In the middle days of my steampunk involvement, when the term ‘steampunk’ was still pretty new, I was reading the available books just to read a good story. I wanted an engaging narrative set firmly in the Future That Never Was. I just wanted to be entertained.
Once the online community started to grow in earnest, there was a chance to interact with people from around the US and in other countries. Ah, the joy and promise of the burgeoning internet – dial up modems, CompuServe, bulletin boards, and minimal graphics. Still, it was there and people in our community were starting to find each other.
It was when I started getting into steampunk with a real continued passion, attending Steamcon in 2009 and Nova Albion in 2010, and starting Airship Ambassador that my education, and sometimes re-education, started to, uh, pick up steam.
A word from the Ambassador. His website, http://www.airshipambassador.com, is a portal to multiple Steampunk realities, each rich with treasures.
Celebrate the creativity and sociability of Steampunk all year round, not just in February 😉
There was a tweet sometime this last year where someone said “Good luck getting a good job with that coat!”, meaning my Ambassador coat. I know it was meant as an insult, but all I could do was laugh at their attempt. The funny thing is that I already have a good job, and great coworkers who embrace my passion for steampunk. Not only does my boss encourage me to buy some fantastic boots for my outfits, and awesome hardware for my steampunk-themed guest room renovation, other people in the office often come up to me to share something they read or saw, saying that they thought of me, as well as how much fun they thought steampunk is.
And THAT is a big part of why we do what we do in our community. I love information and sharing it so it’s great fun for me to interview people…
Pyjamas. Shampoo. Candy. Doolally. Loot. Bungalow. Cushy. Junk.
These words are all part of daily English speech. (Doolally being a personal favourite.)
They wouldn’t have been part of the English language had they not been assimilated during the British presence in India during the 1900s.
It’s a perfect way to detect how interwoven the two cultures are. The impact of the Raj is a ripple in the global historical pond that hasn’t stilled to this day.
India, the Jewel in the British Crown, the spice in the English economy, the Empire its Empress never set foot in. This is where Steampunk India comes in. Steampunk is partly based on an avid love of history. Many Steampunks pride themselves on incorporating historically accurate aspects of the Victorian Era in their costuming, events or building projects.The genre has come quite a way from being mostly Western-centric, with costumes that only reflect the…
It was not until the Summer of 2008 I first heard the word ‘ Steampunk’. A friend had known about the movement and aesthetic and told me we were Steampunking. The description seemed quite odd to me. I understood the ‘steam’ referenced the steam that generated power for the machines and factories of the Victorian and Industrial Age. It was the word ‘punk’ that gave me pause. It brought to mind the more mischievous days of my youth in Marblehead, Massachusetts, but punk is a designation I thought I had outgrown a long time ago.
My wife, Melanie and I started our home restoration business, ModVic, short for Modern Victorian, in June of 2007. Our vision was to combine the best of the Victorian and Industrial ages by incorporating modern technologies and systems of today’s conveniences with Victorian elegance and design. The idea was…
I have great respect for this artist, whom The Scamp calls ‘the Old Chap’. Charmingly bonkers with a disarming streak of sanity, Professor Elemental writes for #SteampunkHands (Steampunk Hands Around The World 2015).
Being a grown up is hard. Mortgages, illnesses, car payments, credit card bills, parenting and politics; these are not activities for the faint hearted. So it’s no wonder that all of us seek some kind of escape from time to time. There’s the telly and the computer, sports and video games, a cornucopia of exciting drugs and new sexual combinations- all there to help ease the pressure of modern life. Still, some of us like to go that extra mile; for some of us, it’s not enough, to watch science fiction- we want to be science fiction. Why sit around imagining an outlandish fantasy when you could actually go out and live it for a while, or at least a fair approximation of it?
That, to me, is the joy of Steampunk. To don a metal arm, squeeze into an impossible corset or even just pop on…
“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” – Leo Tolstoy
In this final part of the blog trilogy for #SteampunkHands, I’d like to introduce you to a few of the members who have been inspired to create! So, for your enjoyment and in no particular order, meet the Tribe:
~ Louisa Doak, Illustrator ~
Mother of Rhuk by Louisa Doak
“I came across the Aether Nomads through the fascinating Navigatrix about a year ago, and have enjoyed playing there since. As an illustrator, I always love the challenge of a complex character, and what appeals to me about working with the Aether Nomads tribe is the chance to work with living characters, not confined to a static existence on the page. It makes the illustrative process very collaborative, I can tease out details with a quick email to develop into features of the illustration.”
The Navigatrix among the Aether Nomads by Louisa Doak
~ Empire Edibles ~ created a spicy, mocha hot chocolate blend, available as a solid stir into hot milk version, or a tinned powder. It was delicious and I’m sad to say that food laws prevented it being sold outside the UK…
“The Nomads travel through time and cultures, so it seemed natural to land myself in Morocco when it came to my contribution to the project. When one thinks of the art of tea, Britain is often conjured, perhaps even Japan. But the Maghreb region of North Africa is positively RICH in tea ceremony. To me, Steampunk is largely about immersing oneself in history, fantasy and daydreams all at once and this philosophy is one I tried to capture in my Moroccan Mint tea. Upon tasting, I wanted to take my guest on a journey through the aether and into the bustling streets of Marrakesh and Moroccan tea houses. This spirit of exploration is at the heart of the Aether Nomad project.”
“My name is Josué Ramos and I am a writer, editor and steampunk from Spain. After the first Steampunk Hands I learned a lot about multicultural Steampunk and how we writers can develop Steampunk in my culture and my country; but I also learned about Steampunk in other countries and cultures.
Since this last year, I am very interested in pushing the boundaries of Steampunk (Steampunk outside England or the Old West. In exotic places. Even in a lost colony at the other side of the universe). I think we should escape from clichés; so, I started to do it in my writings; and one of the best ideas came from the Aether Nomads Project.
I found a lot of inspiration thanks to The Navigatrix and the other members of the group, who post photos, drawings, pieces of text…I work with the group translating the most important announcements and documents to Spanish. But my first contribution was a novella: “Illusions”. It tells the story of Lidia, a Spanish girl from 1880 who lost her only child. After that, she found a young lost boy from the Aether Nomads tribe. A good friend of mine is working on translating it to English. In the meantime, I will try to publish it here in Spain. Wish me luck.”
(Good luck, Josué!)
~ Maharaj Neel Bhaga Singha aka Blue Millenium, Artist ~
Maour Devi by the artist BlueMillenium
‘Maour Devi, the Goddess of Victory, appears only to those who are seeking for Truth, showing the path towards new quests to our Aether Nomad adventurers.’
“Soaking in the Steampunk universe even before it bore this name, I am an illustrator specialising in ‘coffink’ and ‘teank’, the only inks capable of bearing the journey between the dimensions and my transformation into Tiger form (but that’s a story for another day).
Maharaj Neel Bhagha Singha, image courtesy of Tenhaku Photographie
I put forward Indianity and Oriental Vaporism generally and participate in the development and the understanding of the movement through Chitra Event.”
Sarah Chernik of Canada has been featured in the latest issue of Ladies of Steampunk magazine. She is a cosplayer, tribal bellydancer and writer. Her short story, ‘The Imuhagh Necklace”, is now available to read on the official Aether Nomads blog:
~ My husband surprised me with this drawing of the Rhuk Gliders, an aspect of the Aether Nomads’ identity, which was his original idea. This concept, that beyond the various airships of the Cloud Caravan were a protective flock of giant birds, with tribe members slung beneath in Faraday cage harnesses. There is more to this developing idea and you are most welcome to join the tribe and help to further the story!
~ Matt Inkel of ArcaneArmoury
Aether Nomad inspired crossbow design by ArcaneArmoury
I was delighted to receive this wonderful little crossbow as a gift, made by my brother Matt. (My inner child was delighted to discover that it also fires Nerf™ darts!) The arms spring out from a folded position upon pressing the catch. I must admit that I’d been badgering him to make an Aether Nomad item for a while but he has been rather busy. There is an #ANProject idea in the pipeline, but in the meantime, he will happily take commissions.
Finally, I just have to introduce you to ~ The Scamp.
Yes, this is our dear little Cogling! She has created her own character, who comes from a dimension called OddLand, is ‘half girl, half robot and half rat’, has a mechanical dragon and gets her powers from coconut juice. She was, apparently, discovered by the Aether Nomads and delivered to the care of the crew of ‘The Unpronounceable’ (of which my character is the navigatrix). I’m so happy to have my family be a part of this adventure, too!
Toward the future
We are looking to establish Aether Nomad tribes (groups) in various countries, led by active, enthusiastic and reasonably organised group members who would have the title of AN Ambassador. Before this can really take off though, the admin are working towards a more comprehensive Foundation document, explaining the key concepts and making sure that the Aether Nomads stay firmly in the realm of Steampunk.
Perhaps one day we will have small groups of Nomads attending conventions and setting up tea tents; graphic novels featuring appearances or perhaps solely focussed on their adventures; tribal bellydance troupes performing using this as a theme; all kinds of handmade costume and accessories available; short stories; music. Oh yes, please, let there be music.
We would love to hear from you – your feedback, your ideas, your questions.
“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us.” ~George Eliot
The story of the Aether Nomads grew until I realised that it was similar to a Character Type in a role-play game! Having noticed a few Neo-Bedouins and other arabesque looking characters on the Steampunk scene, I decided to offer the idea of a coherent fictitious tribe which, through their propensity to travel through dimensions and even time, would fit subtly or blatantly into any setting, whether leaning more to the historical or wildly fantastical extremes of Steampunk.
The crux of the concept of the Aether Nomad is the blending of art and science and the opportunity to share a visually and, dare I say it, spiritually interesting experience. The intention to share this idea to ignite inspiration and co-creation became The Aether Nomads Project and it was born out of the first Steampunk Hands event.
This idea attracted two wonderful people who have become administrators of the Aether Nomads Project. They also happen to be Steampunk and cosplay models. Introducing Al Kymaris and Catherine Moon:
Al Kymaris (of France) plays the Aether Nomad Alchemist ‘Al Khemeti’ (a character who existed before being brought into the project) who is featured in the first ‘Tales of The Navigatrix’.
“Catherine approached me on Skype and talked to me, she was speaking about the Steampunk Hands Around the World Project. She asked me to write a little paper about my Aether Nomads experience, and I was just like, I have to write only one page, because I will speak a lot about it but at the same time I was like traveling through time and the space and I came back to the day when Sally contacted me.
She was talking about tagelmust, LARP (Live-Action Role Playing games), and I was just left with a strange feeling, as if I’d dreamt all this before. At this time I was working on my French project of an oriental LARP tribe traveling through space and time (Asteria Karavan). And couldn’t beleive it! I had been thinking about the same thing for a while in France and Sally (in England) had come up with a similar idea.
It was like a powerful feeling of joy to realise that an idea can be shared miles away and also to be invited to a great inspiring idea of sharing it all over the world. I immediately said “YES!”. I knew that Sally was defending something very strong and something that I have been fighting for my whole life.
I’m born from eastern tribes, my mother was one of those Amazigh, people living between the Nile Valley to the Mauritany desert. Since my childhood when I was playing video games, I tried to make some Arabian merchant characters, even in table top RPG I was always exploring multiculturalism for interaction. In the end, when I came to Steampunk, I did a Neo-Bedouin Egyptian inspired outfit.
I was defending an oriental fantasy, because one I was bored of elves and dwarfs and I was having more fun with djinns and sand mirages but also because it was part of me. And that was my interest in the group. Promoting this culture, my culture, through the veil of fantasy (magic, steampunk).
First we wrote a part of The Navigatrix’s Journey, therefore I became the first Aether Nomad and in the story the oldest one. Since Sally-Ann founded the project, I joined her as an administrator and take it seriously. I want to make proper things for this project, so I’ve tried to work a lot recruiting new Nomads in France and to merge my own project of Karavan with the Aether Nomads Project.
I’m enjoying both of them and I have come to build up stories for my character, for the group but also for my work as a Photo model.
Finally, I was inspired by myself for go on a lonely path of oriental fantasy, at last I’ve found friends who shared the same passion for this side of Steampunk and I give my energy for making us at least known for our story. That’s how legends become true, no ?”
Catherine Moon (The Netherlands)
The Mother of Rhuk played by Catherine Moon, photo courtesy of Slivercreations
“I’ve been rolling around the fantasy scene since 2006 and I never really realized how much fun it would be to make your costumes from scratch. Normally I’d wander around shops until I found a piece that was fitting with the idea in my head, add some accessories and voila! Costume done. When I met Suna Dasi from Steampunk India at Castlefest in 2013, (thanks for introducing us Cpt. Bashford!) we immediately hit it off. We got talking and I was so inspired by her use of the Indian culture mixed with Steampunk. She introduced me to The Navigatrix (Sally-Ann) and it felt like it was meant to be.
There already was this multicultural Steampunk idea in my head for years but I started with playing it safe by making my Western-Native American inspired character. It was so much fun to do, that I dared take on the next challenge that Sally-Ann was offering me; join The Aether Nomads Project. Now I am a wandering spirit, as I have been all my life, so to call something home was a big thing for me personally. We talked more and more, and she also introduced me to Naós Al Kymaris. Unknowingly I already had one of his beginning Bedouin characters stored in a picture map with inspirational pictures. I was over the moon. Discussions of character designs, The Compessence, Vocations and the whereabouts of our tribe began. Because of our creative minds it really felt like a huge playground where we would show each other little bits of ideas that would spark somebody else’s mind into a full blown character, a new story or painting by one of our members. We even have some edibles nowadays! How amazing is that.
What I’ve learned so far is that there is no limit to one’s imagination, and by helping each other you are all growing together, as one big family tribe. I feel at home like I never have before. Learning about the Arabic culture has been fantastic, and the stories from Naós are amazing to hear. He helps us pronounce words and the names we use, which is of great help to us foreigners.
The character I came up with is the Mother of Rhuk. She makes the spiritual connection between the Rhuk (mythical gigantic birds, well known in Arabic culture) and the Gliders. When they are born, she connects the egg with the human and sees to it that they grow fit and strong. Once they are of age, they will help protect the Cloud Caravan. The only side note is that once Glider or Bird dies, the other dies as well. Thus making sure that the connection is never ending and always comes full circle.
The Mother of Rhuk meditates… Photo courtesy of Photorific.net
My workshop is mostly in my head and I love finding people who can help me out with creating my ideas. I cannot wait to learn more and more, so I can make most of the things myself! (Honestly, I’m having so much fun with it, I can’t really call it work) What I do for the AN is live entertainment by going to festivals or other events, I do photo-shoots and am the secretary of the group. Most of my ‘work’ consists of background stuff that is not visible for the public. I thoroughly enjoy it though!”
If you might be interested in joining The Aether Nomads Project, you can email us at email@example.com or leave a comment here!
In Part 3, we’ll introduce you to some of our most enthusiastic group members and showcase some of the wonderful creations that have materialized in this, the Project’s first year.