London Steampunk Market
This was last weekend’s excursion, so I’m going to list some of the makers I met there. It’s all amazing stuff, and there’s something paradoxically nihilistic about most of it: intricate and cumbersome devices that do nothing (sometimes without any moving parts) and jewellery made from discarded mechanisms. At least, I hope they were discarded—there should be some sort of steampunk’s pledge that they will never kill a living or repairable machine. No Downcycling Allowed. The combination of the care and joy in making with the unashamed rejection of function is really compelling. It’s not just the normal artist’s rejection of functional aesthetics, either – it’s a cooption & subversion of functional aesthetics, picking up the grammar of machinery and pasting it across our edgeless world, enforcing the rough-edged rust-prone defiantly legible aesthetics onto the It Just Works technology of today. I’d continue, but this post encapsulates the paradoxical nature of steampunk in a single image.
The largest and most complex pieces were from Herr Döktor, who was displaying a rifle, a Deco jetpack (so often steampunk is conflated with faux-Victoriana, but the biggest aesthetic influences are late-1800s watchmakers and Edwardian futuristic fantasies) and an “eternal teacup” featuring floral china, brass pipes, and dry ice.
Atome Fabrik had a display of beautiful & functional goggles, extraordinarily solidly made with good French optics. No compromises there, which is as it should be.
Scorch’s Pyrography is precisely what you’d expect, designs burned into wood & leather. I actually had to ask whether she did all of the work by hand, some of the pieces were so precise—and yes, she does, including some beautiful Wiccan pentacles and an expanding wooden-covered Book of Shadows.
I picked up some knitted brass ribbon from S&K Metal Fittings & Leathergoods, and even nearly a week later I keep picking it up to play with it. It’s just such incredibly tactile stuff, pouring and rippling. It’ll doubtless turn into something soon—I’m thinking a choker, a bracelet, and a hat band for one of these—but till then I’ll keep it handy to play with.
Also of note before we get to jewellery & costume, towards which I will quite happily admit a bias, were Alchemist Dreams (fine handmade & bespoke liqueurs, and I can vouch quite thoroughly for their quality) and the First Tea Company.
As you’d expect, there were a great many jewellers & costumiers there, with quite a diverse range of work. What I didn’t see, interestingly, were any masks (though I may well have missed some!) or any interesting teas. Really, rather a shame.
Dickens & Rivett, Purveyors of Unusual & Exotic Artifacts—beautiful costumes, too.
Coucou Heart—resin-enclosed text & geeky detailing, and shiny gearwork.
Purky Products—polymer clay, ceramics, & jewellery. I remember being rather struck by some ceramic bead pendants.
Templarcraft—trinkets with gears & keys.
Keys to the Kingdom—I honestly don’t remember what I saw at the market, but I adore the Owl-Powered Time Machine choker listed on Etsy.
Kitty’s Curios—keys, coins, & gears.
Enlyl—antique-finish metal, lace, pagan & bestiary motifs.
Prong Jewellery—Posture collars & lace-trimmed gauntlet cuffs.
House of Hirudinea—alternative fashion, “designed for decadence”.
L’Oublié—vintage & antique clothing & textiles.
If you were there too, and I’ve missed you off, leave a comment or drop me a line!