She may be really talented but it obviously does not go to her head, and she was so thrilled that I loved her music!

My gorgeous friend Yasmin in the lovely skirt she made.

Some of the amazing handmade props at the Steampunk Ghostbusters tent.

Steampunk author Ged Maybury again in another stupendous outfit! I love this gentleman's style!

Abney Park's first Australian performance ever! I love the Steampunk music stand and keyboard stand!

You can always tell a picture was taken at a Steampunk concert, because there are top hats in the frame! Ha ha.

I didn't get a chance to meet this lady, so I sneaked a quick pic at the end of the day, she had a cream lace top hat and a cream/ chiffon skirt layered over a violet one, very much the kind of things I want to try and make!

We got to meet Abney Park and get photographs and our albums signed. I got to tell them how inspiring they were and how important Steampunk is to me.

There were metal butterflies at Brisbane airport. How appropriate for a Steampunk trip!