Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Challenge: Steampunk Zombies for Twin Boys

To keep you busy while I'm gone, here's a challenge from a reader in California named Heather:

We got turned on to Steampunk and then your blog via a friend's wedding. They had a Victorian wedding (I made the wedding dress and my maid of honor dress) while another friend hosted the bachelor party at the CA steampunk convention. We went over the top excited about steampunk. Here's a pick of my guys trying on the garb I made them for the bachelor party....

The boys on either side are 15 year old twins.

Here is my challenge for your readers. The boys have never had a decorated room. We moved into our house when they were in 4th grade and I had all the rooms painted a bland off white to be able to change at a later date. We are at a later date. With nothing further done. One twin is a cross country runner for high school, the other one is #3 in the USA for Tumbling and Trampoline. Needless to say, we spend more time away from home than in it.

The boys are very artistic and love games of all forms. They would really like their room decorated steampunk with zombies as an additional theme. How would Victorians react to a zombie invasion? How would you decorate a room in that environment? What would your readers recommend?

15 year old athletic geeks who'll wear damask and velvet (and look good doing it)? I think this could be fun! Enjoy!


Janet Lanier said...

Watch the movie League of Extaordinary Gentlemen or Lemony Snickets' Series of Unfortunate Events and you'll probably get lots of ideas.

David G. said...

For this challenge, I think what's important is to get in character.

If a steampunk era really existed (victorian times with more technology and less religion), educated people from this era would probably be terribly curious about zombies, instead of blaming these things on satan or whatnot. They'd make many experiences on them, study them, "vivisect" them, etc. So I'd personnally go with a morgue / anatomy lab theme. Let's say a cross between frankenstein's lab, the mütter museum and queen's college library in oxford.

I'd suggest heading to for inspiration.

Also, I'm currently working on a tutorial on how to steampunk-ify an off-the-shelf plastic human skull. It should be posted on my blog soon.

I'd be very curious to see what it will end up looking like! it's one heck of a decorating project!

Miss Nanas said...

I think David had a good Idea with the 'anatomy lab idea'. The one thing you must remember is not to let the zombie theme overtake the initial steampunk theme.

Perhaps a regular steampunk room with a bookshelf and a desk with various objects and books dedicated to the zombie motif. Like filling them with books such as:

-Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


And on the wall surrounding the desk hang tools for protecting oneself (like a small shovel), and place objects that would be used to study the zombie menace as accents.

That way the peices are still functional (to be used as a regular desk and bookshelf) but still adhering to the themes.

Unknown said...

The real Victorians had a real interest in the occult and with "dark" imagery.

Though by zombie I’m not sure what you mean. Skeletons are Victorian (as are bats, etc), I don’t see why a mummy wouldn’t be (after all they had an Egyptian fad as well I believe), but a zombie that looks like a rotten corps… not so sure.

I can’t remember the titles but there are many books that deal with Victorian architecture and decorating (furnishings, etc) and I know I’ve seen some “dark” modern goth-like stuff in them. Also go check out “period” films (fantasy or biographical) for ideas.
Good luck.

James Hay said...

The Southern California Group "The League of Steam" has managed to transform a zombie into a gentlemen's gentleman:

Though he is a bit of a problem when his mechanics fail and he goes after human flesh.

And then there is their mechanically reaminated woman:

Wheatie Beau Campbell said...

There is a new zombie movie set in victorian times called "I sell the dead" and it is about grave robbers and a turf war between zombies. It stars Charlie from the TV show lost and the guy who plays Hellboy. Cheers!

Unknown said...

I also like David's idea. It's easy to take a simple room and give it a theme with just a few objects. Stuff that looks like lab supplies, maybe a specimen jar, stuff that zombiologists might have. Bonus points for making them functional objects as well (a lamp that looks like a heart/brain/other organ inside a jar, for example).

But most people tend to associate the word "zombie" with "survival", so I think it would be neat to reflect that, as well.

- Get a poster of an old-fashioned medical anatomy chart, then mark it with arrows and instructions for how to deal with a reanimated corpse.

- Paint the doors to look riveted and reinforced against zombie invasion.

- Assemble a wooden box marked "Rations" (or something similar), a sword, a pistol and a pair of goggles under a sign that says "In Case of Unwanted Reanimation Emergency".

Boudica said...

Yay!!! Great ideas so far!!! Our original ideas included industrial wearhouse. Metal desks. We need to figure out the proper Victorian accents. (That are cheap as well) Thanks to everyone so far!!! Love Kevin's ideas-in case of unwanted reanimation emergency! Completely our sense of humor!!


Aunt Foggy said...

Easy Victorian flair for a room: from your home center, pressed wood decorations for flat surfaces and furniture, can be painted or stained. Corner moulding trim at the ceiling, a big painted rosette around an interesting light fixture, Instant wainscotting with some trim moulding and decorative panels (like the leather look or dark wood look.
Look at some tricked out nerf guns online from creative folk on Etsy or Ebay as one solution to the "zombie invasion" problem :)
Since these are teenaged boys, you can go a little nuts and have fun...

JMO said...

If they like Zombies and Victorian era steampunk they need to read a new book I found titled "The Affinity Bridge" by George Mann. Good luck with the rooms!

Susan Shaw said...

What a great challenge! I would decorate the room as though the two boys are zombie hunters... a few scientific instruments including zombie radar, and preserved zombie parts in jars. Furniture in dark wood tones, and coverings in deep red brocade or black velvet. Velvet drapes on the beds of course.

I hope we get to see pictures!

tera said...

Not really viewing for children but last year (?) Kat Von D from LA Ink, decorated Nikki Sixx's studio. Part of what she did was the anatomy lab kind of thing and it was kind of cool. I think YouTube has the episode.

Stonemaven said...

The walls should be dark wood or ornate wallpaper for a gentleman inventor's work space - easy enough to do with tacked fabric or paper.
Heavy draperies on the windows to block out prying eyes. Brass desk and floor lamps for lighting. Wooden desks or work tables would all lend themselves to the Victorian aesthetic.

I would do a classic zombie survival kit - machete, rifle, cricket bat, instructions on head removal, etc, all in the "In Case Of Zombie Attack Break Glass" case.
Here's a bare bones example. Check for more detailed examples.

However! I would steampunk it with a nice ornate re-purposed wooden frame, brass accents, a modded nerf "deathray" gun, etc. (google Nerf Gun Steampunk Mod)

I like Girl Genius comic for my "MadBoy" inspiration. Agatha knows all about re-animating the dead!

Small animal skulls and other parts are available from Moscow Hide and Fur for very little, Add a few to apothecary jars, large magnifying glass and a few interesting odds and ends and you have a re-animators' research lab.
It's getting close to Hallowe'en, so fake skeletons of animals or people are going on sale. Hit Buckey's Boneyard for really nice ones.

Sorry for the insanely long link, but TinyURL isn't compatible with the latest Firefox update.

Sometimes these go on clearance.

Lynne said...

Don't forget a terrific brass/Victorian clock! There's a number of them out there now with gears showing if you like that.
I got one at Target very reasonably.

If room permits, perhaps a standing zombie, or just a row of zombie hands, for coats/bags, etc.

This is a great idea for a post, Sara! Heather, PLEASE send pictures when it's done!

dawnmetcalf said...

You have great ideas offered thus far, let me add that I'd look at darker colors - wine, burgandy or chocolate for walls with easy Victorian accents such as stenciled fleur-de-lis or wooden rosettes (which can be easily stained or "aged" like copper or brass). A second a good clock and a Victorian era "zombie kit": using a shadowbox frame to hold a sword, mallet, etc.

A bookshelf of "relevant texts" (like the ones mentioned already) as well as easy-to-purchase scientific equipment (my favorite site is Edmund Scientific) might compete the look along with heavy curtains and a nice skull or candlestick.

All in all, it sounds like an amazing project! Be sure to come back with links when you're through.

Boudica said...

OK, time for updates since we are in the last 2 to 3 weeks of this project. We decided on a Victorian gentleman's library/lab/zombie hunter workshop. The bed side tables are from Ikea:
The beds are also from Ikea-'cause we can stain them super dark:
The bed side lights are from Home Depot:
The drapery fabric from
The paint is Behr and will be painted in a pin stripe pattern in Antique Copper. I'm thinking gentleman's wool suit stripes in 3/4" to 1 1/2" widths. Gonna take forever. I'll post working pics.
Work lights are going to be hand made cage lights with Edison light bulbs in clusters of 3.
A very good friend has bought fireman's hatchets and are etching the blades and then putting them into cases for "in case of zombie emergency".
We have copies of Victorian and in 2 cases medieval books with illustrations of pocket watches, steam tractors, victorian pictures of medieval armour (for our SCA interests), surgical instruments, and anatomy. We will be printing the anatomy pics big so there will then be zombie kill hits and wounding pointed out.
We have a brass hour glass and globes going into it as well.
We'll update with pictures during the next two weeks!! Any additional ideas will be a huge help!!

Lynne said...

Wow Heather, you are going all out especially wrt painting the walls pinstriped. I love your choice of cage lights! Can't wait to see pics, it sounds amazing!


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