Maker Profile – Steampunk on MAKE: television

Jake Von Slatt invites us into the alternate universe of Steampunk. As leading figures in the Boston arts community, members of Steampunk combine the power of modern technology with the grace and intricacy of Victorian design. Working with brass, recycled items and found objects, Jake and other Steampunkers party like it’s 1899, bringing old-world, steam engined-inspired touches to everything from computers to flatscreen television. Plus, watch the story of steam power, from the first crude water pump to a bionic arm. Watch the clip, and visit

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16 thoughts on “Maker Profile – Steampunk on MAKE: television

  1. Jake von Slatt says:

    Actually, I kind of doubt that the Boston “arts” community knows who we are! ;-)

    I had a wonderful (though slightly grueling) time taping this segment with Emily Goldberg and her crew back in August. We were extremely lucky that a whole bunch of things all seemed to happen at once and we were able to pack a huge amount into the segment! I particularly want to thank the Steampunks from The Mass_Steam LJ Community who drove out to the Groton Public Library to see my talk there and to do interviews with Make:TV – you guys totally make the piece! I also want to thank two of the most awesome people I have ever met, Holly and Matt of H U M A N W I N E who you see perform at the end of the segment.

  2. wha says:

    @Jake –

    What do you do for your ‘day job’?

    Do you have a background in this type of thing?

  3. ThievingMagpie says:

    Awesome video. Wish my PBS station carried Make:television (yes, I have suggested it). One thing about this post though, it makes it sound like Steampunk is some arts collective in MA, rather than a worldwide aesthetic movement and subculture. I’d rather it say “members of Steampunk Workshop” or “Mass_Steam LJ”. Just don’t want people to think Steampunk is some regional phenom in the NE. There’s some awesome Steampunk Makers here on the West Coast too. :) Keep up the great TV!

  4. Gareth Branwyn says:

    Wow. What an absolutely perfect piece. Definitely chalk full o’ goodness. It’s like a whole steampunk documentary fit into a 10 minute TV segment. Great job, everyone.

  5. Jake von Slatt says:

    @wha – I’m a Linux SysAdmin for 80% of my work time. On Mondays I’m writing and developing projects for a book that will be published in 2010 by Artisan Press.

    I’d love to do more television, it was really fun working with the folks from Make:TV!

  6. cujo says:

    I wonder if you’ve given any thought to powering your Steampunk car with woodgas?

    Brass fittings and etchings would look awesome, and you could use the exisiting air-cooled engine with it’s carburator slightly modified.

    Maybe using a trailered gasifier might be better?

  7. jim says:

    Very creative, pretty and fun gizmos, yet he lives in one of the most godawful fugly house designs of the 20th century–the dreaded ‘american colonial splitlevel’. Yet maybe he doesn’t live in an area that allows for tampering with the facade. OK, I’ll cut him a break.

  8. Memphis says:

    I have only recently discovered steam-punk culture, but unlike many people who approach it from an aesthetic side, I have a more technological perspective on the subculture (I am not in any way familiar with the work of Verne or any other steam punk author). I have recently postulated that all electronic components are analogous in function to some type of hydrodynamic system or device. For example, a resistor in an electronic circuit is nearly identical in function to a narrow piece of pipe in an otherwise wider system of flow, a capacitor resembles a storage tank, transistors are similar to certain types of valves, etc.. This in mind, it seems entirely possible to actually build logic gates and more complex systems from existing plumbing components. Further more, it seems (when one examines how such a system could be implemented) that a hydraulic (or steam) device such as a calculator would be functionally simpler than an analogous electronic device, and given the precision of modern machine tools, we could possibly build a device that would match the performance characteristics and size of a comparable electronic device. Basically, what I am saying is that steam calculators are not only possible, but they could actually potentially be better devices than their electronic counterparts, especially if one were to leave out functions that most people don’t use in everyday life like trig functions which are not functions of logic but functions of memory for the devices that calculate these values (in this manner a modern calculator is no more sophisticated than a slide rule, it’s only easier to use). I thought if this idea belonged anywhere it’s right here, so there it is, feel free to e-mail me at if you want to know the details of this idea I have worked out thus far, I honestly don’t have the time or resources to commit to such a project, but maybe someone out there does.

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