I just finished reading a great guide to creating your own “future antiques” by Thomas Willeford. Here’s the review I posted on Amazon:
The gouts of steam and mysterious clanking and grinding noises that emanate from the infernal workshop of Thomas Willeford, aka Lord Archibald “Feathers” Featherstone at all hours must intrigue his neighbors. What goes on in the mad scientist’s secret lair? Let’s sneak a peek.
Willeford, whose background includes an education in physics, Victorian history, and art, sets down easy to follow instructions on how to build eight gorgeous objects any steampunk worth his brass will treasure. In these pages, the author lends his considerable expertise in a way that allows the reader to assemble these “beautiful and slightly dangerous things” without the need for years of experience in machining, metal and leather working, or an engineering degree. We get detailed designs, as well as advice on how to engage our own creativity to make unique and personal objets d’art. My personal favorite are the “Aetheric Ray Deflector Solid Brass Goggles.” If you’re the tinkering sort, you likely have some of the necessary parts for the goggles lying around the house right now. Obviously, results may vary depending on the skill of the reader, but this stuff is fun regardless of the outcome.
The author provides handy lists of materials and tools needed for each project while keeping in mind that, unlike Lord Featherstone, most of us have neither a mad scientist’s workshop, nor an army of steam-powered mechanical men to assist us. There is a list of basic and inexpensive tools to get each job done, as well as a list of “alternative tools” for those who may have access to a better-equipped workshop.
There’s a chapter on how and where to scavenge parts for your projects, another on salvaging gears from old clocks, and more on how and where to find the right tools.
There are no hard and fast rules for creating steampunk objects. It’s an art, and these things can be functioning devices as well as Hollywood-quality props. Workmanship and quality are what set the real steampunk apart. Willeford steers us in the right direction with simple guidance such as using metal instead of plastic, screws instead of glue, and shows how it’s all done with clear color photographs of each project. There’s even a pretty good bibliography in the back for reading and viewing entitled “This Way Lies Madness.”
This is a beautifully realized maker’s guide as well as a thoughtful commentary on creativity from an accomplished artist.