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A Botanist's Vasculum

Tasked with making a Steampunk costume for my wife, I told her I could make the hardware (props), while she was to provide the software. I also told her to come up with a character, as that would drive the design of the costume. As this was in the beginning of June, and her garden was in full bloom, She chose to be a Botanist, which was a popular subject in the Victorian age, and well within the reach of a respectable lady.

I investigated the tools of the Botanist and learnt about their device known as a "Vasculum," which is a long oval metal box a botanist used to store his or her samples in. If anything could be the symbol of office for the botanist, it would be the vasculum.

Of course my wife would have a steam powered one.

Vasculum 2

I bought a replica box from a tinsmith online then I went to work. I decoupaged a page from the Voynich Manuscript onto the vasculum to give it character. I created a steam gauge out of a fantastic picture by Leo Reynolds here. Both the Voynich and the gauge image are in the Creative Commons.

I added a valve and hose, and clamped the hole thing down with some cable stays. I gave the whole thing a slattering of paint to make it look oily, dirty and used.

Vasculum 3

I made a bandoleer strap with various sample vials of local flora. This and the complete costume can be seen here.

Steampunk Botanist

Ziplock bags and Tupperware have removed this item from the modern botanist's arsenal.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 30th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
Sep. 30th, 2007 03:56 am (UTC)
Lovely! Nothing says class like a pith helmet, too, in my never-ever-humble opinion.

Top work!
Sep. 30th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC)
Super-sweet! And thanks for the idea of [printing out gauge faces... you just saved me a lot of cash and heartache. :)

I've been tasked with both hardware and software...and I can't wait to get started!!! :)
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:31 am (UTC)
Here is a great collection of Gauge images, all for free use. Gauge Images

The case is a small metal hobby tin, painted brass. The arm is a hour hand from a clock. The original idea was to mount a small clock movement inside so the pressure value would slowly increase, but the tin was too shallow.

I actually had to debate what units to use on the gauge. The metric system was new in the Victorian age, so was this character on the vanguard of science, adopting the new system, or sticking to the old ways. There are lots of units for pressure, and I felt that "atmospheres" was the most steampunk. :)
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
Thanks for the info! I'm working on a prop piece for my husband, who wants something "science-y" (and isn't being terribly helpful on that front...he's the engineer, blast it!!! I'm just the craft geek! To his credit, I gave him the choice of "science-y" and "arcane"...) So, I was thinking some sort of arrangement of gauges and gears in a large metal case, somewhat akin to the large brass compasses...somewhere between an alethiometer and something a touch more reality-based.

The photo site you linked to pointed me at this gauge: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/426505368/ , which I love...now, to give it a bit more SCIENCE to fill in the rest of the case. :)
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:10 am (UTC)
Brilliant costume, and lovely work on the vasculum.
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:38 am (UTC)
Excellent work on both hardware and software, I'd say. I adore the vial bandoleer most of all.
Sep. 30th, 2007 05:49 am (UTC)
I thought i recognized a pag of Voynich, I love it...
My favorite part is the strap with vials, that is just a perfect detail, i think it makes the whole costume come true.
Sep. 30th, 2007 12:36 pm (UTC)
Wow! That is a lovely feminine design!! I am especially fond of the bandoleer strap with vials of flora!!
Sep. 30th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC)
Very nice, the vials are a great touch.
Sep. 30th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
That's awesome. I love the bandoleer.
Sep. 30th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, the sample bottles in the bandoleer! *swoon!
Sep. 30th, 2007 05:51 pm (UTC)
Now That...
Is a thing of beauty....TC
Oct. 1st, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
How utterly lovely. Steamfashion is still my favorite sort of thing.
Oct. 1st, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)
I adore all of the elements of this! The excellent details are what makes it superb!
Oct. 1st, 2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
It's nice to see someone with an idea other than "orphan" or "air captain." Tell your wife that her idea (and overall costume) are brilliant.
Oct. 3rd, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
The bandoleer!

I have been working on my first costume, along the lines of an artisan/engineer. I wanted to make a bandoleer with wrenches in it. But I love those little glass vials... superb!
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 8th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
The Voynich is a really deep rabbit hole, to be sure. It's a great resource to mine for imagery.
Aug. 10th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
As a steampunk botanist - I view this is the utmost in equipment. Brilliant design and execution for both the Vasculum and sample bandolier! Do you by any chance have an Etsy page?
Aug. 11th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
Thank you for the kind words. I don't have an Etsy page at this time, but perhaps in the future. Excelsior!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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