Following the sheer awesomness of last year’s steampunk ball, and its associated crafting, I was keen to attend again this year. I had serious plans – my costume was going to be more awesome, my role-playing more full-blown – I even managed to drag a friend into the madness. But my number one goal this time around? Cogs and gears.
Last year, having no clock-innards on my costume made me feel a bit left out. This year, I was determined to accessorize with gears. My dilemma was that I had no idea where to find them. Op-shopping for old clocks proved futile – any gears were either plastic and nasty, or horrifically expensive. Jewellery shops looked funny at me when I mentioned “steampunk”. Model-railway shops were a little more fruitful, but their gears just weren’t pretty at all. Ebay was time-consuming and frustrating.
So, I went cruising the phonebook for watch repairers, and armed with a list of obscure addresses, I ventured forth. Sure, they’d look at me funny too, but it was worth a shot, right?
The watchmakers I encountered fit broadly into two categories: the Organised, and the Collector. The Organised watch repairers had frighteningly clean workshops, with containers of beautiful gears and other minuate of the watchmaking trade. When I asked if, maybe, they had some cogs or gears that I could buy, they gave me a Look and patiently explained that all the gears they had, they used for repairing watches. Duh.
The Collectors, at first glance, looked remarkably similar to the Organised; their shopfronts were just as orderly, their magnifying spectacles just as awesome. But when I inquired about cogs and gears, they looked thoughtful for a moment, then they popped out the back, or levered a dusty briefcase out from under the counter. “No cogs or gears,” they’d say, “but would these do?” And they’d present me with a modest pile of broken watch mechanisms. Some old, some new, all totally beyond repair, and all COMPLETELY AWESOME. When I replied that, yes, these would be perfect, and thank you, and oh my god (and just generally geeked the fuck out), and asked how much they wanted for them, they just looked at me funny. “Take them,” they said, “they’re just broken mechanisms”. And I would smile, and geek out again, and leave with a handful of broken watches.
Once I brought home my haul (gleaned from several very nice Collectors), I appropriated my Mum’s jeweller’s screwdrivers, and went to work. Did you know that some watch-screws are reverse-threaded? That when you try to unscrew them, you actually tighten them instead? I know. I learned. Eventually. And after many hours of cursing, squinting, and the sad demise of the smallest screwdriver, I had this:
SO FREAKING AWESOME.
After some determined embroidery and glueing, my accessories were now 100% more steampunk.
In addition, I made some earrings by the simple expedient of putting an existing earring through a cog. Since I have two piercings in each ear, they looked like this:
I also adapted a tie for my companion on this steampunk adventure, sewing cogs onto his sharp op-shop find:
* * *
I realise this post is now unfeasibly long. Nevertheless, a brief word on Olympia: A Steampunk Spectacular. It was ridiculously fun! I was given very little info about my character before the event (I was Miss Coxspring, an amnesiac outpatient of an asylum) but it soon became apparent that I was a genetically engineered psychic weapon who could read minds by having an “episode”. I was told by the game master that the better I roleplayed my fit, the more information I would receive. So I went to town on it, crying, whimpering and generally hyperventilating. As a result, I found out that the prisoners’ control collars were inactive, discovered people who were infected by alien parasites and uncovered Jack the Ripper (who was disguised as a Bishop).
If that weren’t enough, once during the evening, I could knock a whole bunch of people unconscious. I did this by screaming, loudly and repeatedly, and collapsing to the ground. I freaked out a whole lot of people that night. I also think I impressed the event organisers: “Most awesome scream ever!”, “My favourite Miss Coxspring, she set the standard for genetically engineered psychic weapons”.
It was a totally fantastic night, and I’m definitely going back next year.