Springingtiger's Blog


Shopping And Sreampunkery (Glasgow and Lincoln)

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Today the Glasgow Ubiquitous E. Steampunk Society had a walking workshop. This time again we were in the West End of Glasgow although a few had started off at the market in the Britannia Panoptican Music Hall. We had a jolly day wandering through the Charity Shops and Antiques Shops from Great Western Road, down Byres Road and along Dumbarton Road into deepest Partick. From the expressions on some people’s faces you might think they’d never seen a man in a frock coat and fez in Dumbarton Road, let alone chaps and Ladies in decorated toppers and a variety of frock and tail coats. As I walked I thought that today’s blog might talk about Steampunk shopping at the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln.

I mentioned the markets at the Asylum in a previous post. There were four of them and all worth visiting. Today one of our members expressed a belief that the markets at the Asylum must have been pricey, to which my reply was ‘yes and no’. Shopping in the markets was much like using eBay and Etsy, there were some great bargains to be had and some of the hand-crafted work was indeed expensive. However we are talking of individually made unique items. Craftsmen deserve to be paid fairly for their work not only for the materials, but also for their expertise and the time they put into each make. It is my observation (as I sit here sewing a holster for a flintlock pistol) that when you take into account the hours spent making an item and the quality of the work, most of the artisan work on sale was probably under priced even at a couple of hundred pounds for a Steampunk gun resplendent with copper and brass pipes and fittings.

There was only one market open on the Friday the ‘Market in the Methodist Hall’ which was. Of course closed on Sunday. It was advertised as ‘an indoor space for new traders’ I suspect they meant merely ‘traders new to the Asylum’ because the standard was as high as any. The other three were open for the whole of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This is the first year that they had a market in the Cathedral Square and it contained a range of stalls selling all sorts of things from Steampunk/Goth clothes to artwork, face painting, and a miscellany of bargains. A step further on there was another market in the Castle Square which has hosted markets for as long as there has been a castle. Again there were several clothes stalls and others selling a wide range of accessories, jewellery, leather-work, even replica guns. Whereas these last two markets were open to anyone the market in The Castle was accessible only to those with wristbands or who paid an entrance fee. Oh wonderful things were to be found here! On the Saturday the stalls were even busier than usual as people took refuge from the rain, I found myself feigning an interest in corsetry as the skies opened. At first I felt a bit like Father Ted in the lingerie department, after a short time I found myself once again being a little envious of the fairer sex and their opportunities for self expression through their clothing. I know you may say that Steampunk men hardly lack flamboyance in their dress, but a prosthetic arm lacks the elegance of corsets and bustles. There was much, however, to tempt men, I was particularly impressed by some of the leather-work on display.

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Lincoln would have been a good place for a GUESS Walking Workshop had I not been the only member there, actually there may have been others, but we had nothing organised. The antiques and charity shops of Lincoln appear to save up stock appropriate to the festival (I know they do because one told me) what is more much of it is reasonably priced and there’s always room for negotiation. In the Asylum markets shoppers were in many cases being sold finished Steampunk items. However one of the best parts of Steampunk is finding a bargain and working it up into something special, personal and unique; the shops of Lincoln were a good place to source bargains to build on and seemed to be doing a brisk trade.

Walking round Glasgow today, away from the excitement of the Asylum, I found that things I had seen in Lincoln were providing inspiration as I pondered the possibilities presented by our shops here. There’s a lot of great Steampunk purchases to be had every where, but away from a Steampunk event you may have to put in a little more effort to fully realise them.

Anyway, I’d better finish up and get back to the fiddly business of attaching a decorative strap and buckle to my holster. That’s another thing I learned in Lincoln…if you can’t buy what you want then you’ll just have to build it for yourself.

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