19 Timeless Creations Found at the Steampunk World’s Fair

Craft & Design
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From a guy who made a wrench the size of a kid, to a sculptor who built a 16-foot robot, you’d be amazed at the number and variety of artists and makers at every level of the Steampunk World’s Fair.

This year’s event, held last weekend in Piscataway, NJ, looks to have been the largest steampunk event the world has yet seen. Since launching in 2011, SPWF attendance has grown every year. Leading into this weekend’s show, Fair organizer Jeff Mach said that he expected about 6000 attendees.

It’s a passionate community — the location makes a good central hub for steampunk enthusiasts in the Northeast US, but Jeff says about half the attendees come from 500 miles away or more. He credits the tremendous ability of the steampunk movement to inspire people to make something that is unique, yet absolutely recognizable as steampunk.

“Steampunk has its punk roots, with a DIY aesthetic,” Jeff says. “The Ramones purposely didn’t practice to make their music sound more polished. They wanted to show you can play music without being a giant progressive rock band like Yes.”

Steampunk has that same feel. While there are artists that have taken their craftsmanship to a professional level, steampunk invites anyone to try their hand at making a costume or some gear. Even if it is the equivalent of a three-chord song, it can still rock!

The SPWF definitely draws in many makers, both attendees and vendors. You can make something yourself, or support steampunk artisans who are selling their wares. Either way, the event is a win for the steampunk world. Many attendees leave the fair inspired by something they saw, and come back the next year with a creation of their own.

While nearly impossible to provide comprehensive coverage of all the cool makers at the fair, here is a sampling of some standouts I ran into on opening day.

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Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and author of How Things Are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers. Andrew is also an electronics and robotics enthusiast and has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children's Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Enrichment in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.

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