Photo: Ryan Murphy/Athens Steampunk Spectacle
Photo: Ryan Murphy/Athens Steampunk Spectacle

Spectacle Gains Steam with Inagural Event

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The walls, interior and even staff members of the Athens Public Library were transformed Saturday to feature a steam-powered alternate look at technology and life from the viewpoint of Steampunk.

The first ever Steampunk Spectacle was a tremendous success, according to Todd Bastin, adult programming coordinator for the Athens Public Library.

The library and the Athens County Historical Society worked in conjunction to put on the event and provide exhibits and activities.

“I never counted on so much natural enthusiasm from the community,” Bastin said. “It seems to be the right time to do this. The community seems ready to embrace something new.”

Steampunk is an alternate view of technology, often viewed as a mix between the Victorian and Wild West eras and alternate power sources such as steam.

In 2009, Bastin was turned on to the genre when a co-worker showed him a website that featured a rebuilt computer sans plastic and complete with varnished wood, brass and a cabinet for a monitor.

“It was so beautiful. It was really just amazing,” said Bastin. “I started to explore it. The last couple of years, I’ve been trying to find allies to make this come up. Some of the (library) staff were interested and then we formed a critical alliance with the historical society, then everything just took off from there.”

Spread throughout the library were hands-on exhibits that allowed for a great amount of interactivity. Attendees of the event also were able to make their own Steampunk hats and jewelry. Evening events included a Steampunk ball and a promenade down Court Street.

Looking very much in the style, and inspecting the exhibits, were Tidd brothers Liam, 8, and Owen, 10. Along with their sister, Edy, and mother, Carrie, the Tidds were excited to have a venue that was all Steampunk, all the time.

“One day (Owen) drew something funky with gears and stuff. I told him it looked like Steampunk. He asked ‘What’s that?’ so we looked it up and it began,” Carrie Tidd said of her son’s infatuation with Steampunk. “He’s been making things like headgear and stuff. When we found out there was a whole event going on (about Steampunk), it was a no-brainer.”

Not only her children impressed with Saturday’s event, so was Carrie Tidd.

“I think it’s fantastic. It’s artistic, nostalgic, creative, futuristic and covers all the bases,” she said. “It’s very intriguing and kids who have a creative element to them can go wild with it.”

Family friend Jessie Siefert agreed.

“I think it’s amazing. I think it’s great that the library is doing this,” she added. “It involves the kids, the whole community and art and literature. I’m impressed.”

Seifert added that she will be donning her own Steampunk outfit as a Halloween costume this year.

In one room of the library, a table was strewn with little pieces of metal, trinkets, wire, beads, keys, gears and other items. Sitting at the table were more than a half-dozen people pouring over their creations as they formed jewelry from the available parts.

“We’re taking things like gears and switches and old electronic equipment we’ve taken apart and making new things out of it,” said Nancy Bauer, of Re’ewes’able Fiber Arts, a guest instructor for the day. “We’re making rings, pendants and all kinds of different things using keys and everything else. It’s a bridge between two different worlds.”

With all the smiling faces and intrigued looks on Saturday, Bastin feels like the Steampunk Spectacle will be able to make a return appearance.

“I feel like it has momentum and it’s very possible that we could do it again,” he said.