Steampunk Hands Around the World 2016

steampunk_hands_ Araceli_Rodríguez


artwork by Araceli Rodriguez


A Few of my Favourite Things

by Sally-Ann Livingston ~ aka The Navigatrix

Whenever anyone asks me to pick favourites – be it films, books, music etc., I always struggle to line up my likes in linear fashion and see who ends up at the front. With me, it’s more of Sphere of Wonder containing circles made up of concentric lines and divided blurrily into categories. So when the Ambassador once more invited me to be a part of this wonderful celebratory event and unveiled the theme, so many things rushed forth for my attention that it has taken me months to think about what to include.

Steampunk can be a family activity.

One person sprang to mind immediately however – my brother Matt. I wouldn’t be writing this without him, nor would I have explored the Steampunk realm so thoroughly. He and I set up Etsy shops at almost the same time. We’ve always been the kind of siblings who are best friends. We live near each other and often bounce ideas off each other. He’ll find me bits from the charity shop to upcycle and I’ll give him jewellery findings or sewing tips. We often share a stall at Steampunk events and have a great laugh together.


At ‘Steampunk Stamford on a Train’, Nene Valley Railway

Matt isn’t the only family involved, however. My husband and our daughter have been swept up in the steam, creating their own characters who are unrelated to mine yet part of the same crew – the crew of the Gargantuan Class Airship “The Unpronounceable”.

Steampunk encourages storytelling

‘The Scamp’, now 7, is creating a rich story around her character which includes brass dragons, magical coconut milk (allowing her to simply assume the form of what seems to be a young girl), being a tinkerer and ship mechanic, stealing fudge and concocting plans over a Steampunk luncheon, with Dr. Cornelius Porridge, for powering airships with unusual fuels. Mr. M(echanically) C(ivilised) Norbert, dwarf pygmy gorilla (and we like to think, Geoffery’s distant cousin) won the competition for best Steampunk pet. Though as he was mind-linked to Professor Noodles at the time, I rather think it was our dear prof who may have been the pet…

Stories are a large part of my products too. Each piece of jewellery and every accessory conjures ideas and images as I make them. One line of tribal steampunk products got rather over-excited and an entire fictitious culture was created, giving rise to The Aether Nomads Project.


Sal1 wmYcopy

photos courtesy of Alternate History Photography

This collection of images is a highlight for me. Holding props created by ArcaneArmoury (yes, Matt’s shop), a costume based on my design and created by Wiserabbit (TheWiseRabbit on Etsy, headscarf and necklaces by myself, make-up and photography by Alternate History Photography


I do hope that tattybustles catch on!

Abi of Wiserabbit is a wonderfully talented lady whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for years, having met at LRP, and count among my most treasured friends. How wonderful that through twenty years of Live Roleplaying to have met such wonderful people, a few of whom also dally in the delight of Victorian inspired science fiction fantasies.


Images taken at Asylum 2015, in the grounds of Lincoln Cathedral

Matt and I were fortunate to enjoy the company of the lovely Genevieve last year at Asylum. I marvel at the last few years and – permit me a little name dropping -am so proud of these images, with costume and props by people who have costumed and Professor Elemental and taken by the photographer who is one of the Steamgirls. I’m a little starstruck.

Mainly though, I am honoured to work collaboratively with such talented and really lovely people.

Steampunk is all about creativity and  cooperation


This is why we love crowdfunding

Steampunk music

Here are a few examples, the three albums that I’ve thrown a few pennies at (as have hundreds of others) in order to help these wonderful artists manifest their dreams right into our eager, waiting ear’oles. 😉 Somehow or other, I have a tangible connection with all three which is so very meaningful to me. Not wishing to come across as egotistical but don’t we all love it when our lives directly influence something that gives us pleasure and a sense of achievement?

With Steampunk, it is all very up close and personal in the nicest possible way.

I need to list a few favourites in brief and in no particular order before I find myself writing a book rather than a blog post (that Sphere of Wonder grows each day!)

The costuming – goggling at other folks amazing attire!

The contraptions – especially those made with imagination and ingenuity, of whatever skill level.

The community – I love feeling that I’m a welcome part of something that celebrates diversity. *Shout out to Lincoln Steampunk Society!*


Necklace by TheNavigatrix with etched elements by ArcaneArmoury (plus added Spoons!

Speaking of diversity, Steampunk offers a warm welcome to those of all nationalities, ages and abilities and is a wonderfully accessible hobby/lifestyle.

It is this broad scope which have allowed me to offer two opportunities for ‘creative socialising’ :

The Aether Nomads Project – a free global community art project based on the concept of a nomadic Steampunk Tribe. Here’s our Facebook Page and our Blog

This is one of my favourite things because of the wonderful people involved who have taken my little idea and run with it! I love sharing ideas 🙂 *Waves a glove to fellow Nomads*

Steampunkable – this is really quite new. Inspired by the clever modifications to wheelchairs, mobility scooters, braces and other aids that I’ve seen both at events and online, I decided to start a group for those of us dealing with disabilities and/or chronic illness and doing it Splendidly! If you’d like to join the group, put your request in here.

I myself have wonky collagen (aka Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic disorder) among a few other labels. This is why you’ll see my work appear in bursts and then hear nothing for a while. Steampunk and online shopping platforms allow me to craft a life for myself that is sympathetic to my physical needs and fun for all the family. I can work from home, yet Skype and message friends across the globe. I can work within my abilities and pace myself (which I’m rather good at, unless I get carried away writing long blog articles…oops.)

If you pushed me to answer what is my Favourite thing about Steampunk, it would have to be…


image courtesy of Pixabay


It is the people who are drawn to this creative playground, this cognitive casserole, this celebration of Splendidness who make it what it is. Yes, we’re all human and sometimes we don’t play together as nicely as we could but the value we put on community and good manners means that we keep this engine oiled and running smoothly most of the time.

It is simply a pleasure to be in your good company.

Wishing you a happy Steampunk Hands Around the World month,

Sally-Ann ~aka The Navigatrix

To see what else is happening for Steampunk Hands this month, visit The Official Link List





Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 – Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop – Part 2

“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:

Model: Kymaris
Model: Kymaris

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

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

The Mother of Rhuk meditates… Photo courtesy of

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!”


Thankyou, both.

If you might be interested in joining The Aether Nomads Project, you can email us at 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.

Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 – Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop – Part 1

“One can never be quite sure where, exactly, one might find oneself…”

This year, I’m excited to be able to introduce to you a global Steampunk art project that every member of this splendid genre, whether they consider themselves ‘artistic’ or not, is invited to join. We are all creative in how we express ourselves, through the words we choose, the way we move, the things we wear and use. The genre of Steampunk gives us an expansive playground in which to explore and have adventures!

I’ve quite a lot to share, so I’ve written this post in three parts. Allow me to begin with a little background…

The Navigatrix didn’t really exist this time three years ago. She was merely a collection of costume ideas, a character without even the familiar game rulebook to guide her emergence through imagination to reality. I was just following an inner pull, the mesmerising lure of creation.

My experience in storytelling grew through books and television, through films and tabletop roleplaying games, expanding out into the field (literally) of Live Roleplay. Here I found that I could immerse myself in a character and explore aspects of my own personality. Art therapy for a curious soul.

Then I discovered Steampunk (really not all that long ago). It was somehow familiar and yet strange at the same time. The rulebooks had gone out the window, I had no idea what to do with the character that was fast collecting a wardrobe but still that powerful intuition drew me towards creating for the love of it. I found a new outlet for my art, that had been quietened by years of teaching and the blessing of new motherhood.

I made a feathery clock-hand hairclip for my costume and the thought stuck me that I could make and sell these. My brother Matt guided me to Etsy and suddenly, my shop had a name and my character had a purpose! TheNavigatrix opened on 14th February 2012. A story began to form (and is still being written); my shop began to fill up as inspiration flowed. One day, I created some items that deviated from my usual English Neo-Victorian and Steamgoth styles. I was inspired by tribal fashions and suddenly began to see a very few examples of multicultural Steampunk costumes.

As I create, I often simultaneously make up snippets of story about the characters who might use the items that I make. These invariably make their way into the item descriptions in my shop. These tribal Steampunk pieces inspired a whole race! The Aether Nomad range grew…and then it grew some more.

A serendipitous meeting with the couple behind Prior Attire led to some of my work being featured in their ‘Steampunk Amazones’ shoot, as the Neo-Bedouin costume coincided beautifully with the Aether Nomad concept.

Last year, I decided to share this idea to inspire others, so when Suna Dasi of Steampunk India asked me if I would like to join in a new event called Steampunk Hands Around the World, I said yes! I was soon after contacted by two wonderful people and The Aether Nomads Project was born….

tumblr_nie4mwKhqt1s0ch6bo1_500This year sees a new theme for this event. How appropriate to describe the international, co-creative art project that it helped give rise to! This project has become much larger than simply an extension of my work, in fact, in order to let it grow I have had to push aside ego and let go the idea that a main reason it exists is to help my own sales…we all encourage members to create for the sake of it, for photography, for display, for performance. Of course members can create items for purchase, but that is not the main drive behind the project. So, from a personal perspective first, let’s look at this year’s theme:             

§§§ My Playground §§§ 

This is my chosen work but I laugh to call it a job! Steampunk is just so much fun! I’ve found some likeminded folk to play with and I couldn’t be happier. What is ‘play’ in the context of Steampunk? To me, it means giving myself permission to explore ideas, be inspired by history, the art and design of other cultures and the current explosion of Steampunk culture…then to put that through the filter of my own creativity. It is all about exploring who you are and finding people who understand where you’re coming from is one of the greatest gifts of this genre. 

AetherNomadPortfolio1§§§ My Classroom §§§

Don’t quiz me on history. It isn’t my forté. My memory is quite glitchy too. However, through meeting new people and reading blog articles, I’ve come to understand certain aspects of our human story a little better. Steampunk has introduced me to information I would never have found out otherwise. My work is firmly based in the realms of fiction but I find inspiration from the teachings of others. I’ve been introduced to such things as the legend of Tin Hinan, the art of Tribal Bellydance (no, I haven’t joined a class, just used some tips at a LRP event once!) and learned how to tie a tagelmust (the headscarf).

Aside from historical facts, this genre is a conduit for bringing many kinds of learning. I lean toward a spiritual and holistic way of perceiving life and in this area too, I have gained from my growing circle of dear Steampunk friends. At the core of this concept is a basic idea, explored already for years in the realms of science-fiction and fantasy, that of a Multiverse.

How interesting, then, that today’s science is beginning to explore such concepts as being potential realities. The film “What the Bleep Do We Know?!” first made me aware of this shift in awareness.

Cygnus Review on Ervin Laslo’s book ‘Quantum Shift in the Global Brain’, 2008, states:
“Science’s cutting edge now views reality as broader, as multiple universes arising in a possibly infinite meta-universe, as well as deeper, extending into dimensions at the subatomic level. Laszlo shows that aspects of human experience previously consigned to intuition and speculation are now being explored with scientific rigour and urgency. There has been a shift in the materialistic scientific view of reality toward the multidimensional worldview of multiple interconnected realities long known by the world’s great spiritual traditions.”

Steampunk and by extension, The Aether Nomads Project, explores our inner realities in a way that we can express through imaginitive interpretation, which crosses language barriers and becomes, in and of itself, a form of communication.

§§§ My Workshop §§§

Like many small businesses, mine has begun on the dining room table.

Mr M.C. Norbert, dwarf-pygmy gorilla, keeps an eye on my work. (M.C. stands for Mechanically Civilised)


 My home isn’t very Steampunk. It is calming to step away from it from time to time, which gives me all the more momentum when I do dive back in. Yes, there are little touches here and there, like the modified toy gorilla, a joint family effort. The Scamp was delighted when Mr. Norbert won First Prize in the Steampunk Pet Competition at Steampunk Stamford on a Train (aka STOAT).

Then there’s the artwork on top of my little unit. It is an Aether Nomads Project piece called ‘Rust Flower’ and was painted by a friend, the artist John Void (find him on Etsy) and sent as a surprise package!

WS4 WS6So now you’ve had a little tour around my playground, classroom and workshop, it is time to move on to Part 2 where I will introduce you to my international co-creators.

Do take a moment to ask questions or leave comments, thankyou. Discussion opens doors…

~ Sally-Ann




Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015 – Thoughts on this year’s theme, by Suna Dasi

From the lovely lady who originally invited me to participate. I love the Clockwork Watch project and look forward to reading more…

Steampunk India

The time is upon us again. The time to give a show of Hands and make a global statement for Steampunk everywhere. To celebrate and enjoy all its different forms, expressions and cultural interpretations.
Last year saw the birth of this new initiative by Kevin D. Steil and the central theme revolved around Friendship and Community.
This year’s theme is Steampunk: Our Playground, Our Classroom, Our Workshop.

(Image from

Steampunk India is happy to be a participant again this year and will contribute through releasing exclusive fiction during February.
It was written for The Clockwork Watch Transmedia project as part of The National Maritime Museum’s celebration of the Longitude Act, thereby perfectly combining the whimsy of Steampunk, its historically overlapping points with Maritime and East India Company history and presenting this to the public through interactive events and exhibitions.

For details, follow the Airship Ambassador’s blog, which will be…

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