Product Review: Tie Guard by Poorman’s Gold Label

Tie guard review

Poorman’s Gold Label, the steampunk accessories label from Japan by MaRy and 130JET of premiere Japanese steampunk band Strange Artifact, returns with another brilliant creation, perfect for the steampunk that favors a more contemporary or coorporate style: the tie guard.

I’m sure the name is pretty self-explanatory (and else I’m sure the picture is), it’s literally armor for your necktie.

With their tie guard, they have effectively designed an armor piece that looks great on all manner of ties, ranging from skinny to slim and regular sized ones.

The faux gem details on the bottom give it a more distinguished touch, and the general design sets it apart from mere armor.

Like everything else by the label, this is hand crafted from high quality leather, which means that with good care it will keep its pristine look, or you can gradually allow it to age, as leather ages fabulously. Up to you.

For those preferring not to wear a tie, or for the occasions where a tie just doesn’t work with your outfit, try belting a tie like a sash (or wearing a thin enough sash) and wearing the tie guard over the tie knot in that.

Click for an example of that look. Standard colours for this item are dark brown and black.

As usual, shopping from outside of Japan from Poorman’s Gold Label isn’t the easiest, but you don’t actually need a shopping service like you would with many Japanese brands.

Simply send an email to info@strangeartifact.jp in either English or Japanese, explain what you are interested in and I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you out.

Alternatively, Lorina Liddell stocks a limited supply of several PMG designs, so if you prefer working with a webshop, you may find something you like there.

Photographic Impressions of (Halloween in) Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris Halloween 2014

On Friday the 3rd of October, 3 days into this year’s Halloween season at their Disneyland Park, myself and Bert (a regular Gatehouse photographer) visited Disneyland Paris for exactly that, the Halloween celebrations, going on from October 1st to November 2nd.

That Disneyland Paris is a veritable treasure throve for steampunks and dieselpunks isn’t news, in fact, I wrote an article about it in the 2nd and 15th editions of the Gatehouse Gazette.

So in this post I won’t repeat myself, I will, however, share photos from (Halloween specific) steampunk in the Disneyland Park for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy! Continue reading

“Steampunk: Back to the Future with the New Victorians”

Steampunk - Back to the Future with the New Victorians

Steampunk — Back to the Future with the New Victorians gives the reader an introduction to steampunk culture, including a historical view on how steampunk evolved from being a literature genre only to the culture we know today.

Author Paul Roland presents us an overview of leading artists, musicians, authors and other key figures of steampunk. You can find a selection of steampunk books, music, art, fashion, events and films, all summarized and sometimes even with a short extract.

To loosen the listing of people, there are several interviews with the ones mentioned in there, such as author Cherie Priest or the musicians Captain Robert of Abney Park and Professor Elemental, to name but a few.

I really enjoyed reading the interviews although I think some of the questions were a bit to suggestive with only little freedom to answer for the participants. On the other hand, those questions make it easier to compare certain views as they are used repeatedly.

Speaking of views, I have to note that in all of the presentations of books, films and so on the personal opinion of the author is highly visible up to a point where I have to say: I beg to differ, sir!

For example, he compares the music of Abney Park to the German band Rammstein and describes them as a “less aggressive version” of the latter. I really can’t see a connection here.

Despite those differences of opinion, I really had a lot of fun reading the book. It must clearly be stated that it aims more at newbies of the scene who want to learn more and have some suggestions on where to continue their search for steampunk knowledge. (Always keeping in mind it’s the author’s selection and not a universal answer to all questions concerning steampunk.)

For the rest of us, most of the given examples are already known and the history of our genre shouldn’t be something entirely new. The big pro of the book is the author’s style of writing: he uses a lot of puns and I mean really a lot and makes it worthwhile to read through his collection of steampunk creations. Even if you already know the examples, you might still find something you didn’t knew up until now (as I did, too, especially in the steampunk music chapter as well as the steampunk books).

The paperback edition also makes it easy to take the book along (maybe while travelling to the next meet-up?). Unfortunately, that also means it only has few selected pictures in the middle of the book, which seemed a bit random to me.

The biggest con about the book (despite the author’s strong opinion in some points) is its end: after the really well-written preceding chapters, the last one about steampunk games (either digital or analogue) finishes with some lists and then it’s suddenly the end (before the bibliography and resources).

I would have wished for a proper epilogue there, maybe with some suggestions on where the genre is going, instead of squeezing some last informations in and then just stop writing. It seemed a bit like the games had to be in the book, but there wasn’t an awful lot to say about them.

To conclude: I only recommend this book to those who can stand a strong opinion and still carry on readying when faced with some disputable statements (For me Wild Wild West still is steampunk!) — especially as the writing style is really entertaining.

It is, in fact, a good compilation for those only starting to get into steampunk and a good overview for all the facets that steampunk has. But remember: Not everything is true just because it’s written down!

Event Review: Elfia Arcen 2014

Elfia Arcen 2014 - steampunk group shot

Event: Elfia Arcen
What: fantasy fair
Where: Castle grounds, Arcen, The Netherlands
Price: varied, depending on your ticket and when you bought it, but generally prices start a little under € 20 all costs included for one day.
Website

This latest edition of Elfia Arcen could benefit from a splendid organisation (that really took notice from last year’s edition and clearly improved upon it) and beautiful summer weather on the Saturday. We didn’t attend both days, so obviously we can’t speak for Sunday.
Unholy mud everywhere last year made the organisation really step up and make far better use of the pathways in the Arcen castle gardens to set up sections as well as market stands. Improvised pathways were spread out a little better and whilst they could have been wider, they were at least better laid out so that the left over mud from the rain on Friday wasn’t posing any real issues to people attending the fair.

knights passing through

Elfia Arcen 2014

Whilst there were quite a few of returning shops and food stands, a lot of new ones had also come to this year’s Elfia, making shopping diverse and a great range was on offer from craft supplies, all kinds of clothing, LARP supplies, contemporary culture and fandom bits and bobs and much, much more.

The food stands were also offering a good variety of meals, pretty reasonable in price, going from fast food such as fries to vegetarian and vegan falafel meals, garlic breads and meat on a stick. It was possible to eat under € 10 for a meal, but getting drinks was, as usual, slightly more of a hassle because of the fact that you have to front € 4 as insurance for your cup. Sure you get it back, but if you’re short on cash, it can be a right pain. Brining your own cup to fantasy fairs is thus really the way forward. We know we keep on saying this, but not everyone is a veteran fantasy event visitor, so not everyone knows. Continue reading