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Prada goes steampunk

Prada's fall 2012 menswear line is awfully steampunky -- modelled by Gary Oldman, Jamie Bell, Garrett Hedlund, and Willem Dafoe.

Prada Menswear Fall 2012 Ad Campaign (Thanks, Matthew)

(Images: Steven Meisel/

First daisy-wheel typewriter, 1889 has just added this lovely 1889 Victor index typewriter:

This was the first typewriter to use a daisy wheel, which would be a common design feature on 1980s typewriters. The daisy wheel is made of thin brass, cut with narrow radial fingers, one for each character. At the end of each finger is an embossed rubber character.

To operate the Victor one puts the tip of ones index finger in the little cup at the end of the pointer, then swings the pointer up to a full 180 degrees to select the characters. The pointer is connected by a gear to the central vertical wheel that holds the daisy wheel. As the pointer swings, the daisy wheel rotates into position. A spring-loaded hammer then pushes the brass finger in the daisy wheel against the paper.

Victor index (Thanks, Martin!)

Datamancer's Seafarer keyboard: brassy, nautical steampunk confection

The latest Datamancer keyboard is the Seafarer:

Coming Soon! We recently decided to try our hands at some brass-casting and this is the first result, "The Seafarer", an intensely ornate, nautically-themed keyboard with a worn-in, weather-beaten aesthetic. It features a gold foil map faceplate, protected by thick acrylic, spiral cut rods, and engraved gold metallic keys.

We plan to make several more cast brass designs in the near future, so feel free to join the mailing list to stay informed of their availability.

The Seafarer Keyboard

Black Lagoon-esque mask from Bob Basset

New from Ukrainian fetish/steampunk mask makers Bob Basset, the "60 monstr" -- a little bit Creature from the Black Lagoon, a little bit steampunk, and a whole lot of happy mutation.

"60 monstr" Art leather mask

Steampunk bicycle from Roger Wood

The latest from Roger Wood of Klockwerks: "I was asked to make a kinetic Steampunk sculpture for a show in New York; here it is."

Sky Alchemist: steampunk puzzle game with a gender twist

Ethan sez,

Me and my colleague, Alexandra Keller, gave up our day jobs as web geeks to write this game, and almost two years later we finally have it:

Sky Alchemist - a puzzle game about transforming impure matter into pure forms, using heaters, coolers, and breakers, phase-specific collectors, and a centrifuge. We tried to be as scientifically accurate as possible - the heat capacities, hardnesses, and so on are taken from real data wherever we could find it. It's set in a rich world - a human society that has achieved "Victorian-level" technology, but with a twist - women are the dominant gender. We hope to expand more on this in future releases of the game.

He also notes that it's DRM-free.

Sky Alchemist

Buy it for £5.99 at Desura

Awesome lamp resembles Zeppelin airship

Jake Von Slatt tells Boing Boing, "I got an email this morning from Flaminio Bovino, a young Italian designer who though I might like this amazing blimp lamp he made. He was correct!"

Badass steampunk Nerfgun-cum-raygun

Etsy seller Steampunk101's GOLIATHON is a truly shitkicking steampunk Nerfgun mod, though that craftspersonship doesn't come cheap: $350!

What happens when you weaponize all the horsepower of a full-size steam locomotive? You get the Goliathon. One shot can level a building, down an airship, or turn a man inside out.

This is a modified Nerf Vulcan. It has many real metal elements added to it, including 4 gauges, copper piping, brass embellishments, and a solid metal valve wheel. It is roughly 2 1/2 feet long. It is a prop only and not intended to fire anything.

Steampunk Gun - THE GOLIATHON (via CNet)

National Bike Month: Draisines are the new fixies

Cycling Hipsters, if you were truly worth your ironic sideburns and artisanal grease stains, you'd abandon that fixie and mount one of these bad boys. The Smithsonian honors National Bike Month with a dive into the image archives for this photo, the forerunner of the modern bicycle: a draisine from around 1818. More about this "dandy horse," below.

Read the rest

Victorian change packets: little envelopes for your small change

Julie L. Mellby posts on Princeton University Library's Graphic Arts Collection blog about the Victorian "Change Packet," a little paper envelope that Victorian shopkeepers used to present customers' change (as Abi points out on Making Light, this embodies some odd assumptions, like shopkeepers never shortchanging their customers, and customers not wanting to spend their change at the next shop). These are beautiful items, and have a fascinating history. From The Encyclopedia of Ephemera: a Guide to the Fragmentary Documents of Everyday Life for the Collector, Curator, and Historian (Michael Twyman, Maurice Rickards):

“Among the refinements of middle-class Victorian shopping was the giving of change not directly from hand to hand but in paper packets. Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal in a review of London shops and shopping (15 October 1853), makes passing note of the custom. A customer seeking to buy a pair of kid gloves ‘is met at the door by a master of the ceremonies, who escorts him to the precise spot where what he seeks awaits him … He walks over rich carpets, in which his feet sink as though upon a meadow-sward; and he may contemplate his portrait at full length in half-a-dozen mirrors, while that pair of gentlemen’s kids at 2s 10 ½ d is being swaddled in tissue-paper, and that remnant of change in the vulgar metal of which coal-scuttles are made … is being decently interred in a sort of vellum sarcophagus ere it is presented to his acceptance’.”

“The envelope, known as a ‘change packet,’ measured some 60 mm (2 ½ in) square and was printed with the legend ‘The change, with thanks’, often in a decorative roundel or other device. Printing was generally in a single colour; sometimes the design appeared as a white, embossed image on a coloured background.”

“The packets were supplied to the shopkeeper either as a stock design in which there was no trade message, or printed specially to order with name, address, and designation presented as a form of miniature trade card. Additionally, the shopkeeper might be supplied with the packets at much reduced rates, if not free of charge, by the new breed of national advertisers who used the printing space on the packet for their own message. Typical of these were Huntley & Palmers, biscuit manufacturers, whose change packets were widely used. Their Royal Appointment design appears in two packet sizes and a variety of colours.”

Your change, with thanks (via Making Light)

Steampunk Lego dino, with a backstory

Mark Stafford's "Steam-Dinos" is a Lego fantasy with its own backstory:

“A spiffing way to go to war I decided as we powered through the veldt. Mr. Roberson’s patented Triterrortops steam powered terrible lizard replica was performing above the expectations it has been set by His Majesties Royal Calvalry Corp. My report to the Generals will be that the vehicle has proved more then adequate to combat the clone-vat monstrosities of the Zimbab bio-shamens.(sic)

Also: it really walks!

Steam-Dinos-Rule (via Super Punch)

Sciency, girl-positive steampunk kids' adventure novel on Kickstarter

Kyle sez, "My friend Jordan Stratford has launched his first Kickstarter (currently funded, yay!) but the idea is simply too lovely not to share. From Kickstarter:"

This is a pro-math, pro-science, pro-history and pro-literature adventure novel for and about girls, who use their education to solve problems. This is the made up story about two very real people -- Ada, the world's first computer programmer, and Mary, the world's first science fiction author. If Jane Austen wrote about zeppelins and brass goggles, this would be the book. Why "Wollstonecraft"? Mary names the detective agency after her mother, the famous feminist writer. If this is the kind of book you'd like to see, please support this project.

Wollstonecraft (Thanks, Kyle!)

Repairing a Victorian hat-fitting Conformateur with 3D printed parts

A followup to yesterday's post about the Conformateur, a 19th century hat-fitting device acquired by Tricia Roush to aid in her millnery. Here is a post from La Bricoleuse, another proud Conformateur owner, whose gizmo needed some TLC to get into good running shape: specifically, it needed new parts that were output from a 3D printer.

As a member of TechShop RDU, i had originally planned to draft the part there using Autodesk Inventor, then use their Dimension rapid prototyper to print the feet. Unfortunately, the machine was damaged and down for the count until it could be repaired. I had my draft but no way to print it.

Enter Dara McGinn of Li Sashay, and RepRap, an open-source 3D printer concept which you can basically make yourself. Dara hosts a weekly Etsy meetup, and it was just my luck that last week she invited engineer and maker Luis Freeman to bring his RepRaps and demonstrate them for attendees. Exciting!

Luis was able to take my foot design and help me convert it to a format the RepRap could process and produce. We used a plastic called PLA (polylactic acid) to print our 3D shapes.

The printing of the foot involved a learning curve. The shape of the first attempt involved some instability in the design and resulted in a weird "poop" of plastic at the top peg. The second attempt, we misjudged the correct height of the foot and it was too tall. It also developed stability problems in the peg, because the small surface area did not provide enough time between levels of printing for the PLA material to solidify. The peg looked like a Slinky when you stand it on end but then poke the side with a finger, so it's askew. On the third try, Luis realized that if we were to print two simultaneously, the issue with the peg stability would be resolved in the time it took to shift position from one peg to another.

1844 meets 2012: Conformateur repair with a 3D printer (Thanks, Beanolini!)

Behold, the Conformateur! A 19th century hat-fitting device

Tricia Roush is justifiably excited by her acquisition of an 1821 Conformateur in excellent shape. Conformateurs are Victorian devices used to measure the irregularities in the heads of milliner's customers, to ensure a better fit from the eventual hat. Roush explains the device's working in detail, with generous photos of the extraordinary device in action.

While the conformateur is on the head, after the fingers are pressed in so that they are conforming to the head shape, a piece of paper is placed into a frame on the top of the machine. Little pins stick out of the top of the machine, each one attached to one of the fingers, so that the pins now reflect the head shape as well, but in miniature. The frame swings down on a hinge to press the paper into the pins, perforating the paper. In this photo, you can see that the inside of the frame is lined in cork, and there are little holes in the cork where the pins have pressed.

The perforations in the paper make a pattern that's a recording of the person's head shape. The hat maker then cuts the pattern out with scissors along the perforations to store for future use. Here are some examples of the paper patterns. Because it's a shrunken version of the person's head shape, any bumps and asymmetry in the head shape (we all have them) are exaggerated in the pattern, as you can see here.

Oh Joy! My Conformateur (via JWZ)

Brassy, tassled electric candle fixture

Art Donovan writes, "I've created a current collection of illuminated designs that take cues from just about every global, antique influence I can find. My latest work, 'The Most Excellent Rumi Redux' stretches my sources just about as far as I've gone yet."

We've featured a lot of Art's excellent work before.

Mr. Donovan’s newest design, “Rumi Redux”, uses influences from the 13th century Persian poet, Rumi. The imagery (and Arabic calligraphy) is inspired by the famous 12th century Persian scientist, al Jazari. The crown art is entirely hand painted in gouache and gold leaf with translucent dyes used for the back-lit elements.

The back-lit, glowing “Eye” is inspired by an early 19th century painting from an English masonic lodge. The comet is reproduced accurately from the 16th century German, “Wunderzeichenbuch” (The Book of Miracles). The Persian elephant is reproduced from an early illuminated text and the crescent moon is 2" thick, frosted convex lens- which is then back-lit and rear painted in deep red to evoke earth shine. The solid mahogany base is painted in pale matte gray with hand made brass and silk tassels.

"The Most Excellent Rumi Redux" (Thanks, Art!)

Papercraft, steampunk Iron Horse

This steampunk, papercraft wonderment comes from Phillip Valdez, who notes, "I do paper sculpture and have a soft spot for steampunk. All creations are made from Archival paper with book binding glue and acrylic paints."

Be the first in your city to own a mechanical wonder “The Iron Horse”. (Thanks, Phillip!)

Steampunk Portal cosplay boots

Batman-and-bananas from DeviantArt created a fantastic springheeled set of cosplay boots as part of a steampunk version of Chell from Portal 2.

These started as two pairs of shoes, one cheap pair of black pleather boots and an old pair of canvas shoes. The heel 'spring' is actually plastic tubing as I could screw this straight into the heel to secure it firmly (plus a lot more sensible to walk in).

Steampunk Portal Boots (via Craft)

Over-elaborated rubegoldbergian steampunk corkscrew

Gramturismo sez, "A maker in Scotland has created an elaborate, steampunk style hand cranked corkscrew." It's quite an amazing gadget -- talk about thoroughly solving a problem!

Rob Higgs (Thanks, gramturismo!)

Steampunk Addams Family Thing

Doktor A, a sculptor and painter, produced this steampunked version of Thing from the Addams Family for an Addams-themed exhibition at the Wootini Gallery in Carrboro, NC.

Thing…. (via Neatorama)

Scrap rayguns from Clayton Bailey

On Wired, Matt Simon profiles Clayton Bailey, who makes spectacular rayguns out of junk and scrap, and who is possessed of a truly magnificent mustache.

Next you’ll notice the many steampunkish ray guns — from dueling pistols to rifles to turrets — that Bailey has constructed from materials he found at flea markets and scrap yards around the San Francisco Bay Area. Instead of shooting lasers, they utilize either lungpower or pump-action air pressure to launch peas, corks or bits of potato a third of the way down a football field.

They’re gorgeous and entirely nonlethal, unless you’re targeting someone with an especially bad allergy to peas, corks or potatoes.

Scrap Yards Yield Raw Material for Artist’s Amazing Ray Guns

(Image: Ariel Zambelich/

Anthology of upbeat steampunk fiction from Singapore: Steampowered World

On IO9, Jess Nevins reviews The Steampowered World, a Singaporean anthology of steampunk short stories published by a "micropress" called Two Trees. The editors put out a call for upbeat stories ("No depressive ending, no preaching, no agendas, no angst-ridden misery."), noting that "depressive endings with angst‑ridden misery is prevalent here in local (Singapore) publishing. The bestsellers tend to be depressive woe is me cultural stories."

Judging by Nevins's descriptions, the result was a collection of impressive fiction that sounds well worth your while.

"Captain Bells and the Sovereign State of Discordia," by "scientist-turned-writer-turned-video-journalist" J.Y. Yang, is less traditional in a number of ways. About the pursuit and capture of the captain of a nation-state zeppelin by a pair of trackers in the employ of the Lord Overseer of the Malayan Colonies, "Captain Bells" takes several of the usual steampunk tropes and upends them: the trackers are lesbians rather than heterosexuals, steampunk's usual fetishistic obsession with imperialism is replaced with a disgust with the cruelty of imperialism, and the trackers ultimately join the revolutionary zeppelin captain and his independent country zeppelin rather than maintain the status quo. In less capable hands "Captain Bell" would have read as a programmatic paint-by-numbers story, but Yang's anti-colonialism, and the trackers' same-sex relationship, are nicely understated. For Yang, the story came first, and it shows.

Claire Cheong's "No, They Dream of Mechanical Hearts" is the story of a maker of "labori" (androids) and how one of labori achieves independence. Cheong's passion for social justice shows in her examination of how android servants might be treated, and her characterization of the protagonist is strong. "Mechanical Hearts" is not as smoothly told as the other stories in the collection, nor is the plot particularly complicated, but Cheong is 16 years old, and I think the story is impressive considering her age. She will be an author to watch in the future.

"How the Morning Glory Grows," by Mint Kang, a Singapore-based freelance writer, examines one possible way in which police work would be conducted in a steampunk Singapore. Hackers, mecha, bio-engineering morning glories, and overworked and underappreciated police populate the tale. "Morning Glory" is an entertaining combination of police procedural and steampunk which Kang treats with a light touch which enhances the story.

A Steampunk Anthology from Singapore — With No Misery Allowed

Premiere of sf movie that solicited steampunk props from Boing Boing readers

Ant sez, "Cory kindly posted about Dimensions, a 1920s/30s sci-fi drama filmed in Cambridge, England, when we were in pre-production. At the time we were trying to round up steampunk props for our main character's workshop. We are incredibly excited to announce our U.S. premiere! Dimensions screens on Saturday 18th February as the Closing Film for the 37th Boston Science Fiction Film Festival." Here's the trailer.

Steam-powered Stirling-engine toy car kit

This very beautiful working Stirling-engine steam-car model was made by the Germany company Böhm Stirling-Technik and sells for $500.

The stirling Car A1 (Thanks, Francesco!)

Steampunk Magazine is back!

Magpie Killjoy sez, "SteamPunk Magazine, the oldest-known journal of steampunk fiction and culture, has returned after a two-year hiatus. This 110-page issue covers everything from the fine art of urban exploration to how to sew a lacy cuff. There are articles discussing the girl gangs of New York City in the 19th century as well as our own Steampunk Emma Goldman's take on drunken history. We interview crafters, cellists, and producers of smut. Opinion pieces about steampunk and occupy. A serious-minded piece about airship pirates. As always, the magazine is produced under a Creative Commons license and is freely downloadable in addition to being available for purchase in print. We've also anthologized the first seven long-out-of-print issues, which had been featured here on BoingBoing, into a single, 450-page anthology." SteamPunk Magazine #8 (Thanks, Magpie!)

Steampunk playing cards

Theory11's $6 Steampunk Playing Cards are manufactured in concert with the American Playing Card company on custom bronze-effect paper stock. The cards feature machinelike illustrations and are really rather well done.

Steampunk Playing Cards - (via The Dieline)

Justin Bieber's Steampunk Christmas video

Cory, this is your fault.


Assemblage steampunk raygun

Mad clockmaker Roger Wood just sent these images of his latest creations around to his mailing list -- a sweet, simple assemblage raygun.


Teaser for upcoming graphic novel based on Karl Schroeder's Sun of Suns

Karl Schroeder sez, "This is a link to a teaser image for my upcoming reveal of the new graphic novel version of Sun of Suns, my far-future freefall steampunk pirate adventure. I'll be introducing the project, the artists and company--and the art--this Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. at the SFContario convention in downtown Toronto."

Previewing this Saturday... (Thanks, Karl)

HOWTO make a steampunk pumpkin

Brute Force Studios's Thomas Willeford wrote this great guide to steampunking your jack-o-lantern to make a "Steampunkin." Awesome.

Behold, the Steampunkin! (PDF) (via Neatorama)

Clockwork Fagin on Escape Pod

My steampunk YA short story, "Clockwork Fagin" (about the children who are mangled by the machinery of the industrial-information revolution, who murder the orphanage's cruel master and replace him with a taxidermied automaton that they use to fool the nuns who oversee the place), has been turned into a podcast by the good folks at Escape Pod, with musical accompaniment by Clockwork Quarter. It's a great reading, and the anthology the story appears in, Steampunk!, has just hit stands.

Monty Goldfarb walked into St Agatha’s like he owned the place, a superior look on the half of his face that was still intact, a spring in his step despite his steel left leg. And it wasn’t long before he *did* own the place, taken it over by simple murder and cunning artifice. It wasn’t long before he was my best friend and my master, too, and the master of all St Agatha’s, and didn’t he preside over a *golden* era in the history of that miserable place?

I’ve lived in St Agatha’s for six years, since I was 11 years old, when a reciprocating gear in the Muddy York Hall of Computing took off my right arm at the elbow. My Da had sent me off to Muddy York when Ma died of the consumption. He’d sold me into service of the Computers and I’d thrived in the big city, hadn’t cried, not even once, not even when Master Saunders beat me for playing kick-the-can with the other boys when I was meant to be polishing the brass. I didn’t cry when I lost my arm, nor when the barber-surgeon clamped me off and burned my stump with his medicinal tar.

I’ve seen every kind of boy and girl come to St Aggie’s — swaggering, scared, tough, meek. The burned ones are often the hardest to read, inscrutable beneath their scars. Old Grinder don’t care, though, not one bit. Angry or scared, burned and hobbling or swaggering and full of beans, the first thing he does when new meat turns up on his doorstep is tenderize it a little. That means a good long session with the belt — and Grinder doesn’t care where the strap lands, whole skin or fresh scars, it’s all the same to him — and then a night or two down the hole, where there’s no light and no warmth and nothing for company except for the big hairy Muddy York rats who’ll come and nibble at whatever’s left of you if you manage to fall asleep. It’s the blood, see, it draws them out.

MP3 Link