Steampost

Well I’m technically at GenCon right now, but I thought that you might enjoy a post whilst I’m away. This blog is supposed to be dedicated to writing and costuming, but lately I haven’t had much time to devote to the costuming bit. So here’s a post dedicated just to steampunk. Hooray!

Some upcoming events in Ohio (and one in Indiana). Links are to facebook event pages, but many events also have listings on the Steampunk Empire:

GenCon Steampunk Meetup, August 6

Airship Archon sees 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, August 6

Steampunks Invade COSI For Adventure, August 21

The Second Annual Airship Archon Picnic, September 17

The Time Traveler’s Ball, September 24

The Third Annual Airship Archon RenFest Invasion, October 16

And here are a few photos of me and my friends at a recent invasion of the Santa Maria:

The Airship Archon group. We were posing with a lion statue in a fountain, but the lion got a bit lost!

Salena Van Eycke and I on the dock, about to board.

For more pictures of our adventures on the Santa Maria and at other events, you can visit my steampunk flickr set.

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Marcon 46 in review

You should go to the Doctor Fantastique’s website to read my review of Marcon 46!

Here are some photos of me at Marcon 46, since I’m not quite vain enough to pepper an article I wrote with photographs of myself.

As you can see my steampunk Buddhist nun cosplay really came together beautifully, thanks to my very talented seamstress/roommate/friend and an incredible corset-maker who was able to deliver on a cruelty-free steampunk corset. I was a little worried someone might be all butthurt and offended over it, since I’m a white person cosplaying as a Tibetan, but I actually got a really positive response that encouraged me to keep wearing it and perfecting it. It was also incredibly comfortable, and the corset pockets meant I didn’t need a purse (which my boyfriend usually ends up carrying, much to his chagrin), so all-in-all it was pretty much my favorite cosplay ever. Definitely going to wear it again, a lot.

I plan on writing more about Tim Waggoner’s short story writing workshop next week (or tomorrow, if I can get to it) so look for that. Thanks for reading!

Steampunk photo shoot

There’s a great locale for steampunk photos here in Columbus, The Depot Rail Museum. It features some really lovely restored trains, some of which are as much as 200 years old! About two weeks ago The Airship Archon had a photo shoot there; here are my favorite shots from the day’s festivities, used with permission from the photographers. Yes, most of them include me, because it seems weird to post very many photos of other people.

Photos by Cassadi at CThomasPhotography:

"Just hand over the purse, already!"

"Now I wonder where that cash box is hiding..."

"I make this bathtub look damn sexy!"

And these were taken by Earnest at Blackhawk Photography (who desperately needs to update his website…LOL):

"We claim this train in the name of The Airship Archon! We have a flag and everything!"

I have nothing clever to say, this is just a really excellent photo.

No words necessary.

Earnest still has some photos to process, so hopefully we’ll be seeing more from this photo shoot soonish!

Buddhism for Steampunks

I am super excited because yesterday I discovered another Buddhist steampunk! I am not alone!

This is the logo for his website, Open Buddha.

The image is beautiful: a stylized version of boddhisattva Manjusri, with steampunk and Zen elements. I posted it on facebook and, to my great pleasure, it was reposted by Maven of Multicultural Steampunk Jeni Hellum.

Not surprisingly (this is the internet we’re talking about), someone in the comments was immediately negative and called the image “offensive”, though she indicated that she’s not even a Buddhist. I find this hilarious, for a number of reasons, not least because I’m a Buddhist and I’m not remotely offended. In fact, I’m excited to see imagery relating to Buddhism anywhere in Western culture, but especially in steampunk culture.

Buddhism is one of the top three major belief systems in the world, but you wouldn’t know it from the way we’re completely ignored by Western culture. Completely. When was the last time you saw a Buddhist character on tv? A Buddhist Senator? A Buddhist anything? So seeing this image was exciting to me, a reminder that I am not alone in a world that celebrates only Christianity (with Islam grudgingly recognized alongside it). This is, I admit, partly due to Buddhists’ own desire to remain quietly behind-the-scenes. Buddhists are everywhere, but ours is a philosophy (I don’t like calling it a religion because that implies “faith”, but that’s a rant for another day) that calls for us to be quietly compassionate, truthful and meditative, and these are qualities that flashy Western culture doesn’t appreciate or value.

Also: I think for Christians and Muslims, or people raised as such, the idea of “graven images” means that any image of a prophet or their god is blasphemous. But the Buddha was not like Yahweh or Allah: he was a man, not a god (arguably he is a man who achieved godhood, but that’s not the point!), and his image was meant to educate, not to be worshiped. Think about it: 2500 years ago, as Buddhism moved through the world, it encountered language barriers and illiteracy. Have you ever noticed how statues of Buddha generally resemble the people of the local area? So in Nepal he looked Nepali, and in China Buddha looks Chinese, etc. But each statue retains certain crucial features: the Buddha is sitting in a meditative lotus position, with every part of his body from his posed hands to his half-closed eyes carefully positioned.

That’s because these statues were the original meditation instructional videos. Like a good fable, they traveled the world retaining certain features while adapting themselves to the local culture. Buddhism has been adapted by countless cultures to form many different sects, all with the same core beliefs but adapted to be in lockstep with the local culture. Images of Christ are adapted in much the same way.

So why shouldn’t Buddhism and steampunk operate in the same way? Why can’t the chakras be represented as gears? Why can’t the Buddha be wearing a top hat and monocle, if that’s what appeals to people?

Besides, the Buddha, like the Dalai Lama and other enlightened bodhisattvas, had a magnanimous sense of humor. I think he would find steampunk fascinating and humorous. The Buddha wanted to bring the world’s people to enlightenment, not restrict their self-expression.

In conclusion, here’s my first draft sketch of my Steampunk Buddhist Nun cosplay. Because I don’t want to shave my head, the character will probably be a former nun, who now travels the world adventuring and spreading the Buddha’s message of peace.

Obviously it’s in black and white. The final colors will be based off of this Tibetan nun’s robes, with a black or brown corset. The design is based off a combination of traditional Tibetan clothes (the chuba skirt) and traditional Tibetan Buddhist robes. I’m so excited to find the fabric and get started putting this together! Hooray!

Edit: Because I’ve had a couple people say the Steampunk Manjusri would make a great t-shirt, here is where you can buy one from the original artist!

Steampunk Delights

Several interesting steampunk-related items crossed my desk today and I thought I should share them.

Panic at the Disco’s latest video, for the song The Ballad of Mona Lisa, features several prominent members of the steampunk community, including talented fashion designer Megan Maude (though why they don’t show her beautiful face is beyond me) as well as members of the League of STEAM. Find the video here, along with a “behind the scenes” featurette.

From Tor.com: gorgeous steampunk keyboards made from recycled parts.

From Geeks Are Sexy: a breathtaking steampunk music video with appropriately somber music.

From Abney Park: Airship Pirates, the roleplaying game!

I also had a friend ask me for steampunk resources, so here are the links I provided him.

For photos and social networking:
The Steampunk Empire
Steamfashion on Livejournal
Steampunk Gear on Flickr

For clothes and gear:
The Frenzy Universe
Clockwork Couture
Gypsy Lady Hats

Anyone want to recommend any other sites?

Jules Verne Day

So who remembers reading Jules Verne as a kid and being transformed into a hardcore science fiction fan? *raises hand* Anyone else? I want a tattoo that says “Jules Verne 4 Life,” which has the added bonus of giving me an excuse to get a tattoo with tentacles. You think I’m jesting, but I’m not!

Check out Google’s main page today for a fun “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea” game, and then go over here and read this post on Tor.com by the inimitable GD Falksen.