Thursday, April 8, 2010

Steam punk

My son is into a new thing these days called "steam punk". If you saw the cartoon Atlantis you have an idea of what steam punk is about. Kids design costumes that would fit in with the characters of Atlantis or Around the World in Eighty Days. They do add modern twists, but the idea is sort of Progressive Era technology hooks up with fashion and sci-fi. It's very interesting.

Anyway, ever since he broke his X-box trying to modify it with hardware from China that he bought over the internet (there's a lesson learned ;-), steam punk cos play has been his new interest. Cos play is dress up for big kids, commonly associated with anime and sci-fi conventions.

It's really fun to see him work so hard on his creations. His first work of art was steam punk goggles, made out of an old baseball, gatorade lids, spray paint, clear plastic and a needle and thread. My daughter has always been the crafty one, so it was a new kind of cool to watch my son really get into this project. The end result is a pair of goggles that look like the ones early motorists wore.

This involved cutting the leather off of the baseball, spay painting it black, cutting and grinding smooth circles out of the gatorade lids, cutting corresponding circles out of the clear plastic and assembling the whole thing with hot glue gun, gorilla glue and needle and thread. I was impressed to see him pull it together. It took two days and a trip down the street to borrow some expertise and tools for grinding the gatorade lids smooth.

His next project was to buy a Nerf gun and modify it. It is hardly recognizable now. First he took it apart and messed around with it. Then he spraypainted the pieces and put them back together. He took apart an old PDA and used the keyboard, along with various pieces of miscellaneous metal from the nail bucket, to make it look extremely high tech. It really looks like it's made of metal, the sort of gun you might see in Hellboy or The Mask.

The final project was the sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who. He started out with an ordinary light pen, but modified it so that it has a lever on front. When you push the lever, it depresses the button on the end of the pen. He has also painted and decorated it so that it looks old yet high tech. Steam punk chic.

This Saturday is another cos play opportunity, and he will be decked out in all of his steam punk regalia. I can't wait. I'd post pictures but it might ruin my anonymity. You'll just have to use your imagination as best as you can.

This reminds me so much of my early days of home schooling, when projects and creativity abounded. His sister was home this weekend and she was even helping him with the paint special effects, to make the Nerf gun look not only metal but antique. They had their stuff spread out all over the kitchen table and they laughed and joked around all afternoon.

Home schooling is rarely that fun anymore, with Pre-Calculus and Spanish IV requiring some pretty intense study. So does chemistry, but that is still fun in a different way. He really enjoys the labs, but with sister gone to college it's just not the same.

Next year, he'll be dual-enrolling at community college for math and science. I hope to get a few other students to co-op with us for American and British Lits. I'll have to find some ways to throw some craft projects in the mix. I didn't realize how much I missed it until this steam punk bit came along.

Happy home schooling!


  1. Interesting. I had NO idea what steam punk was about. It sounds pretty interesting, and I have to admit I love costumes and such - one of my fave parts of, say, "Little Women" was the play they put on. Are you gonna put pics on FB?


  2. Sounds cool.

    I chaperoned my daughter's art convention and they always have costume night.
    One girl came dressed as an Avatar character. She looked just like one. So much so, your eyes just kept looking over at her. Her costume won first prize and no one disputed that.
    I wonder if what she did would be considered steam punk.

    I'm sad. Next week is a home school convention and I'm going in hopes to sell some of my homeschool books. They've been sitting around here collecting dust since I went back to work full time and sent my kids to public school.

    Funny, the books I'm not selling are the fun ones, the arts and crafts and creative ones. Holding onto those. Out of my four kids, at least one has gotta give me grandkids, right?
    And when they do, we're gonna have some fun!

  3. LOL I know what you mean about keeping the fun books! =)

    Some of my old home school books I should probably just throw away, to be honest. It seems a shame, though, since I spent good money on them. But I didn't even use them, so why would I want to put them back in circulation?

    Kind of like those ATI character books. One family who got out of it gave me their book because it was so pretty (leatherbound!) and nicely illustrated. I took it for the same reasons.

    But then it turned out not so useful, too preachy and shaming about every little thing. So, I put it on my shelf until...

    One day a visitor admired it, because it was so pretty (leatherbound!) and nicely illustrated. So I gave it to her.

    The only joy I get out of that is that it would tick BG off royal that a copy of one of his books is in the home of people who didn't pay him for it! haha That's probably a sin too. ;-)