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Steampunk: Dirigibles and sprockets and bustles, oh my!

It’s an exciting week at UsedEverywhere, because we’ve just launched a verycool new category on all the Canadian and UK sites: steampunk.

What is steampunk? Ohhhh, I’m so glad you’ve asked. Steampunk is a cool term for the genre of science fiction that has a Victorian feel or setting, and can now be recognized in pop culture from movies like Sherlock Holmes I and II (and even Wild Wild West though the movie itself was horrid). If you see a woman in evening gloves, a long velvet frock, and a fascinator made of brass cogs and LED lights, you’re looking at steampunk. The movement has also invaded design, showing up in everything from scrapbooking stickers to furniture pieces.

I recently met the maven of Canadian steampunk, Lee Ann Farruga, and asked her to walk us through it in detail. You’re going to love this category on the site, both for hunting treasures and for posting treasures…and coolest part of all, there’s a major upcycling component to this movement. But on with the interview!

Q. What is your name and your steampunk affilitations?

A. My name is Lee Ann Farruga, aka Countessa Lenora, aka the Canadian Queen of Steampunk. (And mistress of Steampunk Canada, as well as Steampunk Ottawa.)

Q. How long have you been into steampunk?

A. I have been into steampunk in its current incarnation since 2008

Q. Steampunk is a broad term, but how would you define it in a nutshell?

A. In a nutshell I would say it’s based on Victorian science fiction. It’s a love of the Victorian and Edwardian aesthetic combined with new and futuristic technology.

Q. How did you first connect with steampunk?

A. I first connected with steampunk when I was quite young and it was simply Victorian science fiction.  I have always had a love for literature of that period and grew up reading Verne, Wells, Conan Doyle and others, and watching films that included 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, The Time Machine, First Men on the Moon, and so on.

Q.What are a couple of the coolest steampunk creations you’ve seen?

A.  That’s an incredibly hard question to answer. There are a huge number of great creations out there.  Let’s just say two of my favourites are the beholder by Daniel Proulx and Neverwas Haul (steampunk moving house).

Q. How does reusing and recycling factor into steampunk?

A. Reusing and recycling are a huge part of steampunk.  Tinkers and inventors search second hand stores, junkyards and even their neighbour’s refuse for parts and pieces for their creations.  Recycling was also a huge part of Victorian everyday life.

Q.Tell us about Steampunk Canada:

A. Steampunk Canada is a national organization created to bring together all steampunks across Canada. It is a place for steampunks to find their local groups, local events, artisans, and steampunk news.

We are working to promote steampunk in a variety of venues including a number of blogs and websites, social media, local events and conventions, large and small. We have brought steampunk to the attention of publishers and major media companies an

d we are campaigning to bring this community and genre to the attention of all Canadians through more conventional exhibits.

Q. Do you have to be a hardcore dress-up steampunk to go to events?

A. Absolutely not!  We encourage everyone to join in, dressed up or not.  We want all those who love the genre/community to get involved and have fun.

Q. For people looking to post in the steampunk categories, what kinds of things might the average person post in there that would be useful? (ie. victorian furniture, medicine bottles…????)

A.One could post just about anything that is made of brass, copper, bronze; is Victorian or Edwardian in age or style; also anything electrical and/or mechanical; and definitely any antiques, furniture, old bottles, old scientific equipment, expedition equipment, Victorian or Edwardian clothing or accessories, picnic baskets…. I could go on and on.

Check out the steampunk category on your local UsedEverywhere site. Remember, steampunk’s aesthetic is essentially ‘Victoriana meets time machine’, so there’s potential for a lot of gems to be posted in the category! We hope to have some of Steampunk Canada’s members share photos of the treasures they create with their UsedEverywhere scavenges.

Even if you, yourself are not a steampunk fanatic, it’s going to be an intriguing movement to watch. I can tell you that steampunk has invaded our house slowly over the last two years, and Brian is now in love with the fashion side. I won’t be surprised if I eventually end up in a bustle, corset, and copper cog-and-wheel jetpack.

And be sure to check out Steampunk Canada…if you’re a sci-fi nerd like Brian, I guarantee you’ll have found your mothership. (Okay, me too…shhhh.)

Jordan Kent-Baas is co-author of the award-nominated blog Project: Priceless—The Free Wedding Experiment, and Project: Priceless—the NEST (the newlywed experience). The wedding experiment harnessed the power of social media to create a 140-person wedding for virtually no cost, while the NEST chronicles Jordan and Brian’s experience as frugal newlyweds. She is a social media fanatic who works in marketing and communications, and aspires to one day be a full-time author. Jordan lives with her fat senior pug and her sweet handsome husband, Brian; she has a passion for crafting, and exploring new activities around the city. Jordan has a dream of one day being a really good cook…in the meantime, she keeps a frozen pizza on hand just in case. You can connect with Jordan via her blogs at, on Facebook at, or on twitter, under her handle @projectpricelss.

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