Old Treasures, New Eyes

Recently I blogged about my challenges as a steampunk maker with two left thumbs. Now, I’m under some serious creative deadlines.

With Teslacon approaching, I’ve been hoarding a kitty of costumes to transform me into my alter ego Valuria T. Englehart, temporal peregrationist and Victorian globetrotter extraordinaire. I was excited about fashion options I’d gathered at Goodwill, but even so, I had a nagging sense that I hadn’t quite hit my stride.

Then, yesterday, this DeviantArt photo came through my Facebook feed:

What a great idea, merging Eastern styles with Western industrialism!

That’s when it hit: My most authentic costume might not be traditional at all. And if dear Valuria trots the globe regularly, mightn’t her fashion sense reflect her travels?

Time for a trip to the attic.

You see, ten years ago I lived in Nepal, a small Himalayan nation sandwiched between India and Chinese-occupied Tibet. Winters there are cold. So when October winds began to blow, I hailed a tuk tuk to Durbar Square and ordered three woolen kurta (also called punjabis) sewn to my measurements by a local tailor.

I pulled them out this morning, exactly ten years later.

In addition to the miracle that they still fit, they’re 100% woven wool and meticulously handcrafted. (The photo doesn’t do justice to the shimmery peacock kurta I’m wearing. It shifts from green to blue depending on the light.)

Can’t you just imagine these with steampunk accessories? Maybe a wide belt with weapons and potions for time travel? Steamed-up bangles and those twinkly Turkish slippers I saw at Goodwill?

My finished costume will bear little resemblance to the photo that inspired it. But the simple geographic association helped me see an old treasure with new eyes.

I think I’m finally ready for TeslaCon.

What do you think?

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