Culture Alt Delete

Posted in culture, transhumanism on November 4th, 2010 by Samuel Kenyon

Now published on h+ magazine: my article “Culture Alt Delete: Steampunk and Transhumanism.”

The expanding threads of steampunk are statements of what could have been, nostalgia for a retro-future, and false memories of an alternate history.

Read more…

Image credit: Don Pezzano (modified by Sam Kenyon)

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The Steampunk Hat, or Phineas Huxley Rides Again

Posted in making and hacking on November 2nd, 2010 by Samuel Kenyon

I have resumed costume hacking. For Halloween this year I made a steampunk hat and some armor.

Dr. Phineas Huxley returns

Although not shown in the above photo, I did of course have my steampunk gun to go along with it.

The Hat

Top hats are a mainstay of the Victorian Age inspired steampunk genre, and I desired one. However, I don’t recall ever seeing a top hat that was modified or contained anything.

So this was an experiment to see if I could make a top hat that has steampunk style above and beyond being simply a top hat.

The interior is illuminated (with LEDS) which makes it look great in the dark.


I think the design worked out well, given that both people who have heard of steampunk and those who hadn’t liked the hat.

very shiny


And this is what it looks like with lightwire inside instead of LEDs:

The Armor

I did not actually finish this armor yet.  Here is what I have so far.

very shiny armor

One problem with this is that the shoulder piece keeps sliding down, especially if I’m dancing.  So I’ll have to rig another belt or something.

the circular part came from a can of tea

the steam cuff

So, overall it was a fun costume, but I still need more armor, and it’s totally lacking in gears and gauges.


As with hobbyist robotics, here hot glue is your friend.  Velcro is very useful too.

Here are some behind the scenes photos.  Click on the thumbnails for large images.

The hat was, quite literally, “roll your own.”  The bottom part of the hat is my Fedora, which has survived numerous dance adventures.

hat chimney

hat chimney (exterior side)

chimney lid (bottom)

chimney lid (top)

opening it up

LED lamp mount (no glue so it can be changed out easily)

alternate light: three strobing 4' lightwires

The steam cuff is a piece of aluminum with Gorilla tape covering the edges, which prevents cutting/scratching.  The brass strips are…brass strips…hot glued on.  The soft foam part for my arm was a beer cooler.  The metal part is fastened with velcro which makes this very easy to put on / take off.

inside the steam cuff

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My Foray into Steampunk Style

Posted in making and hacking on November 2nd, 2010 by Samuel Kenyon

My initial attempt in 2009 at a steampunk costume was not that impressive from a distance, but I think it definitely was in the genre.

photo of Sam Kenyon as Dr. Phineas Huxley (steampunk), Halloween 2009

Dr. Phineas Huxley, Halloween 2009

My steampunk alter ego’s name is Dr. Phineas Huxley.

This vest is pretty awesome. It was made in the 20s or 30s (I think).

In hindsight, I realized I spent way too much time on the little details of the gun and some other details like the kind of chain in the vest.

Steampunk / teslapunk gun

A few people will inspect and appreciate those details, but none of those really matter at a night club costume party.  The conclusion: you have to have some big and/or shiny stuff that can be seen from a distance and places you in the steampunk genre as well as some detailed props/parts.

Clubbing like it’s 1894

If you look closely you can see me in this photo.

Bloodfeast V

A word of advice: making an awesome costume that you can dance in is difficult.  I did alright, but the gun holster was very flimsy and started to fall apart.  Also a part of my gun fell off at one point.  I will let you make up your own joke about that.

My First Steampunk Festival

In April 2010 I went with almost the same costume to a steampunk festival at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.  It was quite interesting to see the wide variety of steampunk styles and some really wacky props.

Dr. Phineas Huxley in front of some infernal machine

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