Usually when I think of Steampunk makers, I envision people building things like ornate keyboards, or corsets with light–up buttons, or possibly mechanical claws that dispense exact change. I don’t see a lot of people doing things on an automotive scale, which always surprised me, considering the car culture that pervades much of the United States. Oh, sure, there are a few things, like the Golden Mean (http://formandreform.com/wordpress/?page_id=388) the glorious Snail Art Car, and certainly, one can make an argument that after the Neverwas Haul (http://www.obtainiumworks.net/neverwas-haul/), anything else would be second best.
However I now realize that I was just not looking in the right place. I discovered a periodical, called Rat Rod Magazine (http://ratrodmagazine.com/), which celebrates not just cars, but a particular sub-culture that builds these amazing steampunk looking vehicles that have obviously just smashed their way through a giant robot as they were escaping from some future apocalypse. I’m sure a lot of the folks who build these things would look at me like I was insane if I said their cars were ‘steampunk’, but whether they know it or not, they embrace a lot of what I consider to be the steampunk esthetic. You look at these vehicles, and you can see how they work. How they’re put together. When someone has a clever idea, they don’t hide it behind a firewall, they elevate the thing so it’s sticking up where everyone can see it. They are constantly re-engineering things that you would think people had worked out decades ago, and indeed they had, but these people look at things with a fresh eye and an understanding of new materials and techniques. They are cars built by tinkerers.
They also embrace the idea that a machine that looks like it’s been hard used is more exciting than a machine that looks like it just came out of the box (one of the few things George Lucas got right). Thus, these cars look old. They look like they have been in a fight. They spend time developing patinas and artistically applied rust spots that you’d expect to find in some World War 2 relic that had been discovered in a desert somewhere. These things are works of art. Just google image ‘rat rod’ to see more.
Heard from the jolly folks at TopatoCo, who are handling our Volume 12 Kickstarter fulfillment, that they have over a third of the orders out the door. That’s pretty good work, considering there were close to 4000 backers, plus they’re running an already busy webstore during the Holiday Season. (It is a great place to find something unusual for that odd person you know [http://topatoco.com/])
The weather wizards warn that we might actually have a touch of snow next week, which would be rather jolly (I know that roughly three–quarters of our readers from the U.S. hate me now). We didn’t get any snow at all last year, and The Experiments were forced to try sledding on gravel, which was just pathetic.