Getting Punked Out

Victorian fantasy brings steampunk artists, inventors to Craigdarroch Castle

Rick Van Krugel and Linda Rogers create steampunk-inspired jewelry in their kitchen studio in Victoria West.

Rick Van Krugel appears in his kitchen wearing a black top hat, homemade goggles and a burgundy crushed-velvet blazer, and doesn’t look out of the ordinary.

It’s no wonder, since his kitchen also serves as a steampunk workroom. Van Krugel and his wife, Linda Rogers – Victoria’s poet laureate when wearing her other hat – channel their inventive spirit to create steampunk jewelry.

“It’s Victorian futurism,” he said of their brass, copper and steel earrings, necklaces and hair combs, made by soldering together Victorian-style keys, clock gears and springs, antique postage stamps, pearls and dip-pen nibs.

“It has a Mad Max quality, a Dr. Who and Jules Verne feel,” said Van Krugel, touching an especially bold necklace built with a clock’s mainspring and a pearl.

The Vic West couple will be among a dozen artists displaying their unique talents at this weekend’s Victoria Steam Exposition II.

The expo will be hosted at Craigdarroch Castle, a venue sure to provide an authentic period backdrop to the 19th century tribute to the steam-powered era.

“Steampunk is a wink and a nod at the absurdity and excess of the exuberance of the Victorian age,” said Jordan Stratford, event impresario. Last year’s expo was the first steampunk event of its kind in the country, he said.

Think Victorian-inspired jetpacks, ray guns, corsets and wood-and-feather angel wings. Many vendors and visitors will be wearing their homemade creations, though costumes are voluntary. Stratford plans to wear his goggles, which have become synonymous with steampunk fashion.

“I think it says I’m about to do something dangerous. It says adventure and tinkering, which are definitely the two core virtues of steampunk and the Victorian era,” Stratford said.

There will be artists, music, food, readings and panelists speaking on such topics as corset-tying and prop-making. An adults-only cabaret burlesque show entertains on Saturday night.

Last year’s convention inspired Van Krugel and Rogers, as well as Rogers’ son, daughter-in-law and her granddaughter, to begin making their SteamPlanet creations. The proceeds of that venture have helped put their granddaughter’s South African pen pal through school – she graduated earlier this month from an information technology college.

In addition to supporting a good cause, steampunk has given Rogers the chance to work with new tools and explore another creative side to herself. “I love it. It’s really relaxing,” she said, and then laughs. “Sometimes it’s frustrating. My ideas exceed my skill level.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

Steamy details

When: Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25, Craigdarroch Castle: 1050 Joan Cres. Opens at 10 a.m.

Tickets: $40 all-inclusive weekend passes available at www.victoriasteamexpo.com; free for children under 13.

Steampunk fun: Vendors, panelists and readings both days; a cabaret burlesque show Saturday night; children’s costume contest and picnic on Sunday.

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