Monday, August 26, 2013

A Steampunk Author Cosplays a Steampunk Author

For MetaCon this week, I am putting together a steampunk author costume, which will allow for many amusing double-entendres and allow me to shamelessly market myself. In preparation for MetaCon and a photoshoot I am doing tomorrow, I decided a genuine quill pen and ink were required for this steampunk author costume. I procured a pack of turkey feathers, some pen nibs, parchment paper, and a bottle of ink and set to work.

Alas, turkey feathers do not come with metal grooves that fit pen nibs so I adhered one in place by that tried-and-true steampunk method of gluing.

The end result was a functional dip pen ready to be put into use. As I scratched my way across the page, I felt very proper and elegant despite the fact that I was slobbing about in old shorts and a t-shirt and was about to head out into 90 degree heat to go running. Several minutes of work produced the following:

In the best of circumstances, my handwriting resembles what you would get if you dropped a caterpillar in ink, then allowed it to squirm across your page. Needless to say, results with a dip pen were less than optimal and resulted in uneven tracks of printed letters wavering across the parchment, some near invisible and some etched with heavy, thick lines.

Writing with a quill is also surprisingly hard on the hand: a turkey feather's dimensions along the shaft are significantly thinner than a standard ballpoint pen and much less amiable to squeezing. Thus you must hold it carefully, which puts a significant strain on your fingers.

This, however, is nothing in comparison to the sheer amount of manpower hours needed to compose a single page with a dip pen. I believe that over five solid minutes passed during the writing of this above page, a paragraph I could bang out in thirty seconds on a computer or under two minutes with a pencil. I momentarily envisioned how long it would have taken me to write Steam on the Horizon with a dip pen and paper, and the sheer overwhelming magnitude of the proposition was staggering. No wonder authors by tradition were drunkards: it was a defense mechanism against only having a dip pen to call books into being.

Captain Roberts is currently making a few new acquaintances in my office. The framed pictures are those novelty "face cut out" frames that one sticks one's head through a hole to make an amusing picture. These (and Captain Roberts) are bound for MetaCon where they will be part of a steampunk room party my assistant and I are hosting.

Erasmus is currently under my desk watching all the packing with a suspicious eye - he knows quite well that suitcases mean I will be leaving for an extended period. Today, he did me the supreme favor of nudging my brother off my computer and downstairs: Seth kept insisting on showing me videos of some seriously disturbed Russian man blowing up various objects with military-grade weapons while I had work to do. After several minutes of pleads on my part to regain my computer, Erasmus came to my rescue by farting lavishly in that noxious cluster-bomb that only a Basset Hound can produce. Seth took to his heels and escaped to the basement, leaving my computer alone.

Farting dogs aside, tomorrow I am hieing myself off to Lincoln for a photoshoot with a photographer who put out a call for steampunk models. I am desperately hoping the shoot will happen indoors as there is a head advisory tomorrow, but knowing photographers, the shoot will involve full sun for several hours. In a corset. And long skirts.........Oh well, I get free pictures out of it!

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