The Little Things

Sometimes as a steampunk, I feel like a fraud.

At events, I admire the handiwork of my fellow enthusiasts. Many sew their own costumes, hammer their own metal, and build their own fanciful paraphernalia. As a (largely) undereducated maker, I can only slink past in my thrift-store fashion and craft-fair accessories.

Sure, I took sewing lessons as a child, but that was then. And “then” was a very long time ago. Time constraints also hamper my ambitions. All the time I’m not at work, I spend writing. If there’s a contest between finishing a chapter and stitching a corset, wordplay always wins.

Then recently, something occurred to me. Maybe for me, the joy of steampunk isn’t going to be all the big things I dream of making.

Maybe instead, it will be the small things.

This past Saturday, I gathered an assortment of trinkets: a leather cuff and a pin from the thrift store, remnants of an old necklace, some doilies. I challenged myself to make something with just these pieces. Something I could wear to my next steam event and honestly say I had made them with my own hands.

It took some experimentation. And some breathless moments of “Oh no! I’ve ruined it!” And some creative re-interpretation of my original ideas. But eventually, I wound up with two accessories I’ll be proud to wear. (After I get a clasp for that cuff!)

As it turned out, the little things were quite satisfying. Fun, even. I’m looking forward to my next “little thing” already . . . which (I’ve decided) will be vintage buttons for all my thrift store jackets.

My little things may not be as grandiose as what my friends can do. But they are what I can do.

Doing is the heart of steampunk.

* * *

What’s your favorite “little thing” you made recently? How do you deal with challenges to your DIY ambitions?

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