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Repairing My Favorite Sneakers

I am partial to this particular make and model of shoe, but since we do not provide free advertising here at The Steampunk Workshop, let's just call them "Cayce Pollards." But I have a problem, I always wear out the heel long before the rest of the shoe. Here's a quick fix with some dumpstered leather and contact cement.


The Future of SteamPunk Fashion -- SteamPunk Magazine #7

Our own Libby Bulloff has a wonderful article in the current issue of SteamPunk Magazine. Libby makes the case for what needs to happen for Steampunk to become a sustainable style rather than mere and fleeting fashion.

Within, she examines current trends in Steampunk dress and warns that:

We’re no better than our wealthy, trendy, hipster counterparts when we cease the continuous metamorphosis of our look, when we won’t fearlessly model our style at our desk jobs . . . 

I think she hits the nail on the head.

SteamPunk Magazine is available in print through Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness in the Americas and Vagrants Among Ruins for the rest of the world, and can also be downloaded for free from their downloads page.  Available for the first time is an iPhone/eReader version for 1£. This is the version I bought and I love having it on my phone. 

Also featured in this issue are pieces by Jaymee Goh of Silver Goggles and Ay-leen The Peacemaker of Beyond Victoriana who did me the great honor of inviting me to sit on their Social Issues in Steampunk Roundtable panel at the upcoming Steampunk World's Fair!

Cheap and Easy Fabric Dye From Natural Sources

One of the ways I upcycle old, worn garments is to dye them. Stained, stretched-out beaters, ratty petticoats, and once-white tuxedo shirts with dingy collars enshroud themselves in new life when dropped into a steaming bucket of color. As my best friend is a pedigreed textiles artist, I've spent many a night in a professional dye lab, using bromine and other harsh chemicals to deposit tint onto wool, but I feel that the most satisfying way to dye fabric is to use what is essentially garbage. I speak of items you're probably going to toss or compost anyway, like yellow onion skins, beet tops, yesterday's Earl Grey bag, or that rusting tin of turmeric you bought eons ago for Indian cooking (but instead forgot in the back of the cabinet). Natural dye has been used to color fabric for 4,500 years, and was even popular amongst German soldiers in World War II due to broken trade routes.1

Rechargable Lantern Battery Flashlight Mod

I have several 6 volt lantern flashlights kicking around the shop.  However, I never use them because I generally baulk at the $7 they want for a lantern battery that can't be recharged.

So I modded a flashlight to take a 6 volt 4 Ah lead acid battery I bought at Home Depot . . . 

Chandelier Candle Retro-fit

When we moved into our house there was an electric chandelier in our dining room.  It was an adequate enough fixture but incandescent chandeliers are terribly inefficient, six 25 watt bulbs actually put out a fraction of the amount of light as a single bulb of half the combined wattage, and while they do make candelabra base compact fluorescent bulbs, I find their light cold, harsh, and they are not very dim-able.

Besides, nothing beats real candle light for a romantic dinner at home.

Read on for details on converting an electric chandelier back to candles . . .

Cheap Yaris Cabin Air Filter

Every time I've brought my Toyota Yaris in for it's regular service I was surprised to find a $50 charge for replacing the "cabin air" filter. It always annoyed me, but they assured me it was a pain to change the "special" filter. 

Turns out that's bullshit. It's a cheap paper filter that takes about 30 seconds to replace.  Corporations use proprietary parts and slip through overcharges for simple maintenance to add to their profit, of course. But this is an ultimately dis-honest practice that risks making otherwise satisfied customers, like me, angry and desirous of revenge for being duped.

Well here's my revenge Toyota, a step by step set of directions on how to turn a $5 household furnace filter into two Yaris cabin air filters.  It took me an hour and a half to figure this out and make two filters and another half hour to write this page.  Someone following these direction should be able to make a pair of filters in an hour, saving them (and denying you) $100!


Upcycling: Re-filling a Swiffer WetJet Bottle

From Wikipedia:

Upcycling is a component of sustainability in which waste materials are used to provide new products. It is generally a reinvestment in the environment. "Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value." This process allows for the reduction of waste and use of virgin materials.

The term upcycling was coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

It's a term that my photographer friend Libby Bulloff introduced me to and I hope to make "Upcycling:" a regular feature here at The Steampunk Workshop.  If you have a cool hack for "Upcycling:" please send it to me!

We bought this thing in an uncharacteristic flurry of consumerism in preparation for a huge family Thanksgiving dinner.  But you know what?  The damn thing works quite well and is really handy for spot clean-ups which seem to be the only kind of cleanups we ever do these days.

We quickly discovered that the bottles of cleaner were not meant to be re-filled, they have a lock-ring on the cap like some milk bottles, only this ring doesn't break away when you try and twist off the cap.

Dump Finds: Rayo Lamp, Typewriter

rayo lamp and woodstock typewriteAs of late last year we were banned from pulling items for our town dump's metal and wood recycling bins.  The stated reason was 'public safety' but it was fairly clear from the expressions on the faces of a few of our town's selectmen during the discussion that the whole idea of 'taking things from the garbage' was abhorrent to them.

One of them related the story of seeing some folks remove a 'soiled mattress' from one of the dumpsters.  He feared that the town could be held liable for 'disease' if this form of reuse were allowed to continue.

While we generally love and respect the Victorians and their technology here at the Steampunk Workshop, we do think that our public officials need to have a more modern understanding of epidemiology.

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