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The Steampunk Art of Recycling by Tonia Brown April 4, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in Being Green.
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The Steampunk Art of Recycling


Everything Old is New Again!


I’m sure you have heard lots and lots of interesting tidbits about helping the earth prosper by Going Green. Now, unless you’ve spent the last ten years in a cave, under a rock, in a hole, with your fingers in your ears and your eyes closed, then you should know that Going Green is the new way of saying, “Recycle your garbage if you know what’s good for you!”

As good little humans I am sure you’ve read the various FAQ’s on recycling and composting and reusing everything that passes through your hot little hands. You have those little color coded bins for your stuff, whether the law in your residential area requires it or not. You have a pile of lawn clippings happily rotting in your backyard. You might even have a box full of worms helping you break down some of your organic garbage. (It’s called vermicomposting. Google it!)

Point being, while I support all of those efforts, and highly encourage you to continue in your diligent fight against waste and excess, today I’m not going to go into yet another form of day to day recycling. Instead I am going to talk about a different kind of recycling. A fun kind of recycling! (Not that flipping a big steaming pile of rotten leaves a couple times a day isn’t all kinds of fun, but you get the idea. Yes?)

Let me take a side moment here to say that I love steampunk. (If you don’t know what steampunk is than check out this Link) I love the old world feel of the literature and movies. I worship the language and the clothing. And I just adore the gadgets and goggles.

Now it might seem like a bit of a non-sequester for me to bring up steampunk when we are talking recycling, but if you know anything about the genre at all then it makes perfect sense. Steampunk dedicates are the grand masters of the recycle. They prefer things that are old and broken and deemed useless by the rest of society. These things are gold to a steampunk lover, because they represent the chance to make something new out of something old.

A broken clock, for example, is often ravaged for its cogs and gears, which are in turn used to create other gear driven machinery, or, in most cases, end up adorning clothing and jewelry. Old welding goggles hit with a little copper paint and a few rivets here and there are transformed into a classic steampunk costume centerpiece. Ruined rings, busted necklaces, and worn out bracelets are all prime real-estate for strip down and repurposing. With a little spray paint and detailing, that worn out Nerf gun your nephew threw in the garbage can become a fantastic steampunk weapon.

As much fun as making doodads and gadgets can be, I find that clothing is a focal point of my refurbishing habits. An old button down shirt with the collar clipped away and the buttons replaced by repurposed jewelry pieces makes the perfect decorative Victorian blouse. Old knee high boots make amazing fingerless gloves when you clip away the foot portion. A pillow can be transformed into a simple bustle for your proper Victorian dress. And those worn-out, frilly bed skirts you’ve been thinking of throwing away can be turned into charming bloomers just by sewing them onto the bottom of a pair of old shorts. And if you can sew from scratch, just think of the possibilities! Sheets become shirts, curtains become skirts, and any old fabric you have can become anything you want it to be.

Sure you can buy a new outfit, but why when you have an entire outfit’s worth of things right in your own home? With a little elbow grease and a lot of creativity, you can turn pretty much anything you were planning on chucking into something with a steampunk beat. Just look around on the internet, great examples aren’t hard to find. Folks have refurbished busted typewriters into workable computer keyboards. Some take empty mint tins, strip them and then etch the blank canvas with beautiful works of Victorian inspired art. I have even seen adult ‘toys’ turned into super sexy ray guns! If your vibrator can find new life as a steampunk weapon delivering that much craved ‘little death,’ then anything is possible.

So get out there and scour the yard sales and flea markets and dumpsters and find the joy of turning something useless into something useful. Or at the very least, something nice to look at, and ogle over.

Happy crafting!

Tonia Brown


Tonia Brown is a regular contributor to the ezine Steampunk Tales, and the author of the erotic series Clockworks and Corsets, available from Lyrical Press. She also pens the serial steampunk western adventure, Railroad! found at  steampunktrain.blogspot.com

You can find out more about her and her other works at The Backseat Writer


I’d like to thank Ms. Brown for stopping by and sharing with us! I love seeing old items put to use again!

Don’t forget to check out the Being Green Giveaway for your chance to win some awesome books or swag!

Happy Reading,




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